Situated, you guessed it, on the riverbank, the Cherwell Boathouse is a longstanding
Cherwell Boathouse boasts a truly impressive selection of wines, their leather-bound list containing pages and pages of choices, with price tags ranging from the very reasonable to the mind-bogglingly expensive. Being recent graduates/still students, we went for something from the more reasonable end of the spectrum, landing on a Cabernet Sauvignon, Château Fayau, 2015.
The dining menu at Cherwell Boathouse is small but considered, offering six or seven carefully curated options for each course. Despite the allure of the starters, we knew that we wanted to indulge in the excellent cheese selection later on, so dived straight into ordering mains. Both my friends opted for the Royal farm pork belly, where I went for the ever-popular vegetarian classic, Chargrilled halloumi.
The piece of halloumi I received was enormous, and in hindsight, maybe ordering a very cheese-heavy main wasn't a great idea considering that we'd punted for a cheese extravaganza for after. Had the combination of the accompanying roast vegetables, tomato purée and balsamic dressing not been as appetising as it was, the saltiness and inevitable toughness of the halloumi (there was a lot to get through...) may have been enough to tip this dish from treat to chore. The pork belly demolished by my friends looked, and apparently tasted, delicious; the mash potato, broccoli purée and pickled red onion that completed the dish was presented particularly attractively.
We eagerly ordered a selection of three cheeses, a Wensleydale, Blue Monday and Celtic Promise, and fleetingly thought about getting some port to accompany, but realised that we hadn't finished our already existing drinks - the food had been so nice we'd forgotten about our wine (high praise indeed)! The cheese selection was as enjoyable as anticipated, and came garnished with delicately sliced apple, grapes, membrillo and plenty of crackers.
Cherwell Boathouse has perfected higher-end yet understated dining. It provides the service, atmosphere, and very nearly the food of a great restaurant, without ever feeling oppressive or overly formal - the perfect place to spend a summer's eve.