The Feathers

Address: 16-20 Market Street, Woodstock, near Oxford, OX20 1SX, United Kingdom
Telephone: 01993 812291

- Expensive

4.5

Country dining at its best in this historic setting near Oxford.

You can tell you’re in the country when you hear the hearty guffaws of a shooting party coming from the other side of the wood panelling. The Feathers is one of a number of excellent places to eat in the picture-postcard-perfect town of Woodstock. Just about every building in this Cotswold-stone town has been an inn of some sort since 1179, when Henry II granted Woodstock its royal charter.

This cosy restaurant is part of a hotel created from five historic buildings and owned by hotelier Gordon Campbell-Grey. I love it for its food and for its unique gin bar, where I’d happily spend a weekend learning the history – and pleasures – of this remarkable drink.

Food and drink
4.5
90%
Service
3.8
90%
Food and drink
4.5
90%
Value for money
4
90%
Ambience
3.2
90%
Location
4.2
90%

Food and drink

Start with a gin and tonic or a martini in The Feather’s Bar, which stocks seven kinds of tonic and more than 60 gins (and counting). The most expensive G&T costs £16.75. It’s called the Ultimate and is made with Blackwood’s Vintage Gin, Q - the world’s most exotic tonic water - and ice cubes made from local spring water.

The a la carte menu by head chef Marc Hardiman offers two courses for £38.50 and three for £44.95. If you prefer something cheaper you can eat in the bar. Personally I’d go for the five-course tasting menu every time. At £60 it is gorgeous value and if you pair it with wines, pushing the boat out a further £44.50, you get delights like the 1928 Solera, Vin Doux Naturel from Maury in France, which is a perfect match to the excellent rabbit and foie gras terrine.

Ambience

The dining room is made up of four small 18th-century cottages linked together. The low ceilings and views to Market Street give a warm period feel, but the décor is currently completely out of keeping with the gorgeous bedrooms above and the stylish bar and library. Trevillion Interiors of London are responsible for the masterly refurbishment elsewhere in the hotel and will be getting their hands on the restaurant early in 2011. I have every confidence it will then look as good as it tastes.

Service

Very pleasant. The staff wear black suits and red ties but could possibly be more efficient.

Location

The Feathers lies just off Oxford Street - the main road between Oxford and Stratford upon Avon. Market Street is one of two roads that lead from the main road in the direction of Blenheim Palace. It's full of antique shops, expensive clothing boutiques and other places to eat. The hotel consists of five old Woodstock townhouses dating from the 18th century and earlier. Different parts of this architectural maze have in their time been a sanatorium, literary institute, private home, several shops and a free public library. In the 1960s all five buildings were merged into one to create The Dorchester Hotel, which was later sold to the hotelier Gordon Campbell-Grey. To enter the restaurant you go through reception and then weave through various corridors. There is something very riad-like about the rambling nature of the room layout in the The Feathers.

Price advice

Three courses comes in at £44.95 without wine and there's a surcharge if you have scallops; I'd go for the five-course tasting menu at  £60.

Recommended for

  • Business travellers
  • Couples
  • Culture vultures
  • Foodies
  • Travellers with pets
  • Relaxation
  • Romance
  • Shopping
  • Design and architecture
  • Nature / wildlife

Details