One of Oxford's most picturesque eateries, Gees offers an authentic British menu with a hint of the Mediterranean.
Five minutes' walk from the middle of town on the Banbury road, you can't miss Gees. The eye-catching Victorian conservatory bedecked with twinkling lights intrigues you and ensures the restaurant is easy to find. As with many of Oxford's restaurants, parking is at a premium so take the park and ride or leave the car at home.
Gees is a fairly upmarket restaurant with a feel of relaxed sophistication that attracts a similar crowd to its sister restaurants, the Old Parsonage and Quod. You'll come across the occasional table of noisy students but that's to be expected in a university town.
Staff are generally well mannered and attentive without being too in your face and the general ambience is very pleasant, especially if you go for the Sunday night jazz evening.
Gees serves traditional British cuisine with an air of refinement and a hint of the Mediterranean. The menu changes over the year to offer seasonal dishes, something the restaurant take great pride in. It also cooks less fashionable (yet equally delicious) cuts of meat such as pork belly.
Of the different menus available, the dinner menu offers the widest choice with a range of starters (£7-£10) that include a delightful carpaccio of beef sourced from the nearby Rofford Farm, tomato and mozzarella tart and a delicate Jersey crab mayonnaise.
The mains (£14 to £25) include some old favourites such as fish and chips, rabbit pie and the Gees hamburger, coupled with some more adventurous dishes such as the fillet of bream with saffron potatoes.
The Rofford Farm beef with beer is an excellent dish, combining tender meat that bursts with flavour and is served in a rich and distinctive gravy. The spring lamb is equally good.
Desserts (£7) are perhaps more expensive than is merited, but dishes like treacle tart and rhubarb fool will fill you with nostalgia and provide a satisfying end to your meal.
From Monday to Saturday you can opt for the lunch menu before 2.30pm (two courses for £13.95 or three courses for £16.95) and choose from a selection of four starters including a subtly flavoured asparagus vinagrette. Among the four mains there's steak frites, fish pie with a rather surprising lemon mash and a mushroom and celeriac lasagne for vegetarians.
On Sunday the set lunch menu is a little more expensive (two courses £22.50 or three courses for £25) but includes a traditional roast of enticing locally sourced meats which will leave you feeling satisfied and ready for your Sunday afternoon nap!
The wine list is well thought out and offers something for everyone, a wide range of reds and whites with highlights such as the superb Blenheim Point 2007, Sauvignon Blanc and the velvety Cycles Gladiator at the £30 mark.
There's some highly regarded French Grand Cru' if your pockets are deep enough. Almost all the wines are available by the pitcher, allowing you to try without opting for a whole bottle - a nice touch!
The Last Word
An attractive restaurant with a varied, interesting menu and an intriguing wine list, Gees offers well prepared, locally sourced food and a great ambience. But it's probably at its best if someone else is paying!