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The lovely [livejournal.com profile] markbanang was kind enough to take me to Gee's to celebrate my oldinating. Perhaps I would not have acquiesced so readily had I known that Thursday night was their fresh seafood platter night, which they fly in direct from the Channel Islands, and thus we would have to sit and watch a professional looking gentleman on an expense account consume two people's worth of seafood. ([livejournal.com profile] markbanang was most put out that the gentleman in question left all the meat in the lobster claws; I was just put out that there was so much yummyness that those of a vegetarian persuasion such as myself were unable to indulge in.) Perhaps it was fortunate that I was unaware, since we had a superb meal as a result.

Gee's is primarily a seafood restaurant, so they do not offer a wide choice of vegetarian food, but I was nonetheless torn between starters, finally plumping for the parmesan and artichoke salad. There are few vegetables where quality of preparation and selection are as important as with the artichoke, but Gees did not disappoint, with a wonderful combination of crispness and softness that was a delight to sample. The combination of flavours, which was complemented with fresh asparagus combined perfectly with a flawlessly executed vinaigrette, was what made the salad however.

For my main course, the only option provided was a vegetable tagine, which was fortunately quite spectacular, with a tangy flavour reminiscent of Indian influences. The couscous accompaniment was perfectly cooked, if unexciting (a common flaw in couscous, I find), and a good complement to the main dish. The accompanying cherry tomato salad was fresh and tasty, but perhaps a little too similar to the starter for my taste.

For desert, I sampled the passion fruit cheesecake, which employed the unusual technique of layering the fruit in a thin set jelly upon on the top of the marscapone. This made for a good contrast of tastes and textures when combined with the biscuit base. A wonderfully tasty desert which I believe could have been slightly improved by a little more generous use of the coulis garnish, as this contrasted well with the flavour of the cheesecake. We also ordered an Eton Mess to share, which was tasty, but no more so than messes friends have made in the past. I suspect that there is little art to such a dish and it stands entirely on the quality of its ingredients.

There was one culinary low point to the evening. Gee's sell what are I believe the most expensive cocktails I have ever seen. I decided to try a Bloody Mary, since it was made with local tomatoes, and the substitution of horseradish for Worcester Sauce made it vegetarian. However, the horseradish merely amplified the bitterness of the vodka, and the tomatoes didn't have the strength of flavour to win through, and I was unable to drink more than a few sips. However, the manager was kind enough to refund the price of the drink, even though the problem was more a matter of personal taste than any inherent flaw in the preparation. Gee's cellar is sufficiently extensive as to be describable as voluminous, and even divides the whiskeys into Irish, Scotch and Rye, but as neither myself nor [livejournal.com profile] markbanang are great fans of wine, I can make no further comment on the quality of their selections.

The décor of Gee's is a little more crowded that I would have expected of a restaurant in this price range (although my companion felt it made for an intimate atmosphere) but is nonetheless very pleasant, being situated in a Victorian conservatory that gave an airy yet distinguished feel to the place. The service was friendly and the standard of cooking high, with any niggles being very minor in nature. Definitely recommended for a visit, even for a vegetarian, although it may be advisable to check that the main course on offer is to your taste on the website before booking.
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Thanks to everyone who came to the birthday BBQ. I had a lovely day and it was fantastic to see you all.

I'm still trying to find somewhere to eat dinner on Thursday. The Cherwell Boat House looks like it might be a good choice. One day I hope to be rich enough to go here, but those prices are just very silly. Alternative and slightly less stratospherically priced options welcome.

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