As I walked through The Westgate Centre towards the newly opened, ‘Hamptons inspired’ restaurant, Victors, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Prior to my visit, I’d heard tales from my Mancunian friends about the restaurant’s charm – its Hale branch, I was told, is a chic, sexy, atmospheric venue, frequented by Manchester’s most glamorous diners. This reputation, alongside the fact that the Victors website advertises its cuisine as ‘modern American’, was all I knew of the restaurant before I had the chance to visit for myself. I was intrigued to investigate whether the hype was deserved.
I soon discovered that Oxford’s branch of Victors, located on The Westgate Centre’s rooftop terrace, was more dazzling and unique than I imagined it to be. Upon entering Victors, my guest and I were instantly struck by the restaurant’s enchanting interior design: each minute aspect of its appearance – the wisteria hung bountifully from the ceiling, the quaint cream furniture, and the stunning, spacious bar area – had evidently been thoughtfully tailored to create a lasting impression. The appearance of Victors was, we soon found, just one element of its overall appeal: its lively, romantic atmosphere, too – in part formed by the background soundtrack of relaxing poolside tunes – was delightfully charming. Even before I’d had a chance to try Victors’ menu, I could sense, based on the artistry of the restaurant itself, that I would not be disappointed.
My intuition was soon proven right. The first gift for my taste buds came in the form of Victors’ delicious cocktails. I surveyed the bar’s expansive menu, which boasts a number of enticing, innovative drinks, and eventually decided on the ‘Kiss & Candy’, whilst my friend opted for a ‘Wisteria Lane’. My cocktail was delicious, and fantastically Insragrammable – the pale pink drink came topped with a small purple flower, and was accompanied by candy floss and a shot of prosecco. It tasted even better than it looked – the distinctive flavours of lychee and vanilla coupled with the bittersweet edge from the prosecco was a winning combination. My friend was equally delighted with her ‘Wisteria Lane’ cocktail – the drink’s combined ingredients of gin, lavender, violet, and lemon gave it a rich, exotic flavour. Having experienced Victors’ delicious cocktails, both reasonably priced at £8.50, we were excited to find out whether the food menu was equally enticing.
Upon entering Victors, my guest and I were instantly struck by the restaurant’s enchanting interior design: each minute aspect of its appearance – the wisteria hung bountifully from the ceiling, the quaint cream furniture, and the stunning, spacious bar area – had evidently been thoughtfully tailored to create a lasting impression.
Victors’ food menu boasts a variety of culinary styles – ranging from its signature rolls and fresh sashimi, to pizza and pasta – and my friend and I, having asked the friendly waitress for advice, decided to try a range of small dishes from different sections of the menu. We started with a plate of zucchini fritti (reasonably priced at £3), which was served with sriracha hot sauce. The light and crispy deep-fried zucchini, rendered zesty and spicy by the dipping sauce, was totally worth the calories. We then ordered two half-rolls to share – the spicy ahi tuna roll, topped with avruga caviar, and the avocado dragon roll, which contained smoked tofu, red pepper, and marinated hijiki – and, when the sushi dishes arrived, they looked almost too good to eat. Upon tasting the rolls, we realised that the costliness of the sushi – each half-roll costs £7.50 – was justified: the fish was fresh and of excellent quality, and the spicy flavours complemented the creaminess of the avocado and the saltiness of the caviar. The sushi was heavenly.
If you’re the type of person that only orders lemon and herb chicken at Nando’s, I recommend that you avoid Victors’ spicier dishes – which are gloriously hot, if your taste buds are on the less sensitive side – and instead stick to the restaurant’s ‘modern American’ dishes. The popcorn chicken and lil’ burgers, priced at £7.50 and £12.50 respectively, blessed us with each mouthful: the buttermilk fried chicken, served with chipotle mayonnaise, was succulent and moreish, and the mini burgers were delicious.
As the evening progressed, the restaurant’s lights were gradually dimmed, and the atmosphere became even more vibrant as we indulged in our final Victors dish of the evening, a trio of ice-creams. The dessert was presented beautifully, and each scoop of ice-cream was topped with a pretty flower and delicious biscuit crumbs. Even though I was full and could feel a food baby emerging, I couldn’t stop eating. The food was just too good not to finish.
The arrival of Victors in Oxford has brought a whole new level of elegance and magic to Oxford’s food scene. The restaurant is perfect for special occasions, romantic dates, or simply for those who are craving excellent food and a relaxing atmosphere.
Whoever ‘Victor’ is, he’s done a great job.