Review: The Victoria, Oxshott
A destination pub if ever I met one, The Victoria in Oxshott is worth going out of your way for - fabulous food, excellent wine list and a gorgeous country pub setting.
THE LOWDOWN / LOCATION
Some pubs are worth going out of your way for. And The Victoria in the well-heeled village of Oxshott is one of them. Previously part of the White’s Brasserie stable which closed down during the Covid pandemic, it reopened with the same name after a spruce up under the brand new management of Igniting Hospitality run by Matt Larcombe and Simon King. The pair have some pretty impressive creds between them – Matt was the former head chef and managing drector at Heston Blumenthal’s The Crown in Bray, Berk, and Simon used to be the operations director for the Gordon Ramsay Group. They met when they both worked for Heston’s top team at The Fat Duck Group. So yeah, this is a pretty big deal.
Unsurprisingly it’s already on the radar of the country’s top food critics. The Guardian’s Grace Dent gave it the thumbs up declaring the beef Wellington to be ‘the finest she shall eat in this lifetime’, and The Sunday Times has has noted it as one of the top places for Sunday lunch in the UK. Like I said, it’s a bit deal!
There’s a posh members’ club vibe going on here, and yet it’s not in any way poncy or pretentious. It’s a traditional pub – a beautiful red brick building on the outside – with low ceilings, plum coloured timber panelled walls, polished timber floors and open fires. There’s leather banquette seating and simple dark polished timber tables
It’s divided into a series of ‘rooms’, with a bar area for locals on the right, and three dining spaces – the Parlour, the Drawing Room and the Dining Room -which flow together on the left. There are also two private dining spaces which seat six or eight people around a large central table.
The Victoria is clearly aiming to attract diners at the top end of the Surrey restaurant-pub market but it’s also keeping close to the locals too. The Dining Room walls feature a series of framed ‘then and now’ village photographs, and a clear effort has been made to keep the vibe more casual in the bar and Parlour.
The wine list and food, too, have been thoughtfully put together to include something for all tastes and wallets.
It’s worth noting there is no carpark attached to the pub, but the Steels Lane carpark is a short two minutes walk away.
SCOFF & QUAFF
Let’s start with the drinks. The wine list here is extensive, curated by sommelier Michael Engelmann, previously of The Modern in New York and Rockpool in Sydney. His intention is to showcase up-and-coming wine producers as well as those who are less well know, alongside traditional favourites. And there’s also a rare wine menu where prices range from just shy of £800 a bottle to almost £10,000. No, I’m not kidding.
But for mere mortals like you and I, the main wine list will more than suffice – with a fine selection sourced from around the world. There’s also an excellent cocktail list and a good choice of craft ales and beers.
But, we’re here to talk about the food and if I had to use just one word ‘sublime‘ would do very nicely. I dined at lunchtime on a Friday. The menu is short and tightly curated with a small selection of snacks and starters, a slightly longer mains list, and several side dishes.
I started with the Mushroom parfait with sweet and sour onions and brioche. It was beautifully presented and also one of the loveliest dishes I’ve eaten. Ever. Apparently it’s a two day process from start to finish, but that effort is worth it. It’s light with sweet delicate flavours. Not to mushroomy…not too oniony – just a perfect amalgamation of the two. Mr M chose the Smoked Loch Duart Salmon with avocado and caper berries. It also looked amazing, and he seemed very happy with his choice.
My main was the Roast halibut with courgettes, basil and yeast – which offered up a gorgeous combination of flavours. Mr M chose the Trenchmore Farm Sussex Wagyu baguette which comes with a roasted onion and bordelaise sauce. And we ordered a side of triple cooked chips. The steak, I’m told, was excellent. Perfectly cooked and a lovely rich combination of flavours without feeling overpowering and heavy.
For many, that would suffice. But never one to shy away from a touch of gluttony, I powered on through and ordered the Neal’s yard cheese selection with poached pear for dessert. Mr M chose the Black forest souffle with cherry liquor ice cream – he demolished it (enough said!). The cheese board was generous, and if I’d had longer, I’d have quite happily settled in for the rest of the afternoon and enjoyed it with a glass or two of red.
It’s a high end restaurant-pub but there’s a relaxed vibe, and a children’s menu, so kid’s are welcome. Personally, though, I’d leave them at home.
OUT & ABOUT
The National Trust’s Claremont Landscape Garden is not far, less than 10 minutes in the car, in nearby Esher. Or head to Painshill, in Cobham which is also less than 10 minutes drive. If you do have the kids in tow, Chessington World of Adventures is also less than a 10 minute drive down the road.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Pretty much anyone with taste buds. The food is sensational. It’s the perfect venue for a special occasion, date night, family gatherings (book one of the private dining spaces).
Not for: If your tastes are simple, and the thought of dishes that include the likes of fennel pollen, cavolo nero and violet mustard make you twitch, then this is not the place for you. The Victoria wears its food credentials loud and proud.
The damage: Snacks are from £4-£6; starters vary from £9-£17, mains are from £22-£43. Sides are around the £6-£7 mark. Desserts are from £10-£17.
The Victoria, High Street , Oxshott, Surrey, KT22 0JR. Tel: 01372 238 308