I finally tried Door 74 after walking past it many, many times and vowing to give it a try! It was definitely worth the wait.
When I arrived to this tiny restaurant on Cowley Road on a Wednesday night, there was only one other table filled. Within minutes people started to arrive in droves, many greeting the sole waiter with warmth and familiarity, giving away that this is likely a very neighbourhoody place. By the time I finished my meal, there wasn’t a free table in the house – if you intend to eat here, be sure to book in advance!
First, i’ll start with the menu. I love the design – it’s simple, but special. The menu (which may change daily?) is pasted onto a carved wooden board. Simple, but elegant.
At first glance, I wasn’t all that impressed with the dishes on the menu. There was one fish dish – a chargrilled tuna – but it was pretty costly (over £15), and the description didn’t grab me. Of the three other items I could choose from, two of them seemed very lazy to me – the ubiquitous mushroom risotto and fishcakes. Yawn. I’m sure they’re both very good, but I could go to any pub in any part of the UK and find the same items. The dish I chose was Fusilli in a crème fraiche sauce with roasted squash, courgette and ricotta dumplings, salad and parmesan. I wasn’t that excited about it when I ordered it, and thought dumplings on top of pasta was strange. Well…. I have to admit that this pasta dish was one of the best things I have EVER eaten. The pasta was creamy and smooth and wonderfully flavourful, and the salad sprinkled over the dish gave it texture and a peppery flavour that balanced everything beautifully. And those dumplings were creamy and fluffy and although I’m not sure they belonged on the dish, I wanted more of them!
The pasta main was quite filling and as hard as I tried, I just couldn’t finish it! My friend had the Puy lentil stew with roasted chicken, which she said was superb, and that she’d definitely order it again.
I started with Sweet spiced carrot fritters served with a chilli dipping sauce, while my friend had the beetroot salad with walnuts and feta. She thought the salad was delicious, but could have used a touch more feta. I enjoyed my fritters, but they were far from perfect. I couldn’t taste any carrot in them at all. I’m not even sure what else was in them, but when you fry just about anything and dip it in sweet chilli sauce, how bad can it be?! I’d order them again if there was nothing else that interested me.
I was pleasantly surprised by Door 74. I’m not sure why I was surprised – i’ve heard only good things about it. I’d definitely go again. I do wish they would update the menu on the website so that it was the same as what’s in the restaurant. I always like to decide ahead of time what i’m having. One last thing – there was only one waiter serving the entire, packed restaurant and he was amazing. Never looked rushed or stressed, and was there precisely when he was needed. He was friendly and did an excellent job. Kudos to Door 74.
Door 74, 74 Cowley Road, Oxford OX4 1JB, website