An Early Birthday

In line with the birthday theme of recent posts, let me introduce you to the Sir Charles Napier.

As I was at Glastonbury on my actual birthday, we decided to stay closer to home for early celebrations. 

We jumped in the car and raced down the M40 for a long overdue family catch up.

The restaurant itself has a very traditional pub feel to it with a bar to match, but the food is anything but standard pub grub.

Lunch started as all best meals do, with bread and bubbles.

Shortly followed by some rather lovely looking starters that struck just the right balance between style and substance.

Which was just as well because as far as I'm concerned, no pretty plates can ever make up for pitiful portions.

The squid and chargrilled mango struck the right balance between sweet and savoury, while the double-baked haddock and cheddar souffle got rave reviews from the other end of the table.

And of course, no family meal is complete without a plate of foie gras perched in front of my dad.

Not one to ever turn down a steak, I was pretty thrilled to spy the sharing rib of beef on the specials board.

As a family of carnivores, it comes as no surprise that we ordered two between four.

Before we knew it four plates of the most perfectly pink meat arrived at the table, served with the chunkiest triple-cooked chips, greens, béarnaise sauce and mushroom ketchup.

My only experience of mushroom ketchup prior to this meal was reading about it in Toast, but it was basically a sweet, sticky vinegary reduction that goes very well with chips.

Although it didn't quite measure up to the beloved red stuff. 

My parents thought that I'd grow out of that habit as I got older, but that hasn't quite happened yet.

I don't mean to be dramatic, but everything from the sides to the steak was honestly fantastic.

If I had to choose one death-row dish, this would probably be what I'd go for.

You can't really beat sitting around a table with great company and even greater food (sorry family...).

Then came the puds, and the point at which I had to endure the ultimate first-world problem of wanting quite literally everything on the menu.

So we did the usual and ordered three to share.

Seeing as one souffle a meal obviously isn't enough, the light-as-air raspberry souffle with raspberry ripple ice cream had to make the cut.

Keeping up with the fruity theme, next came the amalfi lemon parfait with lemon curd, burnt meringue and shortbread. 

Basically a tarted up lemon meringue pie, but without feeling like you've been slapped in the face with a sack of sugar and stodgy pastry.

And last but not least, the caramelised chocolate and peanut terrine with lime ice cream, because a birthday isn't a birthday without chocolate cake.

I was skeptical about the combination of citrus lime and creamy peanut butter, but they actually worked remarkably well together, especially if you're someone who thinks that chocolate can be 'too rich' (in case it's not clear enough, I'm certainly not one of those people).

Although a bit out of the way, the Sir Charles Napier is definitely worth a trip.

A traditional setting with modern twists on the table, I can imagine it would just the right place for a rather cosy Sunday lunch when the temperature inevitably drops in a couple of months time.

Website and reservations here.