Earlier this week, we visited Porter's Tavern on Hillsborough Street in Raleigh. On Tuesday, we made the decision to hit The Oxford along Fayetteville Street.
The restaurant: A trendy gastropub with modern decor and cool twists on traditional dishes. We love their red walls, simple but elegant tables and the international flags on the walls. Also, the bar is quite impressive too - but it is a gastropub, so we kind of expected an awesome bar. The private booths in the back were also a nice touch, as they had a cabana style almost to them.
We were looking for a restaurant downtown for lunch on Tuesday and we were hooked when we saw The Oxford's restaurant week menu (specifically their dessert selections - warmed pumpkin and white chocolate bread pudding, grilled ginger bread, peach cheesecake!)
Kathy: I had half of a Manchester chicken sandwich (grilled chicken on a croissant with cucumbers, avocado, melted brie and basil aioli) and an amazing tomato stilton bisque. The sandwich was great too. The cucumbers (which I normally do not eat) were a great addition. They really blended nicely with the avocado, the cheese and the aioli. I found myself wondering exactly what was on the sandwich because it all mixed together so well. Brie can be strong, but it was really toned down on this and made the chicken even more tasty. The sandwich is small but is perfectly filling when you have that cup of soup, which was included in the $10 price. The soup was a great twist on the traditional tomato.
For dessert, I ordered the warmed pumpkin and white chocolate bread pudding, which came topped with a maple-bourbon ice cream and caramel. I loved it! It wasn't too heavy and the ice cream had more of a maple and just a kick of bourbon tones. Very good.
We passed the desserts around the table and I have to say that I was a little disappointed with the grilled ginger bread, which came topped with burnt marshmallow and root beer anglaise. The root beer anglaise just didn't taste as great as I had hoped it would. I guess I had visions of it being more decadent mixed with the marshmallow.
I was pleasantly surprised with the peach cheesecake, which was topped with raspberry melba. The raspberry really helped kick this desert up a notch! I normally don't go for fruity desserts - I am a chocolate fan! But this was really nice and the fresh peaches were spot on.
Caitlin: I guess I was still on an adventurous eater kick when we got to The Oxford, because I ordered the rabbit stew. This time I was completely happy with my choice. Served with shaved Parmesan, radishes and parsley in a crispy bread bowl, the stew was flavorful and filling - perfect for a chilly winter day. If you're like me and had never eaten rabbit before, it tasted kind of like chicken, and made for a delicious hearty stew. I'd say that the stew will give you the biggest bang for your buck at The Oxford during a TRW lunch.
All three desserts were delicious, but my favorite was the grilled gingerbread served with root beer anglaise. The sauce had the "wait, what was that?" factor that made me want to dive in for more. The peach cheesecake I ordered was also delicious. The fresh, sweet peaches on top paired well with the tangy raspberry sauce, and the cheesecake itself was light and fluffy.
Tara: I decided on the Tuna Nicoise from the TRW menu which was served with kalamata olives, egg tomatoes, garlic, fresh herbs and haricot verts with anchovy dressing.
The waiter told us that the lunch entrees were very good but were on the small side so I also added on a cup of the French onion soup with crostini and gruyere (this is not on the TRW menu.)
The soup was delicious and perfect for this chilly day. It was a good portion and the gruyere cheese really pushed it over the top!
I got the Tuna Nicoise served rare and it was very fresh and had great flavor. I love the anchovy dressing that it came with and having the egg, tomatoes and haricot verts (similar to green beans) made it more of a hearty lunch. I am glad, however, that I went with an appetizer as well because there is not much of the tuna.
For dessert I had the grilled ginger bread with burnt marshmallow and root beer anglaise off the TRW menu. The root beer anglaise comes in a cup on the side and really gives this dessert a one of a kind flavor.
The service: We were seated quickly, but found ourselves in the path of the doorway on a cold day. We asked to move and they accommodated us with a great table a little further toward the back. Our server was outstanding! He did a great job explaining the TRW menu and made sure we knew the portions might be small, so a cup of soup would be a great idea. He was prompt and friendly.
Cost: We each ordered water (gotta save those calories for dessert!) and ended up spending around $10. With tax and before tip, Caitlin and I ended up spending just over $10 and Tara spent a couple dollars more because she had that added cup of soup.
The verdict: This is a great way to try out The Oxford's menu. We were all really happy with our food and left full!