Charming, convivial and nostalgic are adjectives which would easily describe the dining experience at Oscar’s in Leamington, but they would miss out on the little quirks of this bistro.
Holding a wine dinner without talking about the wine and giving guests a pot of lavender after their ‘Evening in Provence’ dinner, are just two of the ways in which I was pleasantly surprised by a recent visit.
Having walked past Oscar’s and seen a full dining room before, I’d mentally added it to my list of places to remember to book in advance, assuming that it was a popular place just locals. Little did Ellen (Eat With Ellen) and I know that there was a lovely, airy dining room upstairs as we were shown to our table. We were seated by an open window on a gorgeous hot evening, in what was the first of many crushed assumptions during the evening.
The owner, Russell Allen from Aubrey Allen, greeted guests as they took their seats then sat down to enjoy his own dinner without any fuss. At other establishments, themed dinners are seen as an opportunity for the chef to get out of the kitchen, interact with guests, discuss the provenance of ingredients and suppliers.
Not so here. The closest we got to insider information was to question Pascal, as he continued to fill guests’ wine glasses. Luckily he is from Provence so was able to fill us in on the menu and wine choices.
With pissaldiere, bouillabaisse the Marseille way with eel, ratatouille with the chicken main course and soufflé beignets for dessert, the rustic dishes were true to their origins and very tasty.
A major part of most French meals is the cheese course and again Oscar’s held a surprise up their sleeve. The goats cheese was wrapped in chestnut leaves and neatly tied with rafia. We had never seen this before, even though Banon is Provence’s best known and most recognisable cheese.
With the Le Bistrot Pierre and Eleven restaurants nearby, there is a good choice of French cuisine without the fine dining faff for Bastille Day, or any other day when you yearn for a ‘bon repast’ in Leamington.
Thank you again to Oscar’s for the invitation to the ‘Evening in Provence’ dinner, which consisted of five courses, plus aperitifs and unlimited wines. Guests paid £50 but our meals were complimentary.
Follow @oscars_bistro for details of future events.