A COWLEY Road tapas restaurant with a clutch of awards and glowing reviews has been recognised for equally high food hygiene standards.

The popular Arbequina was given a five-star rating following an inspection by Oxford City Council's health team in July.

It maintains the same high score the business, which is run by Rufus Thurston with head chef Ben Whyles, obtained during its first hygiene visit in February 2017.

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The restaurant, known for its distinctive frontage which features the original chemist sign 'R.A. Neville' uncovered during renovation works of the former Door 74, also recently added a linked cocktail bar next door.

Ben Bateman, who came to work as general manager at Arbequina when it opened and is manager of the new Terruno bar, said in this paper in June that they were encouraged to launch the new venture thanks to the restaurant's continued success.

He said: "I’ve been part of Oxford’s hospitality scene all my working life, but it wasn’t until I came to work for Arbequina in Cowley Road that I experienced how small, independent businesses can make a real stamp on a street or a city."


Arbequina owners with their Restaurant of the Year award. Picture: Ed Nix

He added: "It is such a pleasure to see people dropping by and enjoying themselves in something you have created."

A recent delighted customer wrote on review website TripAdvisor: “Go here immediately and eat the food with your mouth.”

They added: “Great place. The tortilla, chick pea salad, crispy lamb, cauliflower, chocolate mousse... all fabulous.”

Another happy diner declared the food ‘outstanding’, writing: “By far some of the best tapas I’ve ever had.

“Everything is cooked to perfection. The grilled gambas and the homemade meatballs were some of the best I’ve ever had.

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“Every dish there is bursting with flavour! The prices are very reasonable too. The service was impeccable, I would definitely recommend it!”

Our own reviewer Katherine MacAlister was equally effusive when she visited shortly after the restaurant's November 2017 opening, writing: "Then came the aubergine molasses and pomegranate and only then could I truly declare that finally, and I mean finally, on this wet, dark, cold mid-week evening, had I found somewhere truly remarkable."

Arbequina was subsequently named Restaurant of the Year in the Oxford Mail and Oxford Times food awards 2017.

Visit arbequina.co.uk.