No 1 Ship Street's Surf & Turf

Oxfordshire’s smart takeaways are doing a roaring trade, often selling out weeks in advance. But why this sudden demand for such smart food?

For example, if you want a takeaway from Wild Thyme in Chipping Norton you better get in quick because the next few weeks have already sold out. Customers can’t get enough of their Take Me Home Saturday offering of three courses at £25 per head, cooked by top chef Nick Pullen, which is either delivered to their homes or picked up to be enjoyed in style.

“It sounds cheesy but we do sell an experience During lockdown and people still want to feel these things,” Luke champion

It’s a similar story at The White Horse in Wytham, whose At Home takeaway option has sold out three weeks in advance. The popular choice includes a three course menu, with optional wine, decorations, party games and a play list, which has had an unprecedented response.

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Owner Mark Butcher says: “We sell out every week and are now taking orders for three weeks hence. There’s always been a demand for fresh, innovative food cooked – more so than ever in these times.

“We’ve catered for couples whose wedding couldn’t happen, an engagement party and countless 40th and 50th birthdays”

“It’s also about the ritual of having a special meal and the importance of things like date nights, celebrating birthdays, anniversaries etc,

“We’ve catered for couples whose wedding couldn’t happen, an engagement party also and countless 40th and 50th birthdays.

“It’s also reflective of people’s generosity and caring – ordering meals for others – people living alone, the elderly self-isolating and of course NHS/care/front line workers, and a heart warming response from customers who want to see us survive and support us.

“And finally, it’s about making at least one day of the week special – dressing up for dinner and not wearing PJs, having a laugh and a jolly good conversation over a lovely candlelit dinner (with the children in bed).”

No1 Ship Street in central Oxford has been doing a roaring trade (see our review here) of its most popular meals as takeaways, including steak and lobster to be delivered or collected, often including wine and champagne.

Posh nosh indeed at No 1 Ship Street

Owner Ross Drummond, who delivers the food himself, said: “It’s top end for a takeaway but it’s that quality that set us apart before Covid-19 so we’ve played to our strengths. People really splash out on wine as well.

“Almost each and every customer repeats their business which tells us that the offer is probably right for our market, and a few have ordered every single week. Which is why we do this, pandemic or not and we are very fortunate to have such a good following. 

“Next week Tuesday to Saturday we’ve got cold seafood platters on offer, using the best produce we can get fresh from Cornwall and will probably sell out because you can’t get this stuff anywhere else at the moment.

The Horse and Groom in Caulcott released its weekend menu on Monday and was fully booked by Tuesday afternoon. “We’re having to turn away a lot of potential customers,” landlady Stacey Prigent says.

“I think for us it’s about community support. People want to help us. They like what we offer and want to make sure that we can continue to trade when this crisis is over. Or as one customer put it: ‘The food was delicious, of course, but it was also really nice to have a little reminder of life before (and hopefully after) the pandemic.’”

Luke Champion who runs the Hollybush and The Horseshoes in Witney adds: “At our pubs we don’t just sell amazing food, we sell an atmosphere, an anticipation that all adds up to a special occasion. It sounds cheesy but we do sell an experience.

“During lockdown people still want to feel these things. The feeling of excitement from sending menus in WhatsApp groups or tagging each other on social media, drooling over pictures in anticipation and of course eating really delicious food that’s been cooked my someone with special skills.

Takeaway from Hollybush and Horseshoes in Witney

“Luckily in Oxfordshire there are so many amazing places to eat and it’s great to see talented chefs doing their thing even during lockdown.”

Clare Alexander from The Killingworth Castle in Wootton which is offering fish and chips and a Sunday roast agrees: “People are desperate for good food, not normal takeaway fodder, so this is the next best option and everyone tells me it’s the highlight of their week as they are so bored of cooking at home.

Killingworth Castle’s nut roast taken by a client at home

“Plus the social interaction of collection is amazing for us as we are desperate to see how our customers are doing. Everyone has a story and gives us encouragement to hang in there, all with the proper social distancing measures of course. ’it’s been amazing seeing local faves. People even send us their pics from roast and fish and chips to a picnic with our organic beers.”

The Oxford Arms in Kirtlington also offers a new Eat Out AT Home takeaway menu which has flown out of the door, the menu featuring ingredients such as mussels to and rabbit to sea bass.

Chef patron Bryn Jones says: “One of the success factors and the high demand we have experienced is that we follow our normal principles and offer a short menu that changes regularly.”

Oli’s Thai off Cowley Road, sells out every Wednesday-Friday, as soon as their daily menu is announced on social media. Notoriously difficult to get a table there during more conventional times, with a waiting list of six months, their takeaway option is as popular with customers scrambling to get one of the precious slots.

Oxford Fine Dining is running a Fine Dining Experience series of dinners, the next one being on Saturday June 27. Expect a set 3 course menu delivered to your door, along with crockery, cutlery, glassware and linen napkins. All collected dirty the following day for £75 per person. The next menu consists of home cured Scottish salmon with crème fraiche, dill dressed cucumber, radish and caviar
or roasted cauliflower and smoked almond salad with tahini dressing, individual beef wellingtons or celeriac, spinach and honey wellington with salsa verde and toasted pecans served with dauphinoise potatoes and seasonal vegetables. Dessert is a seasonal pavlova. or go to