Monday, 27 August 2012

The Victoria, Walton Street

The Victoria is a nice pub with a decent atmosphere, a good location for a summer's evening drink. However, this is a food blog, so I have to conclude that it's only worth eating in if you really like pies but have a small appetite.
The pub is run by the people behind Raoul's, the cocktail bar just down the road, and I can't fault the smart interior with its shiny, neo-Victorian look (apparently all the fittings are antique, albeit sourced from other pubs) and the pleasant terraces at the front and rear of the building. The selection of beers is impressive (I really enjoyed the Three Sheets ale) although thankfully they haven't branched out into cocktails. The steampunk-influenced food menu is more limited, however: a selection of bar snacks, fish and chips, and pies, marked out as 'our famous belly fillers' . When we were there they had run out of the mini-sausages I fancied as a shared starter, so pies it was.

There was nothing actually wrong with them. My lamb, chickpea and chorizo pie was actually very nice, with a rich flavour heightened by the chorizo, big chunks of meat and tasty, slightly flaky pastry; my companion also enjoyed his steak and peppercorn version. But for £7.75 I would have expected something, well, bigger and more belly-filling (there's no indication that the pies are organic or locally sourced or anything else that might explain the cost). This took up about a quarter of a not especially large plate: see the fork in the picture for scale. The dressed salad that came with it was quite good, but the chips were clearly of the kind that go straight from a bag in the freezer into the oven. I'm no fan of being served huge plates of food that I struggle to finish but I don't like being left a bit hungry, either (and there's no dessert menu).
There's a noble tradition in 'proper' British pubs, of the kind I think the Victoria wants to be, of serving a limited selection of not especially memorable food. In its way, that's fine. But given that the owners have clearly made an effort in other ways and, more important, the menu on the website boasts about the 'famous pies' on offer, I think I can be forgiven for being disappointed.

The Victoria
90 Walton Street OX2 6EB
01865 511516


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