The phrase ‘heaven on earth’ is criminally overused, but it is the only possible descriptor for my experience at The Hollybush in Witney.

Before my visit to the restaurant, I had heard two things: that the wine was very good and the steak even better. But whispers on the grapevine did not prepare me for what was to come.

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We were ushered to a table in the stone-walled indoor dining area by a friendly maitre d’ who gave us a rundown of the menu.

A bottle of house red Le Havre de Paix was our choice of drink.

Witney Gazette:

Portion sizes were generous. Picture: Lorenzo Pagano

Opting for the house wine can be a risk, but not at The Hollybush. The red was silky smooth with berry tones and was the perfect accompaniment to our food. We also had sparkling water for the table, straight from Blenheim Palace’s on-site aquifer.

To start, I opted for the cauliflower soup with herb oil accompanied by cheese on toast. For my partner, heritage tomato garnished with basil and Windrush Valley goat’s cheese.

Witney Gazette:

Cauliflower soup at The Hollybush. Picture: Samantha King

The eatery champions local suppliers which was evident in the fresh flavours. Meat comes from nearby farms and butchers, with cheese from the Cotswolds. Even the wine is local, sourced from the Oxford Wine Company.

My cauliflower soup has firmly established itself as the best I have ever tasted. The herb oil perfectly contrasted with the creamy flavours brought in by the vegetable, and created a sensation on my tongue that I long to have again.

Witney Gazette:

Beer-battered fish and chips. Picture: Samantha King

For the main course, I went for a pub classic: beer battered fish and chips with tartare sauce and pea puree. It was a medium rare Waghorn's Dry Aged Ribeye steak with house chips and vine tomatoes for my guest.

The fish and chips were a real crowd pleaser and you won’t be disappointed by the dish. The steak, however, left myself and my fellow diner unable to engage in conversation. Our mutual desire to consume it all was the only thing we had in common in that moment.

Witney Gazette:

Ribeye steak at The Hollybush. Picture: Samantha King

“This is the best steak I have ever had in my life. I am going to cry,” my partner said.

The steak was so incredibly tender and juicy that chewing it barely seemed necessary. It was a culinary triumph. At nearly £30, it is one of the more expensive menu options, but it was so much more than a dish: it was an experience well worth the price.

The Hollybush is set in an 18th century brick building, but there was nothing 1700s about the décor. The interior was fresh, modern and classy – and above all else, cosy. Candlelit tables and painted brick saw to that.

Witney Gazette:

Heritage tomato starter. Picture: Samantha King

Attention to detail is very much the restaurant’s forte. No more than a minute after the tealight on our table extinguished, our server Az was at our side with a new one, and around every ten minutes or so, the lighting indoors was dimmed by a member of staff to ensure the ambience endured and matched the light outside.

Our third and final course was a sticky toffee pudding each, served with toffee sauce and a scoop of ice cream.

Witney Gazette:

Sticky toffee pudding: Picture: Samantha King

The sticky, rich sauce beautifully finished off the dessert and despite our full bellies (portion sizes here are very generous indeed), we cleaned our plates.

With no main dishes under £16, The Hollybush is very much a venue for an occasion. With exemplary service and equally as exemplary food, it certainly won’t be an experience you forget in a hurry.

As I left the restaurant, a group of four were on their way in. I recommended the steak. I very much hope they tried it.