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The Willow Tree

Review: The Willow Tree Restaurant

Local community cafe within an extra care build, run by former Jamie Oliver Chef, Simon Winters and his Wife Julie. Offering homemade hot and cold snacks and drinks, full lunchtime menu, daily specials, homemade soups, Sunday roasts.
Chicken Rosti - Paprika spiced chicken pieces with wilted spinach, button mushrooms and red onion, served on a potato rosti.

Now here's an unexpected treat: and in fact, I may even understand that sentiment, for The Willow Tree cafe-cum-restaurant is situated in a retirement development in Kidlington, but don't let that fool you, for it represents one of those rarest of undiscovered jewels - a modest eaterie that actually delivers way beyond one's expectations.

Clearly it's not on the foodie thoroughfare of, say, George Street or Walton Street, and clearly the fact that it sits in a retirement complex might just make you think twice, but in fact that is what actually makes it so unique.


This a restaurant, you see, that serves up smart and contemporary dishes in an atmosphere that screams it shouldn't. True, it's not open evenings so you won't want to use it as a romantic getaway, but between the hours of 9.00am and 3.00pm, seven days a week, it's easily comparable to many of better Oxford’s bistro pubs and bars. Its regulars are, on the whole, of that 'certain' age, but since it's open to the public, it's now not unusual to see mums-who-lunch...well, lunching there.

The menu itself is extensive and revelatory; everything from squid to steaks to scampi to pastas and goats cheese salads, and for the coffee connoisseur, Americana, Flat Whites and Mochas abound.

Friday is Fish Day and Sunday is not surprisingly devoted to roasts and once a month (more sometimes) the restaurant throw open its doors to host gastro themed evenings (steak, Chinese, Indian and Italian have all sold out).

In short, it's style and quality served up to macaronily modest prices and like Ronseal, it does what it says on the tin. Alternatively, at breakfast time, it offers a spread of classic fayre that is not only superbly cooked and presented, but well under the £7.00 radar. Run and managed by Simon Winters, The Willow Tree is not a must-see go-to type venue but for the more adventurous, the curious and the mischievously compelled, it's a delicious surprise.


 -Jeremy Smith


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