11th Jun 2015
Arriving at the Perch early on a Bank holiday Friday morning, a dewy May mist sits over the Isis and sleepy Binsey Village. At first glance The Perch is undisturbed, but as photographer Lucy Walters and I creep around the building we notice a calm, quiet buzz. Cleaners are hard at work, delicious smells of fresh baking are wafting through the air, boxes of fresh locally grown vegetables are stacked at the kitchen door and a huge bucket of fresh flowers is on the terrace waiting to be arranged.
Restaurateur and publican Jon Ellse and his wife, make managing this busy restaurant look very easy, with every aspect of bank holiday preparations running like clockwork. We are struck by the welcoming, friendly atmosphere amongst the staff; clearly a talented crew. Lucy and I, cappuccino in hand, are taken for a little tour of the gardens before settling to watch some astonishingly beautiful flower arranging. Everyone knows their role and wonderful culinary and visual creations seem to appear as if by magic.
Throughout our visit the bustle increases, with the kitchen becoming a hothouse of preparation for the deluge of guests who will be visiting throughout the busy bank holiday weekend. Freshly baked scones appear from the oven and homemade scotch eggs are stacked on the bar alongside other delicious items, to complement a lunchtime pint of local beer.
Recently StuartBarrCDR had the privilege of carrying out renovation work at this wonderful historic Oxford institution. The kitchen was refitted for ultimate functionality and it is clear now to see how essential this is. The size and scale of the fitout was proportional to the huge operational demands on this functional commercial space. Floor to ceiling industrial, stainless steel fittings and with multiple prepping, cooking and serving areas maximise efficiency and the new serving hatch forming an effective link between the kitchen and restaurant floor.
The interior bar and restaurant area have been cleverly designed by Rogue-Designs of Oxford, with whom StuartBarrCDR have had the pleasure of working on several previous projects. As well as the now invisible structural work, plumbing and electrics, the bar and restaurant area as well as WCs have undergone a complete refit. Doors and windows, handmade by sister company BarrJoinery have been designed and built to fit perfectly with the character of this historic building.
Jon is busy in the office but pops down for a chat. He judges the success of his restaurant on two parameters: would his guests recommend The Perch to others and would they come back for another visit? If the answer to both is yes he is happy. Reassuringly Jon would apply both parameters in the positive to the restoration work StuartBarrCDR carried out on The Perch. In terms of the first “I have already had the opportunity to recommend StuartBarrCDR” and as for the second… StuartBarrCDR are looking forward to the opportunity to return to The Perch for future projects!