When you live in north London, Oxford is actually a bit further away than you might think – some things however, are worth the road trip, especially if you’re looking to escape the capital for the day.
And if you’re a fan of traditional pubs and dining al fresco, then keep reading because I have a killer of a recommendation, which will hopefully inspire you to make the most of any remaining sunny days in what is turning out to be an unpredictable summer.
If you were to design the perfect country pub, it would look something like The Perch. Renovated in 2015, this thatched 17th century country inn occupies an idyllic position with gorgeous, green and sizeable gardens, weeping willow trees, plenty of seating both inside and out and a shed bar serving food and drink. It’s also a stones throw from the Isis, Oxfords’ stretch of the Thames, accessed via a ‘secret’ pathway from the pub grounds.
As you make your approach from the busy city centre location, urban suddenly turns to rural by way of a narrow country road that leads to the pub’s front door and no further.
First tip – a reservation is essential, as this place gets very busy. Luckily we had a booking for Sunday lunch and as it was a nice, albeit fresh summer’s day we grabbed the opportunity to sit outside.
Service is pleasant and efficient considering the head count they normally have to deal with, and the seasonal, British pub menu carefully edited to appeal to a wide range of diners.
As we were dining with a nine year old, a kids menu was essential, and Oliver was also treated to some games and coloured pencils while we perused the menu – a chilled glass of Chapel Down English rose also assisted us with this.
Unlike many pub’s Sunday lunch offerings, The Perch gives you the option to start off with some nibbles – for us, crispy fried pork belly with Binsey apple jelly took the edge off our appetites while we settled in.
It must have been our proximity to the water that made us both opt for fishy starters – a fish plate and tempura-style crispy fried Cornish seafood. And extremely tasty they were, too.
Then the main attraction – fish and chips with peas for Oliver, roast rump of beef for David and slow roasted lamb shoulder for me – both roasts served with butter roasted potatoes, cauliflower cheese, Yorkshire puddings and vegetables.
David declared his food envy when he spotted my lamb joint, which really was impressive and big enough to feed two people, and there was silence while we devoured our full plates.
To finish, we shared (because there was no way I could eat a whole dessert to myself) the lemon posset special, which was well worth indulging in, although I must admit I was looking forward to walking it all off later on in the park.
With expansive grounds, a marquee and newly refurbished dining room, there’s always something going on at The Perch, with events, movie nights and music festivals throughout the year. Coming up in September is the Beer & Cider Festival and Binsey Village Fete (more information on the website).
At £16.95 for a roast main course, this isn’t the cheapest Sunday lunch around, but what price quality and ambience? We had a fabulous time and will definitely return. Dogs are also welcome, by the way.
- The Perch Inn, Binsey, Oxford OX2 0NG. See the-perch.co.uk for more information and to book