Three girlfriends and I met for dinner last night at the Tree Hotel. I stopped by there once to drop off some promotional materials, but have never eaten there. I heard very good reports on the food, but as i’m not the biggest fan of Indian food, and it’s not the most convenient to get to from where I live, I hadn’t tried it. We were told that Thursday night is curry night – which means you get any main with a beer or glass of wine for £9.95.  Meals typically average £13 without a drink, so that’s a pretty good deal. We were slightly mis-informed however, and the curry night is actually on Tuesdays, but they honoured it anyway, which was very, very kind of them. And since there were four of us, they gave us a bottle of wine for free, instead of a glass each. Again, very kind.

My first impression of this restaurant wasn’t so good. I don’t like the decor. The dining room was empty, so we ate in the bar area, which is very pubby. The tv was playing the football, and there was a blinking fruit machine next to our table. The dining room didn’t look all that much better to me, to be honest. I’m just not a fan of the decor. My second impression was confused. The menu is very odd. It has Indian, thai, continental, Sunday roasts… There is even a grilled tuna steak served with goats cheese ravioli. It’s a very diverse menu. BUT… (and here’s where the review improves) the service is great (very friendly), the bathrooms are really pretty and spotless, and I remembered that I had heard great things about the food, so I awaited my dinner  eagerly.

I ordered the spinach and wild mushroom kofta, which is spinach and mushroom dumplings served in a thick, rich sauce with pilau rice. I really didn’t know what to expect – would it be fried, baked or steamed? Would it be spicy? I didn’t ask any questions though as I was interested in taking it as it was served, without making any modifications. I didn’t feel like a starter, but since two friends had starters, we got some poppadum to munch on while we waited.

The poppadum was fresh and crisp and perfect. The pickle, which had to be ordered separately, was interesting. There was sweet chilli, mango chutney, and lime pickle. I’ve never tried lime pickle before and was surprised at how sour it was. I stuck to the other two, which suited me just fine.

My anticipation grew significantly when my friends’ starters came out. The portions were large, and the presentation was absolutely beautiful. This was a chef who cared a great deal – something I really appreciate! I tried my friend’s onion bhaji, which was outstanding. Next time, I’ll order them myself! I didn’t try the other starter because it wasn’t vegetarian. But it looked nice!

Spinach and Wild Mushroom Kofta

The mains were as beautifully presented as the starters. One friend ordered a lamb fry, and the pancakes were styled like a tagine around the dish – she had to unwrap her dinner like a present! How fun! My kofta were just lovely. There were two giant dumplings in a lovely, midly spicy tomato-based sauce. It was delicious! Everyone at the table enjoyed their meal very much. We all agreed we would come back again soon.

Dum Chicken, Lamb Kadai, Lamb Fry

My friends’ meals

Four people, two starters, poppadom with pickle tray, four mains, two bottles of wine, minus the fact it was ‘curry night’ so each main was £9.95 and one bottle of wine was free, it came to £20 each including tip. Not too shabby! I would definitely recommend eating at The Tree. As long as you go for the food, and not the ambience.

The Tree Hotel and Annora Restaurant
63 Church Way,
Iffley Village, Oxford OX4 4EY
T: +44 (0) 1865 775974

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