When news reached us that two Heston Blumenthal alumni had taken over a village pub in Surrey, restaurant reviewer Matthew Williams couldn’t wait to swing by Oxshott to experience why everyone is talking about The Victoria

Photos: lateef.photography

Need to know
The Victoria
High Street, Oxshott KT22 0JR
Tel: 01372 238308
Web: thevictoriaoxshott.com

What we ate
Sourdough bread, £5
Crispy pig’s head, £9
Mushroom parfait, £11

Pan fried halibut, £26
Salt chamber aged rib-eye, £39

Sticky toffee pudding, £7
Cheese from Neal’s Yard Dairy, £14

Gusbourne, Brut reserve, England, 2016, £9 per glass
Fiano, Lunate, Casa Vinicola Botter, Sicily, Italy, 2019, £5 per glass
Pinot Noir, Domaine Besson, Givry ‘Le Haut Colombier’ Burgundy, France, 2019, £14 per glass

Great British Life: Matt Larcombe and Simon King met while working for Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck GroupMatt Larcombe and Simon King met while working for Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck Group (Image: lateef.photography)

The review
As village pubs go, The Victoria in Oxshott has received the royal treatment over the past few years.
Having been completely refurbished by The White Brasserie Company in 2016, it’s once again in new hands – and the latest chapter is led by operations director Simon King and chef director Matt Larcombe, who met while working for Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck Group.
For many, Oxshott is a blink and you’ll miss it parade of shops on the A244 cut through from Leatherhead to Esher (or a mysterious labyrinth of mansions and private roads full of sports stars, musicians and highfliers seeking privacy).
And yet, a very obvious community exists in the village too, as evidenced by the notable success of Surrey Hills Butchers, Surrey Hills Delicatessen, Clay Hair Salon and others.

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It’s this world of elevated community that The Victoria is hoping to seamlessly engage with. Their raison d’etre is to take a 'humble pub to glorious new heights with expert passion'.
I was intrigued to say the least, perhaps influenced by the name drop of that mad professor of British culinary arts, but also by the marks of quality in the menu and the obvious craftsmanship behind their dishes.
While this is an establishment aiming at the very top of the Surrey 'pub dining' market – from the stylish interiors to the heavy end of the wine list – they have been quick to pitch themselves as a relaxed regular dining destination rather than purveyors of food sorcery.
And, when you arrive to open fires and a bar area stocked with a range of real ales (although there’s also an impressive cocktails list to remind you that this isn’t any old village pub), it feels like they’ve done a great job of bottling warmth and welcome.
A glass of sparkling wine from Gusbourne, who have vineyards in Kent and West Sussex, and fresh bread from Gwyn’s Bakery in Horsham that perfectly balances crisp crust with floaty crumb quickly showcase the best of British in spectacular style.
The menu is short and, I suspect, they’ll add one or two more twists in the coming months as it feels a touch steakhouse heavy. It’s still hard to choose though from a list that just screams out 'quality ingredients'.
My crispy pig’s head is served with piccalilli, carrot and cucumber that blows in like the brass section before settling into an effortless groove of nose-to-tail perfection.

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Great British Life: Mushroom parfaitMushroom parfait (Image: lateef.photography)
My wife, Sylviane, opts for the mushroom parfait, sweet and sour onions with brioche – a light and delicately balanced starter that unfolds by the mouthful, I’m told.
For mains, Sylviane chooses the pan-fried halibut with St Austell Bay mussels, parsley and potatoes cooked in seaweed butter. It’s a rich dish that exhibits the care and attention this kitchen lavishes on prime ingredients.

Great British Life: Pan fried halibutPan fried halibut (Image: lateef.photography)
I can’t resist the salt chamber aged rib-eye with roasted onion, triple cooked chips and Bordelaise sauce. I’d planned to pick something more adventurous but having spent some time pondering the baffling adventures of Salt Bae in London earlier that day, steak feels like a pretty good test – and at £39 for the rib-eye, it’s got nowhere to hide.

Great British Life: Steak and chips à la The VictoriaSteak and chips à la The Victoria (Image: lateef.photography)
Everything is superb but I must reserve particular praise for those chips. There are some dark arts afoot that no other triple cooked chips I’ve ever eaten have replicated. Sorry, where was I…

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Great British Life: Sticky toffee puddingSticky toffee pudding (Image: lateef.photography)
To finish, a humble staple: sticky toffee pudding with salted caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream. It ticks every box for your humble correspondent.
Why we rate it: Quality ingredients cooked expertly and served by passionate staff in a cosy but stylish village pub restaurant.

Great British Life: Wine and cheeseWine and cheese (Image: lateef.photography)