Listed in Restaurants and Cafés
'Rustic, regional European dishes made from fresh local ingredients...80 handpicked wines'. Opened Nov 2009. The Ashmolean has a Café open in the daytimes.
Opening hours: Tue-Sat 10am-10pm, Sun 10am-6pm.
Cuisine: Fish, French, British & Rustic European.
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Latest venue reviews
I love the Ashmolean Museum and enjoy taking my toddler there to look at the exhibits. Last time we were there we met up with friends to have tea and cake in the rooftop dining room. I went a bit off piste and ordered eggs royale. The service was warm and friendly but unfortunately my decaf latte was lukewarm which was disappointing.
Decaf Latte (Unverified), 26/01/12
The "rooftop restaurant" concept is completely flawed. The views are uninspiring and can only be seen, with difficulty, from a wind-blown terrace, not from indoors. The restaurant is poorly-signposted and has to be reached by one specific lift, as far as I can make out -- on our first visit, we gave up altogether as the museum appeared to want the place to be a well-kept secret. The decor is sub-coffee-shop. The food is unpredictable. Everybody seems to want it to be a success, a beacon of metropolitan chic, but it doesn't deliver. Keep to the cafe in the cellars.
Paul O (Unverified), 28/09/10
I wouldn't know where to start after reading a few good reviews. Me and my wife eat around Oxford quite frequently and so we decided to try out the Ashmolean dining room. We went there without prior booking a table and were told that they were full at 8pm but afterwards were told that there is place to fit two. We were happy on getting a table but when we entered the restaurant it was half empty.
Anyway we ordered for an Italian red wine and placed our order for a selection of appetizers consisting of chorizo, cod croquettes and babaganoush and also 2 bowls of the courgette fritters. We waited for almost half an hour for the starters to arrive but no sign of the wine. Finally had to remind the waiter about the wine which was then brought to the table.
The food to say the least was terrible, the cod croquettes didn't have any cod, the chorizos were cold, the fritters were soaked in oil and soggy, the babaganoush was good though. The waiter asked us if it was ok after seeing we had left almost all the starters. For mains my wife had the roast suckling pig which had too much fat and little meat and I had the pot roasted partridge which was dry with polenta. It was a pity because it was overcooked.
We then ordered desserts of strawberry ice cream. The best thing about the meal was the wine. The service was appalling and the food very expensive. We did not complain at that time but as a business value for money is the important thing. The kitchen should remember it is only good as the last plate of food it has send out.
shell (Unverified), 28/05/10
I've been twice (lunch and dinner) and this is hands-down my favourite restaurant in Oxford. The main reason? The food. Maybe I've been lucky, but so far the food has been exceptional. (We had the spinach crepes and the mezze platter, with labaneh no less. We practically fought over each other's plate.) My strong impression is that food is the core of the purpose of this place. That might sound like tautology, but think how many places don't put food at the centre, instead 'milking' an excellent location and un-dentable foot traffic. I think Oxford is particularly prone to such business models, thanks to the unending stream of visitors whom you can disappoint and never worry about. Yes, the ADR food is great, but I would patronise it even if the food were average. The views are nice (note: just 'nice'), the ambience is terrific (in a word: airy), and the staff are first rate. All this without an insufferable, stuffy atmosphere. You can show up in a t-shirt and feel absolutely at home. This feels like continental informal dining. That impression extends to the wine list. It is very thoughtful, with many gems - even by the glass - you'd search far and wide to find elsewhere in Oxford. In other words, a cynical wine list will offer you either mass-produced plonk or recognisable regions or names - with all-too-recognisable prices. You know you're onto a winner when the wine list has exciting but still-unrecognised regions (therefore good value) front-and-centre. Kudos, ADR. Never change!
Scott (Unverified), 27/05/10
Excited by a new addition to the Oxford dining scene, I went here with two friends for dinner. The experience was disappointing, to say the least - and actually upsetting at times. The evening menu (I believe there is a different one for lunch - one of my friends, who recommended it, was very embarrassed at the different experience that evening from the lunchtime she'd experienced some weeks before) was extremely limited, bizarrely over-priced, and insufficiently explained.
The decor was nice - modern, clean lines. But a wooden floor, and no soft fabrics, meant that it was noisy even with just a few tables dining. However, by our main course we three were alone in the restaurant. It totally lacked atmosphere.
The food was mediocre at best, and certainly did not live up to the prices. However, by far the worst aspect of the evening was the service. Our waiter was rude, rolling his eyes when we asked a couple of sensible questions. We were taken aback by such hostility, and completely underwhelmed by the food.
Oxford may not have a glut of good dining options, but most in my experience are better than this.
Persephone (Unverified), 17/05/10
Restricted and not very enticing menu, which was very overpriced. Starters for 4 was accompanied by 2 slices of toast. A request for extra bread brought 4 slices of a good white loaf for which we were charged an additional £1.50. The dining room has the atmosphere of a functional canteen and an excellent view of the top floor of the Randolph Hotel.
HDM (Unverified), 10/05/10
We had a long lunch with Australian cousins, my sister in law and her five month baby on the outside terrace the other day. We had a great experience - tasty, fresh food, no pressure to hurry and go, but responsive service when needed. Our party had the squid, grilled sardines, mezze and some charcuterie. Puddings were rhubarb fool, lemon tart and chocolate mousse. All were delicious, though I would agree that the pricing is fairly steep.
It was a perfect venue for visitors to Oxford - who said it was one of the best meals they'd had in a month in Europe.
Gordon (Unverified), 19/04/10
If you go after dark you don't benefit from the doubtless wonderful view, which I suspect is the only plus about this place. It is not particularly attractive or comfortable - "modern" banal style. The food is enormously disappointing. The pretentious sounding menu, priced to give gourmet expectations, was disappointing. The starter of olive tapenade was plentiful - and just a lot of salty mush. "Roast suckling pig" ( I kid you not) was a couple of bits of flabby pork belly with a large amount of lentils. (Why on earth does anyone serve fatty pork with lentils?)
The service however was very good. Nice waiters. Nobody asked if we were enjoying our meal, however. Perhaps they have already learned not to ask that question.
artlover (Unverified), 27/02/10
I must admit being in a tiny minority of people grossly underwhelmed by the Museum's new extension, finding it bland, and badly designed.
However the restaurant seems like a positive addition to the Oxford eating scene with a bright attractive dining room (too bright in fact on the day of my visit, some blinds would have been quite helpful as the sunlight streaming through was truly dazzling).
The setting is "modern Brasserie" style , and the accoustics like most modern restaurants are quite noisy because of a lack of "padding" from soft furnishings and floors.
Service was prompt and efficient and extremely friendly and the menu was varied and interesting and not the usual "run of the mill" on offer at many similar restaurants. There is a great choice of Charcuterie and my coarse Game Terrine was most delicious, moreish and full of flavours. Hubby chose the salted Cod Croquettes and the Chorizo Piccante, both deemed extremely tasty.
I was disappointed that the Steak Tartare was only available on the evening menu as it is a great favourite of mine and one rarely seen on British menus.
The Cassoulet was good though not exceptional, due to a slight undercooking of the haricot beans which ideally should be cooked extremely slowly for a couple of days to allow a soft yielding texture and for the meaty flavours from the duck and sausages to seep through. The duck and sausages were both however of excellent quality and in good quantity. Cassoulet is one of those addictive dishes which derserves that extra little touch to bring it into the realm of culinary heaven and the "Dining Room's" version just lacked that extra little bit of oomph.
Lunch was brought to delicious end by a most satisfying, rich and calorie ladden Chocolate Mousse with salted caramel.
All in all the "Dining Room" appears to have produced a good well balanced rustic menu, the staff are extremely efficient and the room itself is a pleasant and bright environment in which to while away a little time after a mild case of Museum Fatigue. My only criticism would be that prices are fairly steep and would benefit from a set menu offer such as the ones offered by the excellent "Pierre Victoire" and "Brasserie Blanc" .
I shall certainly return, especially in Summer, to enjoy the glorious terrace, a rare feature in our Fair City.
Pamplemousse (Unverified), 06/01/10
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