The Sir Charles Napier 22

Sprigg's Alley , Chinnor, OX39 4BX

Sir Charles Napier web 2016

SquareMeal Review of The Sir Charles Napier

“Where better to escape London” says a fan of this lovably eccentric eatery high up on Bledlow Ridge. “The Napier” has been a fixture of the Chiltern scene since the 1970s, seducing countless visitors with its unique oddball charms: whether you’re here for a dreamy repast under the pergolas or a snuggle-up by the fire surrounded by surreal sculptures and crazy curios, ever-present host Julie Griffiths and her cheery team will ensure that a pleasurable time is had by all. Chefs come and go, but the current main man is delivering some tip-top dishes with a strong seasonal accent: Brixham crab salad arrives with lavache crackers, pickled fennel and cucumber, while rump of Welsh lamb might be paired with buttered hispi cabbage, dauphinoise potatoes and lovage. There’s a rich haul of locally bagged game too, while desserts such as gariguette strawberry and brown-sugar pavlova are a real treat. Otherwise, a mighty tray of ripe cheeses whiffs invitingly, and the “superb” wine list promises fun as well as the prospect of serious drinking. Frenetic Sunday lunch sessions often last long into the afternoon.  

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Nearby Tube/Rail Stations

Chinnor Station 2km

Saunderton Station 4km

Address

Address: Sprigg's Alley , Chinnor OX39 4BX

Opening times

Tues-Sun 12N-2.30pm (Sun -3.30pm) Tues-Sat 7-10pm

Nearby Landmarks

M40 Junction 5 2km

M40 Junction 6 4km

Details

Telephone: 01494 483 011

Website:

Cuisine: Modern European

Lunch: £19.50 (2 courses) Tues-Fri

Dinner: £19.50 (2 courses) Tues-Fri

4.7

Food & Drink: 6.7

Service: 3.6

Atmosphere: 5.2

Value: 3.7

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 3.0

Simon H. 27 June 2018

Understated , delicious, seductive fun.

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 0.0

Atmosphere: 0.0

Value: 0.0

Jason I. 31 March 2015

if you want to wait an hour and a half for your main course this is the place for you... this is not the first time this has happened but the third appalling

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 2.0

Atmosphere: 2.0

Value: 1.0

martin c. 11 March 2013

Booked for Mothers' Day Sunday lunch – all seemed fine and pleasant. Several days later had a call requesting a deposit as a party of £30 per head as a party of ten had been a no show on Valentine's Day(!). Taken aback I reluctantly agreed to give credit card details as a guarantee of our arriving. On the day I went to the bar to announce our arrival (at the requested hour), where two staff members ignored me and carried on what they were doing. After a lengthy pause I was greeted. The bar was already crowded and four of us had to perch on a sofa for max three. We were given menus and after some minutes the proprietor came and stood behind where we were sitting and awaited our order, without saying a word. Waiting was not easy and we were pleased to be shown to our table, in the busy restaurant. Food came promptly and was mostly very good though far from generously portioned. A rare roast beef (no choice offered) was very difficult to cut with the ordinary knife, and so much of it was left. The waiter who took the plates showed no interest and made no enquiry as to whether there had been an issue. Desserts were delicious however. So to the bill, of which the worst aspect was the 12.5% service charge added without option. With drinks (just two glasses of wine, water and soft drinks) the total was a shade under £250. For that I expect something much closer to perfection – not provided. The Square Meal review captures it perfectly: “Sadly, ”‘offhand’, lackadaisical service can dampen spirits – especially during jam-packed Sunday lunches". Reading the other reviews on our return we can echo many of the negatives expressed: we will not return.

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 1.0

Atmosphere: 2.0

Value: 2.0

Sarah C. 11 March 2013

My husband and I dined at the Sir Charles Napier on Saturday night, choosing it as the venue for our 5th wedding anniversary. Having eaten in many a fine dining establishment both inside and outside of London, including Heston's ‘The Fat Duck’, we were really looking forward to our meal. Given the experience we encountered I doubt we will ever return, which is a shame as the food itself was very good. Though I might add that ‘The Alford Arms’ in nearby Frithsden is probably just as good and a hell of a lot cheaper and friendlier. On our arrival at the restaurant we were asked to take a seat in the bar…however we weren't allowed to choose our own seats but told to sit in a tiny corner right next to a large group, which I have to say wasn't particularly romantic!! When I asked if we could sit somewhere else I was told no!! Not sure I've ever experienced that in a Michelin star restaurant before!! We ordered our drinks after a short delay and then were handed the menu. We placed our order and then waited for the manageress to come back and show us to our table…how wrong I was!! We waited and waited and waited and then finally, more than ONE HOUR after our arrival we were shown to our table with not so much as an apology or explanation as to why we had had to wait for so long!! I'm not sure I have ever in my life had to wait this long just to get seated when I have had a reservation…this certainly wouldn't have happened in any of the Michelin star restaurants I have eaten in over the years. As we had waited so long to be seated we were now playing catch up regarding time as we had to get back for our babysitter who had to go home at 11pm and we still had to make the 20minute drive back home! Starters didn't arrive till gone half nine and it was only because I managed to speak to a lovely waitress, who pushed through our desert order, that we were able to leave the restaurant at 10.30pm, having rushed our food and having paid £160 for the pleasure!! I didn't even have time to contest the service charge, though judging by the other negative comments I have read regarding service, I don't think it would have made any difference. Here is a restauranter who clearly doesn't care whether people have a positive experience of not as she knows that she has enough wealthy local regulars to make up for the negative reviews. They obviously get priority in this establishment!! We won't be returning that is for sure. I'll stick to the ‘Alford Arms’ for local dining and my regular London haunts for those special occasions from now on!!

Food & Drink: 0.0

Service: 0.0

Atmosphere: 1.0

Value: 1.0

Daniel H. 28 October 2012

I have eaten here on a few occasions before and always had a good experience. However… I had booked a week in advance and informed them that one of our party (my wife) was a vegan. This was accepted by the manageress and no further comment was made. Upon arrival we weren't greeted and hung around in the bar for a while until we got somebody's attention. We were then given some dogeared menus and asked to wait in the bar whilst they sorted out our table. The manageress then came to take out orders. I reminded the manageress that when making the reservation I'd mentioned my wife being vegan. She then took one of our menus and disappeared off to the kitchen. Upon her return she was extremely condescending about what they could cook for my wife saying 'it's just vegetables' I tried to point out that we had pre-warned them and that maybe the kitchen could make something more than just vegetables. Almost immediately she became extremely annoyed and flustered and started asking my wife what she wanted. I made the point that we had pre-warned them and that they are probably the ones to suggest something. At this point she suggested we leave and that I was being aggressive! Her attitude was awful. I totally accept that the kitchen may not want/be able to cook for a vegan however if that's the case they shouldn't have taken the booking. Interestingly when we last ate here they created a fantastic meal for my wife so they are clearly capable of it. I presume the manageress had forgotten to inform anyone and wasn't bold enough to admit her mistake. There was absolutely no reasoning with her. We decamped to The Angel in Long Crendon who rustled up a choice of vegan dishes with only ten minutes notice. Having eaten at countless good restaurants all around the world (including plenty that deserved their Michelin stars) the only time we have encountered such hostility to my wife's diet was at a Pizza Hut in Portol! I'm sure plenty of people will read this review and think this is what happens when you are a vegan. That really wasn't the problem, the issue is with the manageress' well documented unprofessional, inflexible and generally nasty attitude. I'd suggest you check some other online reviews before dining here (square meal) If you do choose to eat here you take the risk that if dare to query, deviate or complain you're in for confrontation.

Food & Drink: 2.0

Service: 0.0

Atmosphere: 1.0

Value: 0.0

Andrew C. 14 August 2012

We approached the lovely quaint cottage style surrounding for a Sunday Lunch we were filled with anticipation. As my partner and I usually engage in fine dining in London – we thought we'd try somewhere more rural. The surroundings were lovely, the sculptures everywhere gave a great theme and continuity. We sat down and were offered a drink (£10 prosecco and £5 for a glass of apple juice), and were presented with a menu. A good choice, but pricey for Lunch (~£10 for a starter ~£20 for a main). We ordered, and then were seated in a table tucked away in a corner – which was fine. There was already bread on the table when we arrived, the starters were good. None of the waiting staff acknowledged us, our water wasn't topped up and when we ordered wine with the main – it was unpalatable. I had a glass of red, and my partner had a glass of white and we couldn't finish them due to the bitter, cheap taste. My roast arrived and there was a thick skin on the gravy, which I decided wouldn't be worth complaining about. After 10 minutes of our plates being empty after finishing eating, and we eventually had our table cleared. Deciding that dessert wouldn't be worth an extra £8.50, and that paying an extra £4.50 for Petit four on top of £2.25 for a coffee wouldn't be worth it – we asked for the bill. This is where things really went downhill. We waited around 10 minutes, and then asked a waiter again for the bill. 10 minutes later (with all the larger parties in the room being served while we waited) we asked again. 5 minutes later the manageress appeared with the bill. Given that we weren't really acknowledged by the staff and had to wait so long for the bill, we'd made the decision not to pay the service charge. We told the manageress this, and her face dropped. She asked us why (which was quite unusual), and we informed her that the service was slow as well as having a long wait time for the bill. She shook her head, and told us that we didn't have to wait 20-25 minutes for the bill. My partner and I were shocked, and spoke to each other. She then demanded we tell her what we were saying. I informed her that I was shocked, and that I expected her to take the criticism constructively. She repeated that the service was fine, and that we were wrong. Here I informed her of the skin on the gravy and then she told me again that I was wrong. My partner was very upset as we'd come to celebrate an occasion – and we left, but as emotions flowed I went back to try and talk to the owner. I told her that we'd been treated appallingly and she proclaimed that 'we're not a fast food place' and that she wasn't aware of us having to wait, and then derided me for ‘clock watching’. Our afternoon was spectacularly ruined. The good (if overpriced) food and nice decor was ruined by the manageress, inattentive waiting staff and awful wine had ruined the meal – and at a cost of £105 (2 drinks and 2 courses each) for lunch, we were appalled to be treated as though we didn't belong. The Michelin star presented to this place must have brought a significant change in ethos and serving standard, as most of the reviews I've read before 2011 have been supremely positive – but when you jack up the prices and laud your accolades on the front page of your website, people will expect better than average – we were presented with a level of service that most would be unhappy with in ‘Zizzi’ or ‘Ask’. Whether this was an isolated incident or not, we will not be going back.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 0.0

Atmosphere: 1.0

Value: 0.0

David G. 14 June 2012

The two of us arrived for a birthday dinner, our drinks order was taken and the menus were handed to us, at which point we would have expected that anything not available or sold out to be highlighted to us, not so. When my partner requested the Lobster we were in informed that it was sold out that lunchtime, we expressed our disappointment but this was understandable being a seafood dish which, if to remain fresh, cannot be kept in storage for long periods. However, we were then given the pathetic excuse that it was actually our fault for not reserving our menu choice when booking the table?!! Sorry for not complying with this unwritten rule which is not stated on the website or any of literature in the bar or restaurant areas or in the promotional advertising… The rather limited menu was different to what was advertised on the website and had virtually nothing to cater for diners with specific needs e.g. vegetarians having only one option on the entire menu. Service was slow throughout experience and we were made feel we were putting the staff out rather being offered a Michelin Star service. I've met more attentive staff in a fish & chip takeaway! An automatic 12.5% gratuity is a particularly unamusing joke. As this was for a birthday I didn't wish to make the experience any worse by complaining bitterly about what was being provided to us. The one redeeming feature was the food itself, which I must complement the chefs upon as they seem to be the only people in the entire place taking their jobs seriously, well done and thank you for not making the evening a complete failure for us! A cold and unapologetic matradee, poor management and planning, lacklustre service and total lack of any value for money has resulted in us never wishing to go anywhere near this place again… and this particularly vociferous rant. Nice gardens though.

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 0.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 2.0

Catherine G. 17 April 2011

Quite possibly one of the most embarrassing and awkward evenings I have spent as a diner. We were looking forward to a relaxed celebration of my mother-in-law's birthday. All was going to plan until our bottle of red (Ridge Geyserville 2007) appeared. When invited to taste the wine we immediately identified it as corked. The waiter initially thought we were joking. We weren't. He took the bottle away and some minutes later his superior appeared who deemed the wine to be in perfect condition and suggested that we let it breathe for five minutes. In the spirit of cooperation we agreed, during which time the taint became ever more obvious. When we explained this, a bottle of the 2008 was reluctantly delivered – half-way through our main course, 10 minutes later. We assumed this represented closure. However, the minute we had paid the bill, the proprietor launched into a vehement defence of not only the bad bottle but also her credentials as a wine taster. This would have been disrespectful to any paying customer but the fact that my other half is a Master of Wine and an internationally respected wine judge made the situation particularly farcical. I remain staggered at the lack of grace, diplomacy and customer service, and will not be returning. It seems that at the Sir Charles Napier, the customer is always right – provided he agrees with Julie Griffiths.

Food & Drink: 2.0

Service: 1.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 2.0

Phil R. 03 July 2010

We had been seduced by this restaurant on a previous occasion during the winter, and the setting is even lovelier in summer with its gorgeous garden and views. Unfortunately we were disappointed with the food – which is fairly mediocre, but at Central London prices. Watch out for the cracked crab starter that which comes at £31 for supposedly 2 people, but which comes with much of the meat removed and is barely enough for 1 person., Our evening was spoilt however by the level of service – you had to ask several times for things to happen and when a dessert which had collapsed the waitress just walked off. Worst however are the subtle additions to the bill with an extra £20 added for drinks. These were promptly removed when we complained, but with hardly an apology, and after reading through some of the reviews below, it seems that this is a common occurance and they should not be given the benefit of the doubt. A pity the owners of this place have such a poor attitude towards its clientel that have made the detour to get there.

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 0.0

Atmosphere: 1.0

Value: 0.0

Leandro H. 21 March 2010

Overpriced, sloppy service, one hour from the time we arrived to food on the table, ridiculously expensive wine list, waiter cleaning a table where customer have left, in front of us, socking a towel on the wine cooler water, amateur, good food (not extraordinary food), very noisy (Sunday lunch, like a pub, well, it’s a pub), disappointing. Pass.