I've eaten at least twice---once tonight, and once or twice last June or so... at The Oxford Kitchen on Banbury Road in the heart of Summertown in North Oxford. Extraordinarily good food. Nice ambience and décor, stylish but relatively casual. Exposed brick walls, large silk-screen Campbell's soup can print a nice humorous touch. Set price menu is extraordinary value. Hake with Jerusalem artichokes, parsley risotto and some kind of thin (like, microthin) veggie crisps just superb. Nougatine with quince sorbet, thin (like, microthin) wafers tasting of burnt sugar, toasted almonds, and some crumbly stuff mind-blowingly good. Pumpkin velouté starter good, not mind-blowing, but set off the wine I had very nicely. At £18.50 for 2 courses, £15.50 for 2, it's one of the best foodie values I've encountered anywhere. Wines are carefully chosen and if you have wine in restaurants you know how important that is. 2013 Boschendal Chenin Blanc, coastal region South Africa, £5/175ml is kind of the Chablis of Chenin Blancs---pretty dry, a bit of stereotypical apple flavor but mostly just tastes like really solid white wine a bit flinty-seeming maybe but that's probably just a bit of tannin, really long, flavorful finish no doubt stuck to the palate with a bit of that unobtrusive tannin, a smooth, just the slightest bit unctuous, and not at all hot (overalcoholic) mouthfeel. To get a chardonnay of this quality, you'd be looking at good village-level white burgundy from the Côtes de Beaune or Nuits, like maybe a St.-Aubin at least (or maybe some particular thing, known to the cognoscenti but not to you unless from a restaurant like this...from a lesser appellation like Mercurey) at least, and 3-4x the price. Ditto on the red side if you wanted a pinot noir as good as the Claro Reserva 2012 Pinot Noir from Chile ( also £5/175ml)... lush, a bit spicy and earthy, with generous berry flavors too but not a fruit or alcohol bomb, balanced. These folks have done the work of tasting through dozens of ho-hum reasonably-priced wines to find the ones that deliver an experience that is usually (well, I don't usually spend that kind of money) much more expensive. Talisker 10 year old, neat in a nice wide rocks glass with a bit of water to splash in, was a perfect finish. Lively balance between peat and brighter more floral notes, filling the nose with perfume and crackling like fire on your tongue.
I had the tasting menu once last year, it too was superb. Don't miss Oxford Kitchen if you're in town and can get up to Summertown for a meal.