Lured by the promise of exceptional pie, Jen and I took my birthday as an opportunity to try out swish Oxford gastropub the Magdalen Arms - so it was an immediate disappointment that said steak pie to share wasn't on the menu. The real ale options, too, could have been slightly better. But our anguish was soon assuaged by splendid starters (rabbit and pork rillettes with pickled cucumber and toast for me, twice-baked blue cheese souffle with apple and hazelnuts for Jen) followed by a whole roast pheasant to share, which proved to be both delicious and incredibly good value for money. In his Observer review, Jay Rayner described the sticky toffee pudding as "towards the end a little dry" - perhaps they've taken his comments on board, because the piece I got was sodden with toffee sauce.
Our meal was enlivened by earwigging on the wine-fuelled business meeting between legendary 90s shoegazers Ride and their manager taking place at the neighbouring table - lots of talk about royalty rates, how best to use social media and what to do about various unauthorised bootlegs and compilations. Displaying a sense of timing characteristic of a drummer, Loz Colbert was late, while I somehow resisted the temptation to grab Andy Bell by his collar and interrogate him on why on earth he joined Oasis and then, after they split, stuck with Liam in Beady Eye.