When It Happens Panel Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting 'OXFORD NEWS' to 80360 or email
Disappointly true to British form, it was a cool and breezy evening for the first summer jazz dinner with a French flavour at Villandry Bistrot, Bicester Village.
It was not warm enough to venture out onto the 60-cover terrace to enjoy the music of the Fortissimo jazz trio (pictured above), but it was still fun indoors.
You can try your luck with the weather again this month, and hopefully enjoy your meal and jazz on the terrace, on Thursdays July 9 and 23. I am sure a little evening sunshine would enhance the experience.
All-day bistrot Sipping glasses of ginger mojito — from a pitcher, which was very good value at £10 — the four of us were soon perusing the menu at Villandry, the all-day bistrot with cafe and foodstore at Bicester Village designer outlet.
Unfortunately, we were told that the Thursday special — grilled tiger prawns with garlic butter and herb salad — had sold out, due to an influx of diners from the Far East (Bicester Village is very popular with Chinese and Japanese tourists). This had been the choice of two of us, so we had to choose again.
My companions’ starters were garlicky sauteed mushrooms on toasted brioche, potted salmon with crusty bread and herb salad, and rocket salad with goats cheese. All enjoyed. My choice was the delicious chicken and avocado mayonnaise, piled on toasted Ancienne baguette with beautifully dressed rocket salad.
For mains, two had tender rump steaks cooked medium rare as requested from the chargrill, accompanied by chips — quirkily served in metal flowerpots lined with greaseproof paper — and a side of garlic, lemon and olive oil-dressed French green beans.
Crockpot full of mussels My husband had the Villandry cheeseburger, which he found quite dry, mainly because it came in a ciabatta roll and he prefers a soft burger bun, and I had moules frites — a huge crockpot full of mussels with a creamy onion and garlic mariniere sauce to dip the chips in. It was tasty and fun.
The two guys valiantly tackled the puddings — a banana and butterscotch ice cream with honeycomb and a pot of chocolate sauce to pour over, and a glazed lemon tart with clotted cream. Both were unremarkable.
Good coffees finished off an enjoyable evening, enhanced by the gentle jazz from Fortissimo.
If you would like to book for the jazz evenings on July 9 or 23, the music commences from 7pm. Reservations can be made from 5pm on 01869 355070.
Of course, as Villandry so rightly point out: ‘sunshine is subject to the Great British Weather’.
Villandry, Bicester Village OX26 6WB, tel: 01869 355070,