The other reason is, of course, the food. The monkfish with butterbeans and wild mushrooms is wonderful, as is the griddled scallops served on a pea risotto. I avoid meat, but the game and the roast Oxfordshire pork are supposed to be delicious. Food has to taste and look good, and the presentation at the Sir Charles Napier matches the cooking. The whole experience is complemented by vibrant surroundings. The drive to the restaurant provides wonderful views over the Oxfordshire valleys, especially beautiful in autumn with the trees all deep reds and golds.
The restaurant is an old country house with a log fire for winter nights, and a garden full of grapevines for summer eating. The interior has wonderful sculptures by Michael Cooper. Last orders on Sunday are at 3 o'clock, and you can eat well into the afternoon without feeling they want to ferry the next lot of customers in. People tend to linger.
Another time to linger is over breakfast at Claridges (Brook Street, W1, 0171 629 8860) the only place to go for a naughty fry-up. You get a good plateful, and it's a real occasion. The home-made sausages are rumoured to be legendary, although I forgo those. It's rare for me to have that kind of breakfast event, as I'm very health-conscious. I usually stick to Shredded Wheat with rice milk, which Nicole Kidman introduced me to. In most cases power food, not stodge is the rule for me, whether I'm dining out or not.Reuse content