The fact there are only two entries in this post is mainly because restaurants offering a more diverse cuisine don’t tend to spring up in small villages. My favourite local Indian, Thai and Chinese restaurants (4500 Miles from Delhi, Bangkok House and Paddyfields or Oriental Condor depending on dish) are all in Oxford, my preferred French restaurant closed down a few years ago in Abingdon, and I haven’t settled on a top Italian yet.
Location: Stanton House Hotel, Stanton Fitzwarren
There is rumoured to be some connection between the huge Honda factory in Swindon and this hotel. True or not, the food is excellent and reasonably priced. We’ve never eaten in the more sophisticated Mount Fuji restaurant (though it’s on our to-do list), opting for the cheaper and more informal Rosemary Restaurant.
Eating from the menu, I enjoyed the Tenzaru Soba – cold noodles with tempura prawns and vegetables and soup, but you must, must go for the Sunday lunch buffet. I know buffet food can suffer from sitting around, but it is an absolute bargain (at time of writing, less than twelve pounds a head). Cold noodles, sushi and salads, hot dishes vary to include tempura, teriyaki chicken, miso soup and stir fries. There is even a mini dessert buffet to follow, usually with a few choices of cake and fruit.
I like it so much that I had to stop writing this to make a reservation for the weekend, and what possible higher recommendation can there be than that?
Location: The Malaysian Restaurant, Stony Stratford
My boyfriend spent a lot of time in Malaysia growing up. As a result he loves Malaysian food with a passion, speaking of roti canai (a soft, crispy flat layered bread) and fish curry with a tear in his eye.
Having visited Malaysia with him a couple of years ago, it took one meal for me to come round to his way of thinking, and ever since we have bemoaned the lack of Malaysian restaurants outside London.
A random web search turned up this gem, where char kway teow (a particular type of fried noodles), rendang (a coconut-enriched curry), nasi lemak (coconut rice), ais kacang (a shaved ice dessert with syrup, beans, corn and jelly) and cendol (ice, palm sugar, coconut milk and jelly soupy dessert) are all on the menu. They even offer teh tarik (“pulled” tea), something which as a non-tea-drinker I can’t appreciate, but which I’m assured is excellent.
Ha Noi Cafe, Abingdon (a tiny Vietnamese cafe whose garlic and chilli squid, summer rolls and steamed beef are much missed)
Pagoda Palace, Swindon (an immense Chinese restaurant with excellent dim sum)
Le Bistro Celte, Abingdon (a lovely French restaurant which blended excellent cooking with friendly service)