The High Table Brasserie & Bar
73 High Street, Oxford, OX1 4BE
- Recommended for:
- Business travellers, Couples, Mature travellers, Travellers with pets, Escaping the crowds, Romance, Shopping
Expert review of The High Table Brasserie & Bar
High Table is part of the old Eastgate Hotel, one of the places where JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis used to drink beer together. The story goes that Lewis actually had his first date here with Joy Gresham. Lovers of Shadowlands will recall the scene (not shot in Oxford) between Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger.
My wife and I had a pre-show supper here recently and I was impressed by the food and the ambience, which was both stylish and cosy. Admittedly it was in winter when it was dark outside, so the interior of restaurant glowed. I'm not so sure it would be as special in summer when the High Street is full of tourists, but I loved it.
There is a set lunch and pre-theatre menu that is good value at £12.95 for two courses. The dishes change weekly so it's difficult to be specific. The official line is "classical dishes with a modern influence offering locally sourced produce". Though only recently opened, High Table already has an AA rosette for 2010-11.
My home-cured gravadlax with sweet mustard dressing and pickled cucumber went particularly well with a glass of pinot grigio. The High Table fish pie is served on a scallop shell, and I've heard good things of the High Table burger and the Gressingham duck breast (£16.50).
Although in reality this is the dining room of the old Eastgate Hotel, High Table works hard at being a destination restaurant in its own right. Three unremarkable rooms have been combined to create a long black and white dining room with mullioned windows looking out both on to Merton Street and the High Street.
Tables and lampshades are black or white and remind me of chess pieces. There's a private dining room back towards the lounge, which has glass walls etched with the restaurant's signature Art Deco palm leaf motif. I have my eye on that for the right occasion.
Very pleasant but we had some language issues. Our waitress was dressed like a college butler, which was different.
The main problem for The High Table is that it's located right down at the bottom of High Street. The old Eastgate Hotel always stood by the city gate facing towards London. The heart of the city is a long way back west along High Street so you're unlikely to wander this far unless visiting the Botanic Gardens or Magdalen. Quod has done a fair bit to move trendy dining down this way and in the heyday of the Grand Café things looked promising, but the Eastgate and its dining room are still out on a limb down here, albeit a very attractive literary and historic limb!
Lunch and pre-theatre suppers cost £12.95 for two courses, with three courses for £15.95 (worth it for the chocolate sabayon tart). Sunday lunch costs £12.50 (£15 for three courses), and when ordering off the set menu mains go up to £16.95.
Ask about the private dining room. Or a table by the full-length window on to Merton Street.
More information on The High Table Brasserie & Bar:
- Price guide:
- Bar, Brasserie, Coffee shop
- British, Fusion, Modern
- 73 High Street, Oxford, OX1 4BE
- 01865 248 695
- Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Afternoon Tea, Dinner
- Opening times:
- Mon-Sat noon-2.30pm and 6pm-9.30pm; Sun noon–3pm. At other times sandwiches and snacks are available in the High Table Lounge; Afternoon Tea is also served in the lounge.
- Accepts Credit Cards:
- Essential at peak times
- Free tags / Keywords:
- C.S.Lewis, Tolkien