When an American chain bought the Randolph Hotel in 2019, there was concern that the Oxford landmark would lose its famous name and be given a makeover not in keeping with its historic past.

Last summer I was given a guided tour by manager Philip Lewis during major restoration work.

It was clear then that the alterations being carried out were extensive, so I was keen to see the finished result.

After enjoying the stunning new ballroom at a party for invited guests earlier this year, I was invited to stay, and dine at The Alice restaurant, where Chris Emery is the head chef.

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Formerly of Jason Atherton’s Pollen Street Social and The Clocktower in New York, as well as in the kitchens of The Waterside Inn and Cliveden House, he has created a new menu.

Following the hotel’s renovation, The Alice is now a stunning dining venue, with an eye-catching archway over the bar area.

The name is, of course, a reference to Lewis Carroll’s popular tale.

But unlike the children’s story, there is nothing disorderly about The Alice.

It’s an all-day dining restaurant and bar serving classic British dishes with a modern twist, seasonally driven and largely supported by local farmers and suppliers from the nearby counties of Oxfordshire, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire.

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There are plenty of other spaces in the hotel to wine and dine including: The Snug, The Morse Bar, The Drawing Room and The Lancaster Room, all served by Mr Emery and his team.

Before we arrived in the dining room my partner and I headed for a cocktail in the dimly lit but comfortable snug where I could just make out the word ‘Endeavour’ on the menu.

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My drink featured Ocho Blanco, Triple Sec, Lemon Verbena, lime, almond and soda while my partner opted for Pool of Tears featuring Belstar prosecco and Beefeater gin.

Our table in The Alice allowed us to see out into Beaumont Street, and the Ashmolean on one side, with the whole vista of the restaurant on our right, with the dramatic archway at the very end.

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While we were sampling our starters - I opted for Goosnargh duck terrine, blood orange, hazelnut and sourdough - there was some real-life drama when one lovestruck diner proposed to his fianceé.

Thankfully, following a moment of tension, she said ‘yes’ and this was followed by the well-briefed staff bringing a suitable bottle of fizzy liquid to their table.

For the main course, I selected Saddleback pork chop, black pudding, apple and picked mustard seeds while my wife selected Cep risotto, pied de bleu, chanterelle and hazelnut.

After being served grilled pork chops by my mother throughout the 1970s I was keen to see if there was any similarity but there wasn’t. I hope she won’t be too offended if I conclude pork chops have never tasted so succulent.

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Rhubarb is a fruit you either love or hate and I love it so I opted for the rhubarb dish to finish. It featured cardamon bruleé, poached rhubarb, and rhubarb sorbet.

As the cocktail I had consumed packed quite a punch, I decided there was no need to try one of the dessert wines on offer.

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Following the hotel’s makeover, The Alice is now a stunning dining location and a suitably grand setting for Mr Emery’s culinary skills and experience.

The hotel management wants The Alice and the other bars and dining areas to be as welcoming as possible, and Mr Emery has created a Mothering Sunday Roasts and Afternoon Tea menu.

To mark the occasion, The Alice’s bar team has also created a limited Mother’s Day cocktail, Amour Mere’s (A Mother’s Love).

Priced at £29 and £35 for two or three courses respectively, The Alice’s Sunday Roasts menu will be heavily influenced by produce available from local suppliers in Oxfordshire, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire.

Our bedroom on the first floor was spacious and comfortable with a large window overlooking the Martyrs’ Memorial.

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In keeping with other bedrooms, which have been given a similar makeover, one wall featured a small portrait of Oscar Wilde - the poet was an Oxford graduate. Blue paisley pattern wallpaper has been chosen as a backdrop for the picture.

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Following a fire in 2015, the Randolph has undergone two major refurbishments. Now, under the leadership of Mr Lewis, with Chris Emery in charge of The Alice, the five-star hotel has undergone a luxurious transformation which will continue to attract guests from around the globe. I was shocked when I saw the demolition of the old ballroom but its replacement looks stunning, and the Morse Bar has also been tastefully restored.

After a perfect night at The Alice, I was ready for lights out when some revellers at the bus stop started singing Can You Feel The Love Tonight, perhaps a reminder that the Randolph is once again thriving, right in the heart of the city.

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