Katherine MacAlister tries a second helping to find out if her original opinion of a restaurant was accurate or not

You need the skin of a rhinoceros to do this job, the appetite of the Hungry Caterpillar and the conviction of a lifer.

You have to have faith in your own opinions, and stand by what you say. You have to be honest, arbitrary and democratic. Oh, and did I mention greedy? All of which stood me in good stead on Friday lunchtime when I returned to The Oxford Kitchen.

I loved it first time round, popping in for supper soon after it opened in January, having taken over the Florio’s site on the Summertown parade, which had in turn taken over La Dolce Vita. It promised fine dining in a relaxed atmosphere, and blew my socks off.

And then the nationals arrived in the shape of Giles Coren from The Times, guns blazing, on the Oxford Kitchen’s busiest Saturday in history, with four small children to feed and entertain. To cut a long story short, it wasn’t a great success and he didn’t hold back. Which had me questioning my judgement. So I decided to see if I’d got it wrong.

This time I went for lunch and the service was as quick and as friendly as before, the manager Tom being a wonderful find. It is a slim restaurant with an upstairs, but with the sun out, the windows are opened up at the front.

Head chef John Footman has a pedigree a Siamese cat would be proud of and makes everything from scratch in the kitchen, which means the food isn’t immediate, but is worth the wait.

There is a lovely set lunch menu of two courses for £13.50 or three for £16.50 but our eyes had already wandered to the specials board. The tomato gazpacho (£5.50) sounded wonderfully summery and I knew if anyone would get it right it was John. The oxtail main course was another stunning sounding dish and so we ordered.

Oxford Mail:

Our starters included the soft poached free range egg, confit chicken wing, peas, fèves, and morels (£7.50), while the gazpacho came in a bowl with the soup poured in from a small jug which was so good I actually moaned out loud. If I could have, I’d have been in the kitchen drinking it straight from the pan.

The chicken was so delicately presented and with such finesse and care it made us want to weep. The plump poached egg, just waiting to be pronged, was curled inside what resembled a bamboo ring but was actually fashioned out of potato, all laid on to the sheet of pressed chicken, which was similarly well received.

Then the oxtail, which came stuffed and tranched like French bread slices and settled on a smoked pomme puree (£18); an elegant dish and a far cry from the wintery stew or soup we usually associate with this cut of meat. The spring vegetable salad with braised white onion tabbouleh (£15) was a masterpiece, the stuffed onion hidden by a tasty foam, and each vegetable component treated like a prince.

The portions do leave room for dessert, a far harder decision to make, simply because we wanted it all. We chose the coconut cheesecake, salt baked pineapple and mango sorbet (£7) and the fine apple tart, walnut frangipane with calvados crème fraiche ice cream (£5.50) and it sang.

By this stage I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to just sit there all day and eat John’s food.

As I drove home I felt sorry for Mr Coren for not seeing The Oxford Kitchen at its best.

But I’m equally as convinced that my original impression was the right one.

The Oxford Kitchen is at 215 Banbury Road, Summertown, Oxford.
Call 01865 511149 or see theoxfordkitchen.co.uk