I hope Nick will permit me to report on somewhere I have visited without him. La Gousse d'Ail (garlic clove) is a great new addition to eating out in the Thames corridor. Only problem is that it is on the northwest side of Oxford (which may make it less attractive to the hordes that live to the southeast) and, however nice the decor in a warm modern way, it is situated in what is basically a very ordinary 20th century house. I dread to think how cruel Messrs Gill and Meades will be about this aspect of it, but this is an irrelevance because everything inside is distinctly superior. The chef is ex-Manoir aux Quat'Saisons and it shows, but the food is not so overwhelmingly ambitious as Raymond Blanc's - just very delicious, interesting and well executed. The wine list is the same. We had Grosset's Polish Hill Riesling 1999 which was stunning enough not to stick in the gullet at £37 a bottle. And the set lunch at £22.50 for three courses is really very good value. If I thought my digestion could stand it, I would devote a day to having lunch there and then dinner at the incomparable Fat Duck in Bray near Maidenhead, my favourite restaurant of the moment (with a stunning wine list) but just too far out of London to visit often enough. Can't wait for my children to get themselves to university in this direction.
La Gousse d'Ail, 268 Woodstock Road, Oxford 01865 311936
The Fat Duck, 1 High Street, Bray 01628 580333