A new arrival to
Keepers' bee theme is apparent even before you enter the restaurant - the sign outside is hexagonal, like a cell in a honeycomb, with a bee in the background - but the decor is tasteful and understated. The walls and furniture use yellow and brown tones, with hexagonal lights, bee-print cushions, and scientific illustration-style art on the walls. The atmosphere in the restaurant was relaxing and peaceful; we were one of only two groups dining, a result perhaps of the restaurant's newcomer status, or the fact that it's a little way from the heart of the city centre.
The waiting staff at Keepers were attentive and friendly, with an almost preternatural ability to anticipate what we needed. Soon after we sat down, my friend announced "I need about two litres of water" - then burst out laughing as our waitress walked up carrying a jug and three glasses.
Having hydrated, we looked at the cocktail menu for some real drinks. The menu had a well-balanced mix of classics and new creations, many featuring honey that the restaurant sources from British Honey Company in Kidlington. I chose the Honey Bubble, a concoction of prosecco, vodka, lime juice, raspberries and honey. My friend was unsure of which of the many drinks to order, so the waitress asked her about her favourite spirits rather than pushing a particular line of drinks, as I've seen in other cocktail bars.
My Honey Bubble, and the Mai Tai that my friend had chosen, arrived quickly, along with the Diet Coke that my partner ordered. While I couldn't taste the honey in my cocktail, the combination of prosecco and raspberry made for a refreshing, not-too-sweet drink with a bit of bite. My friend's Mai Tai was reportedly excellent, and very well-presented, coming garnished with a banana leaf. Keepers clearly don't skimp on their measures, as one drink was enough for each of us during the course of our meal.
Our food arrived soon after, and lived up to the strong expectations we already had from Keepers. The menu had plenty of range, one of the reasons that I'd selected the restaurant. There were several options for vegetarians, much to the delight of my partner, who is used to having to choose between 'something with cheese' or 'a field mushroom in a bun' whenever we go out to eat. He chose the roasted vegetable panini, as did my friend, and both agreed that it was fresh and full of flavour (although my partner did find the accompanying fries a little too salty). I chose the beef burger with cheddar and relish, which also arrived with fries and a lovely bonus of onion rings. The burger was tender, with piquant relish and strong, rich cheese, while the onion rings were crisp and moreish - and, for me, the salt level on the fries was just right.
The two-for-one offer on the cocktails meant that our meal was not only pleasant, but very reasonably-priced, coming to under £50 for three people. With a wide variety of fresh, well-made food, a quirky but relaxing atmosphere, and attentive, knowledgeable staff, Keepers is well worth the short walk up the High Street.