My feelings towards Quod have always been ones of unshakeable ambivalence. Previous experiences include a cheese soufflé that melts your heart, a chickpea tagine Heinz could have canned better, a peaceful jazz-imbued afternoon tea in the garden courtyard, and a busy, crowded dinner, shouting across the table at my grandma. It has always been a restaurant to visit with family, and last week I did exactly that, to very positive results.
We rocked up at 2pm – perfect Quod time. A two-thirds empty restaurant made for pleasant conversation volume and an attentive and friendly waitress. On both sides of our table were tourists: on our right were a pair of men getting steadily drunker as the afternoon wore on, and on our left was a middle-aged couple enthusiastically making out (Yes. In Quod. How scandalous).
We both chose the hake, which impressed. It was served as a whole fish, daintily and effectively cooked in butter with light seasoning, and accompanied by kale and new potatoes. I usually think of new potatoes as a bland waste of calories, but these were excellently delivered. We also shared the celeriac gratin, which was light (though cheesy) and made for a perfect side order.
I’m a huge fan of sticky toffee pudding, so the banana and date variety on offer for pudding was a must. To my delight, when it came it was adorned with brûléed bananas – most impressive.
Quod is the perfect restaurant to take your parents to. It’s big enough to retain some anonymity, but somehow manages to never quite eradicate intimacy entirely. Dinner can be noisy, but it’s bustling in a good kind of way, not an overwhelming one. Although the menu could do with a revamp soon, the food was fresh and reliably tasty. It is sure to remain a popular destination for anyone visiting or living in Oxford.