my Big Fat Greek birthday (Part I)

What a weekend. Full of eating. Heavy on the cake. Loud on the music. And genuine surprises.

Saturday, I had made plans to meet my labmate Srin at Gee's, a posh restaurant in North Oxford where I have wanted to eat for four years now. A place where parents take their kids after graduation, if you know what I mean. Srin can be cast as a food connoisseur, and she was excited to treat me on my birthday to the British contemporary cuisine for which Gee's is well known amongst Oxonians.

As I biked my way to the restaurant from East Oxford, I ran into my friend Eleni on Holyweel Street (a pedestrian road off the High Street, lined with charming and classically old Oxford buildings that includes an apparently very good Japanese restaurant I have yet to experience). I was in a rush, said hello, she awkwardly wished me 'Χρόνια πολλά, Γιαννάκη!' and then I dashed off to the restaurant. As I got to the restaurant, Srin still hadn't arrived. She strutted to the front of Gee's in a very stylish red dress and looked gorgeous as always. Our friend Haj (also a fellow lab rat) joined us as well as one of Srin's good mates, Kartik.

The restaurant, operated by an upscale leisure company called Mogford, is housed in a charming Victorian conservatory with chandeliers, Sophisticated yet inviting, and I'm a sucker for Gee's natural light. We sat by the window, and I sported my Ray-Bans given the sun (a rarity this summer in England). Our waitress was very pleasant, and after taking a look at their luncheon menu, which included a variety of Continental-inspired dishes, we ordered.

I hate pate, so the natural choice (of course) was to have sautéed duck livers and poached hens egg in a puff pastry case. I said go for it since I believe eating is about experiences. I wasn't a fan, but the presentation was a hit. The meat itself was quality, but I couldn't strip myself of my prejudice when it comes to liver of any kind. At least, I tried it. 

saute duck livers & poached hens egg in a puff pastry case

My main was a chicken confit with chorizo and slow roast tomatoes, which I very much enjoyed.  The portion was smaller than I anticipated, but then again, I am a villager at heart and used to rather large pans of meat pies. We also ordered a side salad of tomatoes and basil. The purple basil was unique, beautiful, and aromatic. 

chicken confi with chorizo & slow roast tomatoes

Srin had the poached salmon on crushed Jersey royal potatoes in an olive oil dressing. I tasted a bit of the potatoes, which were surprisingly light and flavourful. The salmon dish was particularly striking and pretty. With my meal, I failed to mention that I had small glass of the Muscadet sur Lie 2006, clos des Rosiers. Sweet and smooth, and complemented the chicken.

poached salmon on crushed Jersey royals, with olive dressing

For dessert, I thoroughly enjoyed the poached pear with vanilla ice cream and a dark, silky chocolate sauce. That's after I blew out the candle which our waitress kindly placed on top of the ice cream.
strawberry shortbread, strawberry & black pepper consomme

We stayed for a total of about three hours in the restaurant. We took our time enjoying our food, and talking for quite a long time afterwards (without being rushed by our waitress).  This was they type of establishment where you felt appreciated, which can't be said for middle-of-the-road restaurants throughout the UK.  Everyone knows I am very critical of the customer service we get in restaurants in this country, but Gee's was very much a positive experience.  

A memorable and special birthday luncheon.

the menu (which I had the chef, Mr. Oliver Lee, sign afterwards)

the illustrious Srin

the sophisticated Haj


Peter M said...

Yianni, Happy Birthday and Xponia Polla!

Yannis said...

thanks man :)
na se kala.
trelo weekend.
great fun.

Maria said...

Yanaki.. H kardia mou pidiai me xara pou perasais kala sta genethlia sou! I don't know if I'm more excited about that, or the fact you finally identified yourself as a xoriati! You can take the boy out of the village, but you can never take the village out of the boy!! Hahaha... Filakia polla! Ta leme!

O'Cookies said...

Thanks for your comment! Best chocolate chip cookie recipe ever...Neiman Marcus Cookbook. Secret ingredient: espresso powder. UNREAL. Let me know if you need the full deal! I'm happy to pass it along...Have fun blogging!
-Erin O

Leigh said...

nice - that chicken and salmon look awesome!