What: An unapologetically posh pub in Old Windsor that sells a chicken pie for £25.
Who: The chef-patron is Lancashire-born Steven Ellis. His CV includes Gordon Ramsay’s Chelsea flagship and The Star Inn at Harome, Andrew Pern’s influential north Yorkshire gastropub. It was at the latter that the idea for the Oxford Blue germinated. The rest of the senior team have similarly high-end backgrounds. General manager and restaurant manager Daniel Crump and Margriet Vandezande-Crump worked for Gordon Ramsay Group, as has Ellis’ partner and pastry chef Ami Blakey, whose CV also includes The Ledbury.
The vibe: A small fortune has been spent. The newly renovated space has 60 covers and a upscale look that blends traditional pub features with more restaurant-y touches, including a tan leather banquette that runs the length of the dining room and tartan-cloth-clad chairs.
The menu: The food is billed as a hybrid of the modern French cuisine Ellis cooked alongside Clare Smyth at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay and the more rustic fare of The Star Inn. His decision to use some of the best suppliers in the country has pushed up the prices. Served from a special trolley, a starter-sized ploughman’s is £15 and an ale-braised short-rib of beef costs £32. No Windsor Castle-bound coach parties for The Oxford Blue, then.
And another thing: The rationale for the high-end approach is that there are five other pubs in the village offering lower-priced food, and Ellis is adamant that he isn’t running a restaurant in a pub-themed building. “It’s very much a pub,” he says. “We leave tables open for walk-ins and you can pop in and have a pint at the bar.”
10 Crimp Hill, Old Windsor, Berkshire