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Mar 26, 2009 04:27 PM

Oxford recommendations?

I'm excited to be spending 3 weeks in Oxford this coming summer. Staying in Merton College, I'm looking for chowhound recommendations re fun, lively and delicious:

* pubs
* gastropubs
* restaurants, especially good for one person -- any ethnicity is great

Thanks very much.

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  1. This older thread might give you a few ideas... enjoy your time there.

    Brown's is a chain with OK British menu - pleasant enough. If you stray into the countryside there are some nice pubs around and beautiful villages to visit.

    4 Replies
    1. re: zuriga1

      I have posted before on this.

      No one comes to Oxford for the food - it's not the best.

      I have to disagree with the above and STRONGLY advise not to go to Browns - it is awful, terrible service, and overpriced. You will thank me for this recommendation.

      The only restaurant in the city worth going to is Chang Mai off the high street.
      Most others are chains which master microwaved food (including Browns)

      Going out of town is your best option:
      - Nut Tree in Murcot - gastro pub
      - Kingham Plow in Kingham - gastro pub
      - Mole Inn - Toot Baldon - pub with good food and nice atmosphere
      - Crazy Bear - okay food, but a place to be seen - great farm shop though

      Good luck

      1. re: jrrugby

        I have to admit my trip to Brown's was a few years ago and at the end of a romantic week when probably anything would have seemed just fine. The service then was OK - but places change and I bow to your more recent knowledge.

        1. re: jrrugby

          Address link to Chiang Mai. It's situated at Kemp Hall Passage, a tiny alleyway just off High St.

          Chiang Mai Kitchen Ltd
          130 High St, Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4, GB

          1. re: jrrugby

            Totally agree about Browns -- it's a tull-on tourist trap -- and about Oxford in general.

            Second Chang Mai. Maybe not the best Thai that you'll ever have, but very reliable and in a charming `character' setting.

            Mole Inn is good. I used to like the Crazy Bear but my last few visits were disappointing, though I can only speak for the Thai food.

        2. Searching UK Food search for blog mentions of Oxford food gives plenty of ideas and views

          1. BTW, an excellent resource for Oxford restaurant reviews is the Daily Info:


            Yelp has also recently arrived in the UK but it's not yet attained the critical mass it has in the States:


            Finally, my favourite restaurant in Oxford is Moya near the Plain (about a 10 min walk from Merton). They do great Slovak food (the owners are a Anglo-Slovak couple) mixed in with a few offerings to cater to local tastes. I wrote a bit more about it here:


            97 St Clement's St, Oxford, Oxfordshire OX4 1, GB

            4 Replies
            1. re: Peripatetic

              Thanks much for your recommendations and links to other sources of information.

              1. re: cortez

                Glad I could help.

                One other recommendation, especially at it's right by Merton: The Rose tea room.


                IMHO the best tea room in Oxford.

                The Rose
                51 High St, Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4, GB

                1. re: Peripatetic

                  Is the Rose really the best in Oxford? It's a firm favourite of a couple of my friends who lecture at Merton, and they brought me there last Nov during my visit. It's a rather cosy place, though a tad spartan.

                  1. re: klyeoh

                    Yes, In my opinion the Rose is the best in Oxford, but in some ways that's a reflection on the state of tea rooms in Oxford (and the rest of the UK). The only better teas I've had in the UK have been in London, at Brown's Hotel, the Landmark, Laduree, Yauatcha and Postcard Teas (the latter isn't really a tearoom but an amazing tea specialist with a tasting area).

                    Probably to the surprise of many visitors, the popularity of tea in the UK is in sharp decline. In recent years coffee has become much more popular[1], with chains like Starbucks, Costa, Caffe Nero and Coffee Republic becoming ubiquitous throughout much of the country. In constrast, there's no chain of tea rooms, and the few tea rooms that dot the country cater principally to older people or tourists. The Rose is one of the few counterexamples. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the owners aren't British. (I believe they're Scandinavian.)

                    It's unfortunate, but the British don't have the high regard for their tea culture that outsiders do.


            2. Ok as a Oxfordshire resident born and bred I will give you my recomendations:

              Royal Blenhiem, 13 st ebbes st. Go and say hello to Ian and Sarah and sample some of the best ales available (I have to say that as I'm one of the brewers of the White Horse Brewery that run the pub) Also good traditional pub food available which is sourced locally from the covered market.

              The Turf Tavern, Bath Place (off Hoywell street) again loads of ales on tap but very busy in the summer kind of a tourist trap but once you've been its an experience.

              The White Horse, Broad St, Say hello to Des, very small pub in between Blackwells Bookshop.

              The Bookbinders, Jericho, a nice quiet snug pub.

              Gastro pubs:

              I would agree with the Nut tree in Murcot (I think it has a michelen star now?) so expect to pay the prices.

              The Bear at Home, North Moreton, Tim is a very friendly host and the food is excellent and well priced.

              The Radnor Arms, Coleshill (nearer Swindon than Oxford) But again very friendly Richard is an excellent chef.


              Chinese: Opium Den, George Street. Their Dim Sum is to die for.


              Luna Caprese off Banbury Road, I haven't been for a while but it is a bit shabby but the food is good.


              Bangkok House, Hythe bridge street. MMMmmmmmmmmm.

              And good old fish and chips its worth going up the Cowley road. Via a number 1 or 5 bus and see Simons fish and chips. Mrs Simon is crazy funny and the foods good.


              Try the Pink Giraffe on St Clements a very good chinese that caters well for the veggie in you.

              Also The Gardners Arms way down in Jericho excellent beers and very good veggie menu.

              everything else you can take your pick with just try and avoid any chains.

              Anyway have fun while your over here and if all else fails ask for Keith at Merton and he'll direct you to some fun places. Also speak to David in the college bar and sample my ale there as well :)



              1 Reply
              1. re: caskmonkey

                I agree with many of caskmonkey's recommendations. The Turf Tavern is great, particularly in summer, in spite of the heavy tourist traffic. Bookbinders is also nice, and well off the tourist circuit, though it changed owners a few years ago and seems to have slipped a bit. I think they still do chip butties, which is a quintessential fixture of British pub grub. White Horse is also good. I should post separately with my other pub recommendations.

                I do have to warn about Luna Caprese, though. I went several times when I first moved to Oxford in the late 90's, and it was unspeakably awful. Maybe it's changed since? I also never liked Opium Den, though I haven't been back since its re-opening a few years ago. As an aside, you may wish to steer clear of lower George Street after about 10pm when it becomes a de-facto vomitorium.

                BTW, caskmonkey, what's the name of your ale?