Thought for Food: Gee’s

Food and Drink Student Life

Rarely can a conservatory showcase such sophistication. Somehow, Gee’s manages to transform the otherwise humble into a rather cosy, refined and tranquil setting, almost as if we were dining in a well-to-do Italian family’s stately winter garden. Mille the manager affectionately ushered us in to the bar, where the shelves of spirits and wines glistened under the dimly glowing lights. I couldn’t tell which had more swagger: the sophisticated and stylish bar, or perhaps the quiff-haired and smartly dressed young bar-tender with his designer watch.
To start things off, I asked for a glass of Schloss Lieser Riesling, priced at £33.00 a bottle, or £8.60 per glass. Its body was light, crisp and lieblich, with its white-blossom sweetness coming through nicely as an aftertaste, contrasting the mildly citric flavour. One really cannot go wrong with this; it is succulent yet delicate. Nicole’s Margherita proved to be rather too strong for her adolescent palate. I liked it. There is nothing better than to sip away at a glass of chilled wine whilst gazing up at the sparkling light hanging from the ceiling. Life as an Oxonian is terribly hard.
Looking at the menu, I had what Grace Dent would call a Marcus Wareing moment. Everything on the menu looked appetizing it took us an eternity to finally decide what we wanted. The starter was flawless. My mussels with chorizo were beautifully balanced: the tender fruits of the sea were pleasingly luscious, with the savoury aroma of the cured meat complimenting the dish. Nicole’s starter was a delightful splash of the Mediterranean – grilled squid with salsa verde – juicy and flavourful. The blend of zesty sharpness from the dressing balanced the dish nicely. The champagne (Veuves Deloynes de France, priced at £50.00 per bottle) was delicate and discreet. Looking around, the well-cared-for olive trees helped to blend in the artificial with the natural to create a calming ambiance. I don’t know what it was – the hearty dishes, the cosy atmosphere or the perfect hospitality, but the conversation flowed pleasantly, even if it was between two siblings.
The main was superb. My Pollock fillet with saffron mash was divine. The fish was fresh and perfectly seasoned; the mash was silky and intense. I particularly liked the smoky scent of the pine nut with the brown shrimp butter; it gave an all-round humble attitude to the dish. I couldn’t decide whether I was regretting my order or not, as I found Nicole’s exquisite corn fed chicken with glazed beetroot, cumin potatoes, with a romesco sauce to be equally mouth-watering.
The dessert exceeded my expectations. Nicole’s panna cotta with pouched rhubarb was magnificent. It was most probably the finest panna cotta I have eaten in this country – smooth, velvety with a vanilla fragrant. The rhubarb was tangy and offered a sharp awakening of the palate. The only criticism I could give would be the presentation of the rhubarb; it looked out of place against the otherwise gracefully presented dessert. I must admit, caramel and I have never seen eye to eye, but even I bowed down to the dark chocolate tart with salted caramel sauce. A simply rich and divine sensation, the caramel consistency was dangerously moreish.
The overall experience was impeccable. Looking around, every table received the same warm, smiling hospitality. It well and truly exceeded my expectations of what the Oxford dining scene could offer. There is no guessing as to whether the ingredients were fresh and ethically sourced. I spoke to Mille the manager later and found out that they have their own vegetable garden. Amazing. This is what I would call high-end homely food. Gee’s – I salute you.

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