The Sir Charles Napier | Chinnor (UK)

Just the look and feel of the place will urge you to make the journey to The Sir Charles Napier.
Trust me, you will not be disappointed!

Driving through narrow lanes in the beautiful countryside of Oxfordshire, we arrived at The Sir Charles Napier. An idyllic country restaurant, set in the Chilterns in an established inn.

We were invited for dinner by our friends Helena and Dominic a couple of weeks ago and as it was a nice summer’s day, we started off with a cocktail in the delightful well maintained gardens. While we were admiring the shining statue of a gorilla, center-placed in the garden, we were welcomed by the charming Julie Griffith, proprietor of the Sir Charles Napier for over 50 years now.

We later went inside for dinner in the dining room which doubles up as an art gallery displaying more highly-polished animal sculptures of Julie’s talented husband, Michael Cooper, injecting a dash of wit into the room.

The restaurant was awarded with a Michelin star in 2012, which they lost in 2018. Head Chef for the last two years is 28 year old Andrew Lewis. Andrew previously worked at Tom Kerridge’s The hand and Flowers ** in Marlow.

The Sir Charles Napier opens 6 days a weeks for both lunch and dinner and is closed on Monday. They offer an à la carte with 6 starters (at £10.50 – £19.50), 6 mains (at £24.50 – £30.00) . During weekdays they also offer a set lunch and dinner (2 courses at £30.00 and 3 courses at £35.00). 6 desserts (at £11.00 – £14.00) and a cheese board at £14.00).

We had dinner on a Saturday and made our choices from the à la carte menu.


While enjoying our apéritif in the beautiful garden the appetizer was served. Caramelized onion and whipped goat cheese tartlets, dusted with beetroot.

Bread & Butter

Onion brioche and a firm slice of soda bread with salted butter. Really liked the brioche. Well baked and great taste with the onion through it.

Chilled Ajo Blanco

An extra taster from the chef. Ajo blanco, the Spanish cold soup made from bread, almonds, garlic and olive oil, served with Charentais melon, red grape and wild garlic. Sometimes called the white gazpacho, this elegant soup was heavy on the traditional flavours of almond and garlic, yet refreshing as it should be.

Lobster Risotto (£18)

For a starter I choose the lobster risotto with orange, saffron and basil. Well made risotto, although I like it creamier, luxuriously filled with good chunks of lobster. Great combination with the orange and tones of saffron. Good portion size as well. Loved it.

Sauté Foie Gras (£19.50)

Joanne had the sautéd foie gras with balsamic pearls, strawberries and almond brittle. As indulgent in taste as it looks. Balsamic pearls popping in your mouth, releasing the needed acidity to cut through the lavish foie gras. Strawberries go well with it. The almond brittle brought texture, but I would prefer a piece of toast or a cracker instead. Still, the decadence of this dish shined and delivered.

Crab Crumpet (£14.50)

Dominic had the crab crumpet with lovage, lemon, grape, celery and garden herbs. Obviously didn’t taste the dishes of our friends, but still wanted to show the pictures. Dominic was happy with the dish by the way.

Double Baked Smoked Haddock Soufflé (£13.50)

Helena had the double baked smoked haddock soufflé with montgomery cheddar.

Slow Cooked Belly of Tamworth Pork (£27.50)

For mains I had the slow cooked belly of Tamworth pork with apple chutney, celeriac, pomme rosti and salami. Nothing wrong with the flavours and tastes of this dish! The pork was not as succulent as I was expecting and a dish like this screams for more sauce! However the silky celeriac puree and the apple chutney were excellent, as were those little potato röstis.

Baked Cornish Cod (£27)

Dominic had the baked Cornish cod with wild mushroom, roasted radish, lemon puree, lardo and beurre blanc. Didn’t taste it, but it sure looked nice!

Confit Chicken Thigh (£26)

For Joanne it was the confit chicken thigh with pickled girolles, charred sweetcorn “risotto”. What a great dish! Well seasoned chicken with a good crispy skin and the other elements worked so well together to highlight the chicken. The sweetness of the corn, the earthiness of the girolles; a dish tickling all your taste buts.

Roasted fish du jour (£32)

And roasted turbot with cucumber, lovage, sea herbs and smoked sauce nantais au beurre for Helena.

Triple Cooked Chips (£5.50)

When you have triple cooked chips on the menu, I want to taste them. These were not bad at all. Nice and crispy. Some chips were just too big, so you have more potato than crust if you get my meaning.

Elderflower Snack

Another, much appreciated, extra from the chef. Elderflower tempura with elderflower sorbet. The sorbet was scrumptious and I love the idea of the tempura, Could have a whole bowl when watching a movie instead of the popcorn! Simple but so clever!

Blueberry Soufflé (£14)

Blueberry soufflé for my dessert with violet ice cream and blueberry jus. The blueberry soufflé was well made, on the border of being too sweet, but delicious. The ice cream was a different matter. Violet is a difficult flavour to balance and it didn’t work here I’m afraid. It just tasted too soapy and wasn’t enjoyable. Pity.

Yoghurt Parfait (£14)

Joanne had the yoghurt parfait with new season strawberry, olive oil and lavender. Again the handling of the lavender flavour wasn’t managed well. The flowery taste was overpowering the rest of the dish. On top of that the parfait was too solid so overall not pleasant to eat. A shame the desserts didn’t meet the satisfaction levels of the other courses.

Millionair’s Chocolate Pot (£14)

Helena’s dessert was the millionair’s chocolate pot.

Treacle Tart (£14)

Dominic had the treacle tart with vanilla ice cream. Not sure about the pricing of this dish. Can’t justify the same price as for the other desserts to be honest.

We had a lovely dinner in great company with courses that displayed plenty of technic and skill. I loved the presentation of all dishes and the lobster risotto, sauté foie gras and confit chicken thigh are reason enough to recommend this restaurant to anyone! But there is room for improvement also. Some tweaks here and there will go a long way and it’s safe to say, desserts are not the forté of this kitchen.

The service was as warm as it was charming. It’s clear Julie is a hospitality veteran with customer service flowing through her veins. It truly complements the atmosphere of this delectable restaurant. Just the look and feel of the place will urge you to make the journey to The Sir Charles Napier. Trust me, you will not be disappointed!