The day was Tuesday 29th May 2018. The time was 5:30 pm. In the Locale office, computers were being shut down, desks were being tidied, windows were being closed, and the team were getting ready to leave. But they couldn’t. It’s wasn’t time yet.

Jade was under strict instructions not to let anyone arrive before 6:00 pm. It was only around the corner, so they had to wait. Armed ready with coats and bags, the team were impatient (although some more than others).

Some of the team and I won’t name names, banded together to form a rebellion. And it was somewhat successful. As the volume of growling stomachs ascended, the sounds united to form a melodic crescendo; they could wait no longer, it was time.

At precisely 5:56 pm, the team arrived at Quod in Oxford, which has been described as the ‘hidden heart of the city’. Peering into the restaurant from the bustling High Street, the lively Mediterranean environment was a welcome sight. Savouring the delicious, classic European food aromas and absorbing the sophisticated, relaxed atmosphere, we were led into a hidden chamber within; the private dining room.

Toni met us, holding a glass of wine and a smile. The table was adorned with helium-filled balloons, the room meticulously decorated. Thematic golds and creams subtly enhanced the beautiful ambience of the space. Personalised menus corresponded with the seating plan (which are always very helpful when you’ve forgotten the courses you’d chosen) and each member of the team was skillfully poured and handed a glass of champagne; evidently, Toni had delivered yet another glamorous event.

For Louise, Rob and Julie (left, second from the right and second from the left) it was their first social event with the team. They all agreed that it was lovely to see everyone outside of work, in an informal setting. It also provided a wonderful opportunity to develop foundations within the team and build relationships with each other. Soon enough, while the champagne was flowing and after a chorus of cheers played out, the team found their places and took their seats.

Our menus were as follows:

Starter

Chilled Vichyssoise

Seabass carpaccio, chilli, lemon & basil

Prosciutto, mushroom & taleggio pizzetta

Avocado vinaigrette

Main

Tagliatelle with pork, lemon & sage ragu

Spatchcock baby chicken, homemade chips & hot pepper sauce

Burrata, chicory, radishes, tomatoes & chickpeas

Salmon fishcakes, spinach, tartare sauce

Dessert

Peaches, poached & sorbet

Today’s cheesecake

Salted caramel ice cream & honeycomb

Goat’s cheese, honey & crackers

Tea & coffee

Guy A decided that three courses simply wasn’t enough of a meal, and chose instead to have six! Yes, he did indeed roll home, and rolled back into the office the next morning, too!

Rob informed me that his favourite dish of the three was his main: the pork tagliatelle. Now, this is up for debate, as many consider the chicken to have been the best main, but I’d have to agree with him. Of all meals and places, if you’re after an excellent dining experience with delicious cuisine, I’d certainly recommend Quod, and I’d certainly suggest the pork tagliatelle. Just to reiterate: Quod. Pork. Tagliatelle. The slick service of the staff also does not disappoint, as they deliver the unique dishes with flair and smiles.

After dinner, the evening evolved into a game of charades (led by Guy W-L). With more wine flowing into glasses (and magically disappearing) this became interesting. From Indiana Jones and American Beauty to Up (which must have been the quickest combination of action and correct guess in the history of charades) the Locale team utilised their creative skill set, and we eventually guessed them all! (Pat yourselves on the backs, team!)

Karen suggested to everyone that we play the word association game. This was one of the highlights of the evening shared by all. By this point, the wine has been flowing some more and the number of empty bottles was surpassing the full ones, so you can imagine that playing this game proved rather difficult. Julie appreciated how the team chose to play a few rounds of the game in French (who did surprisingly well!), and Karen admitted that there were some very interesting comments made in the English rounds!

One by one, we trailed off home with our bellies full, and feeling well and truly entertained.

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