Quod: where to dine on the parental dime

When I sat down to eat at Quod yesterday evening, I wasn’t too sure what to expect. Seeing I haven’t quite grasped the ‘force-your-parents-to-fork-out-for-the-most-expensive-food-imaginable’ game yet, my exposure to any dining experience beyond Noodle Nation is seriously wanting. I am pleased to say therefore that this brasserie is not just for top brass.

Situated in a gutted old bank on the high street, Quod has a prime, central Oxford location, in easy reach of most colleges. Serving a vast range of food, with innovative takes on mainly French and Italian dishes, the menu is tantalising, spoiling us for choice. We begin the feast with a pork and herb terrine with quince chutney, and curly endive with poached egg and pancetta, and although we had told each other we were going to try and be as snotty as possible, it was nigh on possible to fault anything. Whilst the terrine might’ve been a bit dry, the flavours were outstanding, and the endive concoction was the most exciting salad I’ve ever had.

We had an amazingly attentive waiter, who made excellent wine recommendations according to our main dishes. For main, we have the onglet steak with fries and the evening’s special of pan-fried Pollock, with carrot velouté and tender-stemmed broccoli. My companion compliments everything, down to her side dish of grilled tomato, whilst my pollock was cooked to perfection, drowned in a smooth and subtle velouté. As we wait between courses, the variety of artwork Quod decks its walls with catches our eyes, an eclectic mix of modern pieces from a vibrant beach scene to the portrait of a big, buff black guy staring me down from across the room. We end our evening by gorging ourselves with mandarin sorbet and lemon and almond cake; the sorbet had a powerful zingy, zesty hit, whilst the cake, drizzled in honey, we savoured to the last mouthful.

The atmosphere was relaxed, yet it was busy enough to provide a good buzz of background conversation. I was surprised to see all walks of life enjoying their evening here, from the solitary diner watching Die Hard on his iPad, to the girls’ night out, to the elderly couple taking a window seat; in other words, this place ain’t just for the graduation celebrations, the rapprochement with parents. If I were to recommend this place to anyone, if would have to be to all those star-crossed lovers out there desperate not to look too desperate: with its chilled vibe, space aplenty and reasonably priced menu- our three course meal for two, with alcohol, only put us back £70- Quod provides the perfect atmosphere for dates etc. in the evening, not just overdone graduation celebrations. In the company of Chirstchurch’s Peckwater and Merton’s Mob, this may well be one of Oxford’s best ‘quods’.