Moving to Oxford, England (recs please)
- Moving to Oxford, England May 19, 2006 07:12 PM
I am moving into Oxford, England. I'd appreciate your recs - esp. moderately priced places. Any type of food is fine.
I will be living right in the city center (centre, I mean).
Thanks for the kind advice.
Lucky you! I have no specific recs but when I lived in England for several years (and on subsequent visits) I relied heavily on the Good Pub Guide (not any of the numerous others) and it never, never let me down. Many a weekend was planned around a destination pub from this guide, which is a great way to get out and see the country. Whether by car, bus or train, do get out and see (and eat!!) as much as you can! And please, please post reports on what you find.
If you have an opportunity; there is a private club, bar, cafe and bookstore called QI House. QI is short for quite interesting and its membership contains people from all different areas-media, molecular scientists, professors etc.
It is the brainchild of a legendary British TV producer who is currently producing a QI intelligent game show hosted by Stephen Fry on the BBC. Great place to join and network within the Oxford community.
Le Petit Blanc on Walton Street. The little brother of Raymond Blanc's Manoir, mentioned by another poster. Very good (although not superb) classic French bistro cooking, with tremendous prix-fixe deals. The hot smoked salmon is excellent, as are the home made ice creams for dessert.
Breakfast at Cafe Rouge. A national chain, and often maligned, but a great place for leisurely scrambled eggs and bacon in the mornings, with surpringly good caffe lattes. One of the things you will notice about the British restaurant scene, in fact, is the prevelance of chains. Not always a bad thing. Le Petit Blanc is in fact also a micro chain.
Second the recommendation for Quod. Nice courtyard to sit outside. Good burger, if you're feeling homesick.
The covered market is a foodie delight: great butchers, greengrocers and cheese stalls, among others. I used to like the Alpha Bar for a healthy lunch -- good organic salads, assembled at your whim.
Aziz on the Cowley road is a bit of a walk from central Oxford but a seriously good Indian.
Other random happy memories (recent -- don't worry). Pizza Fiorentina with a soft egg at Pizza Express; cream tea at the Qi cafe; all day breakfast sandwich and smoothies at Pret a Manger; beef Cornish pasty at the pasty place in the market; powdered large figs from the greengrocer's at the Northern end of the market; coffee and walnut cake with coffee buttercream from Marks and Spencer's food hall.
All best wishes for your move.
Since you are on a student budget I recommend the Chiang Mai, where I spent many a happy evening as a lazy, greedy undergrad in the early 90s. They used to do this thing with chopped grilled chicken, toasted cashews, julienne vegetables, garlic, soy and finely chopped whole lemon (peel 'n' all) in a heap on a spinach leaf, the idea that you wrap it up and eat it like a baby christmas gift.
Otherwise treat Oxford as a journey back in culinary time. You will find some of the most hidebound restaurants outside London's Pall Mall there - it's hilarious. I recommend the Elizabeth on St Aldates for the bizarre Victorian coffee apparatus and brilliant creme brulee, and also the Luna Caprese on North Parade. I had a girlfriend at the time who had to review all the Oxford Restaurants for a Student Guide Book and the Caprese was for us the best combination of characterful (i.e. naff) decor and really good home made Italian food.
Edamame is the best destination for lunch, and it's right in the middle of town, on Holywell Street across from the entrance to New College. Reliably good Japanese food, served quickly. Get there right when it opens (11 or 11.30, I think) or be prepared to wait in line.
Don't turn your nose up at the Kebab vans. I recommend Hassan's, on Broad Street, across from the entrance to Balliol. The chips are perfectly crisp and wonderfully salty. For something substantial enough to be a meal, try chips with chicken or chips with chili and cheese.
There's lots of Indian food. Both Jamals (in Jericho) and Chutney's (near St. Peter's College) are pretty good.
Also in Jericho is Pepper's Burgers, which was a favorite stop before going to the Phoenix. It provides a distinctly English variety of hamburger--with toppings that include things like Horseradish.
In the covered market, try the Alpha Bar for great vegetarian sandwiches and robust salads, and then get a couple cookies from Ben's cookies on the other side of the market.
my info is not completely up to date (i left 3 years ago), but lebanese food has also been a relatively safe bet. i recall 4 places: on top of boswells at the corner of broad street, down by the train station, al shami on walton street (jericho) and a caucasian style place (sim food to lebanese, in my experience) on the cowley road). have eaten more recently (this summer) at fasta pasta (takeaway sandwiches of the italian variety) in the covered market, and they are consistently good and reasonably priced.
on the whole, you'll do better in buying food. the cheese, fish, meat and veg stalls in the covered market are v good, there are some reasonable offerings at the wed market in gloucester green, and bread can be had from maison blanc by little clarendon street. palms in the covered market has gourmet groceries, albeit not cheap.
good luck and enjoy!