Ingestigator: Quod

I’m all for spontaneity, impulsiveness, acting on a whim. But not when it comes to the lethal combination of restaurants and large groups. There is a growing trend for not taking bookings in the restaurants of our fair city, and it worries me.  Walking along to Quod with a College guest and eight other students, the plush brasserie and bar’s booking policy is the bane of my existence. My attempts to defy their bizarre rule have been to no avail. Although the manager has assured me earlier in the day that there will be plenty of space for the group, Quod is predictably packed. Admittedly, the staff are friendly and very accommodating under the circumstances, frantically squeezing us onto two adjacent round tables. However, as a seating arrangement it is not ideal and it seems that a lot of fuss could have been saved if only we could have booked.
And it’s a shame, because Quod really is one of the best places in Oxford to take a guest or group for a special occasion. In its prime position on the High Street it is convenient to all of central Oxford. The chic beige interior is offset by jazzy paintings which seem to change with every visit, while the refreshing lack of musac means that the room is filled with chatter rather than pounding beats. Seated, we are promptly offered generous helpings of bread and oil and settle down to explore the wide ranging menu. From steak to goat’s cheese tart, from pizza to duck confit: the variety is impressive.  It is the typical menu of the modern swanky restaurant: classic British favourites gone classy. My only qualm with the selection on offer concerns the salads. On previous visits I’ve enjoyed a delicious chicken salad with watercress and broad beans. Tragically, the chicken seems to have been usurped by a poached egg in the new menu: a great loss. Moving on from this disappointment, however, we order just about the whole menu between us. Before our dishes arrive we are plied with tap water, iced and in jugs. Things are looking good.
The food arrives and proves just why Quod can afford not to take bookings. My chicken soup with dumplings is perfect, managing the feat of being both light and hearty, while the sizable pizza bianca quickly disappears. Quod has fabulous food, stylish decor and great atmosphere. However, with main courses at around £14, it is the place for a special occasion, not for the cheap bite to eat.
Score: 3/5
Food: Gastropub gone classy
Price: Expensive – most main courses are £14
Service: Fast and friendly, but you can’t book in the evenings