THE OLD BOOKBINDERS OXFORD
Nestled in the suburb of Jericho on the northern edge of Oxford city centre, the Old Bookbinders is testament to the age-old adage that appearances can be deceptive. From the outside, it looks like a traditional English pub, and the interior, with its wooden bar, wicker seats and carpeted floors, reinforces this image. But that is the effect that Frenchborn Michel Sadones and his family, owners since 2011, set out to create: a charming pub (complete with real ales) that offered French bistro-style cuisine inspired by their trips to France.
Arriving for lunch one Saturday, I immediately had my appetite whetted by the menu du jour, which included cod mornay and coq au vin, but decided to be indulgent and go for the à la carte menu instead.
To start, I plumped for the soupe de poissons, a tasty blend of bream, haddock and mullet chunks, which certainly warmed me up on a chilly day. My companion chose the escargots de Bourgogne, a plate of 12 snails cooked in garlic and butter, which she said were beautifully tender and went down a treat with a large glass of red bordeaux.
For the main course, I opted for the seared sea bass cooked in white wine and topped with fresh herbs. My friend, who is much more of a meat eater, surprised me by choosing the same dish, and we agreed that the fish was cooked to perfection. Despite feeling quite full, we managed to make room for a dessert. The restaurant is well known locally for its crêpes, but we opted instead for a zingy tarte au citron. The food was authentic, reasonably priced and served with a smile. The menu changes monthly, so coming to the Old Bookbinders could turn into a regular French treat.
Open for lunch Tues-sat, noon to 2.30pm and dinner Tues-sat, 5.30pm to 9.15pm; Sun, noon to 7.15pm. Mains from €9.50, menu du jour from £10.50. 17-18 Victor Street, Jericho, Oxford, OX2 6BT Tel: 01865 553 549, oldbookbinders.co.uk