The OXFORD HANDBOOK. 35th edition
an insiderâ€™s guide to the city
The OXFOR HANDB 02
RD BOOK. The handbook is a one-of-a-kind guide to Oxford, written by students with the insider knowledge unavailable to traditional travel books. From Carfax Tower to punting, the time ceremony and tortoise fairs, the handbook covers it all. Designed to be a distinctive resource for anyone visiting Oxford, The Oxford Handbook reviews restaurants, clubs and bars as well as covering information on shopping, sightseeing, cultural activities, travel and much more. www.dominos.co.uk
The OXFORD HANDBOOK.
The Oxford Handbook First published August 1978 Thirty-fifth edition, September 2012 Published and copyrighted by Oxford Student Services Ltd., the commercial arm of the Oxford University Student Union. Oxford Student Services Limited 2 Worcester Street, Oxford, OX1 2BX T (01865) 288 452, F (01865) 288 453 www.ousu.org email@example.com
Jennifer Allen, Joey Faulkner, Karen Irving, Taylor Leonard, Brona Oâ€™Toole, Taylor Patterson, Imogen Bassett, Lisa Stokes-King, as well as the OUSU sabbatical team (past and present) and numerous writers from past editions
William Bourne and Joey Faulkner
Every effort is made to ensure that the information in The Oxford Handbook is accurate. However, no responsibility is taken for any errors or omissions, or any loss arising therefrom. Neither the editors, OSSL nor OUSU are necessarily in agreement with any of the views expressed. However, we should be glad to hear from you regarding mistakes, additions and suggestions at the above address.
The Oxford University Student Union sabbatical team, Joey Faulkner, college representatives and JCR and MCR presidents
Project Manager and Designer Imogen Bassett
Business Manager Max Richardson
By Oxford University Student Union President, David J.Townsend Welcome to Oxford! Whether you are a student about to embark on your degree or a visitor exploring the city, we hope The Oxford Handbook will help you to feel more at home. This is a one-of-a-kind guide to Oxford, written solely by students with the insider knowledge unavailable to traditional travel books. From Carfax Tower to punting, the Time Ceremony and tortoise fairs, the handbook covers it all. Designed to be a distinctive resource for anyone visiting Oxford, we aim to help those new to Oxford uncover what makes it such a vibrant and eclectic city. For the past 35 years the Oxford Handbook has been lovingly designed and edited by Oxford University students on behalf of the Oxford University Student Union. It is handed out to every new student arriving at Oxford at the annual Freshersâ€™ Fair and in recent years the audience has expanded to include tourists, broadening its readership and appeal. Each year we commission a new edition, capturing a cultural and social snapshot of Oxford. This ensures all the information is up-to-date and reflects the ever-changing landscape of this exciting and diverse city. We hope to provide an insight into the ancient and scholarly roots of the town whilst also helping you with the
practicalities of exploring a new city. With restaurant reviews and information on the best (or the most unusual!) places to eat, drink, shop and soak up Oxfordâ€™s cultural offerings, this guide covers all the essentials and a whole lot more!
010 History 012 Carfax 013 St. Aldateâ€™s 014 Broad Street 015 St. Giles Street 016 High Street 017 Cornmarket Street
022 History 024 A - Z of Colleges 046 Landmarks
Culture 056 Museums 060 Art 061 Cinema 046 Landmarks
067 Tours 068 On the move 072 Shopping 076 Parks
eat&drink easy food
72 - 87 Cafes Greasy Spoons Salad & Sandwich bars Fast Food
88 - 129 American Breakfast British Classic Pubs East Asian French Gastropubs Indian Italian Mediterranean Middle Eastern Russian
130 - 153 Pubs Bars Clubs Live Music Open Mics
directory 154 - 157 Useful contacts Transport Index
city. The history of Oxford and its streets
10 History 12 Carfax 13 St. Aldateâ€™s 14 Broad Street 15 St. Giles Street 16 High Street 17 Cornmarket Street
iles St. g STREET
e d Str
ket mar Corn STREET
LDATE ST. A S 9
city history Xin Fan, St Anne’s Oxford is a city steeped in history. A glance down the soft stone sprawl of Broad Street, or at the loud turrets of Magdalen College and Christ Church and the association is immediate. One barely considers a time before the laying of its first ancient stones in a place very much set at the heart of England and, in many ways, the heart of the English story. Surprisingly, this has not always been the case. For a better sense of what Oxford was like two thousand years ago, ride out several miles on one of the main roads, and stand in a field. Roman settlers met a sparsely settled land spread out amongst several Celtic tribes. The valley where the River Cherwell joins the Isis – the name for the River Thames where it flows through the city area – was generally left alone; the dry chalk hills surrounding it were thought to be a better bet. Evidence from Roman times paints a picture of a flourishing local pottery industry, and Akeman Street, a road linking the great arteries of Watling Street and the Fosse Way, was paved through the vicinity. Yet for all this, any sign of urban living is limited to a small smattering of fabulous villas. The Saxons were the first to really put their stamp on the area. Oxnaforda (literally ‘ford used by oxen’) is first mentioned in the 10th century Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. It had become one of a string of fortified towns on the edge of the kingdom of Wessex, facing Viking invaders to the north. This was naturally a far smaller affair than present-day Oxford: its bounds were roughly delineated north-south by St. Michael’s Church in Cornmarket Street and Christ Church Cathedral and east-west by Oxford Castle and Longwall Street. Most of these landmarks came later; very little of Saxon Oxford survives. When the Normans arrived in the 11th century Oxford was a prosperous market town, with Oxeneford recorded in the Domesday Book (1086) as having over seven hundred houses and five churches. The original castle, walls and bridges in and around the city were set down under the aegis of its first Norman governor, Robert D’Oilly. Oxford really came into its purpose in the 12th century. The teaching work of the monastic establishment developed into the beginnings of a strong educational tradition, and ‘university’ faculties in theology, law, medicine and liberal arts had emerged by the 1200s. Oxford’s attraction for scholars down the ages has always made it a hotbed of innovation in all spheres of thought. In spite of being seen as tied to privilege and establishment, there are many examples of things coming out of Oxford that have truly rattled those at the top. John Wycliffe, the great medieval Church
reformer, made the first complete translation of the Bible into English in 1380 whilst in the then brandspanking new Queen’s College. His works, which were banned in England, made lasting and influential waves throughout Latin Christendom. During the reign of the Catholic Tudor Queen Mary I in 1556, three Anglican bishops were tried for heresy in the University Church of St Mary. These ‘Oxford Martyrs’ were then burned at the stake outside Balliol College in Broad Street; they are commemorated on the Martyr’s Memorial in Magdalen Street, facing up St Giles. Fast-forward later to the 19th century, and we find Oxford as the germ of a movement to bring back elements of Roman Catholic thought and practice into the Church of England. Key figures of the Oxford movement still have name recognition today – figures such as John Henry Newman, recently beatified during Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Britain in 2010; Edward Pusey, who gives his name to a street in the historic centre of Oxford; and John Keble, honoured in the foundation of Keble College. Oxford has also been a site of key political significance through the centuries. The Provisions of Oxford, drawn up in 1258, was a key political step forward following the landmark Magna Carta agreement in 1215. It was drawn up as a reforming concession to restless English barons by a cash-strapped Henry III. It heralded the decline of absolute monarchy in England and the beginnings of a constitutional framework. The country was plunged into catastrophic civil war again in the 17th century, with Oxford very much at the heart of it. With several colleges of the University boasting royal benefactors, it is unsurprising that it was associated with the Royalist cause. It housed the headquarters of King Charles I, although there was strong support for Parliament in the city itself. Relations between the ‘town’ and ‘gown’ of Oxford have generally been amicable and it is often truthfully stated that one could not survive without the other. In bygone times, this was a more delicate balance. Perhaps its lowest point came in 1355, when the infamous St Scholastica’s Day Massacre left nearly a hundred locals and scholars dead. The dispute in question, which had spiralled out of control, was settled in the University’s favour so that every year after that the mayor and town councillors had to pay a fine for each slain scholar. Unbelievably, this practice carried on up until 1825 and was it was only in 1955 that it was officially put to rest. On a separate, earlier occasion in 1209, scuffles in the wake of a murder of a local woman by students led to several of the latter fleeing the town. In the event, they set up another famous ancient university somewhere in the East of England. For all this, there is so much more that Oxford has to reveal. Did you know, instance, that the Ashmolean Museum, opened 1683, was the first public museum in the world? Or that the famous Morris motor company made its first revs just south of the city, in Cowley? In all ages, the University has produced reams of talent in the most diverse of spheres – 1954 saw an Oxford medical student, Roger Bannister, run the four-minute mile at the University sports track on Iffley Road. More recently, the city has seen the foundation of a distinguished new university in Headington, Oxford Brookes, and is the hub for a worldrecognised university publishing press. It also has a thriving tourism industry and rightly so; whether you are a student or a visitor, I wholeheartedly recommend you go and see for yourself what this fuss is all about.
carfax Helen Olley, Lady Margaret Hall Carfax is considered to be the centre of Oxford, standing as it does at the intersection of St Aldates, Cornmarket Street and the High Street and deriving its name from the French, Carrefours, meaning ‘crossroads’. Though it also gives its name to the conduit running between the springs at North Hinksey and central Carfax and built in 1617 to bring fresh water to the city, it is most widely recognized by the tower which is all that remains of the medieval church of St Martin that stood there a full thirty years before the Norman Conquest. In 1814, to commemorate the Treaty of Paris and the exile of Napoleon to Elba, a peace stone was inserted in the North face of the tower, an action which was to seem pre-emptive until Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo a year later. Though the rest of St Martin’s was abolished at the end of the 19th century, it is still possible to climb Carfax tower to look out over the town and no building is allowed to stand higher in central Oxford. Ever since its establishment as a University town, Oxford has encountered frictions between local and student life. Though today the Colleges must work around filming of popular crime dramas – its pleasant architectural façade deemed perfect as the backdrop to murder in first Morse and now Lewis – initially this friction took a much more dangerous form in the infamous ‘town and gown’ riots of 1354. After the expulsion by Henry II of English students from the University of Paris, many relocated to Oxford where on February 10th, upon the feast of St Scholastica the Virgin, early scholars met for a drink at the Swyndelstock tavern. After complaining of the wine, they took it up with the vintner or wine-merchant, John of Croydon, who replied to such insult with his own insulting language and received for his pains both wine and wine jug aimed at his head. John of Croyden repeated the incident around the neighbourhood who, already contemptuous of the scholars for pursuing a course at odds with the mercenary concerns of the trading community, gathered together to ring the bell of St Martin’s in Carfax Tower. The Chancellor of the University, upon trying to calm proceedings, was shot at with bows and arrows and thereby retreated himself to ring the University Bell at St Mary’s. The Battle of the Bells quickly snowballed into the people of the town versus the gowned scholars, as they procured their own bows and arrows with which to fire on the villagers. The riot could not even be halted by proclamation in the King’s name, which was ignored by both parties. The scholars barricaded themselves in Merton College while other halls were looted and burned and sixty-three students in all perished. In retribution for this bloodshed the people of Oxford were required to pay a yearly penance of sixty-three pence and thus the university established itself against the will of the town and now stands as the oldest university in the English-speaking world.
st.aldates Alice Doorly, Christchurch St. Aldate’s is a street steeped in local history. It stretches from the ancient centre of Saxon Oxford where the intersection of the four main roads from North, South, East and West was found, down to Folly Bridge, believed to have been a crossing point of the Thames since the 9th century and an ancient ford for oxen even earlier than that. There is speculation that it was after this ford that Oxford was named. Many features of interest are to be found along St. Aldate’s. At the North East end of the road is the town hall, an elaborate, grand building that was the winning entry by Henry Thomas Hare in an architectural design competition held by the Oxford council in 1891 for the express purpose of constructing a new hall. The site on which the current 19th century building stands has seen two previous versions of the town hall, one dating from as early as the 13th century which was rebuilt in the 1750s. A notable feature on the building today is the horned ox weathervane which illustrates the original name of the town, Oxenford. The building now also contains the Museum of Oxford.
members of the college on its foundation. Alice’s shop, now a gift shop opposite Christ Church Meadow was, in the 19th Century, a sweet shop visited regularly by Alice Liddell, the daughter of the Dean of Christ Church and the inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Lewis Carroll was a student and teacher at the college and he gained much inspiration for his books from the character of Alice and his surroundings in Oxford. The shop itself also provided the basis for the Old Sheep Shop in ‘Through the Looking Glass’ in which it is owned by a sheep.
Christ Church College is difficult to miss with its dramatic entrance under the bell tower housing the bell ‘Great Tom’ which weighs over six tons. Founded in the 1520s by Cardinal Wolsey it exudes historic interest with architecture ranging from the 16th to the 20th centuries, a picture gallery containing portraits dating from the college’s foundation to the present day and the Cathedral which gives Oxford its status as a city. The 12th century priory of St. Frideswide, the patron saint of the Cathedral and of the diocese of Oxford was situated where the Cathedral now stands. St. Frideswide was a Saxon nun who founded a Christian church and nunnery in this area before her death in about 735 AD. The college has retained many of its original traditions such as the tolling of ‘Great Tom’ 101 times every evening at 9.05pm to mark the curfew time for each of the 101 original
broad Katie Low, Magdalen If you take a walk along Broad Street, begin at the far end by Magdalen Street, next to the church of St Mary Magdalen (which dates back to the eleventh century, although Viking raiders are said to have burnt down the original wooden building). Then continue into Broad Street proper. On your left is Balliol College, one of the oldest in the University but more recently the first all-male college to elect a female Fellow, and alma mater of an array of politicians of all parties.
At this point be sure to look down for the small cross of cobbled stones embedded in the ground outside the college. In 1553, the Roman Catholic Mary I – known as ‘Bloody Mary’ – became Queen of England and attempted to eradicate Protestantism from her realm. Three senior Anglican clerics, Thomas Cranmer, Nicholas Ridley and Hugh Latimer, were tried for heresy in the University Church of St Mary the Virgin, on the High Street. Refusing to recant, the ‘Oxford Martyrs’
were burnt at the stake in Broad Street. The cross supposedly marks the spot, although in Victorian times the much grander Martyrs’ Memorial was built in Magdalen Street to commemorate their deaths. Looking after the prisoners was expensive: records show that the city sought to reclaim the cost of Cramner’s barber, laundry and meals, as well as the wood used to burn him. Continuing down Broad Street, you’ll see an Oxfam shop on the right, which was the first of its kind: Oxfam was founded in Oxford during World War II and its office was originally above the shop. Further along are Blackwell’s Art and Music shops and on the other side their much larger sibling, Blackwell’s Books. Again, this was the founding establishment, opened in 1879, of a nationwide chain. The bookshop is well worth a visit to browse its huge selection of stock, much of it kept in the subterranean Norrington Room, which boasts three miles of shelving. Next door is Trinity College. Back in the street, you’ll pass Exeter College before reaching the Sheldonian Theatre and the Clarendon Building. The Sheldonian, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, resembles a Roman theatre but is never used for drama: instead it hosts regular concerts, lectures and University ceremonies. No one knows who the stone heads on pillars outside are meant to be. The eighteenth-century Clarendon Building houses the Bodleian Library’s admissions department, although it once served as the University police station. Opposite is the New Bodleian, a 1930s extension to the library that is currently being renovated. This marks the end of Broad Street, although you might now want to enjoy a restorative drink in the historic King’s Arms pub across the road.
Historic St Giles Street leads from the centre of Oxford to the north of the city and a stroll along its length will take in historical landmarks such as the Church of St Mary Magdalen, the Eagle and Child, and the Taylorian. At its northern end, St Giles splits into Woodstock Road and Banbury Road at the War Memorial, straddling St Giles Church; at the south, it continues as Magdalen Street.
Thomas Ough, St John’s
St Giles is well-endowed with pubs, with the Lamb and Flag on one side and the Eagle and Child on the other. The ‘Bird and Baby’, as the latter is affectionately known among its customers, has been around since around the time of the Civil War, during which, according to legend, it housed the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Since then, its illustrious clientele expanded to include the Inklings, a group of writers which included C S Lewis and J R R Tolkien. The Church of St Mary Magdalen is located at the bottom of St Giles, a site on which churches have been built for over a thousand years. The current church was built in the 19th century by George Gilbert Scott, who went on to design St Pancras station, and includes, at its front, the Martyrs’ Memorial, a stone monument to the Oxford Martyrs of 1555. The resemblance of the Memorial to a spire has reportedly led mischievous students to tell tourists that it marks an underground church, but the nearby flight of stairs leads only to public toilets. To its left is the imposing Taylorian Institute, the University’s Modern Languages centre that lies adjacent to the Ashmolean Museum. Established in 1845 through the architect Sir Robert Taylor, after the death of his son, who had contested Sir Robert’s will, the neo-Classical construction stands on land previously owned by Worcester College. Of course, the ‘Institutio Tayloriana’ is not the only historic academic feature of St Giles’ Street. Balliol and Blackfriars - both of which have claims to be Oxford’s oldest college - are close by, as well as St John’s, St Cross and St Benet’s. The St Giles Fair has taken place annually since 1200, when it marked the consecration of St Giles’ Church. Today, the wide thoroughfare is closed off for two days every September to make way for stalls, rides and attractions, continuing a centuries-old tradition. Queen Elizabeth I is said to have watched the fair, which, in 1657, was known as St Giles’ Feast, from St John’s, while the poet John Betjeman described it the 1930s as ‘about the biggest fair in England’, documenting its ‘roundabouts and freak-shows’. The Fair may have moved on from those days, but remains an important part of St Giles Street.
The High Street, running from Magdalen Bridge to Carfax Tower (traditionally the centre of Oxford) has been judged one of the ten most ‘iconic’ streets in England. While its charm is slightly diluted today by the numerous buses thundering up and down, there’s still plenty to appreciate. At one end is Oxford’s tallest building, the Great Tower of Magdalen College. For over five hundred years, the college choir have climbed the tower early in the morning on May 1st to sing madrigals marking the start of summer; more recently, a tradition has developed for inebriated revellers to jump off Magdalen Bridge into the river Cherwell afterwards. Opposite Magdalen is the University’s Botanic Garden, created in the seventeenth century to grow plants for medicinal research.
Katie Low, Magdalen
Further up the street, Queen’s College faces the Examination Schools, which host University lectures and exams. The Schools were completed in 1882, despite being designed in the style of a splendid Jacobean mansion. If you’re there in the summer you may see students with champagne and balloons who have just finished their exams, although the university has recently tried to clamp down on messy celebrations. Close by, the sumptuous Grand Café and more down to earth Queen’s Lane Coffee House, both founded in the 1650s, vie for the title of oldest coffee shop in Oxford and possibly England.
Next you’ll find All Souls College (which famously has no students, only Fellows, who were once expected to pray for the souls of those killed in Henry VI’s French wars but now merely undertake higher research) and the University Church of St Mary the Virgin. Dating from early medieval times, the church was originally used for official University ceremonies, and was also the site of the Oxford Martyrs’ trial for heresy in 1555 before they were burnt at the stake in Broad Street. Today you can climb the spire for impressive views of Oxford, and visit the Vaults cafe, in a room where the University parliament once met. There is another church further up the High Street, the elegant eighteenth-century All Saints. It was deconsecrated in the 1970s and now serves as Lincoln College’s library, although the spire still towers over the passing traffic. Continuing along the street, you’ll see another imposing frontage on the left, the Rhodes Building owned by Oriel College. As well as paying for this, Cecil Rhodes founded the scholarships that today bring large numbers of foreign graduates to study in Oxford. Opposite, past the entrance to Turl Street, is the Mitre pub, now a Beefeater but once an important coaching inn: the coach that ran from there to London was perhaps an early precursor of today’s Oxford Tube service.
cornmarket Robert Daly, New
The busiest street in Oxford is, undoubtedly, Cornmarket Street, known simply as ‘Cornmarket’ to lazy Oxonians. At the Northern End of the street stands St Mary Magdalen, a beautiful church on Magdalen Street and at the Southern end you’ll find one of Oxford’s most prominent landmarks: Carfax tower. It also has passages leading to the Clarendon Shopping centre (on the West side) and to the Covered Market (on the East side). Cornmarket is a convenient thoroughfare for people going from one side of the city to the other as it joins the North and South sides of the city, as well as connecting the High Street with Broad Street (known respectively as – you guessed it – ‘the High’ and ‘the Broad’). What’s more, it’s pedestrianised (free from both cars and, at certain times, bicycles). These days, Cornmarket is home to ever-changing high-street shops, greasy fast-food outlets and the occasional branch of a bank. It is therefore all the more surprising that, nestled on the corner with Ship Street, you can find the oldest building in the whole of Oxford: the eleventh-century church St Michael at the Northgate. Until 1771 the famous Bocardo prison also stood nearby; it was here that, in 1555, the three Protestants now known as the ‘Oxford martyrs’ were held captive before being executed the following year. (A stone cross in the middle of Broad Street marks the site where they were burned alive.) Cornmarket has lots to offer tourists and locals alike; Carfax tower, at the Southern end, is a popular meeting point for locals and there are almost always a number of street performers. It is, however, not universally admired. Many complain that the street lacks the charm of the rest of central Oxford; in the 1950s, several of Cornmarket’s most ancient buildings, some even dating from the latetwelfth century, were completely demolished to
make way for a string of ugly modern shops. The street is also extremely crowded at weekends and, apart from Boswells – Oxford’s oldest department store – at the North end, it has very few interesting, independent shops. For these reasons, among others, Cornmarket was voted the second worst street in the UK in a 2002 poll for the Today programme. Nevertheless, you are likely to walk down (or up) Cornmarket many times during your stay in Oxford. So you may just have to get used to it – and get off your bike!
uni ver sity.
An introduction to the history and colleges of Oxford University
Colleges 20 History 22 All Souls 22 Balliol 23 Blackfriars 23 Brasenose 24 Campion Hall 24 Christ Church 25 Corpus Christi 25 Exeter 26 Green Templeton 26 Harris Manchester 27 Hertford 27 Jesus 28 Keble 28 Kellogg 29 Lady Margaret Hall 29 Linacre 30 Lincoln 30 Magdalen 31 Mansfield 31 Merton 32 New 32 Nuffield 33 Oriel 33 Pembroke 34 Queen’s 34 Regent’s Park 35 Somerville 35 At Anne’s 36 St Antony’s 36 St Benet’s 37 St Catherine’s 37 St Cross 38 St Edmund Hall 38 St Hilda’s 39 St Hugh’s 39 St John’s 40 St Peter’s 40 St Stephen’s 41 Trinity 41 University 42 Wadham 42 Wolfson 43 Worcester 43 Wycliffe Hall
Landmarks 44 Radcliffe Camera 44 Bodleian 45 Sheldonian 45 Holywell Music Rooms 46 Bridge of Sighs 46 Real Tennis Club 48 The Union
university history By Thomas Ough, St Johnâ€™s
The oldest university in the English-speaking world, Oxford has a long history stretching back to before the 12th century. Although legend has it that the University began in 872 when King Arthur engaged in days of debate with local monks, the earliest know teaching took place in 1096. The University grew rapidly over the following century, with the expulsion of foreigners from the University of Paris in 1167 resulting in an influx of young scholars. Many students lodged with townsfolk, but friction between town and gown saw a 1209 exodus to Cambridge, and although some of the escapees returned in 1214 at the behest of Oxford traders missing their custom, a rivalry that would span the centuries was born. The 13th century also saw the formation of the collegiate system. Beforehand, students had affiliated themselves to groups based on the North, including Scotland, and the South, encompassing Wales, Ireland and the rest of England, but by now the earliest colleges were being set up. Blackfriars Hall was founded in 1221, but as it is a permanent private hall rather than a college, it is University College, formed in 1249, that is recognised as the oldest in the University. St Edmund Hall existed in the guise of student lodgings about this time, and Merton and Balliol colleges were both set up in 1264. Throughout the Middle Ages, Oxford was a bastion of learning, and was recognised as such in 1355 by Edward III, who paid tribute to its importance in providing the state with able graduates. At this time, an Oxford education was dominated by theology. Exeter College was intended to cater for students from the eponymous cathedralâ€™s diocese. Lincoln College was founded in 1427 in order to produce graduates equipped to fight heresy. All Souls was founded by a bishop, and Magdalen by an archbishop. The University was at the intellectual centre of Britain, with John Wycliff, an opponent of the papacy in his support for a Bible in the vernacular, expelled from Oxford and his position of Master of Balliol.
It was not until the 17th century that work on the Bodleian Library began and before then books were in short supply. In 1444, Duke Humfrey, brother of Henry V, had built a moderate library, but it was broken up at the Reformation. It is from this paucity of books that the tradition of lecturing began, allowing many to learn from a single resource simultaneously. What was taught, besides a firm theological grounding, was limited to grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music; no humanities were introduced until the 16th century. The Civil War took its toll on Oxford as the University suffered from first a purging of its Royalists, having sheltered King Charles and hosted a Convocation of Parliament, in 1647, and then a purging of its Puritans in 1660. Amid the bloodshed, though, Oxford’s dreaming spires were ascending, with the skyline coming closer to the one visible today. Sir Thomas Bodley made good on his 1598 resolution to replace the previous Library, and the Bodleian was completed in 1624, despite the death of its patron eleven years earlier. By 1669, Sir Christopher Wren’s Sheldonian Theatre was completed, while the Old Ashmolean, now the Museum of the History of Science, was finished in 1683. Colleges continued to proliferate: Magdalen, Oriel, Queen’s, Corpus Christi, Christ Church, Trinity, St John’s, Jesus and Wadham were all old stagers by the 19th century. The Victorian era welcomed in new colleges and new attitudes. After the University Act of 1854 had made studying at Oxford possible for those who were not members of the Church of England, women as well as non-conformists began to get a foothold in the University. Lady Margaret Hall and Somerville were halls for women, later to become colleges, founded in 1878 and 1879 respectively, and by 1884, their residents were permitted to attend lectures and take University exams, although they were not awarded degrees until 1920. Keble College had been built under the direction of renowned architect William Butterfield though its brickwork led a French visitor to think it was a station - and its construction was followed by those of St Hilda’s, Kellogg, and Harris Manchester. In the mid-twentieth century, Oxford profited from the relocation of many academics from war-torn Europe, and further changes were made to widen access. By the new millennium, every college accepted women, while the University broadened the range of subjects it offered. More colleges were founded - including St Peter’s, St Anne’s and St Antony’s - and Oxford continued to produce notable alumni. More than forty Nobel laureates and more than fifty world leaders have to date been educated by Oxford, including four of the last seven Prime Ministers. Oxford continues to develop; its history is only a foundation.
All Souls has been called ‘the Oxford of Oxford’, ‘Big Daddy’, or ‘The Warden and the College of the Souls of all Faithful People deceased in the University of Oxford’. All Souls doesn’t take postgrads, let alone undergraduates. Instead, all members of the college are Fellows, and many Fellows have neither teaching or research requirements. Entrance is by examination and interview for graduating Oxonians, but the exams are so difficult that it is often literally impossible to pass them; they accept a maximum of two new Fellows per year and sometimes not even one. Architecturally it is unsurpassable, ‘Ivory towers’ really could not be a better way of describing it. It has by far the greatest library in Oxford outside the Bodleian; students can read the books if they have a note from their tutor. Although most students will probably never have any reason to go in All Souls, they can at least dream wistfully that someday, maybe, they will become a Fellow.
balliol With its long history and the appearance of an extravagant Mormon temple, Balliol can suggest ideas of greater pomp and grandeur than is actually the case. It has produced fewer Prime Ministers than Christ Church, carries less wealth than St John’s and cannot equal the majesty of Magdalen but outdates this trio by nearly three centuries, so vies with University and Merton for the title of the oldest Oxford college. Today, Balliol boasts one of the largest student bodies in Oxford, a very strong JCR and the last remaining fully student-run bar in the University. The JCR’s history as a tortoise keeper is less proud, owing to the tragedy of Matilda, the college tortoise, who met her maker in 2009. The college’s central location makes it ideal for tourists passing through Broad Street, especially in summer, though woe betide those who fail to observe the regulations on which stretches of grass are traversable. Balliol’s nearest neighbour and friendly rival is Trinity; no college bop (disco) would be complete without a rendition of the Gordouli, an abstract lament traditionally delivered in three-part harmony over the back wall of the college.
blackfriars Blackfriars Hall is a tiny PPH right in the heart of the city. The Hall actually beats all the colleges to the title of Oxford’s oldest teaching institution, originally founded by Dominican Friars in 1221. With other monastic halls from the period, it was suppressed at the Reformation, but was refounded in 1921. The Hall is devoted to the study of philosophy and Roman Catholic theology, especially that of Aquinas. Visiting students from overseas can come to study one to three terms of Classics, History or English Literature, alongside philosophy and theology. Despite its small size, Blackfriars is actually three institutions in one: the Studium, which trains members of religious orders and lay people in theology; the Priory of the Holy Spirit; and the combined Junior, Middle and Senior Common Rooms. The academic community is supportive, with a strong international flavour, researchers come from different backgrounds and religious traditions, but value Blackfriars’ distinctive ethos. Anyone who fancies a visit to the friary is welcome to come along to the daily Mass and the Divine Office, celebrated in the Priory church.
Ask one person, and they’ll say the famous ‘Brazen Nose’ doorknocker in this college takes its name from the college and if you ask another they’ll say exactly the opposite. Whatever the case, Brasenose (the Prime Minister’s old college) is the heart and soul of political life in Oxford. The JCR even purchased a bust of their former JCR president, which now gazes fondly from the woodpanelled interior of its marvellous main quad. Probably the best aspect of Brasenose, however, is the location. Between the stern right-angle of Exeter meeting Turl Street and the sweeping vista which ensnares the Rad Cam, Brasenose is at the absolute centre of Oxford life as a meeting place, stopping point and thing-to-look-at. The bar serves a pint for minimal cost, and conveniently for students, is within easy distance of a myriad of pubs; though these are rarely needed as the college plays host to the raucosity of the Addington Society, where college illuminati gather to drink port, east cheese and debate like the best of them.
campion hall It was only about 150 years ago that Oxford’s rules relaxed to allow non-Anglicans to matriculate at the University. Taking advantage of this new, liberal spirit was Campion Hall, founded in 1896 to provide a base for Jesuits training for the priesthood to study in areas other than theology, which was catered for elsewhere. It started life on St Giles, in a location rented from St John’s, but moved into its current building on Brewer Street in 1935. The move involved some controversy after it emerged that the architect, Sir Edwin Lutyens, who also designed New Delhi, had ‘poached’ the contract from another architect whose plans he had been asked to comment on. He dismissed his rival’s designs as ‘Queen Anne in front and Mary Anne behind,’ and offered to do the job himself. As the Jesuit academic community in the University, Campion Hall will only admit lay members in exceptional circumstances, and the Hall remains an all-male community mostly made up of Jesuit DPhil students. But Campion Hall has never been a theological college. Nowadays the Hall’s researcher students investigate topics ranging from astrophysics to development studies, Spanish literature and the Hebrew bible.
christchurch Christ Church is one of the largest colleges in Oxford, and is famous for a number of marks and traditions which stem from its colourful history. In the centre of Christ Church’s Tom Quad lies a pond with a statue called Mercury which contains Koi carp donated by the Empress of Japan. In the past students had a tradition of throwing each other into it, although nowadays this is prevented by a hefty fine for entry into the pond. Beyond Mercury lies the Cathedral, which gives Oxford its status as a city and is home to the Cathedral Choir. Services are conducted according to Oxford time, which runs five minutes later than normal time, and similarly the bell in Tom Tower tolls 101 times at 9.05pm for every original scholar of the college. In summer croquet is played in the Master’s Garden – a reminder of Christ Church’s aristocratic past, although nowadays the college has updated itself and is filled with students from all backgrounds. The college has famously been used in the filming of ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘The Golden Compass’, and eagle-eyed visitors can spot characters from Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ hidden in the windows of the Great Hall.
corpus christi Founded in 1517, Corpus Christi College is the 12th oldest college in the University. It is small by Oxford standards, situated between the urban bustle of the High Street and the quiet space of the Christ Church Meadow. Its main quad is dominated by the pillar sundial known as the Pelican Sundial, symbol of the college. Architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner described it as a ‘comfortable, businesslike’ quad, leading into one that is ‘compressed and intricate; a man-made landscape of a quintessentially English kind, deriving its harmoniousness from the English virtues of tolerance, humour and flexibility’. Erasmus found its library to be ‘among the chief beauties of Britain’ as a miracle of humanist learning. In the eighteenth century, the ollege was able to expand following the construction of a second quad and the fine neoclassical Fellows’ Building. A traditionally strong centre for the Classics, Corpus has produced great thinkers and public figures including philosopher Isaiah Berlin, writer Vikram Seth, acclaimed tenor Ian Bostridge and the Labour Party’s Miliband brothers. Most famous, however, are the College Tortoises, Fox and Oldham, who participate to the College’s annual Tortoise Race, attracting visitors from all over the University and city.
Exeter’s starring role as the TV location for Inspector Morse’s death hopefully says more about its attractive main quad and exquisite chapel than about the college’s atmosphere. With its magnificent Victorian Gothic chapel and a secret view across Radcliffe Square, the college offers all the charm that one would expect from Oxford. One of Oxford’s oldest colleges, founded by the Bishop of Exeter in 1314, Exeter was once home to authors J. R. R. Tolkien and Philip Pullman, who based his fictitious Jordan College on Exeter, and Sir Roger Bannister, the first man to run the mile in under 4 minutes. As Oxford colleges go, Exeter is small, but it has a great mix of students from varied backgrounds and many countries. The age-old rivalry with Jesus endures, although fortunately the riots and murders of days gone by have been substituted for fiercely competitive rugby matches and the odd paintball fight. Camped firmly in the centre of Oxford, the college is ideally placed for students’ ventures into town ‘drunken or otherwise’. The Fellows’ Garden is stunning, and provides Exonians with enough croquet, sunshine and flowers to numb the pain of exams.
green templeton Green Templeton College (GTC) is the youngest of all Oxford University colleges, and was formed as the result of a merger of Green College and Templeton College in October 2008. The college houses graduate students in the social sciences, medicine and business, whose research agendas focuses primarily on issues relating to human welfare. GTC is based at the site of former Green College, at the Radcliffe Observatory on Woodstock Road in North Oxford. The Observatory was built with the funds from the trustees of Dr John Radcliffe, completed to a design by James Wyatt, who modelled the structure on the Tower of the Winds in Athens. The building was used for meteorological observations from its construction until 1934. Notable figures associated with Green and Templeton Colleges include Sir Richard Doll, who first noted the link between smoking and lung cancer; and Dr Cecil Green, the founder of the computer technology company Texas Instruments. The college is renowned for its vibrant and welcoming academic community, and for its approach to equality amongst all college members. GTC is unique in that it has no High Table, so that college Fellow, students, staff and other college members dine together as equals.
harris manchester Proudly standing head and shoulders above every other group of mature students in the country, the students of Harris Manchester are all over 21, really quite clever and more often than not they come loaded with mighty undergraduate degrees from the university of life; senior members of the BBC, newspaper editors and MPs rub shoulders with the humble and occasionally controversial. The college began in Manchester as one of the last of a long line of ‘dissenting academies’ established after the Restoration to provide higher education for nonconformists, who were denied degrees from the ancient universities of Oxford and Cambridge by religious tests. Later achievements include educating the first female nonconformist minister and acting as the setting for Workers’ Educational Association courses between the wars. Even the chapel is a centre of liberal religion, fitting enough for a college awash with academic theology and philosophy. HMC has wandered about a bit since the college was founded by Presbyterians in Manchester over two hundred years ago, first to York, then London, before annexing the 17th-century houses in Holywell Street. It became a full college 15 years ago and now looks like it’s been at it for decades.
hertford Hertford prides itself on being open, inclusive and welcoming. What it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in character. There is a genuine sense of community and pride in the college, and the social life is second to none. Saying this, the college retains a consistently high position in the Norrington league table of Oxford colleges. The college has a proven record of progressive thinking, being one of the first Oxford colleges to become completely co-ed in 1975. It enjoys a nearly 50-50 balance of Northerners and Southerners and one of the better State-Private ratios in the University. Students enjoy the use of a cheap and friendly bar, as well as a JCR that is a great place to chill out after a heavy night. Unique to Oxford (and Cambridge, for that matter) is the frequency of Formal Hall, which takes place on Wednesdays and Sundays. Students get to dress up, wear their gowns and BYOB (wine only of course). For those 120 new Hertfordians this Michaelmas, it is definitely recommended.
jesus Most famous for alumni such as Lawrence of Arabia and Sir Harold Wilson, Jesus College is known by its students as the friendly one. Located on Turl Street, right across from its rival Exeter College, the walls of Jesus maintain their original 16th Century architecture, and the beautiful quadrangles offer an environment so tranquil it’s difficult to believe the city centre is a mere hundred feet away. Founded by Queen Elizabeth I in order to rival Christ Church, her father Henry VIII’s college, Jesus has since developed strong ties with Wales, resulting in the recent addition of sheep-shaped stress-balls to the college’s merchandise store. Despite its modest size, Jesus College caters for over 470 students and owns annexes dotted all across Oxford, meaning Jesubites can enjoy the college’s accommodation for the duration of their course. Though it prides itself on a £1 million portrait of its founder which hangs in the main hall, Jesus College is remembered by its students as an unassuming home where the beauty and grandeur of historical Oxford is captured in a welcoming and friendly environment.
keble Keble’s distinctive checkerboard buildings are the first thing to impress upon any visitor to the college. Tennyson famously labelled the college’s red and white bricks as ‘most indecent’, and a Society for the Destruction of Keble existed with the sole objective of removing a brick from its walls every term. Yet fortunately the stripy walls are undiminished by their efforts. At least its vibrant student population seems unbothered by the brickwork, choosing instead to get involved with the college’s numerous student societies. Keble is recognised across the University for its sporting prowess, with its success in rugby being particularly renowned. With one of the most active drama scenes in the University, it’s only fitting that Keble’s O’Reilly Theatre should be one of the best theatres in Oxford, hosting college and University-wide performances alike. The music society is very active, as is the choir, which has toured Japan and Korea. Keble Arts Week, run by the JCR, is one of the highlights of Hilary Term. The lively social scene revolves around the renowned college bar, a listed building that bears considerable visual similarities to a spaceship.
kellogg Kellogg started in 1990 to cater for part-time graduate students and only recently began to admit full-time students. The college prides itself on its expertise in enhancing the University experience of those studying nontraditionally and thus retains close links with the Department for Continuing Education. Oxford’s 36th college changed its name to Kellogg College in 1994 to recognise the support given to continuing education in Oxford by the WK Kellogg Foundation. Kellogg was a pioneer of education for the poor, declaring, ‘I will invest my money in people.’ For the full-time students, the college has a beautiful new site on the Norham Manor on the Banbury Road. A unique mix of age ranges and subjects studied allows full-time students to benefit from the experience and connections of the college’s mature students. The majority of Kellogg’s 400 or so members are still part-time students living away from the college, so numbers on site are relatively small. But despite this, the Common Room has a growing collegiate spirit and weekly dinners bring the college community together.
lady margaret hall Lady Margaret Hall, fondly shortened to LMH by all who know it, is one of the more friendly, down to earth and welcoming Oxford colleges. Founded in 1878 as the first ever women’s college, it now prides itself on an equal split between male and female students and students from both state and private schooled backgrounds. Named after Lady Margaret Beaufort, a patron of learning and mother of King Henry VII, it is known for its pretty redbrick architecture, spacious grounds and campus-like atmosphere. One of its most appealing features has got to be its 12 acres of gorgeous gardens with the River Cherwell running through it. You can hire punts, play a spot of tennis on the courts, walk around the lush green grounds or simply laze in the sun (or study hard if it’s exam time of course) on grass that you are actually allowed to walk on – a rarity for an Oxford college! It may be slightly further out than most other colleges – ‘a twenty-minute walk from the centre of town!’, I hear you cry – but that is probably what gives LMH its earnest sense of community. Everyone knows each other, and you get the best of both worlds – a friendly home to return to at the end of the day, and the chance to be a part of a student city without being confined to a campus. With alumni such as Nigella Lawson, Ann Widdecombe and Samuel West, LMH continues to carve its way through Oxford history, hosting numerous charity events and always putting its students first.
The name ‘Linacre College’ commemorates Renaissance scientist and humanist Thomas Linacre, whose prolific and expansive scholarship is echoed today in the college’s diverse postgraduate membership. Students at Linacre hail from over 50 countries and study in the nearby science faculties as well as in almost every faculty in the University. Though only celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year, Linacre College has a rich history of vibrant postgraduate life. Its single Common Room is the centre of social life at the college, with students and fellows bustling around the ever popular bar every evening. Linacre students also participate in a plethora of sports, from rowing and football to yoga and capoeira, and members can always be found in heated competition at the darts hockey or around the foosball table. Linacre’s idyllic location at an entrance to University Parks isn’t the only ‘green’ aspect of the college, as Linacre prides itself on being environmentally minded, with carbon-reduction schemes and fair trade events each year. The grounds were once home to a convent, and still retain a peaceful, relaxed atmosphere. Its beautiful fountain and new garden are an ideal backdrop to a game of croquet following a delicious meal from the vegan friendly dining hall.
The most central, and ninth oldest, of the Oxford colleges, Lincoln is renowned for its unspoiled medieval architecture. What the college authorities are less keen to emphasise, however, is the fact that the front quad has barely changed since the fifteenth century mainly because Lincoln has spent most of its five hundred and eighty year history in a state of bankruptcy. Nevertheless, in its brief moments of solvency, the college has managed to garner additional buildings, including the stunning library, whose ornate ceiling provides a superb distraction for anyone seeking to do any work. Lincoln is also notable for its alumni, which include Dr Seuss, John le Carré, and, allegedly, the Red Baron, as well as its food, which has a reasonable claim to be the best in Oxford, considering the Chef is Michelin star, and the kitchen is perhaps the oldest such facility still in use in the world. Finally, Lincoln compensates for its miniature, yet homely, size with some particularly bizarre traditions. Ascension Day, for instance, sees children pelted with coins, to ward off avarice. The ancient rivalry with Brasenose College also culminates on this day, with free ivy-laced beer available in Lincoln’s atmospheric underground bar as penance for a slight misunderstanding, centuries ago.
magdalen ‘Magdalen? Oh yes, the one with the deer’. Magdalen’s antlerwielding population, who inhabit their own spacious water meadow, are one of the college’s main selling points, although most visitors miss the rutting season, when the stags warn each other off (and keep students living nearby awake) by making a recurrent loud belching noise. Another claim to fame is what happens at 6am on May 1st, when the chapel choir sing madrigals from the Great Tower to mark the beginning of summer. Members of the college watch from the adjacent Founder’s Tower and look forward to the annual launching later in the day of Magdalen’s fleet of fifteen punts. Although there have been turbulent times in college history, today things are calmer: an annual dinner with supposedly home-grown venison commemorates the Fellows’ restoration after they were expelled by James II. The spectacular eighteenth-century New Building, which W.B. Yeats thought was haunted and where C.S. Lewis gave English tutorials, serves as a backdrop to strawberry parties and games of croquet in summer. Notable Magdalen alumni include Oscar Wilde, whose old room has just been refurbished in appropriate fin de siècle style, Martha Lane Fox, and the current Chancellor, George Osborne.
mansfield Mansfield is tucked away off the welltrodden paths of the city centre, but is uniquely welcoming to all who enter its mammoth three-sided quad. It boasts a ludicrously vast JCR, a comprehensive library and a handsome chapel. Mansfield is young in Oxford terms, set up in 1886 to train nonconformist ministers. The college began life in Birmingham, until Oxford abolished religious entrance criteria. Its youth means Mansfield retains a refreshing knack for not adhering to traditions. The College likes to celebrate what it’s good at though, including rowing, cricket and football. Mansfield remains bizarrely anonymous in the minds of many students, but boasts a quite extraordinary community spirit. Studying takes place in the beautiful library with its distractingly exquisite painted ceiling. Those who give up can retreat to the redbrick, basement bar, the social heart of the college. Mansfield has admitted female students since 1913 (much sooner than some colleges) and also has a female ‘head-of-house’, the Principal, Baroness Helena Kennedy. Mansfield also welcomes 35 visiting students from the US every year, who soon fit into this college’s friendly JCR.
Once you can fight your way through the lodge it’s like stepping back in time Merton is the only really medieval college. Situated along a delectable cobblestrewn street, Merton sits the shadows beneath University, Corpus and Christ Church. Its titanic, staggeringly beautiful chapel is probably the greatest known unknown in the University, quietly ringing the centuries away to the tune of a thousand scholars. Academic work is what Merton is famous for. But there’s no evidence Mertonians do get thrown out for not getting a first, as is purported. In fact they just do very well in the league tables. Historically the college is rather amazing. If you’re in the front quad, glance into the top-left hand building. That’s where Charles I had his headquarters in the Civil War. Look behind you, and that’s where Tolkien wrote ‘Lord of the Rings’. But just as the hobbits were taken to Isengard, so should students dream to be taken to Merton formal. White-gloved waiters serve what is surely the best formal food for the price beneath the oldest extant hall roof in the city.
new Despite its name, New College is far from new, having been founded in 1379. Officially titled ‘the college of St Mary of Winchester at Oxford’, the college gained its current name to distinguish it from Oriel, which was also dedicated to St Mary. The college boasts plenty of interesting features including ‘the Mound’, a mysterious hump of earth in the gardens which squeaks if you stand in front of it and clap. Also worth looking for is the tree which featured in the fourth Harry Potter film as well as part of the medieval city wall which runs through the middle of the college. New College is found on Holywell Street near the city centre and close to its historical rival Magdalen, whom New College blame for taking a gold medal in rowing at the 1912 Olympics, which should rightfully have been theirs. The college’s beautiful architecture includes one of the oldest quadrangles in Oxford and a large chapel where the world famous New College choir participate in a sung service on Sundays and weekday evenings. Famous alumni include Hugh Grant and Peter Middleton (grandfather of the Duchess of Cambridge).
nuffield Nuffield takes its name from the founder of Morris Motors, Lord Nuffield, who started the college in 1937. His motoring company at one stage made every other car sold in Britain, and its magnate was reputed to be so vain that he refused to allow any portraits to hang in the college dining hall except his own. Nuffield also intervened to ensure that the college tower would not be used to house an ancient set of bells (as is customary in Oxford), but would instead be the home of the library with books becoming steadily more obscure as you progress up the tower. Access to this tenfloor facility is restricted to members of the college and is the envy of every Social Science student in the University. Nuffield is Oxford’s most fiercely competitive college outside All Souls, admitting only 30 students every year. A major advantage of Nuffield is its exceptional support for student research: students are given an office, a research allowance and an exchange programme with Yale University, as well as an annual graduate conference for Sociology students from Harvard, Oxford and Stockholm. Nuffield is a college that makes (almost) any post-graduate wish they were a social scientist if they aren’t one already.
oriel Oriel was founded in 1326, in that time thousands of members have gone on to discover fame and fortune. Some of the most renowned ‘Orielenses’ include Sir Walter Raleigh, Cecil Rhoades and Saint John Henry Newman. Well-known historians, such as AJP Taylor and Michael Wood have also passed through Oriel’s gates, as have Peter Reed, British Olympic rowing world champion; Charles Wreford-Brown, former England captain and the man credited with inventing the word ‘soccer’; the dandy, Beau Brummel, who introduced and established as fashion the modern suit and tie; and Rachel Riley, assistant on Countdown. Oriel even has its own type of window named after it. Most students are lucky enough to get in-house accommodation throughout their course either in the main site right in the middle of Oxford, which includes Tackley’s Inn, Oxford’s oldest surviving medieval hall, or in its annexe on the bustling Cowley Road. Oriel is notorious for its rowing legends, who like to celebrate their success on the river with a peculiar, Viking-style boat-burning ritual.
The college was founded in 1624 by a local businessman and clergyman, and the permission to form the college was granted by James I (whose statue is outside the dining hall). It is often said that a rich benefactor died just before he could give all his money to the college, and as a result Pembroke ‘has always been poor’. It is true that the college went through a period of financial difficulty, but that has long been over, and currently (in 2012) it is expanding to include a new quad connected by a bridge across the road. The poet John Betjeman regarded Pembroke as ‘polite and shy’ in his poem Summoned by Bells (1960), but concluded that it has ‘more character’ than other colleges. This is probably because Pembroke is a friendly and sometimes quirky college, where everyone knows everyone else. It is the college of Samuel Johnson (before he had to quit because he couldn’t afford it anymore – something not mention in the college brochure!), and J.R.R. Tolkien wrote The Hobbit and most of Lord of the Rings whilst teaching there. The undergraduates own an important 20th century art collection which will be on display from October 2012.
queen’s The Queen’s College was founded in 1341 by Robert de Eglesfield, chaplain to Edward III’s consort Queen Phillipa, in whose honour the college was named. The founder established the college’s historical association with the north of England (Eglesfield is a village in Cumberland), and traditionally Queen’s has drawn many of its students from Cumberland, Westmorland and Yorkshire. Despite being one of Oxford’s medieval colleges, Queen’s is noted for its distinctive classical architecture. The entire college was rebuilt in the eighteenth century, with such luminaries as Nicholas Hawksmoor involved in the design. While situated in the heart of central Oxford, overlooking the bustle of High Street, Queen’s, behind its high walls, is quiet and tranquil without the streams of tourists which mark other colleges. It has, however, a noted reputation for excellence in music and one of the finest college choirs in Oxford. The college has produced many distinguished scientists including Edmund Halley (of Halley’s Comet fame) and Sir Tim Berners Lee (creator of the World Wide Web). The philosopher Jeremy Bentham came up to Queen’s at twelve years old and the comedian Rowan Atkinson was a graduate student there. Henry V is said to have spent time at the college when Prince of Wales.
regents park ‘Isn’t that in London?’ must be the most common question received by the students of Regent’s Park College. Indeed, Regent’s was founded in London in the late 19th century near the park that sgares its name, and moved to Oxford in 1957. The college itself has strong roots in the Baptist Church, but whilst still training a number of people for Baptist ministry, a secular and vibrant community of around 100 undergraduates specialising the in the humanities and social sciences has evolved, along with a significant contingent of graduate students. The Junior Common Room is a large oak-planned room which forms the hub of student life, with free tea and biscuits provided twice a day. The small quad is said to be one of the prettiest in Oxford, and is perhaps best seen in late Spring when the blossom falls from the trees, and the quad becomes home to college’s oldest member: Emmanuelle, the tortoise, who competes each year at the Corpus tortoise race. Regent’s students of the normal variety are highly active in University life, with a number of notable Blue’s successes, high calibre theatre performances, and society presidencies to their name.
somerville Somerville’s name comes from the incredible Mary Somerville, a Scottish scientist who attained international fame in mathematics while raising a family of five. The College began in 1879 as a nondenominational women’s college. Now with an equal mix of men and women, Somerville’s eclectic buildings are set around a beautiful, large and grassy Quad. The college is bordered by Walton Street, Little Clarendon St and Woodstock Road, which teem with pubs, cafes, restaurants and bars, making its location in Jericho ideal for evening activities. The revered library houses an impressive 120,000 volumes including John Stuart Mill’s personal collections of books which he donated to the college. The college’s pair of concrete 60’s buildings are an architectural curiosity and feature huge square windows, offering gorgeous views onto the open central garden Quad, one of the few you can walk on in Oxford. The wood-panelled dining hall is also a stately affair, lined by the portraits of all-female Principals. The student population is close-knit, but the tolerance of the college’s founding ethos has translated into a genuine feeling of openness that extends beyond the immediate membership of the college.
st. anne’s The most common question asked of Stanners is “Where is your college”, largely due to the fact that its location on Woodstock Road makes it, in the eyes of those at more ‘centrally’ located colleges, somewhere near Banbury. Its own students would prefer to focus on its proximity to Jericho and Little Clarendon Street (with all of the eating and drinking opportunities that entails). Should you decide to make the long journey north, you’d find a college quite unlike any others: severely lacking in cloisters, chapels, deer and duck ponds, it is instead constructed around converted Victorian houses (now a labyrinthine maze of student facilities), with the addition of some slightly intimidating concrete 1960s architecture. Throw in a 24 hour library with 110,000 books (and the infamous Upper North Room: not a place for vertigo sufferers to venture into) and a brand new multi-million pound kitchen project (bringing the promise of even better food: a difficult task indeed), as well as guaranteed accommodation for undergrads in all years, and it becomes clearer why it is that Stanners are known for being such a cheerful, friendly bunch.
st. antony’s Many colleges pride themselves on the diversity of their student body, but St Antony’s has a pretty good claim to be the true heart of international Oxford. Its 500 students represent close to 60 countries, the conversation here oscillates wildly between the Middle East peace process and the college’s successes in rowing, football and basketball. No wonder, then, that St Antony’s alumni list reads like a who’s who in the fields of international affairs, politics, journalism, activism, policy-making and academia. The college has claimed many of the University’s most accomplished researchers, especially when judged by the company they keep: past guests have included the leaders of Spain, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia and Latvia, not to mention Sean Connery. The kitchens consistently serve up some of the best food in the University, which is particularly notable given the diversity of tastes and cultures to be catered for. St Antony’s brings together some of the world’s brightest graduate students to prove that fun is not forgotten upon completion of your first degree.
st. benet’s hall St Benet’s is comparatively young, established in 1897 originally as a venue of monastic study for Benedictine monks. Guests often remark on the way in which the Benedictine ethos of hospitality still dominates the Hall. Benet’s offers three formal meals a week, including a popular Sunday lunch. ‘Benetians’ regularly invite guests to these formals, which kick-off with sherry, followed by a three-course meal, which is then rounded off with coffee. Sherry and coffee is taken in the charming garden, often accompanied by a game of croquet. If you’re female, though, there’s no need to worry that you’ll end up staying later than you intended: Benet’s monastic foundation means that all women have to leave the buildings by 10 pm. Benet’s is a place of blurred distinctions. Unlike other colleges, there is no high table. Instead there is one large table shared by all students, guests, monks, lecturers and fellows alike. Students help the staff to serve and clear supper, and are on first-name terms with all of the staff, rather than referring to cleaners as ‘scouts’. Whilst it may not be the most typical Oxford experience, students at Benet’s quickly become loyal to this unique institution with its solid, vibrant and happy community.
st. catherine’s St Catherine’s College, known affectionately as Catz, is Oxford’s youngest undergraduate college and also one of its largest. Catz, which developed out of the St Catherine’s Society, was founded as a college in 1962. In the past, it has been attended by notable alumni such as Benazir Bhutto, Peter Mandelson and Sir Matthew Pinsent. The modern Grade I listed buildings are the innovation of Arne Jacobsen: Catz’s esteemed architect. Unlike some of the older colleges, the design of Catz is rather spacious, with plenty of concrete, grass and glass. What’s especially great about Catz is its friendly, vibrant and informal atmosphere. The Catz JCR/bar is widely regarded as one of the best in Oxford, complete with pool tables, arcade machines, and plenty of space. Overall, Catz is a great home for those who are academically driven, yet keen for a diverse experience with students who share a strong community spirit. For people who seek an environment that shatters the stereotypes about Oxford, Catz is the place to be!
The St Cross motto, ‘Ad Quattuor Cardines Mundi’, ‘To the Four Corners of the Earth’, expresses the international spirit and range of studies which characterize the College. This is a position of strength. Over 70% of the College’s nearly 500 graduate students come from outside the UK. Together with St Cross’ over 100 Fellows, studies at the College cover a wide range of academic disciplines. The College was founded in 1965 to accommodate a growing community of graduate students at the University. Originally occupying a small site on St Cross Street, the college is now on St Giles and undergoing a period of expansion, providing more students than ever with a vital base in the centre of the city. A graduate college, St Cross is a vibrant and friendly community with an eclectic social life. It is committed to the collegial spirit, to a place of learning where everyone feels welcome. There is ample opportunity for interactions between Fellows and students at the college, and both share many of the same facilities and attend many of the same events.
st. edmund hall Teddy Hall is a buzzing college. Its students enjoy getting out and about - making the most of their university experience without worrying about college league tables. Having said that, Teddy Hall easily falls mid-table every year, not sweating it too much except on the sports pitch, the river, the stage, or at one of the legendary bops. Teddy Hall isn’t just a party college, though - it’s arty too, with the largest intake of fine art students and a lively arts and culture scene. This college is not scared to make noise with chanting guaranteed to silence all rival sports spectators. Off the sports pitches, college dinners end with a slightly inebriated rendition of The Teddy Bear’s Picnic. The smallness of the site, home to a large number of students, means it’s easy to bond with everyone. It’s not a college you’ll get lost in, but why would you want to, with our enviable High Street location? Nipping out for coffee, dashing to the pub or Ahmed’s kebab van are to be complacent about! The Norman church (housing the library) and beautiful front quad are reminders of the college’s medieval past. The summer term sees the graveyard fill up with picnickers, a large outdoor space that feels like an extension of our common room - Teddy Hall is a hive of friendliness and activity.
st. hilda’s Founded in 1893 by suffragist Dorothea Beale, St. Hilda’s was one of the five female-only colleges established in Oxford. Students of St. Hilda’s, also known as ‘Hildabeasts’, were all women until 2008, when men were admitted for the first time. The college is named after Hilda of Whitby, a renowned church leader from the 7th century who is one of the patron saints of learning. St. Hilda’s grounds are set in four acres of gardens on the banks of the Cherwell River just across Magdalen Bridge. Although it does not have a traditional college quadrangle, its beautiful landscape and proximity to the river make it one of the best places in Oxford to start a summer punting trip. The college dining hall is the only one in Oxford which has circular tables instead of the long, rectangular tables at other colleges. St. Hilda’s is also home to the famous Jacqueline du Pré music building, named after the distinguished British cellist who was an Honorary Fellow of the college. This noteworthy building is used for many concerts, lectures, and art exhibitions take place throughout the year.
st. hugh’s St.Hugh’s is often mocked for being the Northernmost College in Oxford and even though it’s quite close to Birmingham, it is one of the most exciting and dynamic colleges in Oxford today. Founded in 1886 by Elizabeth Wordsworth - the great niece of the poet - its underlying values were to provide excellent education for everyone, regardless of the state of their bank account or their social/ethnic background. It originally only admitted women, but since 1986 has a healthy mix of both genders. The defining features of St.Hugh’s are mainly its size (it is one of the few colleges in Oxford to have the space to keep all of its Undergraduates and most Graduates on site) and stunning gardens and lawns. Again, St.Hugh’s in an exception in this aspect both in the size of the grounds themselves, but also due to the fact that students are permitted to walk on the lawns (this is prohibited in a vast majority of colleges), this being an advantage in particularly Trinity term when students hold picnics, barbecues and play croquet in the beautiful College settings. However, St.Hugh’s most appealing feature which resonates strongly amongst all its students, is the incredible sense of community and inclusiveness; people not only come here to study but also to make friendships to last them a lifetime. St.Hugh’s forms free-thinking individuals; Theresa May and Aung San Suu Kyi are examples of this. St.Hugh’s changes the life of its students; they then go and change the world.
One of Oxford’s largest colleges, St John’s is also known for its wealth and high academic achievement. The college numbers among its alumni Tony Blair and Philip Larkin, but today its main attractions include the Lamb & Flag pub next door, which is college-owned and provides coveted second-year accommodation. St John’s is also known for its in-house TV station, SJCTV, and is situated at the top of St Giles Street, next to Balliol and long-standing rivals Keble. Students at St John’s can often be seen frequenting Husein’s kebab van across the road after a night out, and will swear blindly by the quality of its fast food. The college boasts a variety of architecture, from the Italian Renaissance-style Canterbury Quad, which houses the College Library, to the 2010-completed Kendrew Quad. St John’s students participate in extra-curricular activities ranging from sports such as rowing, football and Ultimate Frisbee to an Oxfam fundraising group and theatrical productions. St. Johns was founded in 1855 by merchant Sir Thomas White and his heart remains buried in the college chapel to this day.
st. peter’s Situated in the centre of town, St Peter’s College is one of the youngest Oxford colleges. Being in the centre has its benefits such as convenient access to shops, landmarks and the local nightlife, but it also means that space is at a premium. What St Peter’s lacks in great quadrangles vand extensive gardens it gains in intimacy and friendliness, a quality remarked upon by generation after generation of students for whom it has been home. Students entering St Peter’s via the oldest college building, Linton House (1797), will be struck by the diversity of architectural styles. The dining hall, which in former years served as a royal mint, sits next to a spiraling glass accommodation building and parallel to a magnificent chapel and the notorious Latner building. Having recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, St Peter’s is now an established and thriving college of the University. Notable alumni include BBC Washington correspondent Matt Frei, the film director Ken Loach and the Revd Wilbert Vere Awdry, author of Thomas the Tank Engine. The St Peter’s College mascot is the squirrel. See how many you can count scurrying through Mulberry Quad on your visit!
st. stephen’s St Stephen’s House is an Anglican theological foundation that offers formation, education and training for a variety of qualifications and ministries. There are also a few General Students (members of the college who are not training for ordination) and PGCE students. The House motto is video caelos apertos (‘I see the heavens opened’), St Stephen’s words from Acts 7:56. Consequently, you will find the doors open to welcome any visitors for the church, cloisters and chapel. Thursday evenings are designated as ‘Guest Nights’, to which guests are especially welcome to share a three-course dinner followed by coffee and a social evening in the college bar. St Stephen’s House was founded in 1876 by members of the Tractarian movement and has stood ever since in the Catholic tradition of the Church of England. For the House’s first years, it was situated near the centre of Oxford, where the New Bodleian Library now stands. From 1919, the House had a site in Norham Gardens, near to the University Parks. In 1980 it moved to the current site, a change undoubtedly applauded by the Hall’s current students who can enjoy excellent grounds and buildings, a beautiful chapel, church and serene cloister gardens.
trinity Trinity College was founded in 1555 by the devout Catholic Sir Thomas Pope. Childless and wanting to ensure his soul was prayed for after his death, he decided upon founding a college of students who would always keep him in mind. Nearly 500 years later, students still do in the Chapel, one of the finest examples of the Baroque style in the country, every Sunday Evensong when they recite the Founder’s Prayer. Students are often however, to be found relaxing on the college’s idyllic lawns, a veritable oasis of tranquility in central Oxford, where essays and deadlines are quickly forgotten in favour of croquet and cups of tea. When the sun sets, the college kitchens come into their own with formal hall six times a week including Guest night, the Friday Night feast infamous throughout the University. The busy life of the Trinity community takes place in and around the majestic, sandy coloured buildings of the college, designed by Sir Christopher Wren. The luckiest students find themselves sharing good conversation with friends in rooms once graced by the likes of Cardinal Newman.
The Master and Fellows of the College of the Great Hall of the University of Oxford, or Univ for short, is the oldest college in the University. It was founded by a bequest from William of Durham in 1249, although various historical fabrications claim that it dates from Alfred the Great’s time. The College includes amongst its alumni 20th Century world leaders Clem Attlee, Harold Wilson, Bob Hawke and Bill Clinton. During their time at Univ Bob Hawke broke the world speeddrinking record, whilst Bill Clinton famously ‘Smoked But Did Not Inhale’. The college also counts amongst its alumni Stephen Hawking, and the poet Percy Shelley who was expelled after a debauched undergraduate career that culminated in his writing of an essay entitled ‘On the necessity of atheism’. The college’s main quad is a fine example of a classical Oxford quad and dates to the 17th Century. Its hall is similarly impressive, whilst the Chapel boasts stained glass windows by Dutch artist Abraham van Ling. The windows were the only stained glass in Oxford to survive the Civil War.
Despite being over four hundred years old, Wadham isn’t particularly wellknown outside of Oxford. However, amongst University students the college is renowned for its liberal, progressive and politically active status. Established in 1610, Wadham is the only college to have been founded by a woman; at the age of seventy-five Dorothy Wadham used money left by her husband to establish the college. Since being established Wadham has constantly reaffirmed its liberal status and this continues today. In 1984 the college voiced its support for the liberation of Nelson Mandela by passing a motion to end every bop (college party) with the song “Free Nelson Mandela”. Even today the end of every bop is marked by the girls climbing onto the boys shoulders to the music of The Specials ( v. to be “Mandela’d”) .Out of all the Oxford colleges, Wadham has the most bops and twice a year hosts events that attract students from throughout the University: Queer fest, a celebration of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual culture, and Wadstock, a 12 hour long music festival held in the gardens during the summer. Notable alumni of Wadham include the architect Christopher Wren, whose designs include the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford and St Paul’s Cathedral in London, as well as more recently the academic Maurice Bowra and the broadcaster Melvyn Bragg.
Wolfson’s motto, humani nil alienum, expresses the spirit of curiosity that inspired the college’s foundation. As the largest graduate-only college, Wolfson still covers an extremely broad range of subjects, both humanities and sciences. An unusually egalitarian ethos means it has dispensed with junior, middle and senior common room divisions in favour of a single common room catering to students and fellows alike. In an even more dramatic reversal of Oxford tradition, four students sit on the college’s governing body. Wolfson had a rather rocky start, without buildings of its own or even a director at the head of the institution. Twelve existing Oxford colleges pooled funds in 1965 to start the college, then known as Iffley College. But the original grants failed to cover the costs, and it wasn’t until the Wolfson and Ford Foundations donated money a year later that the college site was established. Students’ rooms here, by the banks of the River Cherwell, have some of the loveliest views in the University. Wolfson has its own punt harbour and a fleet of college boats, meaning that all students can take advantage of the college’s envied location during those brief dry and sunny spells in Oxford.
worcester Worcester’s 26-acre estate gives visitors the impression that they have wandered into a wood rather than a college. Open parkland, immaculate sports pitches and a lake make up the grounds, within which Worcester students jostle for space with an enormous number of college ducks. Along with ducks, of course, a surprising number of animals hold a fond place in Worcester folklore. Wallabies used to roam the Provost’s Garden, a practice that only stopped after they kept escaping onto the nearby railway line. In another bizarre twist of the rules, a college dog was officially declared to be a cat so that it could enter the quad (a privilege barred to canines). Originally known as Gloucester College, an 18th century endowment provided the money to rebuild the newly-named Worcester College. However, the money ran out when only half of the building had been completed, leaving the beautifully eclectic threesided quad seen today. Worcester’s unparalleled on-site sports facilities mean it has a well-deserved reputation for sporting excellence, regularly topping leagues and winning cups across the board.
wycliffe hall Wycliffe Hall is one of six permanent private halls (PPH), and sports a motto almost as catchy as Caesar’s ‘at Via, Veritas, Vita’. It’s a small hall with an evangelical outlook and a strong community spirit, and has its own crèche (not to be confused with the library). It was named after John Wycliffe and has a sister institution in Ridley Hall, Cambridge. Its claims to famous alumni include the founder of St Peter’s College, as well as the ex-felon Jonathan Aiken. It tends to have a fairly eclectic make-up of students, which has in the past five years included opera singers, ex-professional footballers, members of the Magic Circle, a super model and CIA agents. It brings in a diversity of students from across the world with all the friendly confusion this causes, and is home to the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics (sorry to those of you who weren’t aware). One of the oldest tutors in the University retired this summer aged 81 – making him just older than his students, some of whom matriculated in their seventies. The hall owns some beautiful houses on Norham gardens and hosts one of the cheapest May balls at just £20 a ticket; last year they served Pimms out of teapots – not one to miss.
radcliffe camera If you go down Broad Street and turn right at Hertford, the image of the RadCam is so strikingly beautiful that for a moment you might think you’ve had too much to drink. Inside it looks as spectacular as you’d imagine. History books occupy the best spot: the first floor, overlooking the Bod, All Souls, the University Church and Brasenose. It’s a bit of an Oxford experience to say the least. Also the basement has stacks and stacks of English, Theology and Philosophy books, with a big and cheerily pointless round desk in the middle as if to compensate for the lack of dome. But this symbol of Oxford, and indeed of English universities, is unquestionably the best place to work in the entire world. This is not an exaggeration. The huge problem of the Rad Cam is, of course, that students can’t take out any of the books. But this is more than made up for by almost every other aspect of it. As a final example, check out the insanely erudite graffiti in the gentelmen’s lavatories. Truly, the Rad Cam is the be all and end all of an Oxford existence.
bodleian library Every book printed in Britain in the last three hundred years is in the Bodleian. It also houses a good deal more from other countries. Total: 11 million volumes. Many of them are housed in underground salt caves in Cheshire, and all of them can be ordered up at a couple of days notice to peruse at leisure in some of the finest reading rooms on earth. What’s not to like? Well, there were bound to be some things, such as the facts that the entire system is clunky and difficult to use; you can’t take books out at all and the atmosphere in the Upper Reading Room is rather like a rest home for retired tortoises. Nevertheless, most students will find themselves increasingly drawn to the towering quadrangle next to the Sheldonian, as the work gets harder and the books more obscure. The Bod is most distinguished by its architectural beauty. No library on earth does justice to it. Plus, there is now a tunnel from the Rad Cam to the main part of the Bod. So for those wishing to impersonate a mole, it’s your lucky day.
sheldonian Christopher Wren’s pantheon to Oxford. If students find need to enter the Sheldonian, it will inevitably be for something cool. Essentially an enormous theatre, it typically hosts opera or discussions with eminent socio-political figures. The Sheldonian is also where students go for matriculation and graduation. Another ‘-ation’ is added by congregation, which is the name of the University’s parliament. The Sheldonian looks massive on the outside, and is correspondingly massive on the inside, except that on the latter it has great mural paintings and surprisingly comfortable rows of wooden benches. The main problem with the Sheldonian is its complete lack of purpose to any undergraduate. The entire point was to provide an alternative to the University Church for use in degree ceremonies, and unfortunately this is basically all it does. So it is hardly at the centre of University life. Although, and I’m not supposed to tell you this, doing Mexican waves during matriculation is kind of awesome.
hollywell music room The Holywell Music Room is Europe’s oldest concert hall, the first building created solely for the purposes of presenting live music. It was designed by a former vice-principal of Teddy Hall, but was also influenced by the then Professor of Music, William Hayes. The Room is owned by Wadham, but used equally by the Faculty of Music. There’s a 50/50 split, with the Faculty having control during term-time, and Wadham during the holidays. This results in a varied calendar of events that bring new visitors to the Holywell every year. Musicians as famous as Haydn have played in the Holywell, but it’s main use is still for students. Historically, it has been used as a rehearsal space for the Oxford Philharmonic Society, and was even leased by the Oxford University Musical Union a century ago. Today the space sees a wide range of performers, from students to local musicians and visiting acts.
bridge of sighs Oxford’s answer to the Bridge of Sighs in Cambridge is inevitably built along Venetian designs. Most students find it surprisingly irrelevant, while visitors will find it conveniently located near the triumvirate of Sheldonian, Bodleian and Radcliffe Square. Connecting one half of Hertford to the other half, it serves no discernable function besides sheltering Hertfordites from the cold, hard rain, and having lots of Lib Dem election posters on it in the 2010 general election. Most will never need to go over it, and Hertfordians probably think it’s too much of a faff to go across, as it rarely has anyone on it. There is also a story about it, quoted here from Wikipedia: ‘Many decades ago, a survey of the health of students was taken, and as Hertford College’s students were the heaviest, the college closed off the bridge to force them to take the stairs, giving them extra exercise.’ Really? No.
real tennis club Head into Oxford’s crowded heart and you’ll find a piece of sporting history that most will miss. The real tennis court is located on Merton Street, almost opposite Merton College, and can be viewed during term time for the modest fee of 50p. Real Tennis is the ancestor of modern lawn tennis and is played on an indoor court which has a number of features, such as sloping roofs and buttresses, which players can make use of in the course of a match, rather like a game of pinball. Also, think ‘ree-Al’, as in ‘regal’, not that this form of tennis is in any way for metaphysically valid than any other. The historical dates surrounding real tennis in Oxford are murky, though most agree that this court was built in 1798. The court in Oriel Square was likely built in the late 16th century, playing host to numerous royalty, including King Edward VII. Now, however, it is the site of the Harris Building and the Merton Street court is the only one that remains in the city.
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UNION *during Freshers’ Fortnight
The Best Speakers. The Best Debates. 47
he Oxford Union is a society like no other. There is nowhere else in the world where ordinary students can sit at a dinner with a head of state, speak alongside Cabinet ministers, go punting with Martin Sheen, have tea with Shakira, listen to Lang Lang perform live in the Chamber, ask Johnny Depp about his latest movie or even challenge David Cameron in open debate. Nowhere but the Oxford Union.
The Union is the world’s most famous speech and debating society. We have hosted world leaders in virtually every field, ranging from President Ronald Reagan to Her Majesty the Queen, from Michael Jackson to Pierce Brosnan, from Imran Khan to Sir Steve Redgrave and from the Dalai Lama to Desmond Tutu. More recently we have been visited by speakers as varied as David Miliband, Russell Brand, Sir John Major, Sir Ian McKellen, General Petraeus, Bill Nighy, Lang Lang, Zoe Wanamaker, Theresa May, Judi Dench and Sir Michael Parkinson. Founded in 1823, the Union has a rich history. It was established to protect and uphold the value of free speech among students at a time when it was being severely challenged, and to this day the Union remains completely independent of the University. Lord Jenkins, former Chancellor of the University said, “the Union has become more famous than the University itself”. The beauty of the Union is that the running of the society is carried out almost entirely by students
for students. There are plenty of opportunities for getting involved, either by running in the termly elections, speaking in debates (members can deliver impromptu floor speeches in any debate, or even apply for a paper speech), sitting on one of the unelected committees or simply by suggesting speakers. Our competitive debating arm of the society also presents plenty of opportunities to get involved with one of the most successful debating teams in the world, which in recent years has won World, European and National contests. Debating remains at the heart of the society. Our weekly, student-led debates have throughout history tackled many of the most important and contentious issues of the day, such as in our famous ‘King and Country’ debate, which sparked a national controversy when the inter-war generation stated their resolve not to fight for their nation. In 1975, our televised debate on Britain’s membership of the EEC arguably swung the national referendum
held the following day. We’re not just about debates, of course: we are renowned for throwing some of the best social events in town. This term alone will see our eagerly awaited ‘Under the Sea’ Ball, American election night social and much more. Our bar is one of the city’s cheapest and most atmospheric, while our library remains a significant lending library with key educational texts alongside an extensive fiction and recreational reading and a varied DVD collection. Add to this our full-sized snooker tables, free wireless internet, two big screen televisions, and Oxford’s most central nightclub, the Purple Turtle, with free entry for Union members, and there’s not much more a student could need. Our Treasurer’s Treats also offer multiple members discounts at stores across Oxford.
But what about the cost? The Union receives no financial support from the Government and is independent of the University. We do not seek to make a profit – the Union is collectively owned and run by and for its members: in the words of ex-President Tony Benn, “we are free to do as we like”. However, we do therefore have to charge a membership fee. If you join during our ‘Freshers’ Fortnight’ you are entitled to our discounted membership fee of £207, plus on top of this you will get a £10 bar voucher and a free DVD rental – and most importantly of all, membership is for life. Moreover, you will have become part of a society that has helped mould five British Prime Ministers, numerous Cabinet ministers and various world leaders, not to mention world famous journalists, editors, activists, poets, artists, musicians and
sportsmen. During the ‘Freshers’ Fortnight’ our buildings are open to everyone. This is a great time to come along and check out our ‘Student Survival’ Fair and many tours as well as our annual ‘No Confidence’ debate, where leading lights from the cabinet and shadow cabinet will cross swords to debate the state of the nation. The overwhelming majority of undergraduates join during the ‘Freshers’ Fortnight’ and don’t look back. Attend just a few events (tickets for our famous balls are only half the cost of a college ball), watch a few debates and see a few world-class speakers and you will soon have earned your money back. The Union really does have something for everyone. If you have any questions about getting involved or just want to know more about any aspect of the Union, please do email me, firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll be more than happy to help.
John Lee, President
cult ure. Cultural highlights including museums, art galleries and theatre
Museums 52 Castle 52 Ashmolean 53 Museum of the History of Science 53 Museum of Oxford 54 Museum of National History 54 Pitt Rivers Art 55 03 at the Castle 55 Modern Art Cinema 56 Ultimate Picture Palace 56 Phoenix Picture House Theatre 57 New Theatre 57 Oxford Picture House 57 Pegasus
castle unlocked The ‘Oxford Castle: Unlocked’ Museum is a reasonably priced journey through 10 centuries of dark and bloody history, open every day from 10-5. Take the guided tour and you’ll be greeted by a ghost, before having the chance to climb the Saxon St George’s tower to see panoramic views of Oxford, descend to a spooky underground crypt, walk on the Motte (large defensive mound), experience the confinement of the 18th century Debtors Prison, and immerse yourself in the hands-on prison display. The display has a large focus on individuals, so you can learn about the character of the castle at each era from your tour guides, who will be dressed as the likes of Jack Ketch (inspiration behind the Punch and Judy hangman), and William Smith (the King’s Prison Keeper). It is amazing that these fragments of the original castle were preserved, considering most of the original Norman Castle was destroyed during the English Civil War. The remainder was rebuilt and transformed into the Oxford Prison (only closed in 1996!). Nowadays, most of the castle functions as a hotel and as a result there are many shops and restaurants to enjoy. It is quite a change from prison life!
Located on Beaumont Street in a grand neoclassical building, the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology is a treasure trove of antiquities and fine art. Originally set up as a collection of portraits and curiosities in the 17th Century, the Ashmolean now contains objects from a broad spectrum of cultures: early stringed musical instruments, objects from Minoan Crete, Worcester porcelain, Chinese Shang bronzes, Japanese ceramics, European paintings and drawings and many other specialist collections. Particularly worthy of note are the recently re-opened cast gallery, the oldest and largest collection in the UK of casts of statues and monuments from Classical Antiquity, its collection of Impressionist paintings and its collection of modern art. Be sure to look up their current exhibitions, which in recent years have ranged from Alexander the Great to the Qur’an. With regular tours, talks and workshops to suit all age groups the museum has something for young people and adults alike. In addition to all this the Ashmolean also houses its own café and rooftop restaurant, which provides an attractive backdrop for a meal or quick break.
museum of the history of science The Museum of the History of Science in Broad Street is in the building now known as the Old Ashmolean, having been built as the original version of Oxford’s grandest art and archeaology museum in 1683. It was the first museum in the world to be open the general public, and Museum of the History of Science continues to embody that ethos today, always challenging itself to create exhibits which draw in both amateur and academic crowds. In fact, it appears to have been taken over by an eccentric Victorian in recent times, having held exhibitions on spiritualism and the world’s first Steampunk-themed display. Purists might be tempted to wonder what this all had to do with the history of science, but there is no need to fear. The Museum’s usual collection of scientific artefacts remains, being particularly strong on mathematical and astrological devices. Labels can be sparse, providing extra stimulation as you try to figure out how on earth it all works. Similarly to the Bate Collection of Musical Instruments, these 10,000 artifacts hold artistic as well as historical significance and visitors will be delighted by everything from astrolabes to cameras.
museum of oxford
The Museum of Oxford is housed within the Town Hall and focuses on Oxford as an ancient city, rather than the University alone. The layout mirrors Oxford’s foundations, beginning with geology and prehistory in the lower galleries, moving through the Roman, Saxon and Medieval periods. The University’s history is of course addressed, as well as Oxford’s role in the English Civil War. The upper galleries focus on Victorian times and later, finishing with the special exhibits. Recent features have included a World War II veterans’ memories project and a focus on the city’s various film locations. The museum also maintains strong links with the community, running special programmes for children and adults, as well as the elderly. One project provided resources for residents of a local night shelter to make a short about their views of Oxford and the community. This museum isn’t everyone’s cup of tea; it has a hard time standing up next to the dinosaurs and dodos of other institutions. But it’s worth a couple of hours of your day to learn more about the city on its own merits, from Mercia to martyrs and Morris Motors.
natural history museum /the pitt rivers This brace of museums are only accessible via the entrance to the Natural History Museum, and contain much the same (weirdy) stuff, so they may as well be considered the same thing. The Natural History Museum founded to unify the various science-y collections spread across the University, and at one played home to most of the departments now making up the rather massive University Science Parks. It most famously features a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton and the most complete dodo carcass on earth. There’s also the famous swift tower, which, if you recall, was in that episode of Lewis once. However, the Natural History Museum is one of the few museums in the world where an equal weight of nostalgia and import is place on the building as well as the collection. From the air vents to the cat paw prints in the brickwork, it’s all part of the experience. That, and the 4.5 billion year-old asteroid. Meanwhile, at the back of the Natural History Museum, you’ll find the Pitt Rivers Collection. A bit of an Oxford tourist trail staple, the Collection contains half a million items of anthropological and archaeological aspiration. These odd accoutrements include a heart filled with nails and something claiming to be a witch in a jar. A huge contrast to its open and airy neighbour, the Pitt Rivers has a distinctly spooky feel to it. Maybe it’s the dim lighting, maybe it’s the infamous shrunken heads from Ecuador. In any case, be careful as you open the drawers. Both museums are very closely linked with the University, deploying a lecturer each in their respective fields. Luckily for visitors they are open to the public. Students unfortunately receive no special privileges like playing the native drum kits or wearing the triceratops head as a hat. So as is rarely the case in Oxford students are treated as just other townies. There is also usually an exhibit outside the museum, such as the most recent giant Ghanaian tree trunks representing man’s impact on the environment. Whether you are looking to pursue academic interests or just get a wicked Facebook profile picture with a Velociraptor, these museums will welcome you with open arms.
03 at the castle For those of you who like to soak up some contemporary art – and if you’re sick of Modern Art Oxford – then the O3 Gallery is the perfect place to visit. A circular two-storey room on the corner of the Oxford Castle complex, it’s quite easy to miss if you’re not looking for it specifically, so make sure you follow the signs! Run by the friendliest group of people you will ever meet, it is always open to new visitors who want to browse the exhibitions, or dabble in buying some original (and affordable!) artwork. The gallery itself used to be the prisoner’s day room at Oxford Castle, so unlike most white cube spaces you will see today, it has its own remarkable history. There is a regular turnover of exhibitions and it prides itself on working with the community, supporting local artists and providing opportunities for students to exhibit throughout the year. Free wine is always guaranteed at the private views, but it’s not just about the art. Gigs, fashion shows and recipe swaps are all part of the O3 Gallery’s culture hub, so if you’re a lover of all things creative, get down there and see it for yourself!
modern art oxford Modern Art Oxford was established in 1965 with the expressed purpose of educating the public on matters of modern and contemporary art. It is now one of the UK’s most important modern art galleries and works with local families, children, youth and community groups, art teachers, Oxford University and the nearby Rose Hill housing estate by organising presentations, talks, discussion forums, workshops and film and live music nights. Modern Art Oxford is a great way for visitors to keep upto-date with the international contemporary art scene while seeking a stimulating refuge from the hustle and bustle of the city. Several fresh exhibitions are shown every year, each one literally transforming the entire inside of the building. Exploring the sculptures and installations is a multi-sensual experience as extensive use is made of audio, projectors and other materials, which seem to immerse you into the works. After visiting the exhibitions, there is a cafe, a yard and a gift shop, which is one of the best resources in Oxford for modern art books, including works on the philosophy and the history of art. Visitors can also purchase artist multiples, posters, postcards and jewellery.
ultimate picture palace Oxford is one of the luckiest cities in the country, mostly because it has the Ultimate Picture Palace, known affectionately as the UPP. Originally called The Oxford Picture Palace, it spent the better part of two decades as The Penultimate Picture Palace, replete with large Al Jolson hands sculpted to the facade, brought to you by the very same man behind the Headington shark. These days the yellowy-beige exterior is a bit more reserved than its ancestors, but it’s the same old UPP at its heart. This theatre has no digital projector and never plans on getting one, going as far as to borrow a 35mm copy of Brief Encounter from the British Film Institute for a special screening. You’ll never have to wade through half an hour of adverts or pay extortionate prices for a spoonful of ice-cream and a watered-down soft drink. You can see everything from indie flicks to summer blockbusters, cult classics and short film festivals. With ticket prices set well below those of its more corporate counterparts and a number of membership options available to make it even cheaper, there’s really no reason to visit that hulking multiplex ever again.
phoenix picture house
The North Oxford Kinema was born in the great Oxford cinemabuilding boom of 1910-1913. It became the Scala as early as 1920, which catered especially to film societies. It specialised in showing old and international cinema, which just goes to show that there were, in fact, that many ‘old’ films in 1920. The Phoenix was first taken over by a limited company in the 70s, which created the two screening rooms it has today. The upstairs bar was added in the 90s, and it’s remained pretty much the same for two decades. Like every other Picturehouse cinema in the country, the Phoenix does a genuine service in showing all those foreign and independent films that the Guardian described as ‘outstanding’. Ticket prices are reasonable, though membership is a bit more dear than at independent cinemas. Naturally, though, it also comes with a host of additional benefits and discounts. For the past couple of years, the Phoenix has also offered an opera season of performances broadcasted live-via-satellite from the Met in New York. It’s a great way to enjoy world-famous opera on a student budget, often with a free glass of wine thrown in for good measure.
professional The New Theatre is the latest incarnation of a theatre that began life in 1836 as The Vic. It seats 1800 and stages everything from Hairspray to Postman Pat, Jimmy Carr and Status Quo. Tickets aren’t cheap, but most shows offer a student discount. The Oxford Playhouse, near the Ashmolean, offers up much the same fare in terms of mainstream theatre, however the OP also produces its own performances by its Artists in Residence, instead of simply playing host to a variety of touring shows. It also presents Playhouse Plays Out, which has put on performances in the Bodleian Library Quad in the past.
Historically, the New Theatre built its relationship with the Oxford University Dramatic Society (OUDS). Last year it hosted the annual revue by Oxford a cappella group Out of the Blue. However, it’s the Oxford Playhouse which now has the most to offer students. Students are allowed six performances per year on the main stage, but use of the Burton Taylor Studio is almost exclusively for student performances, having hosted 84 plays last year. The OP also participates in a program called OPTin!, which provides a limited number of free tickets to uner-26s. Oxford University Drama Society also produces Cuppers and the New Writing Festival annually, creating a student theatre festival atmosphere infused with the spirit of competition. Within the University, Keble’s O’Reilly theatre and Wadham’s Moser are most frequently used for student productions. Although there is no hire fee, the O’Reilly requires £70 for electricity and cleaning and students must pay a lighting designer, who is hired by the college. For students less inclined to revel in the spotlight or handcuff themselves to a typewriter, there’s the Oxford University Theatre Technicians and Designers (TAFF).
The Creation Theatre Company has been around for 15 years, producing shows in some of Oxford’s oddest and most beautiful theatre locales. They have performed in the amphitheatre on top of the Said Business School, the Oxford Castle, on an island in the River Cherwell and in an antique mirrored tent. The Pegasus Theatre on Magdalen Road in East Oxford reopened last year after a major refurbishment. Performances are largely avant-garde, ranging from music to dance, physical theatre, physical comedy, animation theatre and strange dance theatre. The project began as Oxford Youth Theatre in 1962, and maintains those roots today with weekly courses in drama, music, dance and film, as well as a monthly showcase of work by under-21s.
exp lore. From the terrifying to the damp,
the doors of Oxford that arenâ€™t wide open, but slightly ajar
Tours 60 Sightseeing 61 Unique Oxford On The Move 62 Cycling 63 Punting 64 Boating Shopping 66 Covered Market 66 Turl Street 67 Broad Street 67 High Street 68 Little Clarendon Street 68 Cowley Road Parks 70 Botanic Gardens 70 University Parks 71 Christchurch Meadow 71 Shotover Country Park
sightseeing It can be difficult to find your way around Oxford at first, and to take in so much history all at once. Fortunately, there are many different tours on offer to help you do both at the same time. Which college is the oldest of all? Why is there a rivalry between Lincoln College and Brasenose College? Where does the name “Brasenose” even come from? You’ll find yourself asking many questions like these in your first few weeks in Oxford, and a sightseeing tour is a great way to find out all the weird and wonderful answers. Perhaps the best way to get to know Oxford is on a walking tour. Several companies offer general walking tours with an experienced guide who will be able to answer your questions; one company even offers a free tour of the city centre. The walking tours generally tend to meet on Broad Street, but you should check in advance as the meeting points may change. Although walking tours vary between operators, most will show you the centre of the city as well as letting you into a number of the central colleges and university buildings. Oxford also has a few slightly more quirky tours to offer. There are, of course, special Harry Potter tours of certain colleges, which show you the many Oxford spots where filming took place, such as the grand
dining hall at Hogwarts (...or Christ Church). Even more niche are the ghost tours of the city centre, run by a certain Phil Spectre, who dresses as a Victorian undertaker. These take place every week and reveal a more sinister side to the history of Oxford, taking you down its spooky alleyways after dark... It is also possible to visit some of the larger individual colleges at Oxford as a tourist. Christ Church, Magdalen College, New College and Worcester College are especially popular with tourists, and charge a small admission fee for entry; Christ Church even has its own gift shop! Finally, if you want to see more of Oxford than you might be able to on foot, a great idea is to take a bus tour. These hour-long tours take you as far as the Botanic Gardens, to the East, and Oxford Castle, in the West. Audio guides are available in many languages, and you can hop on and hop off at any of the stops along the route.
This large expanse of land is mentioned in the Domesday book (1086) as the place where ‘all the burgesses (or Freemen) of Oxford have a pasture outside the city wall in common…’ In the earlier middle ages, Port Meadow (as it was known by then) probably included much of what later became the communities of Wolvercote and Binsey. Between that period and 1970 the extent of the Meadow was reduced by about 160 acres. Freemen of the city still have the right to pasture their horses and cattle here. In 1644 Charles I escaped with his army across Port Meadow from the city and the advance of his enemies. Horse races on the Meadow were popular public events between the 17th and 19th centuries. As the land has never been ploughed or otherwise developed it is a designated ‘site of special scientific interest’. A Bronze Age burial mound is marked on an early map of the meadow, and both before and during the first world war an airfield was sited in its northern area. A fatal flying accident of that time is commemorated in the parapet of the bridge between Wolvercote and Godstow.
park town This residential cul-de-sac off the Banbury Road contains some of the most elegant and expensive houses in the city. Architecturally it is out of keeping with the general character of North Oxford and looks like a displaced piece of Cheltenham. It was built in the 1850s to designs by Samuel Lipscomb Seckham. W.Baxter, curator of the Oxford Botanical Gardens in the early 19th century, laid out the gardens in the centre of the site to plans. Prominent Oxford tradesmen were among the occupants of these three storied dwellings in the Victorian period and early 20th century.
Folly bridge originally formed part of the medieval causeway crossing the Thames to the south of the city. The remains of this ancient causeway below the present structure can still be seen from the towpath. As with Magdalen Bridge, it was mostly maintained by charitable donations collected from travellers by ‘bridge-hermits’ stationed at the wayside chapel of St. Nicholas. Until 1779 a tower stood half way across the bridge, and was at one time known as Friar Bacon’s study, since it was from here the thirteenth-century proto-scientist Roger Bacon reputedly studied astronomy. The present bridge was completed in 1827 and the toll house in 1844. The tolls were abolished in 1850, and the former toll house was for many years – until quite recently – a small shop.
on the move
cycling Everyone cycles in Oxford. It’s not just for Lycra-clad fitness freaks, it’s just the easiest way to get around in a city with no space (or tolerance) for cars. Oxford’s also fairly flat (Headington Hill excepted), small enough to get everywhere you need to in 20 minutes or less and is blessed with a population of drivers who are (by and large) used to cyclists and looking out for you. There can’t be many better places to get on a bike. Bikes in Oxford aren’t generally a fashion statement; most students just find something roughly the right size which doesn’t look like it’s about to fall to bits, and oil it occasionally. Some people wear bright clothes and helmets, but riding sensibly and keeping your eyes and ears open are pretty effective substitutes. It is, however, essential to get front and back lights for riding after dark. As well as making you totally invisible to traffic, riding without lights can get you an £80 fine from the police and a lot of hassle from both drivers and your fellow cyclists. Bike theft in Oxford is unfortunately fairly common, but there are fairly simple precautions to reduce the risk. Get a lock, and try to always lock your bike to a fixed object (there are plenty of bike racks around town), and through the front wheel as well as the frame. For those whose cycling experience extends to a couple of rounds of a country carpark, it may help to practice on quiet routes before zooming down Cowley Road. These get you to most places avoiding the
worst of the traffic. One of the best routes is along the river to the Isis Tavern at Iffley, which sells homemade cakes as well as beer. The quiet network is a combination of meadow tracks and back streets. The only way to East Oxford is across Magdalen Bridge, but if you keep left at The Plain roundabout, you can avoid the difficult right turns. It is sometimes sensible to let buses go ahead, rather than keep overtaking one another. Each bus means about a dozen fewer cars on the road, so they’re your friends, really. Cycling in Oxford is easy, quick and fun. In fact, the only real danger is that you’ll forget how to walk. For more detail, check out the local cycle campaign website – www.cyclox.org
punting Punting is without a doubt the ultimate Oxford experience. Wander along the city’s rivers, known as the Cherwell and Isis, and you’ll find umpteen boathouses where you can rent a shallow-bottomed boat to propel up and down the stream with a long pole. Some colleges have free or low-rate punts for hire available to students and their friends, so take advantage if you have the connections. If you’re renting a punt, you’ll only be allowed four seated passengers and one pole man. Borrow one from a college, and you can realistically seat seven, let’s be honest. Punts can be rented from the Magdalen Bridge Boathouse for around £14 per hour. It’s the most obvious rental spot and can get crowded with all the boats to-ing and fro-ing. For the beginner it’s probably best to make the trek up to The Cherwell Boathouse where, for a similar price, you can learn without risk of being mowed down in the congested waterways, and in infinitely more beautiful and peaceful surroundings. Picnic, Pimm’s, a punt-pole and you’re all set. You could try swimming, but between the trash in the rivers
and the leptospirosis, I wouldn’t. That said, most people who try punting for the first time won’t have a choice. If you do manage to fall in, know you’re not alone. Every Fresher from here to eternity has been there and done that. Remember: getting going is the easy part, the hard part is steering. Turning a stick into a rudder and propeller is not the easiest of tasks, so when you do eventually lose your pole – and you will – use the paddle to go back for it. Do not, under any circumstances, fail to let go of a stuck pole. You will only get wet. Once you’re feeling more confident, you can even try the immortal sport of bridge hopping. The practice is simple – go under a bridge, pull yourself up onto it and manage to drop down the other side without missing the boat. Easy? Right. That’s not even mentioning racing punts, and, well, that’s an entirely different issue.
boating If you’re not up for the physical exertion or personal embarrassment of punting, there’s always the option of taking a proper boat. Oxford exists because of the rivers, and the views of the city on water are not to be missed. And because boats can be rented by half-days and full days, the cost can often be more economical than a quick turn in a punt. The two main ports of rental are Salters Steamers on Folly Bridge, conveniently located next to The Head of the River pub, and Oxford River Cruises, which is just on the other side of the bridge. Self-hire will set you back at least £20 per hour, though a half-day of four hours could cost as little as £45. ORC operates public river cruises such as lunchtime and sunset picnic cruises, which feature food from the nearby No. 1 Folly Bridge, a new and promising restaurant venture. The picnics include lighter fare such as salad and quiche, but are followed by a variety of sweet pies, cakes, scones and strawberries and cream. Luxurious, it certainly is. If you don’t want to shell out for a meal, try the one-hour cruise for an absolute steal at £9 per person. There’s also the one-of-a-kind Alice in Wonderland cruise, which follows the route Lewis Carroll took with Alice Liddell when he made up the fanciful world that would become a much-loved classic.
Salters Steamers offers some truly unique experiences as it’s actually a passenger service, rather than a leisure one. The fleet operates up and down the Thames, from Oxford to Abingdon, Wallingford, Reading, Henley, Marlow, Windsor and Staines. Prices are certainly steeper than the bus or train, and you might as well decuple the travel time. But this antiquated form of travel, where you slow down to take in the sites, probably won’t be around much longer, so it’s advisable to take advantage while we can. The steamers are also a popular choice for event charter. From live bands to drum and bass DJs, you can put it on the steamer. And trust me, people have (look out for the Bass Associates Boat Party).
5AM 7 DAYS A WEEK
19 Park End Street, Oxford, OX1 1HU
(01865) 200 222 Opening hours: 10am - 5am, 7 days a week
57 Between Towns Road, Cowley, Oxford, OX4 3LR
(01865) 777 137
Opening hours: 10am - 5am, 7 days a week
126 London Road, Headington, OX3 9ED
(01865) 742 020
Opening hours: 10am - 12 Midnight, 7 days a week For orders after Midnight please call the Cowley store
covered market / turl st.
Oxford has plenty of supermarkets – some say too many – but there are times when Tesco or Sainsbury’s doesn’t quite cut it: what if you start craving some delightfully smelly cheese, or apples that don’t come pre-washed in a plastic bag...or how about a milkshake made from your favourite sweets? The solution is to visit the Covered Market: you will almost certainly emerge with the object of your desire, along with a few other tasty treats. Located between Cornmarket and Turl Street, and containing about 40 shops, the Market is Oxford’s best spot for gourmet shopping. Highlights include the Oxford Cheese Company with its array of farmhouse cheeses, the Cake Shop, where you can watch huge celebration cakes being iced and then pick up some cupcakes for later, and Chocology, a cafe and shop piled high with boxes of Belgian and Swiss confectionary. But if you’re on a tighter budget, the Market is also a good place to pick up basic supplies. There’s a baker, two greengrocer’s stalls selling a huge variety of produce at prices that often undercut the supermarkets, and three butchers, where the meat is so fresh that you often see animal carcasses hanging up outside (vegetarians beware). It’s not only about food. For those who are tired of identikit high street fashion chains, there are several independent clothes and shoe shops, and the Hat Box can supply the finishing touch to your outfit. The Oxford Cobbler’s shoe repairs have also been a lifesaver for many over the years. But if you do develop an appetite while shopping, there’s a range of cafes, from the long-established greasy spoon Brown’s, to takeaway Ben’s Cookies (purveyors of delicious baked goods fresh from the oven). The Alpha Bar is always thronged by students who have escaped from nearby libraries to queue for organic salads and sandwiches, and Moo-Moo’s will whip up a milkshake with sherbet lemons, Nutella or pretty much anything else you can imagine. Turl Street, next to the Market, offers further purchasing possibilities, from second-hand books to sports kit; Walters is worth visiting if you want to see what an old-fashioned gentlemen’s outfitters is like. Scriptum stocks a unique selection of fine stationery, leather items and Venetian masks, and is a good place to find a special present. If the recipient would prefer something alcoholic, the cavernous Whisky Shop can oblige.
broad st. With the Bodleian Library, the Clarendon Building and the Sheldonian Theatre at its sides, it is obvious that this street is rich in history. The same goes for some of the stores it contains, such as Boswell’s, which is now the largest independently owned department store of Oxford. Founded in 1738, this store now sells everything a department store should, in addition to some (marvelously cheesy) Oxford souvenirs. The first Blackwell’s bookstore began on this street as a tiny enterprise in 1879, but rapidly took over some of the adjacent buildings, and the original store is now a Grade II listed building. While visiting the store, make sure you get some of the good quality and rare second hand books, and don’t miss out on the specialised Blackwell’s Music store and the Blackwell’s Art & Poster store. The first Oxfam Charity store also began its life on this street, and one can usually find some very nice things for next to nothing. The charity shops in general are very popular and most roads in Oxford will have a few where you can go and try out your luck.
high st. As one of the main arteries in Oxford, the High Street is lined with a selection of interesting stores, ranging from big names such as Karen Millen to ones you have probably never heard before. The old fashioned tobacconist Frederick Tranter is one of the latter, selling all kinds of gimmicks for the gentleman besides an extensive selection of tobacco, such as hip flasks, cigarette cases and even moustache wax. If you’re enjoying the little glimpse to the past that Tranter provides, why not check out Antiques on High and pick up a vintage Japanese kimono or some classic second hand books. Mr. Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe is another old styled delight, where the shelves burst with jars of boiled sweets, chocolate bars, lollipops and sherbet dibdabs, truly looking like a scene from a Roald Dahl book. Those with a sweet tooth should definitely not miss out on the Covered Market off the High Street (pay a visit to the original Ben’s Cookies stall or stroll past The Cake Shop where you can see the bakers at work, and order a Radcliffe Camera – shaped wedding cake), but the ever-changing, one-thousand-and-one other stalls of the market will provide anybody with a fun afternoon. If all the shopping is making you tired, why not pay a visit to Neal’s Yard, where the natural health products should make you perk up in no time, especially if you pay a visit to one of their therapy rooms as well!
little clarendon st. Nicknamed the ‘Little Trendy Street’, this street is part of the city’s bohemian district Jericho, and has quirky cafes and cocktail bars together with a few unusual stores. One of the favourites is Uncle Sam’s Vintage American Clothing store, where the cowboy hats, American flag prints and Mickey Mouse ties adorn the racks alongside an enormous assortment of denim, leather and fur coats and other retro items, all of impeccable quality. Trying on a few of the beautiful wedding dresses in Ellie Sanderson’s famous bridal boutique is also always a fun way of spending some time, and Sylvester’s gift store has a collection of homely products fit for any house. A few barbers also line up here, with the appropriately named ‘Barbers’ being perhaps the most interesting one, since the left half of the store is devoted to a considerable collection of bags and wallets. The other stores often change around, but at the moment of writing Boutique Dominique is a good place to score something different than what you could find in Topshop, and often for a better price too.
cowley rd. Abuzz with vintage stores, ethnic restaurants and a range of little boutiques, Cowley road is the perfect place to spend some spare time (and money). If you are looking for some truly unique items of clothing (be it for a fancy dress party of just to match your exuberant dress style), try the Bombay Emporium; the chaotic mix of beautiful fabrics, jewelry, and decorations in combination with the wafts of incense and the friendliness of the staff (who are not adverse to a bit of haggling) makes this store worth a visit. Another stopover to bag yourself some vintage, one-of-a-kind bits and bobs is Reign, where a large assortment of high quality and high fashion items is on offer for a good price. If you like the idea of supporting local handicraftsmen and ethical fair trade, Indigo has products ranging from earmuffs to home furnishings to shoes, all made from pure and natural materials. For the music lovers among us, the Truck Store is a must-visit. It is not only an independent music store that will stock the less mainstream CDs, DVDs and Vinyls that you want, but also functions as a platform where people come together to get the latest on musical activities in Oxford, to learn about up and coming bands and to perhaps even see them live during one of the in-store mini shows.
25% Student Discount Available Monday - Friday on production of a valid student card Oxford 5 Turl Street OX1 3DQ T: 01865 248143
London 17 St George Street W1S 1FJ T: 0207 629 3121
30 Little Clarendon Street OX1 2HU T: 01865 552494
Manchester 55 King Street M2 4LQ T: 0161 839 3772
5 Market Street OX1 3EF T: 01865 790245
â€˜One visit to Mahogany will change your view of hairdressing for life!â€™
the botanic garden Although the Botanic Garden is, strictly speaking, for research and teaching purposes, it’s simply too beautiful not to wander around. The garden was the first of its kind in the UK, opening in the early 17th century. It boasts of being ‘the most compact yet diverse collection of plants in the world’. With over 7,000 different types of plants in three sections, this is no mean feat. The seven glasshouses are themed by plant origin due to the varying climates. There’s one dedicated to desert plants, tropical farming plants and even an entire house for the insectivorous snappy, sticky, trapping kinds. The first glasshouse was planned as far back as 1675, but was made of stone and slate - apparently 17th century gardeners don’t understand photosynthesis. The walled garden focuses on families of plants, how they’re related and their uses. This garden also features the 1648 Collection, which constitutes the oldest plants on site. The newest part of the garden, outside the walled garden, was annexed from Christ Church in 1947. It has many modern garden features, such as water, rock and bog gardens, as well as vegetable beds. There is a small admission fee, less than a fiver in any case, and trust us, you won’t miss it.
university parks University Parks was developed on land bought from Merton College in the 19th century and now occupies around 70 acres of land in between central and north Oxford (next to the science buildings and opposite Keble College). The park serves a number of purposes, acting as both an arboretum and a park for University sport. The Parks are popular for sport at all levels of competitiveness and have been home to Oxford University Cricket Club since 1881; the pavilion was designed by Sir Thomas Jackson, who also designed the Examination Schools and Brasenose, Hertford and Trinity Colleges. While most of the parkland is situated on the west bank of the Cherwell, the narrow island of Mesopotamia, which lies in between the upper and lower levels of the river, is also a part of the Parks, and is the location of ‘Parson’s Pleasure’, once frequented by University Dons as a secluded spot for nude bathing. During Trinity term the parks are a popular location for picnics and punting, and a number of colleges keep punts for their members nearby. It remains pleasant even in the winter, and naturally makes a good spot for snowball fights.
christchurch meadow Bounded by the Isis stretch of the River Thames to the south, and overlooked by Corpus Christi, Christ Church and Merton Colleges to the north, Christ Church Meadow is the site of the first ascent in a balloon by an Englishman, James Sadler, in 1784. It is also where the devil is reported to have persuaded the Pretender John Deydrus to impersonate King Edward II in 1318. Rowing is a significant piece of the Oxford story and the Meadow is the rowing hub of the city. Before dawn, the silence of Christ Church Meadow, sheltered as it is from the noises of the busy city centre, is broken by rowers as they jog or cycle to the boathouses before beginning their training sessions on the river. Christ Church Regatta, Torpids and Summer Eights are the three significant University rowing events which occupy a high place in the Oxford calendar. But most of the time, Christ Church Meadow is a simple retreat for students, locals and tourists to picnic, meditate, take long walks, punt and engage in debate. With some of the best views in Oxford, including sights across the meadow where cattle still graze, this surely counts as one of the city’s most romantic spots. You could spend a whole day visiting the Christ Church Meadow, just remember that the gates close at dusk. You wouldn’t want to get locked in and have an accidental encounter with the Jabberwocky tree.
shotover country park Originally part of the Royal Forest of Shotover, the park now encompasses 289 acres of ponds, woodland, heath, meadows and grassland. During the Civil War the forest was almost completely felled, so the land was given over to grazing in 1660. The land was further changed as the main road to London ran through Shotover until the 18th century. It was even used as a testing ground for tanks during World War II, despite the fact that the City Council was managing the land as a park by that point. The park has been managed since the 70s to create the variety of habitats that are seen today. Only three miles from the city centre, Shotover is a little-known Oxford treasure. With trails for walking, cycling and horse riding, you could easily spend a whole day enjoying the park. If you’re feeling less active, the park is equally open to those looking for a quiet picnic and the opportunity to spot a fluffy bunny rabbit hopping across a heath. There’s also a natural sandpit for the grandsculpteur de chateaux de sable among us. Open all day, every day, and free of charge.
easy food. A selection of the best cafes, sandwich bars and delicatessens in alphebetical order
Cafes 75 Cafe Loco 76 Coconut Cafe 76 Cous Cous Cafe 77 Georginas 79 Jacobs & Field 80 Magic Cafe 83 Oxfork 86 Zappi’s Bike Cafe 86 Vaults & Garden Greasy Spoons 74 Browns 77 Excelsior 81 Mick’s Cafe 85 St. Giles Cafe Salad & Sandwich Bars 74 Alpha Bar 75 Cafe Creme 78 Greens 78 Heroes 80 La Croissanterie 81 Olives 82 On the Hoof 82 Organic Cafe Fast food 79 Il Principe 83 Peppers Burgers 84 Pieminster 84 Pizza Artisan 85 St. Giles Burger Van
alpha bar brown’s covered market, ox1 3dy
Nestled away in a corner in the Covered Market with nothing but a blackboard to advertise it, you’d be forgiven for walking past this salad bar without ever knowing it existed. Yet even if you’d normally skip salad for something less leafy, at least have a glance at the counter. You may be surprised. The Alpha Bar offers a mouth-watering selection of fresh ingredients. You can choose a salad box from the standard lettuce, tomatoes, couscous, etc., but there are also some less obvious choices, like falafel, and other items I won’t even hazard a guess at the spelling of. For those still after something meaty, a selection of chicken-based additions (the chicken in chunky salsa is definitely worth a try) will make the trip worthwhile. You can even have a salad or chicken toastie if you’re feeling particularly hungry. Such a wealth of choice can have its drawbacks: at busy times you might get hopelessly trapped behind some indecisive people. But worry not as they now offer preordering. Everyone should have at least one look at Alpha Bar. After all, it’d be a shame to waste one of Oxford’s tastiest salad sources.
covered market, ox1 3dy
Like a lot of Oxford institutions, Brown’s Café is in something of a time warp. Unlike the colleges, this time-warp feels like a greasily satisfying 50s caff rather than a 16th century monastery. Since opening in 1934, this Covered Market classic has only changed hands three times, and has kept the same simple and affordable traditional English fare. Obviously your best choice here is the full English breakfast. It’s served all day, meaning Brown’s is perfect for those days when breakfast is at 2pm. Expect a satisfying mound of egg, bacon and beans, served with speed and a mug of steaming tea. (Don’t worry, there’s also a veggie version.) Other specialities include a selection of scones and cakes, freshly made on the premises. There’s a menu of hot lunches and sandwiches, which you can also take away, but takeaway really misses the point of Brown’s. Neither the menu nor the décor have changed much since the 50s, and the effect is a peculiarly comforting break from shiny trendy modernity. Formica tabletops and a robust wooden counter complete the effect. Perfect for cheap, friendly hangover fare.
Café Crème’s Broad Street location makes it a good option for grabbing a sandwich if you’ve missed lunch at college. Like most of Oxford’s sandwich bars, you can choose your own fillings or get one of the ready-made sandwiches toasted for you by the friendly staff. The choice of fillings has a Mediterranean touch, with favourite including the halloumi and artichoke panini, but beware of some combinations being a bit bland. While most people are in and out of the shop quickly, it also has a room at the back where you can sit down. Skylights and vividly-coloured artwork make the room bright and cheerful, but it probably won’t be your first choice of places to while away an afternoon sipping cappuccino; the setting is fairly basic and the coffee is unexceptional. Furthermore, while you pay more to eat in, there is an extra side salad as a consolation. The tourist-friendly location also means the café sells Carte D’Or ice-cream, although there are better ice-creams to be had on Broad Street at The Buttery. All said, it’s a consistently delicious lunchtime option at prices far below those of other city centre cafes.
The name is misleading. There’s nothing crazy about this café, a self-defined ‘European style café nestling in a 500 year old building in the centre of Oxford’. Which isn’t to say that this isn’t a fantastic place to enjoy a cup of coffee. The best part of Café Loco is the front is almost entirely window, allowing you beautiful views of Christ Church and the meadow without the cold winter chill seeping in. The menu also has a few surprises lurking in its otherwise unremarkable depths, including a goats’ cheese bagel with balsamic onion chutney, fresh peppers and basil. Panini, ciabatta, jacket potato – it’s all there, even the obligatory soup of the day. But where Loco’s food shines is in the specials. Do yourself a favour and check the blackboard before resigning yourself to the menu. The breakfasts are well-made, and the eggs benedict come highly recommended. Perhaps not a café for every day, though many people seem to visit it more frequently than that, Café Loco is best reserved for those stressful times when all that will do is a good sit down and a cuppa.
19 broad street, OX1 3AS
87 st aldates, OX1 1RA
cous cous café
Comfortable atmosphere; friendly, and knowledgeable staff and good coffee are abundant at Coconut. The family-owned cafe and bar is an inviting place to enjoy a cup of Fairtrade coffee, an energising breakfast or afternoon tea. The shop has a loyal following of regulars who stop by for their favourite lattes, espressos and chilled exotic fruit smoothies. With outdoor seating, you can sit and watch the world go by whilst enjoying a tempting selection of baked goods as well as savoury and sweet exotic Brazilian snacks, including the delicious Brazilian feijoada (stew) on the weekends. In the evenings you can go and enjoy a beer after a busy day’s lectures. From time to time the mostly Brazilian staff will put on some exotic sounding music and they’ve even been known to have the odd special party in there, which if you happen to be passing, are always good fun and well attended by the staff and families’ friends who are happy to see a new face come to join the fiesta.
Thanks to its colourful interior filled with Moroccan prints, Moorish metal works and the wafts of saffron, cinnamon and kumin, the Cous Cous Café truly transports you to North Africa whilst you are sipping your Arab coffee at one of the little tables. The menu offers Moroccan and Arab specialities such as Bastilla (filo pastry stuffed with chicken, almonds and cinnamon) and Harira (Moroccan chickpea soup) alongside some tasty ciabatta sandwiches and a range of good coffees and teas served in delightful pots. Their sweet pastry treats such as the light and sticky baklava are the perfect way to finish a meal. Besides the cushionoverladen window seats inside, it also has a little porch outside which is the ideal place to try their shisha pipe with some mint tea! One of the best things about the café is that many of the objects you see are also for sale. The case in the back is filled with beautiful crockery, tajines, jars of spices, cushions, shisha pipes and tobacco (which comes in many different flavours such as apple, lemon & mint and watermelon), incense and even fez hats, so you can bring a little bit of this oasis back home with you.
28 friars entry, OX1 2By
19 st. clements, OX4 1aB
excelsior georgina’s 250 cowley rd, OX4 1UH
If Kirkegaard had been an Oxford man, his list of existential obstacles to achieving a meaningful existence could well have included The Excelsior Cafe. Had Kirkegaard matriculated to our hallowed halls, by all accounts The Excelsior may well have already been here when he came up. Various estimates from locals, alumni and the proprietors themselves report the existence of this East Oxford ‘must try at least once’ institution at somewhere between 50 years to forever. Despite the smoke-browned wallpaper, dim lighting and frankly basic menu, this really is worth trying, if not just to be admitted to the club. Once you’ve visited the Excelsior, some part of you will stay and you’ll probably return. That’s because basic menus never go in or out of fashion. Steak, chips and peas will always be good, especially when prepared by a man in a Fawlty Towers-style waiter’s jacket and served quickly and without fuss. Breakfast and coffee becomes a distinctly less difficult affair when it’s a simple case of egg on toast or egg and bacon on toast or eggs, bacon and beans...on toast. It is also worth noting that, in a world of frappe-skinnymocha-chino-lattes, The Excelsior makes tea like your grandma does, hot and wet.
covered market, OX1 3DY
A tiny staircase sandwiched between cafes leads up to Georgina’s, tucked away in the roofspace of the Covered Market. But what it lacks in shop front, Georgina’s more than makes up for with colour. Bright murals decorate the walls of the staircase and inside hot pinks and purples threaten to overwhelm the tiny cafe. Fairy lights dot the rafters of a ceiling plastered with vintage music and film posters. Grab a spot by one of the windows to enjoy your lunch while the rest of the covered market scurries around below you. Glance around inside and you’ll find a mainly young and studenty crowd, on the hunt for something more than the usual sandwich at lunchtime. The food on offer is wholesome and freshly prepared. Choices of salads, quiches and soups change on a daily basis, all served with thick doorstop wedges of wholegrain bread and presented on rustic wooden plates. The cafe also offers a number of Mexican-style dishes, the chicken tortilla wrap, and the generously sized portions of nachos being especially popular. If you still have room there’s a variety of homemade flapjacks, chocolate brownies and other treats to tempt you at the front counter.
heroes 8 ship st., OX1 3DA
50 st. giles, OX1 3LU
Green’s Café is another of Oxford’s great minichains. (Think Taylor’s and Morton’s.) The idea is to get all the service and care of a local business with the convenience of always being within walking distance of one no matter what area of town you’re in. The Green’s on St Giles has been around for while now, serving up dependable favourites alongside an ever-changing menu of cakes and sundries. The café on Bonn Square is now actually called Art Café, supposedly to distinguish the two, though the menus are much the same. The goal of both is to serve mostly free range, fairtrade and organic foods, sourcing meat and cheese locally. The takeaway prices are similar to any other Oxford sandwich bar, but there’s a bit of a hike for eating in. That said, the extra money goes far, as the service is consistently great and the side salad is a thoroughly decent size. They also do soup, salad, jacket potatoes, bagels and other hot dishes, as well as fruit, smoothies and milkshakes to accompany.
Heroes is one of the oldest established cafes in the city centre, serving up sandwiches on artisan bread, paninis and hot wraps. They also go a step further, offering lasagne, tagines, risottos and even pancakes for when you’re craving a proper, hot meal served up fast. All their meat is sourced locally from butchers in the covered market, so you know it’s quality. There’s also an emphasis on gluten-free food, including a variety of homemade soups at really quite reasonable prices. Of course Heroes is also famous for its all-day breakfast, which has saved many a student the morning after. And at only £4.95 with free tea or coffee, it’s one of the cheapest, best breakfasts in town. Yet no visit to Heroes is complete without trying one of the homemade cakes, from lemon and poppy seed to banana bread and super fudgey brownies. All the prices at Heroes are reasonable, especially considering the quality of the ingredients, but students also get a 10% discount when they spend over £2. They’re open from 8am to 7pm, making food fresh all day, so you don’t have to put up with the slightly stale four o’clock baguettes from other shops.
il principe 82 cowley rd., OX4 1JB There are two branches of Pizza Express and three of Domino’s in Oxford, but once you’ve tried Il Principe you’ll never want to get a takeaway pizza from anywhere else. This Italianrun delicatessen on the Cowley Road sells wine, pasta and other dry goods, and has a counter stocked with tempting meats and cheeses, but it comes into its own in the evening, providing some of the finest takeaway food in the city. You can phone ahead and collect your order, or the staff will deliver for a nominal fee. The menu has a selection of pasta dishes and risottos, as well as heartier fare like deep fried squid and steak in a gorgonzola sauce. However, Il Principe is most famous for its pizzas. There are thirty six on offer, priced at £6-8.50, and each is a huge and delicious disc of cheesy, savoury goodness. How about a Norvegese (smoked salmon, prawns and rocket), or a Casertana (tuna, onion and capers)? The Il Principe special, topped with parma ham, artichokes, pepperoni, olives, anchovies and egg is another good choice. For the very hungry there’s a short list of puddings, including a dessert pizza with Nutella!
jacobs & field
15 Old High St., OX3 9HP
J&F is a relatively new venture tucked conveniently away next to the Waitrose in Headington. One half of the business is a deli, stocking all the local, ethical produce you won’t find in the supermarket next door. This isn’t just the usual specialist jars of chutneys and sauces you see in other shops. There’s meat, cheese and even fish. The sandwiches come in the usual variety, plus some extras you may not have considered before. The portions are large, though the price tag is a little steeper than a simple sandwich shop. The slabs of bread are thick with plenty of meat (if you choose) or vegetarian options, and best of all, there’s not a sad, soggy salad in sight; only crisp, fresh veg here. The hot food isn’t too shabby either, and it’s a nice change from the brightly-coloured soups in forgotten crock pots you’re used to seeing on lunch menus. The coffee is also perfectly adequate, though lovingly prepared, which gives it that extra bump. J&F can pretty crowded around 12-2, so get in early or go for a late lunch if you want to eat in.
la magic café croissanterie 110 magdalen rd., OX4 1RQ
3 old high st., OX3 9HP
The great thing about La Croissanterie is its dependability. With four shops spread across town, you’re never far from a consistent, reliable panini or baguette. Each shop is more than happy to create your selection from scratch, allowing you to pick the bread and every last down-to-the-detail salad option. Unlike other sandwich bars, La Croissanterie doesn’t intimidate you into buying one of their popular, pre-made options. This might mean the queues are a bit longer at lunchtime, but well worth the wait. The St Aldate’s branch is particularly convenient for grabbing a sandwich and cool drink to take away before heading across the street into Christ Church Meadow for a picnic. The George Street deli is slightly smaller, but has recently been redecorated to a rustic woods and muted greys theme, suspiciously similar to the Jamie’s next door. The Headington shop is without a doubt the best, offering the widest range of food as well as ample seating space (even outside).
This little vegetarian favourite is tucked away on the far side of the Cowley Road, but don’t let the distance from the centre put you off. For a casual eating experience, the comfortably hippyish Magic Café is hard to beat. The service is friendly and welcoming, while the setting is informal and very homey. The food is decent too, and entirely vegetarian. It’s best to go for the specials, since they vary a lot, use seasonal vegetables and are usually the most imaginative items on the menu. There is also a healthy selection of vegan options on offer, which are clearly marked. After a wholesome vegetarian meal like that, you ought to top it off with a slice of their famous cheesecake or one of their even more famous brownies – decadent and delicious. If you like folk and blues also check out ‘live music to munch to’ at the café every Saturday, from 1pm until 2pm. You’ll also catch the restaurant at its liveliest then, filling up with regulars from the surrounding Cowley area.
1 Cripley Rd., OX2 0AH
42 high st., OX1 4AP
Just beyond the railway station is Mick’s, a quintessential working man’s café catering to an odd mix of students, suited commuters and Virgin Media electricians. It’s more a shed than a restaurant, and fits only 25 or so around its two tables, possibly fewer given the average size of its regulars. The mural on the left wall shows all of the employees with catchphrases that could have been taken straight out of a 70s sit-com. Mick (‘Haven’t had a day off since coronation year!’) cooks out the back, while Pauline (‘I’m the boss - he thinks he is!’) runs front of house and is as friendly a café owner as you’re ever likely to meet. The breakfasts are simple but filling. There’s a set breakfast and an all day breakfast, but you can have pretty much any combination of sausages, bacon, fried egg, tomatoes, beans, fried bread, chips and more, and each comes with two slices of bread and butter on a separate plate, as well as a cup of tea or coffee. The ingredients aren’t quite as friendly-organic-wholesome as other local establishments, but it’s easy to tell that whoever’s responsible has done this thousands of times before. Perhaps hundreds of thousands – the café’s been open since 1985, and without a day off since coronation year, that makes a lot of breakfasts.
Chances are that you will spot the queue extending from this store before you see the store itself, since Olives is a miniature sized, French-Italian delicatessen store with a big name. It is reputed to have the best paninis and sandwiches in town, which is probably the main reason why it can get busy at times, but is also stuffed to the brim with all kinds of delicious Mediterranean goods. The big bowls of shiny olives with different oils and garnishes are probably what give the store its name but Olives is also much loved for its assortment of cured meats, flavourful cheeses and marinated and grilled vegetables. The sight is guaranteed to make your mouth water once you walk into the store! If you feel a bit overwhelmed by all the choices, the Baguette of the Week is always a good decision and the soups are also definitely recommended. The shelves offer a wide selection of longer lasting products such as biscuits, patés, pestos and confits. Most of the products are at not too bad a price, unless you’re looking for the très exquisite of course (lobster terrine anyone?). Best of all, the staff is always very friendly and chatty and are more than willing to advise you in choosing between the exotic products or in the compilation of the perfect sandwich.
on the hoof
This little sandwich shop had a big reputation. All the way up on North Parade, it’s a trek to be certain, but a journey worth taking. This is one of the few times in your life when it’s okay to believe the hype. Get excited. Because one day you’re going to decide it’s time to try an On the Hoof sandwich and it’s going to change the way you look at lunch. Given the average age of an undergrad, that’s about 26,000 decisions in your life that will have been affected by a baguette. Whether you decide to try a Tom’s Le Club or a Sexy Brazilian, it’s up to you, and you won’t be disappointed. Once you get to know the eclectic and ever-changing menu, venture into the realm of breakfast. Unlike most places, On the Hoof let you build your own fry-up. Hate tomato? Get double mushrooms. Can’t stand the sausage? Have some bacon. That’s how things are at On the Hoof: laid-back, friendly and eager to please your stomach. All that and we haven’t even mentioned the dessert menu.
It’s true that with Coca-Cola products still available, it’s a bit questionable how ‘organic’ this café actually is. But with some of the friendliest service Oxford has to offer, it’s hard to drum up the energy to mind too much. Trevor and Cristina (and you will get to know them by name) really care about the atmosphere and quality of their café. All the usual baguette and panini options are served up with a smile and a ‘thank you’. There’s also a good range of glutenfree options, which look appealing even to wheat eaters. The Darling Spuds are some of the best crisps ever with classic and classic-with-a-twist flavours. There’s also a good selection of drinks, including Whole Earth sodas, which are nigh on impossible to find anywhere else within half an hour’s walk of the city centre. The best part, though, is the bread. It’s soft, but not too soft, with just the right bit of crust, and it’s still shaped like a baguette so you can hold it with one hand. Besides, why should wanting a Diet Coke with lunch mean you can’t have a good sandwich made with proper ingredients?
5 north parade, OX2 6LX
24 friar’s entry, OX1 2DB
39 magdalen rd., OX4 3DH Oxfork has been open in its new home on the Magdalen Road for almost an hour, but to accuse it of being untried or under-tested would be a serious error. In a previous life Oxfork was one of this city’s most notorious underground supper clubs, selling out a small house in East Oxford on a regular basis. Oxfork became even hotter property when it branched out into the nouvelle world of pop-up restaurants. Their inspiring menu of locally sourced, sympathetically cooked cuisine has appeared at a Mad Hatters Tea Party, Cowley Road Carnival and Modern Art Oxford. With the new, friendly and welcoming HQ open, you can now find the best breakfast (meat or vegetarian) in the whole city served from 8am. Eggs (benedict, royale or florentine) are also on offer most of the day, and when lunchtime comes round you can grab one of their special soup or salads of the day and enjoy the local art and well-chosen music. Weekends are a perfect time to get brunch with a very special Bloody Mary ‘perfected over years of the morning after’. For some of the best locally sourced, originally prepared food at a price that reflects a commitment to customer and producer alike, you can’t do any better than Oxfork.
84 walton st., OX2 6EA Pepper’s do a good burger. That’s all you need to know really. To elaborate, Pepper’s is a tidy burger bar in Jericho. It does what it does well: burgers in all shapes and sizes, starting with delicious beef but also including chicken, lamb and a surprisingly good veggie burger. There’s any number of ways you can have your burger – personally I’d recommend the garlic mayo – and the staff are more than happy to do things your way. Pepper’s also do a nothalf-bad pizza and a decent selection of drinks. There are great value hot wings too. But the core of what they do is the humble beef burger, which is always fresh and never frozen. Have it with cheese, jalapenos, tomato, lettuce, the aforementioned garlic mayo – anything, it’s great. A special shout out should go to the White Shark hot sauce. Pepper’s are also unusual in that they do organic burgers too, which are well worth the extra pound or so. One trick that Pepper’s have hit on is stocking a huge range of very tasty sauces, making sure you want to go back to see what Lamb and Mint would have been like with Tandoori or Blue Cheese sauce. Peppers also deliver, just in case you are really feeling lazy.
pieminister pizza covered market, OX1 3DY You have honestly never seen people get so worked up about a pie. It’s a pie, right? The folks at Pie Minister, however, take their pies a lot more seriously than that. To them a pie is a thing of beauty, a pastry-crusted love letter to your stomach, stuffed with all the best ingredients they can lay their pie-obsessed hands on. Thanks to Pie Minister, any trendy graphic designer would be more than happy to gorge on a pie during the lunch break, far preferring it to a standard sandwich. The fact that the founders have managed to take one of the plainest dishes football fans have ever quaffed and turn it into a thoroughly upperworking-class-ambitious lunch item is part skilful innovation and part luck. They got their first break when one of them won some money on a game show and had the good sense to use the money to start a business, and after successfully building an empire of gastropubs in London and meeting his now partner-in-pie, they launched Pie Minister which rapidly grew to the brand we know today. Oh, and the pies are pretty dang good too, but then, they’re pies… but better.
artisan outside christchurch,
In a city full of kebab vans one Oxford establishment is doing its part to challenging all our expectations of street food. Based just outside Christchurch College in a specially converted van, Pizza ArtIsan serves up delicious thinbased pizzas come rain or shine. If the regular queues don’t spark your interest then the wood burning oven and trays of fresh balls of dough in the back should. Pizza ArtIsan crafts thin based pizzas, rolled out in front of your eyes, which are topped with small range of simple but effective topping combinations such as the ‘Diavolo’ – pepperoni, red onion, sweet red chillis, and mushrooms, and the ‘Madonna’ – red onions, cherry tomatoes, rocket, and parmesan shavings. Either of these will leave you with change for a tenner, so next time you’re after a quick dinner but can’t face another kebab or a Styrofoam box of chips and cheese take a stroll over to St Aldate’s. If you’re not fortunate enough to live in Pembroke or Christchurch you can always ring ahead and order to skip the queue, or you can check their twitter feed (@PizzaArtisan) to make sure they are open.
st.giles burger van St Giles Rd,
52 St. Giles Rd., OX1 3LU
During an all-night essay crisis or coming back from a night out, Oxford’s numerous kebab vans will serve you a deliciously greasy instant meal. But for nights when the thick deep fried chips or oozing onion rings seem just that little bit too oozy, there’s nowhere to try except Britain’s first organic burger van. The van’s also known as Alpha on Wheels or The Diner, although it currently lacks any sort of sign so these names are rather irrelevant. But it’s impossible to miss, parked just outside the Taylorian on St Giles. The van has something to satisfy everyone. It serves the classic beef and lamb burgers paired with handmade chips. But you can also try vegetarian tofu or risotto burgers. All come with salad, salsa or guacamole. Meat is from an Oxford University farm and all vegetables are sourced locally. The salad is always crisp and tasty. Even ketchup is organic. Despite the heftier price tag relative to other kebab vans, the organic experiment seems to be working. The van can be a bit of a ghost, disappearing and popping back up again when you least expect it. But if you’re on the prowl for late-night fare, it’s always worth checking just outside the Taylorian.
Of the many suggested remedies for a hangover, the full English is the most enduring, and the St Giles Café is one of the best places in Oxford to indulge in a cooked breakfast, that most excellent of staples. Prices are fairly reasonable, with a good-sized meal around five pounds depending on what you want in it. The surroundings may not be luxurious – there’s little light in the café and the furniture has seen better days – but service is always quick and the food consistently good. Generous slices of bacon epitomise the satisfyingly-sized servings, while the newsagent next door is well-placed, allowing easy access to the Sunday papers for a leisurely breakfast. Don’t expect to be able to wield broadsheets at peak times, though, because space is limited and occasionally tables have to be shared. Although there is of course a meaty bent to the menu, a vegetarian breakfast is offered, adding to the surprisingly large range of food. Also well-known for its good coffee, the St Giles Café may not be everyone’s cup of tea in its unashamed greasy spoon status, but for those who want a quality fryup, this is the place.
zappi’s vaults & bike café garden 28 st. michael’s st., OX1 2EB
Radcliffe square, OX1 4AH
The really beautiful thing about the Vaults and Garden café is that you can sit watching the view of the Rad Cam without feeling that a hoard of cyclists are going to come round the corner and run you down right as you bite into your panini. The café is lucky enough to overlook the cobbled Radcliffe Square, flanked by Brasenose on one side and All Souls on the other, but a hedge shields it from the rest of the square, making its garden an idyllic spot to sit for a quiet break. The Vaults pride themselves on serving locally grown cuisine. The mains here are organic and wholesome: chickpea curry, puy lentils, Greek salad with feta cheese. Things tend to be served with wholewheat rice, no rich sauces, deepfrying or slathering in butter here. Sometimes it all feels a little too wholesome and in want of a slightly more adventurous twist, but if you want to feel you’re doing yourself some good, while looking at the classic Oxford shot, the Vaults’ garden is a lovely place to do it.
You don’t have to be a cyclist to visit Zappi’s, although its location on the first floor of a bicycle shop stuffed with expensive looking machines and bike race memorabilia might lead you to think otherwise (it’s also the base for a thriving local cycling club). The staff of Zappi’s pride themselves on their barista skills and can do a proper espresso or an artistically-finished latte with the best of them, but they’ll also happily make you a simple filter coffee or pot of loose-leaf tea. In the morning breakfast baps and yoghurt and fruit pots are on offer, while a bigger choice awaits you at lunchtime. The toasties are extremely good value; for around £2.50 you get two generously filled sandwiches made with high quality bread. The Chicken Medi (chicken, pesto, tomato and cheese) is a particular favourite. Otherwise, you can choose quiche, a salad or some homemade soup. If you’re still hungry there’s a selection of cakes, and the delectably rich and fudgy chocolate brownie comes highly recommended. Zappi’s also serve cream teas. After all that, you might need to take up cycling!
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dine out. wrap your fork around the best food in Oxford... in alphabetical order
Restaurants A-Z American 92 Atomic Burger 93 Atomic Pizza 99 Byron Breakfast 103 Combibos 105 G&D’s 119 Tick Tock British 096 Big Bang 101 Cherwell Boathouse 113 Old Parsonage 115 Potrabello 116 Quod 123 The Jam Factory 109 The Living Room 129 The Turl Street Kitchen Classic Pubs 122 The Honey Pot 124 The Oxford Blue 128 The Rusty Bicycle East Asian 104 Edamame 117 Shanghi 30s French 98 Brasserie Blanc 106 Gee’s 112 No1 Folly Bridge 114 Pierre Victoire
Gastro Pubs 120 The Anchor 121 The Fishes 125 The Perch 126 The Red Lion 127 The Rickety Press Indian 95 Aziz 118 Spice Lounge Italian 97 Branca 100 Café Coco 102 Cibos 108 La Cucina 110 Mamma Mia Mediterranean 107 Kazbar 111 Manos Middle Eastern 90 Al-Shami Russian 91 Arbat
al-shami 25 walton crescent, OX1 2JG
Tucked away on a quiet residential street in Jericho, one will find Al-Shami Lebanese Restaurant. Large windows let light pour into the cozy space giving couples, families, and groups of friends ample opportunity to watch the Jericho world pass by while enjoying the delicious cuisine. The warm surroundings give way immediately to the delectable food selection, offering options for vegetarians, vegans, and a menu detailing which dishes have dairy, gluten, and nut ingredients. Al-Shami offers 39 cold and hot Lebanese Meze (£2.50-£4.80) ranging from staples like hummus and falafel to favorites such as Zahra Maqlia, a fried cauliflower meze, and Al Rahib, an amazing aubergine, tomato, and pepper meze. The meat dishes offered are lean cuts of meat with the perfect seasoning and flavour that captures the bold and subtle taste of Lebanese food. Al-Shami also serves traditional Kibbeh Nayeh for those who desire something quite different! Several of these dishes could make a substantial meal, so order boldly. Vegetarians and vegans have main dish options covering a range of vegetables cooked, fried, and grilled with rice, lentils or bread (£6.90-
£7.80). The spinach based Sebanikh Bilzeit is particularly enjoyable, especially with Al Rahib. If one desires something on the lighter side, AlShami serves a range of soups (£3.20-£3.50). The main dishes with fish (£7.95-£12) are mostly cod with a spicy sauce. The charcoal grill course (£8.20-£8.75) has chicken and lamb options with several Kafta, Kibbeh, and Kebab dishes. The Mixed Grill dish provides a little of everything, so if you are sharing, this is a great option. If you have any room left or you’re just in the mood for something sweet, there is an assortment of desserts such as almond, pistachio, and walnut baklava and Lebanese pancakes (small pancakes filled with sweet cream). Al-Shami also serves a dark, rich Lebanese coffee and mint tea. The wines come from Lebanon, Italy, Spain, and New Zealand with glass and bottle options. AlShami offers vintage wines and highlights the Lebanese Château Musar red wine as a house speciality, which is the perfect complement to the rich flavours found in the meze and main dishes. If you desire a relaxed and enjoyable dining experience with laughter and long conversations, Al-Shami is a great choice. They take reservations and also have a take away menu, making the restaurant’s tag line: offering Lebanese food and hospitality in Oxford, a reality.
If you’re in search of exotic and unusual cuisine, look no further than Arbat, a delightful authentic Russian restaurant nestled on the Cowley Road. With its splendid yellow façade, this restaurant screams Russian elegance; the interior decorations are similarly traditional with images of Moscow landmarks and matrioshkas sprinkled around. The real enjoyment is, however, the food itself. The interestingly varied menu combines a mixture of Russian staples with more luxurious dishes. There is also a good selection of vegetarian dishes. Hard to resist is the blini s ikroi (Russian pancakes with caviar) as a starter, which arrived artfully put together and tasted as good as it looked. For mains the beef stroganoff and pelmani domashnie (home made Siberian dumplings) were similarly well designed dishes and came in generous
84 cowley rd, OX4 1JB
portions. Best of all are the sumptuous desserts which include medovik (Russian honeycake) and oreshkiso s gyshenkoi (traditional Russian cookies filled with sweetened condensed milk – delicious!), all served with scoops of ice cream and drizzles of chocolate sauce. Definitely worth waiting for! The good selection of wines complement the food well. The friendly and attentive waiters help create an enjoyable experience. Though a little on the pricey side, the delicious food, cheery surroundings and lovely Russian music make Arbat perfect for nice events or a more unusual culinary treat!
atomic burger 96 ccwley rd, OX4 1JE
Atomic Burger is an Oxford student stalwart for good quality food, known for its big portions at a reasonable price. As you realise when you step through the door, this is not just another burger joint. The interior is a hectic mixture of American kitsch and comic book cartoons, which serve as a fun and fitting backdrop for the meals on offer. As you would expect from an American-inspired restaurant, supersize comes as standard here which even those with the smallest appetites will appreciate once the food arrives at your table. The starters on offer are great to share, and include classics such as spicy chicken wings, nachos, and, best of all, space balls – deep fried balls of cheese with a salsa dip on the side. The main courses and, unsurprisingly, the burgers are where Atomic Burger truly shines. Not only do its burgers match all the competition on quality, the huge variety of extras and combinations available means that everyone’s tastes are satisfied, including vegetarians.
Whether it is the Audrey Hepburn which takes your fancy, with onion rings, bacon, and an egg, or the Cheech and Chong, with beef or vegi chilli, jalapenos, and sour cream, all the options are available with a beef, chicken, or vegi burger. For the brave there is also the chance to go ‘atomic’, with double burgers, and triple sides, for which you can choose from onion rings, fries, or Atomic Burger’s signature spicy ‘sci-fries’. If that does not sound challenging enough there is always the newly revamped Fallout Challenge, for those who do not have any need for their tastebuds in the near future. Famous across Oxford, this requires the wearing of plastic gloves, and entails a triple burger, with pizza buns, three portions of sci-fries, all topped off with a ghost chilli sauce. While burgers remain at the heart of the menu, the alternatives are similarly appetising and outrageous. Highly recommended is the Woody Allen, Atomic Burger’s take on a salt beef sandwich. If you still have any space left after all this, the desserts offer few surprises with Fudge Brownie Sundae and the regularly changed American Pie proving popular. Particularly fun are the marshmallows, served with a mini campfire, and by this point you will be grateful for the pause as you heat each one to perfection.
If you’re craving a bit of culinary Americana do yourself a favour and head over to Atomic Pizza. Part of the growing ‘Atomic’ brand (a third Atomic restaurant opened in Bristol in the Summer of 2012), Atomic Pizza is larger than its sister restaurant Atomic Burger (also on Cowley Rd). Fear not though, for the same visual and edible delights combined with the warm and friendly service that quickly established Atomic Burger as a local favourite are available at Atomic Pizza! As the name suggests, Atomic Pizza specialises in… pizza. But these aren’t your ordinary margheritas or four seasons, no, these are concoctions straight out of your childhood memories. He-man (BBQ pulled pork, white onion, mozzarella and a BBQ base), Fat Tony (huge pork & beef meatballs, Parmesan, marinara sauce, mozzarella and a tomato base), Paddington Bear (red onion marmalade, rocket, goat’s cheese, mozzarella, tomato base) and Popeye (Spinach, goats cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, red onion, olives, mozzarella and a tomato base) are just a few of the options that jump off the menu. All pizzas are a good size and under £10 so no need to break the bank. If you’ve had your fill of pizzas, you’ll be glad to hear Atomic Pizza now also serves their entire range of burgers, normally found at Atomic Burger. So there’s no need to um and ah between the two. Atomic Pizza’s size advantage means you can fit large parties much more easily (including in their private Narnia room!). Aside from burgers you can order such ‘All American
atomic pizza 247 cowley road, OX4 1XG
Classics’ as ribs (£13.95), fajitas (£12.95) and ‘philly cheese steak’ sandwiches (£9.75). If you arrive feeling peckish, then stock up on appetisers, such as chicken wings (£4.75) and nachos (£4.75-£6). Got room to spare? Atomic’s got it covered: rocky road sundaes (£5.75), waffles (£5.25) and even a dessert pizza (£9.95 to share) are just a few of their desserts! All that eating’s gonna make you thirsty and once again Atomic Pizza has all the bases covered. Choose from soft drinks, beers, wine and, of course, the kind of fantastic, thick milkshakes you’d expect from a place like this (chocolatepeanut butter is my favourite!). If you can tear yourself away from your plate, you’ll be dazzled by the 80s motif and comic book paraphernalia that adorn the walls (and ceiling). Think Star Wars, Thunderbirds and Baywatch all rolled into one. And check out the projection of classic 80s shows and movies. Brilliant! Your trip up Cowley Rd (and down memory lane) to Atomic Pizza will be well worth it. And with a new menu having launched in July 2012 there’s even more great food to try— just be sure to bring your appetite!
Congratulations on getting into Oxford and welcome to the Class of 2012! To celebrate your matriculation into the University and your college, order your Freshers' hoodie by 26th September and we will deliver it in time for Freshers’ Week. Pick your college and personalise it with your own name. Your Student Union has negotiated a great deal for all Freshers – just £22.99! Your hoodie can be delivered to your home or collected from your new College. Go to www.ousu.org for details on how to order.
Aziz – the thinking man’s Jamal’s. Just as the subcontinent was the jewel in the crown of the Empire, so this Bangladeshi-Indian establishment is the glittering centrepiece of the Cowley dinnertime scene, with its impressive reputation supported by its recent award of Best Curry Restaurant in the South-East. An attentive maître d’ ushers you to a table, which is furnished with a variety of excellent sauces in which to dip the frequently-replenished pappadums. If there are no seats available when you arrive, then a painless wait at the bar beckons - an opportunity to take in the relaxed ambience of the place. The decoration combines opulence with tastefulness, chandeliers softly illuminating the darkly-painted interior, while the menus themselves are compendious enough to require a table of contents. Dishes are available to please every palate; options such as the array of korma courses, which include chicken, lamb, prawn, king prawn, and even the Sobzi vegetable variety, complement the more intimidating vindaloo offerings. With around eighty different main courses available, even the most demanding Indophile will be satisfied. Perhaps the Tandoori Mixed Grill best showcases the range of sauces available; comprising lamb tikka, tandoori chicken, chicken tikka and sheek kabab, these dishes alone are testament to the enormous breadth of flavours concocted in the
230 cowley rd, OX4 1UH Aziz kitchens, each type of meat wallowing in its own distinctive sauce. While there may be less meat than one might expect, the Mixed Grill, like most other items on the menu, is reasonably priced, and of course there remains the option of adding side dishes to supplement the main courses. Meanwhile,there is an impressive range of vegetarian options, including chott potti, a popular starter comprising chickpeas, potatoes, and chopped egg with tamarind sauce, and dahl vadi, which is composed of small lentil dumplings in a yoghurt sauce. For dessert, Aziz offers a number of British sweets, but it’s worth going off the beaten Eton Mess track to try something a little more adventurous like the garjarela, a traditional, carrot-based Indian dessert. The unexpected interplay between sweet and sour certainly adds a taste of the exotic, and ought to satisfy adventurous gastronomes. But Aziz also caters for those seeking a more familiar culinary experience, offering the normal takeaway curry fare, and the 20% discount for delivery and collection is a real bargain. The attraction of Aziz, therefore, is its ability to satisfy a wide range of budgets and tastes.
big bang oxford castle, OX1 1AY
Sausage, mash, vegetables, gravy. That’s what The Big Bang loves and it’s not afraid to say so. While I was in the restaurant an American tourist entered and asked what salads they do. The waiter very politely explained that sausage was their thing, but that there were several nice places down the road where she could find her salad. This is what sets The Big Bang apart from all other restaurants in Oxford – the uniquely friendly and honest service. The sausages are sourced locally, as are the other ingredients. And these aren’t your standard sausages. Whether you’ve gone for the pheasant and pear, beef and Guinness or the Welsh pork and leek, they are all cooked very well, full of flavour and from top quality produce. Then there’s the choice of rich and creamy mashes. I’m a fan of the garlic and
rosemary and the grain mustard. I highly recommend The Big Bang Trio: pick any three sausages from the whole selection available that day, and add your choice of mash and gravy, which are joined by a selection of vegetables. All of this comes with the friendliest service in Oxford. Staff are always happy to make suggestions and have a joke with their customers, especially the manager Max, who is probably the best-known name in Oxford cuisine. You may by this point be thinking that all this talk of sausage leaves little for the vegetarian. On the contrary the Big Bang has a large range of vegetarian sausages. This is one of the things that makes The Big Bang great for large groups: you know that there is something to suite everyone’s tastes. From the gutter to the stars, The Big Bang is moving from Jericho to the Oxford Castle Quarter, introducing features such as Friday Fish and Chips, BBQs when they fancy it and a Sunday Roast. Not to mention the English Breakfast, perfect for the morning after.
Branca is firmly established in Jericho as a modern Italian that manages to combine serious attention to top quality ingredients with a lively buzzing atmosphere. Add a funky interior, stripped down furniture and a great cocktail list and you start to see why this place is always packed. Cocktail perfection, in our case mojitos and raspberry cosmopolitans, is served in the newly opened up back garden, a charming leafy space that would be an ideal spot for a more dedicated summer cocktail evening. Food at its freshest and best, however, is the real focus here. The menu is compact, but covers all the classic Italian bases, with a good range of antipasti, pasta, risotto, pizza and meat on offer and daily specials worth attention. The antipasti platter offers a taste of everything for the indecisive and is an excellent demonstration of the attention to detail and impeccable ingredients that characterise the food here. All the flavours are zingingly fresh and vibrant. Slow roasted Piedmontese peppers with mozzarella and basil oil sounds simple but can easily go so wrong; here it is a triumph, as is the rare beef sirloin with rocket, watercress and truffle oil. The charcuterie is as good as you would expect in Italy. The promise of the antipasti is more than fulfilled in the main courses. The smoked haddock
111 walton st, OX2 6Aj
risotto is beautifully judged, and comes with a perfectly cooked poached egg on top. Who knew a humble poached egg could be such a thing of beauty. The sea bream with pesto mash and tomato salsa is succulent and packed with flavour. The cooking here shows boldness, confidence and real understanding of the principle underlying the best Italian food: the finest ingredients, simply and lovingly prepared so that the true flavours sing out. Desserts don’t disappoint either. A dessert platter again comes to rescue of the indecisive, with a memorable lemon tart that gets the sweetsour balance exactly right, a melting chocolate fondant and, best of all, a textbook crème brûlée with a perfect, crisp top hiding heavenly velvet vanilla custard. Coffee and bread is excellent, with focaccia particularly good. The wine list is short but bangon in terms of offering excellent matches for the food. The service is prompt, attentive, and expert – they make it look so easy. If you’ve never ventured out to Jericho, here is your reason to go.
brasserie blanc 71 walton st, OX2 6AG
It would be easy to run into a certain set of preconceptions when considering Brasserie Blanc. The restaurant was designed by Raymond Blanc. In his own words: “If the Manoir [his Michelin Star restaurant just outside of Oxford – sadly not interested in a review in the Oxford Handbook] is a delicate waltz, then the Brasserie Blanc is the Can Can”, both dances that might look odd at Park End, but even in comparison to such a grand restaurant as the Manoir, the accessibility and ineffable friendliness that oozes out of Brasserie Blanc’s doors is one that requires more than this dancing metaphor. To dispel immediately any rumours of price or pretension, no, there isn’t a dress code; yes, the portions are big enough and the meals we enjoyed were from the set menu, which is £11.50 for two courses, £13.95 for three – with house wine available from only £2 a glass and £4 for wine recommended seasonall. It is frankly
astounding value for the quality of food and the local ingredients they use. The set menu changes every month and puts a bold emphasis on the season. The wonderful starter of Summer Ratatouille Terrine is presented as bright and sunny, full of colour and fresh vegetables. The Leek, Potato and Egg Salad similarly brings beautiful ideas of summer. Where Brasserie Blanc really shines, however, is in its mains. The Loch Duart Salmon with Sorrel is jaw-droppingly fantastic, succulent yet perfectly firm, enthralling enough to distract you from a dinner conversation, but too delicious not to mention. The Pork Belly, again, was cooked and presented to perfection – Brasserie Blanc does not do things by halves, and does not search for a new controversial option, the emphasis is on the fundamentals and getting them right, which they do incredibly well. The desserts, again, consisted of classics with a slight twist: caramelised banana with fantastically fluffy chocolate mousse or juicy poached plums with ice cream, Brasserie Blanc will not let you walk home without being full. Brasserie Blanc is a great place for a gorgeous meal in a wonderfully atmospheric venue with friendly service. It iss a restaurant highly recommended. Doing the Can Can, however, is not.
Byron boasts of serving the ‘Proper Hamburger’. The menu is simple, with the understanding that they will do one thing, and do it well – the burger. The classic black and white décor reminds patrons of a turn of the century New York diner and the menu continues the Americana theme by using terms such as ‘French Fries’, ounces for the burger sizes, Oreo cookies in a Sundae (a must try!) and serving up A&W Root Beer and Lipton Ice Tea. It really does make you feel like you have landing in iconic, middle America. The ‘Proper Hamburger’ menu (£6.75-£9.25) starts with the Classic, a good ole’ 6 oz. hamburger. There is a Cheese burger option with a variety of cheese to choose from, a Skinny burger (no bun), a Chicken burger, and a Veggie burger consisting of grilled Portobello mushroom, roasted red pepper, goat’s cheese, aioli and baby spinach. The pinnacle of the burger menu is the Byron. Maybe one of the most amazing combinations of flavours you can find in a hamburger! It takes a 6 oz. beef burger, then tops it with dry cure bacon, mature cheddar and a secret Byron sauce. The bun is perfect! It can take the toppings and not get soggy, so you are left with an intact burger until the last bite! Every burger comes with sides (£2.50-£3.25), so you can pick from the traditional thick French fries, homemade skin on chips, onion rings that are seasoned perfectly, courgette fries, coleslaw,
byron 33 george st, OX1 2AY or macaroni cheese. If you cannot wait for your burger and sides, try one or both of their appetisers (£2.75-£3.50): proper olives or tortilla chips with tomato salsa and guacamole. If, however, you are in the mood for something a little lighter, Byron has main salads (£8.75£10.25) such as a Chicken Caesar, Classic Cobb, Greek, and Niçoise salad as well as side salads (£3.50-£4.50). If you have room for dessert (£3.35-£4.75), Byron has a Oreo and Brownie Sundae, Cheesecake, Ice cream flavours from vanilla to chocolate to strawberry and toffee fudge, Knickerbocker glory (ice cream, chocolate sauce, fruit coulis, almonds, maraschino cherries, and whipped cream), and a Chocolate brownie There is a large number of drinks to complement your burger, everything from a frothy A&W Root Beer to wine, beer and cider, craft beers, and bourbon. But the best option for any burger is surely the cold milkshake option. A sweet drink and savoury burger is the perfect combination for the ‘Proper Hamburger’ experience!
café coco 23 cowley rd, OX4 1HP
Located in Cowley Road just past the Plain, Café Coco is the perfect place to go if you’re looking for somewhere to linger and unwind, no matter what day of the week. Whether you go for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or just drinks, this vibrant café offers delicious meals and refreshing drinks served in a laidback environment. Café Coco offers indoor tables and bar seating as well as outdoor tables, providing plenty of options whatever the weather (and, of course, whatever your mood). Due to its large bay windows at the front and mirrors at the back, the entire café is filled with natural light, which really enhances the relaxed yet energetic atmosphere. Café Coco is one of the only places in Oxford where breakfast is served until noon, including both more filling options such as omelettes with toast (£6.50) or waffles and maple syrup (£5.75) and lighter options, like toasted ciabatta bread (£2.50) or Greek yogurt, granola, and honey (£5.00). For lunch or dinner (which share the same menu), the menu offers a variety of pizzas,
pastas, salads and meat dishes. The pizzas in particular are delicious, reasonably priced (averaging at about £9 each) and the perfect portion size for one (if you’re hungry!). Even better—if you order a pizza (or any other main course) between 4.00-7.00pm, Sunday through Thursday, you can also have a free glass of Chenin Blanc or Rioja. If you’re just in the mood for nibbles, there are a number of options for one, including stuffed vine leaves with tzaziki (£4.95), houmous and garlic bread (£4.25) or to share, such as vegetarian mezzes (feta, olives, tzatziki, dolmades, houmous, capers, garlic bread with sesame seeds for £11.00). There is also an extensive list of wines, spirits, and cocktails in addition to hot drinks and non-alcoholic options. While the cocktails on the menu average around £6.00, a special selection of cocktails (which change from day to day) are available for only £4.00 from 9.00pm to close every day. If you fancy Café Coco but can’t make it down to Cowley Road, try the Café Coco Royal Oxford, which is located in the Royal Oxford Hotel in Park End Street, near the train station. It offers the same menu with the added benefit of a set lunch menu (2 courses for £10.00 or 3 courses for £12.95).
cherwell boathouse Nothing quite glorifies the natural beauty of Oxford like a meal at the Cherwell Boathouse. Tucked away on the banks of the river Cherwell, this restaurant epitomises the more relaxed side of this medieval city and, gastronomically speaking, offers tantalising seasonal menus. The Cherwell Boathouse is open seven days a week throughout the year and provides the perfect option for lunch or dinner, regardless of the occasion or the season. Reservations are accepted and children are allowed. Prices are reasonable, with a week day lunch costing ÂŁ15.75 for two courses and a glass of wine and a two-course dinner starting at just over ÂŁ20.00. Although the menu changes throughout the year, it never leaves one wanting. For example, a weekday lunch might include soup or salad to start, a meat, fish, or pasta option for the main course, and a cake, ice cream, or cheese and biscuits for dessert. For dinner, three courses could include seared scallops, rump of beef with Lyonnaise potatoes, seasonal vegetables, and a wild mushroom jus, finished by Italian pressed chocolate cake with salted caramel ice cream. Regardless of the meal, the main course at Cherwell Boathouse is always a favourite, with each individual element cooked to perfection. There are vegetarian options available on every
50 bardwell rd, OX2 6SS
course, and the restaurant is also willing to cater for vegans or guests with other dietary requirements. The restaurant also offers an extensive wine list, with options available by the glass or bottle at every price point. In fact, wine tastings are offered a number of times throughout the year by the head chef and sommelier, providing the perfect opportunity to sample six perfect wine and dish pairings. The most striking and enjoyable aspect of this restaurant is the ambiance, which comprises both the staff and the surroundings. The staff are warm, welcoming, and willing to let guests enjoy their meal at a relaxed pace and truly soak up the tranquil environment. The restaurant itself, which consists of a bar area, inside dining area, and riverside terrace, has a very natural feel, with wooden tables and light coloured dishes and serviettes. With the river trickling by, it is difficult not to relax and unwind immediately upon being seated. In the summer, this restaurant also serves as a punting station, offering an easy post-meal entertainment opportunity for all ages that mustnâ€™t be missed!
cibos 4 south parade, OX2 7JL Cibos is a hidden gem in North Oxford, tucked away on South Parade about 10 minutes by bike from the centre of the city. The website is cheekily entitled www.ilovecibo.co.uk but after dining there you’re likely to give an endorsement - and you wouldn’t be the first as the restaurant has recently won several awards. Straightaway there is a great deal of effort put into giving the customer a good experience, being greeted with excellent service, suggestions of dishes and wines to accompany them. There was an explanation of some of the ingredients and combinations of flavors, which immediately fills you with confidence that the staff know about good food and understand that you’re there to enjoy it. There is everything you could hope to find on an Italian Menu but the first great surprise is that all are dishes made to order and they use their own yeast – “lievito madre” - to make their homemade pizzas, and their own semolina based recipe for their homemade pasta. Accepting the suggestion of the Rabbit main course from the Specials Menu was a great decision as everything was a level above expected for the price, including the presentation. The “feste di carne pizza” had a generous amount of meat on it, which is presumably exactly what you hope for when you
order a dish like that. It was noticable that the food was made to order as everything tasted very fresh and you can see, hear and smell the cooking taking place next to you in the open kitchen, which adds to the atmosphere alongside the stylish and elegant interior. In addition to all the expected Italian pizzas and pastas there are some excellent meat and seafood dishes – the Mussels were high quality and perfectly cooked. Those who enjoy a drink with their meal will be pleased to hear there is a good selection of wines (some Italian) and even Grappas, which like the excellent Paulaner Munich lager, are rarely seen anywhere else in Oxford. If the quality of ingredients that were used in the evening meal are also used in the Express Lunchtime menu, then £9.95 for 2 courses and £11.95 for 3 courses will be very good value. The mains include classic Italian pasta dishes linguine Puttanesca or penne salsiccia and pizza bufala o prosciutto funghi. One interesting detail about all the menus is that Cibos marks gluten free meals suitable for coeliacs, which not many restaurants would bother to do. It is this kind of attention to detail that shows the level of customer service here and why they are a cut above many other Italians in the city. Whilst you may not regularly venture into Summertown you can certainly make an evening of visiting Cibos as there are good cocktail bars in the same area, such as “The Wine Café”, “Florios” and “Joes”. Also if you’re planning more than just a meal and want to see some live music they have several set menus at excellent prices such as the “Northwall Theatre Menu” or “Jazz Concert Menus”, so check the website if you’re planning a full night out, Cibos is definitely worth the short cycle for an excellent meal.
combibos Tucked away on the far side of Gloucester Green is the coffee oasis of Combibos. Backing onto the bus station, it’s an unlovely place for a lovely cafe, and Combibos is very lovely in a tastefully-decorated, slightly-understated, under-subscribed way. Amidst the plethora of Oxford’s coffee shops, Combibos stands out for the warmth of its welcome, and its array of breakfasts. The atmosphere is friendly and relaxing, with the individuality of an independent café, without the crowded frenzy of its more central competitors. Its excellent latte is well worth a try, and in addition to coffee and a range of teas, Combibos offers a spread of lunchtime paninis, sandwiches and cakes. A 10% student discount also makes it great value for the coffee aficionado, with a regular cappuccino or latte at £2.12. For the more extravagant drinker, it also boasts an exciting frappe and milkshake menu. If the weather permits, there’s a large amount of outside seating, and if you pop on a market day, it’s a great chance to soak up some Oxford ambience.
93 gloucester green, OX1 2BU
If you like to start the day on a high, Combibos provides a range of breakfasts, from porridge and blueberries for those feeling healthy, to stacks of maple syrup-drenched pancakes and the gastronomic breakfast bagel. Veggie options are also provided. Breakfast is, after all, an important meal for fragile students, and in Oxford it can be hard to find a good breakfast joint. A lot of places are overpriced, or unoriginal, or their sofas just don’t have the right sort of sag. Combibos does. With eggs. If eggs are your thing, then you’re in for a treat, with a choice from Benedict, royale, poached, fried and scrambled. If you’re a fan of working in a coffee shop, then the free and easily accessible Wi-Fi make Combibos an attractive library alternative. You can generally bank on finding on a table available, and, crucially, the coffee is always warm enough for you to nurture it through a good session’s reading. If you’re looking for a refreshing library break, a haven for reading, or just love a good breakfast, look no further!
edamame 15 holywell st, OX1 3SA
There are many times in this handbook when the phrase “an Oxford institution” will be thrown about, and again, there may be even more times when something is referred to as “Oxford’s best kept secret”, Edamame, a Japanese restaurant packed in a little venue down Hollywell Street, is certainly an Oxford institution, but has a better claim to be Oxford’s very best kept secret as it is obscure not only spatially, but also temporally. Besides opening for lunch from Wednesday to Sunday, Edamame is only open for dinner on Friday and Saturday, with a Sushi night on Thursday. It can be assured that these odd timings are not due to lack of interest, as on those days Edamame regularly has queues out the door and down the road. It’s important to mention the queues actually, because they’re part of the Edamame experience. You should get to know the people you’re queueing with, as they’ll inevitably be the ones you’re sitting with! The ‘little venue’ is very economic with space, so instead of giving you and your date a sterile little table with a candle and a lack of conversation, Edamame puts you in a group sat round a big table and subtly suggests that you should make some friends. A
perfect first date venue – if you run out of small talk with your designated partner, your soulmate may be sat across from you – double your odds! The trickiness of this comes, however, for those who suffer from ‘food envy’. As the dishes start coming in, sunumono (£3) – a gorgeous seaweed salad – or maybe the delectable shogayaki (£6) – soy and ginger marinated stir fried pork – you will want everything that’s brought to the table. This is why you shouldn’t go alone; for an evening meal the dishes are made for sharing, so with a bigger group come many more dishes to choose, though the beef special of the day will certainly feature. Every mouthwatering dish is created with love and amazing skill, worthy of recommendation on its own. Multiple award-winning, just a look down the website’s review section gives more praise than could be fit into this review, and it is certainly with hands down agreement that this review is written. The true nature of Edamame, however, is in the experience of your meal. Edamame lives up to its namesake, baby soy beans that are eaten as a starter – casual, cute and most of all delicious, Edamame is Oxford’s best kept secret institution.
G&D’s (which stands for George and Davis, George and Danver, or George and Delila, depending on which location you visit) is an Oxford institution. With locations conveniently located throughout the city centre (in Little Clarendon Street, St Aldate’s and Cowley Road respectively), you’re almost always within a 10-minute walk from G&D’s, no matter where you are. That’s great news once you know how good it is! Because each location is open from 8.00am to midnight every day, G&D’s is the perfect place to stop for a quick lunch with friends, an afternoon study session, or a late-night ice cream craving. If you’re a morning person, it’s also one of the best places in Oxford to visit for breakfast. Forget your traditional English breakfast, G&D’s is too cool for that. It’s all about the bagels here. Try any combination of egg, Swiss cheese, bacon and chives on a variety of bagels. With all four toppings costing you £4.40 (two poached eggs) or £5.45 (three scrambled eggs), you won’t be breaking your budget. They don’t skimp either, piling the food high on both bagel halves. The ingredients are delicious, especially the bacon: four rashers that are crispy without being overcooked.
g&d’s 94 st aldates, OX1 1BT Not indulgent enough for you? Time for the pièce de resistance then: waffles! In case you didn’t know, G&Ds make their own waffles to order. These are proper Belgian-style waffles and come with maple syrup and whipped cream (£2.55). Wait—you feel like something healthy? Tough luck! Just kidding… G&D’s is sensitive to your conscientious culinary needs and serves up some satisfying healthy portions of muesli (£1.90) or Greek yoghurt and Honey (£2.25). They also have one of those cool fresh-squeezed orange juice machines, and a glass of pure Vitamin C is a perfect way to top off an indulgent, but affordable, breakfast! G&D’s also offer a range of hot drinks, including delicious ethically sourced coffee and tea, which go really well with their freshly baked muffins (if you’re in the mood for a lighter breakfast or need a nice and easy take away option!). As one of the brightest and friendliest cafés in Oxford, G&D’s is definitely worth a visit. However, be warned: after you go once, it will be difficult to stay away.
gee’s 61 banbury rd, OX2 6PE Need a one of a kind meal to celebrate graduation? Trying to impress someone special on a date? Or just feel like treating yourself? Then check out Gee’s for one of the best dining experiences in Oxford. The first thing you’ll notice about Gee’s is the setting—it just oozes Paris bistro. The entire dining area is located under a glass ceiling, bathing your meal in the evening light. Dark fittings, plush cushions and glass chandeliers all set the mood for a superb meal. Start off with the aperitif du jour, usually a glass of prosecco mixed with fruit purée (£6.95). The starters are inventive and bursting with freshness and colour. Try something different like Beetroot, watermelon, feta and mint salad (£6.00 and delicious!), something classic like Prosciutto and honey roast figs (£9.50) or something you definitely wouldn’t have at home: Grilled red mullet, fennel and orange salad (£9.00)! The á la carte menu is not expansive but varies according to seasonal availabilities, ensuring fresh, high quality dishes. Pescatarians will
love the Lemon sole, served with crispy oyster, samphire and horseradish (£22.50), meat lovers, however, will be torn between the Braised shoulder of lamb (£16.95) and the Porterhouse steak for two (£23.00 per person). Vegetarians don’t have much to choose from and have to make do with a lone pasta dish, Casereccia pasta with pesto trapanese (£12.00). Main dishes tend to require side dishes to pad them out and at £4 a pop (buttermilk mash or courgettes or mixed beans) the price will start to climb. However, not every dish will break your wallet, so try the Roast quail, summer vegetables and pancetta (£12.50) if you’re looking for a more complete and well-priced option. Don’t be put off by prices in excess of £20 though, as these dishes are exquisite. Expertly presented and bursting with seasonal flavours, your taste buds will not forget the Gee’s experience anytime soon! A fabulous restaurant is not complete without a dessert list to die for and Gee’s is no exception. Chocolate lovers will swoon over the Chocolate and amaretti mousse (£7.50). For something a little bit different, try the Selection of sorbets (£6.00), which boasts an ever-changing choice of unusual flavours, such as gooseberry or elderflower. Simply put, Gee’s is an experience, one of the jewels in Oxford’s culinary crown and is not to be missed!
The tapas revolution is currently in full swing and at the helm rules Kazbar, described by The Observer as ‘one of the best tapas bars in Britain’. Standing loud and proud a bit down Cowley Road, Kazbar is certainly not your average restaurant – with a convincing Moroccan theme the building itself becomes part of the furniture, with seats molded straight out of the walls covered with ornate cushions and surrounded by ‘bits and bobs’ making you feel like you aren’t a 10 minute walk away from your library, but instead somewhere exotic, not thinking about your essay deadline. The surroundings are completely immersive and they truly have to be experienced to do them any sense of justice. Tapas as a concept doesn’t follow the ‘three course’ structure of food that is traditionally used, but instead consists of a plentitude of little – almost taster – dishes combined with bread and other carby stuff. It is in this spirit that Kazbar’s dishes all hover around the £4 mark, giving you the option to choose as many or as few dishes as you like, depending on your level of hunger. Served in a small porcelain bowl, each dish is presented to authentic perfection. Wonderfully flavourful and full of colour, each dish hits you
25 cowley rd, OX4 1HP
by the nose before it can even reach your table – all served by extremely friendly staff who are more than happy to recommend their dish of choice and warn you away from the more acquired tastes on the incredibly wide-ranging menu. Classics such as Tortilla Española are accompanied on the menu by a range of deli meats, fish and cheeses – the kind of restaurant where you would never find two people with the same favourite dish. You’re even invited to finish off your tapas meal with a dessert, one of their ‘postres’: delicious choices from a traditional option such as chocolate pot to a pistachio halva cake (one of the acquired tastes previously mentioned). Kazbar, part of the franchise that owns Café Coco and Café Tarifa, gives you the impression that it’s in it for the love. It is not only tapas at its very finest at a reasonable price but also restauranteering at its most personal. The level of service and love gone into every customer’s experience is a feat that others struggle to compete with.
la cucina 39 st clements, OX4 1AB
If you haven’t been to La Cucina, then in my opinion you haven’t experienced the best Oxford has to offer in the world of authentic Italian food. This charming trattoria and pizzeria, located conveniently in St Clement’s Street just past the Plain, offers a warm, welcoming environment to everyone, from a few friends sharing a bottle of wine to parties of twelve celebrating a graduation. From the second you walk in until the moment you leave, you truly feel you’ve walked into a bright and bustling Italian cucina. In fact, if you sit near the back of the restaurant, you can watch the chefs carefully select the perfect ingredients for your meal from piles of colourful vegetables surrounding the open-plan kitchen. La Cucina’s lunch and dinner menus, as well as their party menus, present a wide array of reasonably priced options for starters, mains, and puddings. There is also a specials board available, which never fails to impress with its range of delicious dishes. The delectable starters range in price from approximately £3-£4 for bread and olives to £6 for salad or antipasti. Mains, which include appetising pasta (gluten free also available), risotto, meat, and pizza
options, average around £7-£8 per person. Most of the scrumptious puddings, including tiramisú, cheesecake, and affogato, cost just under £5. The party menus, depending on the level of extravagance you’re after, range from £23.50 per person (for three courses each) to £33.50 per person (for three courses in addition to nibbles and prosecco upon arrival). Finally, the drinks list includes a range of wines (red, white, and rose available in a 175ml glass, 250ml glass, or bottle), Moretti or Peroni beers, sodas, juices, tea and coffee. For any meal at La Cucina, the perfect menu would have to include the garlic and rosemary flatbread (Schiacciatella con aglio e rosmarino), the baked field mushrooms (Funghi con scamorza), the pappardelle pasta with duck sauce (Pappardelle con l’anatra) and the pistachio ice cream, all of which would be perfectly accompanied by a bottle of red or white. On top of the delightful food, of particular note at La Cucina are the staff, who are friendly, helpful, and full of recommendations for what to order, making eating here a truly fun and relaxing experience. At any given time, everyone eating at La Cucina looks like they are enjoying themselves, whatever the occasion. Without a doubt, no Italian restaurant in Oxford offers the brilliant experience that La Cucina consistently delivers.
living room The Living Room is most definitely not your average living room. The open spaces and warm lighting mixed with dark leather and wood give the restaurant/bar a chic atmosphere that is perfect for Sunday brunches, three course meals, or a night out. If your choice of dining is a three-course meal, then expect excellence! You can begin with light appetisers (£3.00-£3.50) such as olives, freshly baked bread with oil or cheeses, Moroccan spiced houmous or Edamame. If you are in the mood to share, there is rosemary baked Camembert (£8.50) or a deli board (£11.25), particularly great for a group of friends with a variety of palates. Starters (£3.75-£9.00) range from gourmet soup to mouth-watering mussels to tenderstem broccoli pea and pesto tart to scallops and Bury black pudding on a minted pea purée. There are a number of vegetarian options, so feel free to go meatless! Each evening, special mains are crafted for your enjoyment, but staples (£10.50-£24.00) such as the 21 day aged fillet steak with a perfect pink centre lightly dipped in a béarnaise sauce will send you into food heaven. Also, the duck breast with Szechuan pepper, plum chutney, chilli fried bok choi, and sweet potato fondant will change your life. In addition to these
Oxford castle OX1 1AY
sumptuous mains, there are fish and vegetarian options such as crisp tofu, oyster mushroom and cashew coconut laksa. Looking for something on the lighter side? Then try a light meal option (£7.75-10) like the chicken and bacon Caesar or Tandoori chicken on a baby spinach and chickpea salad. Their sandwiches (£5.50-10.00) are gourmet incarnations of national favourites. You will never experience a ploughman’s sandwich the same way after trying the Ham and West Country Cheddar ‘ploughman’s’. There are also two burger (£10.25) opportunities, both served with homemade relish and chips. Then there is dessert. The range of puddings is delightful and if you want to try a little of everything, go for the sharing board (£12) which provides ‘Basil Grande’ Eton mess, blackberry and crème de mure crème brulée, chocolate truffle cake with crushed honeycomb, apple and cinnamon tart, and a dollop of dairy vanilla ice cream. The Living Room serves hand-selected wines to complement each of their mains, but also has an array of cocktails, a fun twist on classic sparkling wines and entire page of martinis. The Living Room is classic, inventive, and definitely a good choice for any dining experience.
8 south parade, OX2 7JL
Mamma Mia has just celebrated 30 years in Oxford, having recently opened it’s second restaurant and is probably the most well know Italian in the city with one venue in Summertown and another in Jericho. Both restaurants have a fun and relaxed atmosphere, easily identified by their bright red frontage leading to interiors filled with famous images from all over Italy. This is somewhere you can always get a great pizza and is particularly good for a group outing or party. They have some great sharing options in the starter section such as Antipasto Misto and Whitebait, followed by all the pizzas and pasta dishes you would expect on a main Italian menu. The Bolognese is made with beef and pork, which gives it far more flavor than many competitors and you can edit the toppings of any pizza as you wish. The “Pizza Anna” is popular with beachwood smoked ham, spicy peporoni, artichoke, anchovies and olives. If you’re in the mood for a rich and filling pasta dish
the Rigatoni Molisani is perfect with salmon, dill and cream. Finally some campaigning needs to be done to restore the “Coppa Mamma Mia” to the dessert menu (last sampled in about 1999), which was a 5 story mega ice cream with everything you could possibly want in it but fear not the current dessert menu offers many a suitable substitute like the Tartufo which is a delicious Zabaglione cream centre surrounded with ice cream and covered with crushed hazelnuts and cocoa. It’s worth noting that they are trying to take care of students by having some remarkable offers like their lunch time menu, where you can get any main course, pizza or pasta for £6.95. When you consider this includes a glass of house wine or a Moretti beer this is good value for Oxford, although lunchtime drinking between lectures is frowned upon by some colleges. Mamma Mia in Jericho even offers a free half bottle of wine on Monday nights with your meal, again it’s hard to believe such a good place can afford to offer this value. For a good Italian meal this restaurant is great for a couple or a small group of friends but also they have lots of experience in catering for parties and large family outings so have a dedicated party menu and staff who will look after you. Lastly, not many people know that they even do takeaway pizzas for those of you living out of college. Mamma Mias is one of those places that will be in Oxford forever and that’s because of it’s consistently good value.
Manos is a small café and deli positioned on the corner of Walton Street and Adelaide Street up in Jericho. The interior is relatively small and keeps it simple but there’s a garden around the back where you can eat amongst the grape vines growing there and make believe you’re in the Mediterranean when the weather’s warmer. You’ll find the vibe is relaxed and unassuming, welcoming all sorts of passing custom but attracting some of Jericho’s young professionals as the evening draws on. The food is authentic Greek and an absolute haven for vegetarians, with well over half of the menu containing either no meat or a veggie alternative. My dinner date and I decided to share the meze so that we could sample as many of the delights as possible and we weren’t disappointed. We were presented with a delightful array of salads, dips and tasty little bites, with the stuffed vine leaves a particular highlight. Everything was accompanied with piping hot pitta bread which provided bulk to make for thoroughly substantial fare. Looking at the mains, you can take your pick from a range of fresh hand-made dishes under the counter that will be heated up for you and accompanied by a generous Greek salad. The
manos 105 walton st, OX2 6EB
papoutsakia, a slipper of aubergine stuffed with tomatoes and rice, is a favourite of mine, and I’ve been know to make use of the takeaway side of the business to pack me similarly tasty offerings whilst on the move. It doesn’t stop at savoury, however. If you’re still after a little something at the end of the meal, there are a number of cold desserts and cakes. We went for the homemade baklava and Turkish delight, which came unexpectedly accompanied with a small pot of Greek yoghurt and honey. This sticky-fingered treat was finished off with a deliciously rich and luxurious Greek (or strictly speaking, Turkish) coffee – the perfect thing to send us into the night. All in all, Manos is definitely one to consider if you’re after lunch or a light dinner. The food is unpretentious, wholesome and tasty and, drinks aside, you can have a two course meal and come away with change from a tenner. A great option for all who find themselves north of the city centre.
1 folly bridge
1 folly bridge, OX1 4LB Within a few days of arriving at university you will be told what’s what. What clubs are the best to go to, which libraries to avoid and which kebab van you should pledge your allegiance to – but there is a gaping lack of certainty in one area which we discovered No. 1 Folly Bridge fills – where to take a date. The only difficulty you may have with No. 1 Folly bridge as a venue to charm a potential other half is that it’s too perfect. A quiet, beautiful building alongside the River Thames offering delicious French food in a gloriously decorated restaurant – think birdcages, candles and aesthetically cracked paintwork – it even goes so far as to offer a boat trip down the river after you are finished eating. As a wooing strategy you may never be able to top it. As you enter the restaurant you’re invited to take a seat and try one of their cocktails, from classics such as White Russians to bizarre choices such as a Chilli & Mandarin Collins. Any type of decadence can be catered for, as long as you can part with around £6. After being seated, the waiter who described himself as “not an expert” proceeded to expertly
describe the origin of each of the wines he’d recommended (based on the food chosen, naturally). This led to a difficulty, was the wine complementary to the food, or was it simply that every part of this restaurant was a piece of culinary heaven? The mussels – of the classic Normandy style – were exquisite as a starter but the squid was even better, roughly grilled and drizzled in sweet chilli sauce – perhaps if you succumb easily to food envy this may not be the right place for a first date. It’s hard enough to try and stop yourself from reaching over and stealing your partner’s food, but there were points when tackling the waiter and stealing the plate seemed like a reasonable option. Onto the main course, both dishes perfectly presented and staggeringly delicious, the pork belly in red wine jus was something saliva sodden dreams are made of, and the lamb did not disappoint. Most dishes are over £10 so it is a meal for special occasions. If you are not satisfied thus far the desserts polish off the meal like a dream. Particularly delicious was the lemon tart. Folly Bridge, indeed, is probably the perfect place in Oxford for a date. However, a word of warning: you may just fall in love with the chef whilst you are there.
old parsonage The Old Parsonage on St Giles is a lovely little restaurant whose building dates back to the 17th Century. Situated next to St Giles Church, the entrance is via a front garden, which offers nice outdoor seating for warmer days. Once inside you will find yourself in surroundings not dissimilar to a traditional Oxford college, with elegant furniture, deep colours on the walls and an interesting assortment of oil paintings ranging from portraiture to landscapes. The character of the place lends itself exceptionally well to afternoon tea. Indeed, a visitor hoping for some afternoon tea has a wide selection to choose from; from ‘Light Tea’, to ‘Very High Tea’ to ‘Graduation Tea’ you are spoilt for choice! The ‘Very High Tea’ comes highly recommended. Finger sandwiches (egg
1 banbury rd, OX2 6NN mayonnaise; English ham and mustard; smoked salmon and cracked black pepper; cream cheese and cucumber), scones with Jersey clotted cream and homemade jam, and a selection of delicious cakes and patisseries arrive on silver stands. The high quality and sumptuousness of the food (the cakes in particular) are a very tasty treat! There is also a great selection of teas to accompany your food. Try the Old Parsonage tea blend itself for an authentic experience! All in all the Old Parsonage is a wonderful place and is particularly suitable for taking your parents or for a nice afternoon break!
pierre victoire 9 little clarendon st, OX1 2HP
Sitting on Little Clarendon Street slightly off the beaten track, Pierre Victoire seems to be not as well-known as some other Oxford restaurants, but it definitely should be. Anyone who does know about it is likely to recommend not just the food but also the value, as the quality of the ingredients and attention to the cooking is a step up from many other restaurants priced at this level (or even above). If you are going to eat out somewhere special, this is a place where you can get serious food at a good price. The menu includes French classics like Escargot, Moules Marinieres, and a take on Duck á l’Orange, in this case roasted perfectly pink with a mango sauce. As you might expect,
the food is fairly rich and meat dishes feature quite heavily on the menu, such as their Roti d’Agneau, but there are great vegetarian options too, like the Pithivier, a pastry baked en croute with spinach, leeks, sweet potato, a mushroom cream and fennel (this really is tasty). There are beautiful desserts like the Crème Brûlée and Chocolate Brownie, but you might find after a starter, a main, the low lighting and a bottle of wine, you’re in need of something a little lighter to finish. Pierre Victoire is definitely a laid back restaurant where anyone would feel comfortable. It’s not formal, but the staff do understand good service, often speaking a little French to you which all adds to the atmosphere. There are several set menus and ways to combine options here so check out the website before you go to see what’s on. Another thing to remember is that this restaurant is surrounded by many of the best cocktail bars in the city – perfect for pre or post dinner drinks, so it’s good for a group night out, a date or just a meal with a friend. This really is a superb restaurant and everyone in Oxford should try it.
portabello 7 south parade,
the heart of Summertown, just the pastdreaded the dreaded unusual choices such as bloody mary butter or the In the In heart of Summertown, just past students their restaurant’s own Portabello steak OX2 sauce. 7Lj Ewert Ewert HouseHouse wherewhere first first yearyear students taketake their preliminary exams, on the busy South Parade a minimum of 28 days. The steaks are served with preliminary exams, on the busy South Parade is Portabello. restaurant advertises itselfas your choice of hand chipped potatoes, which come is Portabello. The The restaurant advertises itself asmodern serving British modern Britishincuisine casual and highly recommended, or fries as well as roast plum serving cuisine casual in and relaxed relaxed surroundings and it certainly lives up to tomatoes. You can choose to dress your steak surroundings and it certainly lives up to this claim. this claim. The bothwelcoming friendly and with traditional sauces such as béarnaise sauce or The atmosphere is atmosphere both friendlyis and whilst theis restaurant itself iswithout chic and peppercorn sauce or more unusual choices such as whilst welcoming the restaurant itself chic and stylish feeling stuffy. On a sunny day the bloody mary butter or the restaurant’s own Portabello feelingstylish stuffy.without On a sunny day the doors are opened doors opened youascan watch sunset steak sauce. The fish is also excellent and as well and you canare watch the and sunset you dine the on the you dineThe on the terrace outside. The as pan-roast fillet of sea trout and beer-battered fish terraceasoutside. food is exceptional andfood theis and the menu, whichoffers changes every and chips there is a daily changing offering of market menu,exceptional which changes every season, plenty season, offers localmenu produce – a fixed fresh fish. Vegetarians are not forgotten, with main of local produce – aplenty fixed of price is available price menu is available at lunch time, from noon courses such as a lovely summer squash risotto with at lunch time, from noon till 3.30pm, and at dinner till 3.30pm, dinner time from£12.95 5.30pmforto crispy sage and pine nuts. A wide variety of wines time from 5.30pmand to at 7.30pm. At only £12.95 for exceptional three courses this are available at an excellent range of prices. The three 7.30pm. courses At thisonly menu offers value menu and offersisexceptional for money and is cocktails are particularly renowned, with a choice of for money well withinvalue a student budget. within aa choice studentofbudget. There is always classic cocktails such as martinis, margaritas and There well is always two starters, two maina choice of two starters, two main courses and mojitos as well as more experimental drinks such courses and two desserts. A typical meal might two cheese desserts. A typical might beroasted goat’s as the Portabello Latte. As well as lunch and dinner be goat’s and walnutmeal mousse with cheese and walnut mousse roasted beetroot Portabello claims to serve “the best breakfast in beetroot followed by pan fried with Scottish salmon followed leeks, by panpeas, fried Scottish salmon with town” and on Saturdays and Sundays from 10.30am with creamed shallots and baby gem andstem babyginger gem to noon they serve delicious traditional English lettucecreamed with anleeks, applepeas, tarte shallots tatin with lettucefor with an apple tarte with stem breakfasts. From swiss style muesli served with ice cream dessert. The À tatin la carte menuginger is ice cream slightly for dessert. À la carte menu is raspberries, strawberries, peaches, natural yoghurt understandably moreThe expensive and would understandably slightly more and Cotswold honey as well as Eggs Florentine, be a great option to celebrate afterexpensive exams orand with would bePortabello a great option to celebrate Buttermilk pancakes and “Steaks and Eggs” – a 6oz your parents. is a grill and the after steakexams is or with your parents.delicious. Portabello is asteaks grill and therefore, unsurprisingly, The arethe rump escalope served with two free-range eggs and steak is therefore, delicious. The hand chipped potatoes. all 100% British and areunsurprisingly, dry-aged on the bone for steaks are all 100% British and are dry-aged on the bone for a minimum of 28 days. The steaks are served with your choice of hand chipped potatoes, which come highly recommended, or fries as 115 www.dominos.co.uk well as roast plum tomatoes. You can choose to dress your steak with traditional sauces such as
quod 92 high st, OX1 4BJ Quod is always in demand, partly due to its backdrop of the colleges on the High Street and the stylish venue but also because the owners have made sure there are a lot of different elements to enjoy. It’s the perfect place for an excellent dinner, a quality set lunch, cocktails at a stylish bar, a lazy breakfast or afternoon tea, live jazz Sunday afternoons on the terrace and they also have a private room with vibrant red walls and collection of contemporary art. With all these different offerings and such a good venue, it’s hard to go wrong with this restaurant. Inside the style is unique with its high ceilings, pillars and light Oxford stone walls offset against large, loud and colourful paintings. The outside is equally special as there are few other places in the city centre where you can sit for a meal on a terrace, surrounded by the colleges. The venue and location of Quod is a big selling point and contributes to the atmosphere inside and outside the restaurant. As there are different menus at different times you can find a range of dishes to choose from. It’s fair to say there is an Italian influence but the menu is in no way limited to Italian food. On the A La Carte menu some of the main options include pork chop with slow roasted fennel and sauce vierge, poached
salmon with crushed new potatoes & pea purée, Roast breast of corn fed chicken with Courgette & saffron risotto, different steak options and a really good hamburger and chips (where you can choose how it is cooked, which is brilliant). There’s a range of pizzas and a great sharing option is the “Pizza Metro”, where you can essentially add the toppings you like, to devour a large pizza as a group. Steak and chips is a popular option on the lunchtime express menu as it’s such good value, but there is also Ravioli with a rich basil pesto and rocket to garnish and Rabbit with bacon, mushrooms and carrots, a light mash and gravy – all choices are tasty and the portions are just right. You can have 2 or 3 courses including great desserts like Eton Mess (tends to sell out quickly) and in the early evening the set lunch is replaced by a pre theatre menu. At a similar price for 2 or 3 courses, this menu rotates every fortnight so keep an eye out when walking past. They also offer specials and you can be sure the high standards will match that of the main menu. The staff are professional and welcoming, for example immediately bringing perfectly warm bread to the table when you sit down. They let you take your time when ordering and pay attention to your needs throughout the meal. This level of service, combined with good food and an unrivalled venue, means that it’s often been a popular place to take parents when they come to visit. Actually, there are a lot of other reasons to enjoy this excellent restaurant that you might not realise at first – so take a closer look.
Shanghai 30s claims to offer ‘the very best authentic Chinese cuisine’, and as far as Oxford is concerned, it certainly does. Everything – from its décor to its dishes – transports guests directly from the heart of this medieval English city to the midst of the Far East. Largely due to its attentive staff and relaxed atmosphere, Shanghai 30s provides a quick and enjoyable escape from the bustle of Oxford’s city centre. Both the wine and food menus are extensive and reasonably priced, with mains averaging around £6.50 for lunch and £7.50 for dinner. The options for starters, mains, and desserts are suitable for both carnivores (including beef, chicken, pork, seafood, and duck dishes) and vegetarians (including tofu and some veggie-only dishes). Meat-eaters absolutely cannot miss the crispy aromatic duck appetizer, which comes with a silky smooth hoi sin sauce and wafer thin pancakes for making shredded-duck wraps. Following this, one of the most impressive (in terms of presentation) and delicious mains is the sizzling beef, which is served on a piping hot skillet and is perfect for sharing with a portion of jasmine rice. For the perfect end to a delectable meal, try a scoop (or two!) of ice cream from a selection of Shanghai 30s distinctive flavours, such as ginger or green tea. The best part of a meal at Shanghai 30s, however, comes at the end, when guests are offered the opportunity
shanghai 30s 82 St. Aldate’s, OX1 1RA to select a fortune cookie from an antique box brought to the table. Located in St. Aldate’s (next door to Alice’s Shop and across the street from the Bate Collection of Musical Instrument), Shanghai 30s is just a short walk from the city centre and an even shorter walk from Christ Church Meadow, offering the perfect location for lunch or dinner followed by a post-meal outdoor stroll. During the week, lunch is served Tuesday through Friday from noon to 2.30pm and dinner is served Monday through Friday from 6.00pm to 11.00pm. At the weekend, Shanghai 30s is open Saturday from noon to 11.00pm and Sunday from noon to 10.30pm. Whether you are just after an enjoyable meal out or you have an unquenchable craving for fantastic Chinese food, Shanghai 30s offers an experience not to be missed.
spice lounge 193 banbury rd, OX2 7AR No journey through the cuisine of the UK can be considered complete without an obligatory stop-off at an Indian restaurant. Indian food is as popular here as fish and chips – if not more so – and you will find Indian restaurants in every town and city across the country, Oxford being no exception. One such place is Spice Lounge, a north-Oxford restaurant specialising in ‘contemporary Indian cuisine’. The restaurant is on the left-hand side of Banbury Road as you enter Summertown from the South, a walk of about 15-20 minutes from central Oxford. The food is excellent, and very varied, serving a number of ‘classic’ Indian dishes alongside many more unusual ones. The starters offer something for everybody, and include a number of excellent vegetarian options. Particularly delicious are Shikampuri (vegetable patties with a fruity centre) and the Tandoori ponir (baked cottage cheese). The restaurant’s papadoms (thin, crisp crackers) are served with a selection of delicious chutneys on a platter.
The choice of main courses on offer is enormous. These include a number of clay-oven dishes, as well as a range of specials, fish dishes and a vegetarian selection. The Pora jeera murg is wonderful (spicy strips of succulent chicken coated in cumin seeds), as is the Sabji jalrezi vegetarian curry. Spice addicts may wish to sample the Madras, a dish originating in southern India, or the hot Keema Bhahar lamb curry. Many of the meat dishes for the main course can be ordered with chicken, lamb or king prawn, according to preference. The mains at Spice Lounge are very reasonably priced (in the range £5.45-£11.45), but you will probably want to order some vegetables and/ or rice with your main, both of which must be ordered separately. Fortunately, there are several special offers, including one that includes a main dish, side dish, rice and naan bread for only £13.95 per person (£11.95 for vegetarians). The Saag aloo (spinach and potatoes) and Gobi bhaji (cauliflower) are excellent. The restaurant also has ten different rice dishes to choose from. Spice Lounge offers an authentic experience of Indian cuisine as it is known and loved in the UK. The waiters are friendly and knowledgeable, able to help customers find the perfect dish... or the spiciest one!
There comes a time in everyone’s life when what they need is a tabloid, a strong coffee and a gorgeous greasy spoon – Tick Tock fits the bill completely, not only because all three of these things are offered generously to you as you arrive, but also because you can know exactly what time it is in your life when you need it thanks to the many many clocks on the walls. On the shallow end of Cowley Road, just off the Magdalen roundabout is where Tick Tock lays its proverbial hat. Bright red, in a classic diner style – Tick Tock offers a wide range of pastries, savoury or sweet and a wide range of paninis and baguettes (£2-£4) served throughout the day, but where Tick Tock truly shines is their hangover-beating breakfasts. From a vegetarian fry up to the ‘olympia’, Tick Tock offers delicious, cheap and cheerful bacon, sausage eggs and beans and a wonderful sociable atmosphere. Tick Tock’s main draw is these breakfasts. All of them coming in around £5, so they aren’t expensive enough to break the bank, but are big and decadent enough for us not to recommend
tick tock 111 walton st, OX2 6AJ
having one every day! Served with a batch of toast and a smile, Tick Tock is the perfect place to think “Oh, my alarm’s not gone off, I’ll be at least 10 minutes late to lecture… may as well take the day off”, to leave the ruthless academic world of central Oxford and sit cozily in Cowley, ignoring your tutor’s emails. Tick Tock is perfect for students living in East Oxford to have a sit down and a chat over some hearty, reasonably priced food – the service is friendly and Tick Tock has everything everyone could possibly want in a breakfast joint, plus loads of clocks. Just a 10 minute, picturesque walk from the centre of town, certainly a greasy spoon to put on your staple list!
2 hayfield rd, OX2 6TT
The North Oxford colleges and Jericho residents are probably the luckiest people in Oxford for having this pub in their neighbourhood! The environment is traditional pub; however, with the classic, Jericho restaurant warmth (they also have ample outdoor seating for sunny days). It is a local favourite attracting students and families alike. The night we dined at The Anchor, a young girl celebrated her birthday with a sparkler glittering atop the decadent hot chocolate and salted caramel fondant (with ice cream on the side!) alongside two graduate students bent over pints of local ales in deep discussion. Across the restaurant a table full of businesspersons chattered happily while an older couple played a card game whist waiting for their food. Alongside the charming atmosphere, the Anchor is best known for their incredibly delicious food. The Good Food Guide 2010 says the Anchor has â€˜the best pub food in Oxfordâ€™ and it is true. Having a nationally renowned chef imagining food combinations and dishes makes every evening dining experience unique and satisfying. The dinner specials for the night we dined there
started with the Anchor rhubarb and ginger Bellini accompanied with deep-fried tiger prawns with sweet chillis and lime dipping sauce, rare beef and rocket salad, poached organic eggs, truffle Caesar dressing, or chicken, chorizo and spring onion terrine with gooseberry chutney and toast, and those are just the appetisers! A fillet of hake with spice coconut lentils and shallot Bhaji and Raita and a mouth-watering, roast poussin with cherry tomatoes, Jersey Royals, pea shoots, and goatâ€™s cheese were the offered mains. If you had room left there was sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce and clotted cream. Yes, those are only the dinner specials! The regular menu, boasting of organic materials and local products when possible, has everything from organic bread, olives, and deepfried buffalo mozzarella (a vegetarian appetiser everyone must try) to shredded crispy duck with bulgur wheat salad, chermoula, cucumber and mint yogurt to bar snacks such as merguez sausages with honey and yogurt dip and treacle tart with ginger cream for dessert. As a pub, the drink selection is hand picked to complement the feel of the pub and your meal. The chef regularly updates the drink and wine list, so new experiences await you each time you visit. All those coming to Oxford, or just exploring the dining range of the city, should venture to this pub and enjoy the gem of Jericho!
the It is impossible not to fall in love with the impressive victorian frontage of The Fishes. This charming pub is nestled in the picturesque village of North Hinksey. So picturesque in fact, it is easy to forget you are only a couple of miles from the city centre and even less distance to the congested ring road! Inside, the pub feels cosy yet spacious, the décor sparse but quirky. Attention to detail has clearly been high on the agenda; each table has fresh flowers and all guests are greeted with a warm welcome at the bar. The menu is bursting with lovingly sourced ingredients, such as Cornish leg of lamb and Welsh Sea Bass. The gastro pub staples of burgers and fish and chips are nowhere to be seen. The main menu is accompanied by a daily changing specials board full of mouth-watering offerings. Starters range between £5-£7.50, while main courses average at around £16. The smoked salmon and caper tian was beautifully presented and was the perfect introduction to the pan fried Cornish mackerel which came with braised fennel and a pearl barley risotto, both of which featured on the specials board. Other main course options include a tempting range
north hinksey village, OX2 0NA of deli boards, chargrilled Aberdeenshire steak accompanied by a large helping of thick hand-cut chips, free range pork sirloin, chilli and lime fishcakes to name but a few. There is also an interesting and varied selection of vegetarian options. The portions are all refreshingly generous. Luckily the Fishes has not succumbed to the never ending fashion for serving exquisitely minute portions with an equally exquisite price tag. If you do have room for dessert, there is plenty on offer to entice. The Eton mess is deliciously sinful, with lashings of cream, chewy meringue and strawberries. The perfect conclusion, all washed down with a very reasonably priced bottle of house Pinot. On top of all this, the Fishes has a huge and beautifully kept garden, with large benches dotted around the shaded lawn. For a more informal bite to eat, picnic hampers are available in summer months. They really do think of everything!
32 marston st, OX4 1JU Just a stone’s throw from the centre of Oxford, The Honey Pot is the perfect place to enjoy great food, prepared by a talented chef and served by a friendly and attentive staff. Just tucked off Park End Street, you could almost miss the humble looking façade, but enter and you are in for a treat. The first thing to strike you is the warm, welcoming atmosphere. The cosy and spacious bar area takes you in, and from the ambience it is clear this is a pub run by a dedicated team of people who care about their customers. A well-chosen, concise menu offers variety to suit all tastes, with great quality at reasonable prices (with most meals are around the £6-£8 mark). The vegetarian dishes are particularly recommended. For example, the chickpea dhansak with a zingy, freshly prepared sauce served with basmati rice and naan bread is a sublime delight, to be enjoyed alongside a refreshing lager or a glass of white wine. The meat dishes are equally good, ranging from
grilled steak to ‘Create your own burger’ with plenty of choice. Lunches and evening meals are served, and snacks are available throughout the day – all at great prices and served with a smile. With a wide selection of drinks from the bar, including a range of homemade cocktails, a fully-stocked wine cellar, beers on tap and the additional selection of ales from the real ale festival they frequently host, there really is something for every taste or occasion. The dessert menu is filled with temptation for the sweet-toothed, with generous portions of delights such as a toffee and vanilla cheesecake, or a sumptuous and generous helping of mouth-watering chocolate cake for those really celebrating. Or if you just need a nice pub to meet friends or host an informal meeting, there are many comfortable seating areas within close proximity to the bar. In good weather, you can slip out into the spacious beer garden and enjoy the sunshine away from the bustle of the city. There is no doubt any visit to this establishment will be a pleasant and welcoming experience.
jam factory the
The Jam Factory has left its industrial origins behind to become a haven of culture and gastronomy. This former home of Frank Cooper’s marmalade has been converted into a light, conservatory-style restaurant and bar, and the wide choice of rare foreign beers and pleasant courtyard outside mean it’s good for a relaxed drink. You might be lucky enough to catch a poetry slam or open mic night: the Jam Factory regularly hosts arts events that showcase local creative talent and the standard is high, although the performers never take themselves too seriously. Still, it’s the food that really makes a visit worthwhile. Each weekday the kitchen serves a different dish of the day for £7 – fish and chips or curry, for example – and you can enjoy brunch at the weekend, while the à la carte menu offers a range of options to suit all palates. The style of cooking here can be termed ‘rustic but refined’: think generous portions and subtle, carefullyhoned flavours. When we were there the service was cheerful and attentive without being smothering. The manager clearly takes pride in his wine list, recommending a quirky South African red for us. The house bottles are great
27 park end st, OX1 1HU too and there are some lovely dessert wines. From the eclectic selection of starters (£5-£7,) ham hock terrine came with impressively spicy piccalilli (made in house), while mackerel rollmops were an appetising combination of sweet and piquant flavours, topped with a duck egg. The goats’ cheese and beetroot cheesecake was also tempting. Interesting vegetarian options can similarly be found amongst the main courses (£11-£18): the garden pea and asparagus risotto was fresh and tasty. Carnivores are well catered for too and a juicy burger, served with deliciously crispy, salty chips, was full of flavour. Desserts (£6-£8) include creative versions of some old favourites. Rhubarb and stem ginger crumble got the balance of sweetness and tartness just right and the soft crumble topping was very moreish. It was also a pleasure to be served a delectable hazelnut crème brûlée that – unlike all others this reviewer has tried in Oxford – had been blowtorched to order. Such fine attention to detail is typical of the Jam Factory.
32 marston st, OX4 1JU
The Oxford Blue is a perfect place to meet some friends and grab an excellent bite to eat, spend a leisurely Sunday perusing the papers whilst dining on their superb Sunday lunch, or if feeling truly decadent then join them for one of their monthly wine tasting menus; a five course meal with each course accompanied by a carefully chosen wine or two. The décor is eclectic and quirky whilst being stylish and relaxed, even the toilets are beautifully and originally decorated. There aren’t many places with such a laid back comfortable ambiance where the food served is at the top end of both the quality and presentation spectrum – fine dining eat your heart out. Food is locally sourced and seasonal and the menu varied, full of dishes with an innovative twist. Bar snacks such as grilled chorizo and spicy fried broad beans and home made pork scratchings tempt your taste buds if you’ve just popped in for a quick drink or if looking for something to share with friends then their Platters, are the ideal, choose from Cheese, Charcuterie or Vegetarian depending on your mood.
Starters of warm scotch quail eggs, with delicious home-made mayonnaise and deep fried sprats again with home-made tartare sauce are a perfect way to start the evening. Possibly followed by the Korean Barbequed Lamb with mash and spring greens, a house specialty or maybe the baked smoked haddock with spinach and poached egg, both equally delicious and expertly and exquisitely flavoured. If you’ve still got room then the desserts are delectable and not to be missed. Food and wine marry together in perfect harmony and if you can’t decide what wine to choose then why not let the menu do it for you, each dish has a wine or beer noted next to it, which has been specially selected to perfectly compliment that dish and all the wines are available by the glass. Prices are incredibly reasonable considering the taste and quality of the food, with the most expensive main course priced at £14.00 at the time of our visit. A Blue is an award earned by a sportsman or woman for competition at the highest level, and if a restaurant could win one then the aptly named Oxford Blue most definitely would.
Located at the end of a short and scenic walk from Jericho, over Port Meadow, the Perch is truly one of the gems of Oxford’s restaurant scene. Heavily inspired by head chef Stephane Pasquier’s early experience in the kitchens of Paris, it serves the best French food in the city, in the picturesque and comfortable setting provided by an old countryside pub building located just within the city limits. Over a pint in the relaxed bar area we struggled to choose our food from a varied menu, which ranges from French standards such as Steak Tartare, through to more adventurous dishes including Tofu Carpaccio, each one more tempting than the last. To start I opted for the relatively safe Chicken Parfait, served with toasted bread and pickles, while my companion opted for the far more adventurous ‘Le Terroir Francais’. The Parfait was delicious as expected, but it was the ‘Terroir’, a trio of crispy, goujon-like, frogs’ legs, foie gras, and garlic snails, which really excited the table. These components were elegant in their simplicity, though the combination is not for the faint hearted. This was followed by the special of the week, a rib eye steak so well cooked that it is a shame it is not a permanent fixture on the menu. Cooked rare, but with a texture which suggested that a lengthy period of hanging,
binsey lane, OX2 0NG
this was one of the best I have had in a long time. The scallops served on puff pastry with a chorizo, tomato, and caper salad were similarly well cooked, something which my experience elsewhere suggests is easier said than done. Although we were both full by this point it did not take much encouragement for me to try the Perch’s crème brûlée, which more than lived up to the restaurant manager’s recommendations, with an impressively thick caramel top and suitably rich custard. A crème brûlée this good is a rare thing and I would strongly recommend it to all. For those who are in need of something lighter by this point in the evening the poached apricots with shortbread, mascarpone, and amaretto make an excellent alternative. The service throughout was excellent, and the staff quick to give helpful advice on both food and drink. The paired wines meanwhile were well chosen and not overly expensive. All in all the Perch is the perfect choice for a luxurious and elegant meal, and is well worth the price tag. This, however, is not a well kept secret and booking is recommended.
14 gloucester st, OX1 2BN
In the year 2012, it’s all about quintessential Britishness. Add to that a dash of Mediterranean inspiration, and you have the perfect pub food of the Red Lion. “Pub food” is actually an unfair description of the outstanding menu on offer at this superb restaurant, located in the transport hub of Gloucester Green. The Red Lion is a gem largely undiscovered by the students who flock to its sister venue, the Trout. Although those just here for a drink might enjoy the garden area, diners will find the interior welcoming, full of light and bustling with people. Incredibly comfy chairs surround clean wooden tables, decorated with fresh flowers. This is a refreshing change from the post-apocalyptic look (metal chairs and dim lighting) favoured by some nearby venues. Live music has been recently introduced on Sunday evenings; soft, folky acoustics which perfectly suit the atmosphere of the restaurant. The staff are attentive, helpful, and knowledgeable about the menu and wine list. The specials menu keeps things fresh and unpredictable by changing regularly – sometimes twice a day!
The Red Lion also accepts bookings, meaning no dispiriting half hour queue for a table. Various sharing platters are available, but you may find the food too good to share! Starters feature a delicious chorizo and potato hash, with poached egg and hollandaise sauce (which can also be ordered in a main-portion size). The shakshouka peppers, spiced with saffron and cumin, turned out to be the waiter’s favourite dish, but are apparently seldom ordered by most diners – a grave injustice! The main courses include pizzas and salads, but overall the menu is unashamedly meatheavy, offering enough to satisfy the most protein-crazed rower. There are also some more marine classics: a mackerel and pea risotto on the specials menu was delicately flavoured. Although the vegetarian options are scarcer, the tomato and butternut cannelloni certainly makes up for it. If you’re still hungry after two hearty courses (or your parents are footing the bill), the dessert menu is definitely worth a look. The white chocolate brûlée is a rare treat; tea is served with the old-fashioned choice of lemon or milk. Prices here are surprisingly reasonable. Most mains range from £8-£13, starters are around £6-£7, and desserts will only set you back little over a fiver. However, what really counts is value for money, in which the Red Lion food is an absolute steal.
Location isn’t everything. Situated down Cranham Street just off Walton Street, the detour into the dilapidated and boardedup housing estates of Jericho can feel like stepping out of your comfort zone, especially for students who are used to the bustling, inner-city restaurant areas. The Rickety Press, however, stands out against this backdrop of suburbia like an upmarket and niche beacon. The exterior is painted in a silver grey and painted in ornate artwork which makes this place hard to miss. The interior lives up to the name. It has a rustic modern appeal, with sturdy tables and bookshelves adorned with classic literature. The restaurant takes a gallant pride in its decor - every attention to detail has been considered, from the candles to the fresh herbs on the tables in old ceramic vases. The food is somewhat pricey at £7 for a starter and in the region of £15 for a main course, but if you’re prepared to splash out then this is definitely the place to do it. The food is exquisite, beautifully presented, and brimming with flavour. The choice on the menu is more than sufficient, with some old favourites like steak but also some
67 cranham st, OX2 6DE
more uncommon dishes. Furthermore the menu changes very regularly - the mark of a good chef! The Rickety Press adroitly finds a happy middle ground between your relatively inexpensive allyou-can-eat gastro-pub and the upmarket end of the restaurant spectrum, where the portions are tiny and look more like artwork than food. The portion sizes are just right, they leave you feeling sumptuously full, but not so completely stuffed that you can’t comprehend dessert or an aperitif. Ideal if you’re on a date and don’t want to appear greedy. The atmosphere is particularly well suited to couples. The tables are not so close that you feel sat on top of one another and can’t have a private conversation but not so distant that you feel isolated. Throw into the mix some mood lighting, candles, and relaxing down tempo music and you have the perfect date. Having said that, it is still definitely a restaurant for all occasions. Whilst the conservatory area is well suited to couples, you could comfortably celebrate a birthday or a particular good collection mark with friends in the main room of the pub.
28 magdalene rd, OX4 1RB The Rusty Bicycle is situated on the corner of an unprepossessing street and though you might accidentally walk by, don’t. If you do you will be missing a rare and wonderful place. It is a proper pub filled with locals, a place where people go for good company and conversation, with the added benefit that it serves really good value, tasty, filling food. The welcome is enhanced by the friendly staff and harlequin style furniture, lovely old wooden tables, surrounded by a variety of different chairs, with prints and cartoons adorning the walls, creating the perfect setting for spending a happy few hours either with friends or a good book. The menu’s themselves are gorgeous and rustic thin slabs of beautiful wood clearly handwritten. There is a good selection of wine and beer as is to be expected of a decent local but it is the food itself, which is the wonderful surprise. Today pubs tend to be either gastro pubs where it’s often impossible to get a good pint and the food is expensive or tiny portions, or locals where you
can get a good pint but the food is mediocre at best. The Rusty Bicycle manages to combine both good beer and fantastic food in impeccable style. The food is delicious, good size portions at good prices; it was no wonder that so many people appeared to come in for a pint and then stop for food. Why on earth wouldn’t you when everything is homemade from the delicious hummus and incredible falafael to the wonderful spiced lamb burger. Fresh ingredients, homemade bread and the best onion rings ever tasted. The vegetarian options are similarly excellent, Grilled Portabello Mushroom and Halloumi burger or Mediterranean Veggie open Khobe Wrap to name only a couple. Dessert certainly didn’t disappoint either as who can resist any one of the numerous flavours of icecream on offer, such as elderflower, rhubarb fool, salted caramel, double chocolate and honeycomb to name but a few served either with or without a homemade chocolate brownie! A comfortable, hospitable and relaxed place, with a definite spirit of community, somewhere which could easily become a favourite local, as it obviously is for many, as its fullness on a Thursday night testifies.
Despite opening less than a year ago, the Turl St. Kitchen has fast become an Oxford institution. The restaurant, which was established by a member of the Oxford Hub team, donates all its profits to this charity who work with Oxford students to transform student social action. But the ethical credentials of the restaurant do not stop here with Turl Street Kitchen placing great emphasis on providing benefit to the community, sourcing food locally and minimising waste. Having said that, Oxford students and residents don’t flock to the Turl Street Kitchen simply because of its values; the restaurant is always busy and the café always packed because of the great quality food offered at very reasonable prices in a lovely setting. The restaurant itself is lovely and light with old wooden benches and tables and at £16 for a three course meal, Turl Street Kitchen offers exceptional value for money. The menu changes on a daily basis, with a great variety of starters and main courses offered every day and vegetarians well catered for. Starters range from fennel and leek soup with freshly baked bread to shredded ham hock with pickled carrots and mustard dressing. The sense of fun at the Turl Street Kitchen is clearly evidenced by their menu; for example with “Steak and Idiot pie”, with the idiot referring, not to the customer for order-
turl st. kitchen 16 turl st, OX1 3DH
ing this delicious meal, but to the ale used which is brewed at the White Horse Brewery in Oxfordshire. There is a wide range of alcoholic drinks on offer, many of which are sourced locally: for example, the Turl Street Stout which is specially brewed by the Cotswold Brewing Company. The restaurant has a lively event schedule with regular events such as Blue Rinse, a clubnight playing music from the 50s to the 00s and serving cocktails in teapots! Turl Street Tales is a really great monthly event hosting local acoustic artists and singer-songwriters in a candle-lit setting. Finally, head upstairs and there’s even more going on. The second floor of the building plays host to the committee meetings of groups such as Oxfam, KEEN, Jacari and Aegis Students and at all times of the day there are Oxford students keen to recruit people to support various causes. Turl St. Kitchen is a great choice not only ethically, but also for a hearty meal in central Oxford.
drink. From cinema house wine bars to a live show in an abandoned Cellar, the places to go when the library doesnâ€™t appeal.
Drink 132 Pubs 140 Bars 146 Clubs 151 Live Music 153 Open Mics
angel & greyhound
cape of good hope
30 st. clements st., OX4 1AB
1 iffley rd., OX4 1EA
Over Magdalen Bridge, just far enough from the centre of Oxford to be out of the hustle and bustle, the Angel and Greyhound is the perfect place for a relaxing pint of real ale. This traditional English pub is proud not to have a television or play music, making it ideal for a quiet chat. With friendly, welcoming smiles all year round, the bar staff are always happy to recommend a refreshing pint. And there’s plenty of room to enjoy your chosen tipple – there are picnic tables out front and a charming patio at the back with beautiful displays of flowers and tables named after the Oxford colleges. Inside there is plenty to enjoy with darts, bar billiards and board games. In the winter there’s an open fire, and in the summer there’s an endless supply of cooling Pimm’s. The Angel and Greyhound serves a varied menu of food, which complements the selection of real ales and ciders. An ideal place for a lazy afternoon in the summer with a refreshing pint and good company.
It is human to make mistakes, however it is even more human to capitalize on the mistakes of others. Many months ago the word got round that the Cape of Good Hope had accidentally ordered four times as much Red Stripe as they meant to, and so it was going for half the price. What commenced was an unofficial three day Red Stripe fest, with every one on Cowley Road dutifully helping out the poor beer-flooded Cape, a fantastic example of community spirit. It is this experience which has qualified me to write this review, as although it wasn’t my first time there, I could describe the rooms with beer-goggled details. Cape of Good Hope is a fantastically friendly pub, sitting proudly on the Magdalen roundabout; it has a heated, spacious beer garden and friendly staff. Serving a wide range of beers from the aforementioned Red Stripe to a range of beers, ales and wine, the Cape is a must for anyone east of Cornmarket.
the cowley retreat
131 high st., OX1 4DH
Hidden away down a small alley off the High Street, Chequers has all the oak beams and real ales that you’d expect from a proper Oxford pub, without any of the tourist hustle and bustle. Chequers has a respectable selection of real ales and ciders, as well as the usual range of lagers and spirits. Being slightly hidden, you’re more likely to get a seat in one of the many burnished sofas, or in the seating area outside. The food is good; it doesn’t try to be anything it’s not, just good traditional pub grub. Chequers has a healthy range of sausages and mash and does a good fish and chips, which goes well with a cool bottle of Aspall Cyder. Not so hungry as to manage a whole meal? Then why not try one of their snacks, such as the mini Toad in the Hole platter? The hidden location ensures that the clientele is mainly made up of students and locals out for a quiet pint. Music levels are low enough for conversation, which makes this a good pub to attend with friends or to have lunch with the family.
172 cowley rd, OX4 1UE
Up until just a few months ago, on the place where The Cowley Retreat now rests lay a pub called the Hobgoblin. The Hobgoblin was cheap, on the wrong side of cheerful and basically a warehouse with a wooden finish. Now, rising from the Hobgoblin’s ashes is a pub to take us into the 21st Century, the Cowley Retreat, a textbook example of a gastro-pub: bouncers on the door, middle class lagers on the taps and furniture you could fall asleep in. Its position on Cowley Road makes it an obvious choice for a quick few before a gig at the O2 (when The Library’s full), or as ‘the local’ if you take the route of living on Cowley Road in 2nd Year and find ‘The Corridor’ too bright (one of Oxford’s many misnomers). Beware – as inevitable as the tides, The Cowley Retreat will probably begin serving food and may saw off the final few ale taps but it’s a nice place to go for a drink and a chat, maybe watch the football or just retreat from reality.
far from the fir tree madding crowd 163 iffley rd, OX4 1EJ 12 friar’s entry, OX1 2BY
Check the listings before heading out for an evening at FFTMC; depending on what’s on at the Playhouse and/or Burton Taylor, it may be heaving with air-kissing thesps in high spirits after their latest performance. If this idea fills you with fear, pop in for a pub lunch during the day instead, when the atmosphere’s ideal for a quiet chat. The pub food is variable – fish and chips are disappointing, but the burgers are large and tasty and the vegetarian sausages are a surprise winner (as long as you like cheese). The pub’s real strength is real ale, with six different guest ales on tap at any time and staff happy to let you sample them (at the quarterly ale festivals this can go up to about twenty). There’s also a decent range of bottled Wychwood beer and Thatchers cider, the favourite being the deceptively strong Katy. On Sunday nights in term time the Madding offers a pub quiz, which is free to enter with home-made curry on offer for £3. Despite the same people seeming to win every week, either the quiz or the curry is extremely popular, with some teams reduced to sitting on the floor – get there early for a seat.
I love the Fir Tree. Without a doubt this is one of Oxford’s best pubs. Sadly it’s a bit of a walk down the Iffley Road, but the journey from town is worth it for pizza night. If you live in OX4, you have no excuse. The staff are friendly and quickly get to know their regulars, which include locals, students and a few slightly crazy barflies. The décor is great – it feels like a long-established pub that values its customers and the quality of its beer over spotlights and stainless steel. Drink prices are average for Oxford, and there’s a great selection of beer, wine, ales and cider. There’s something in the ambience in the Fir Tree that makes it feel like a real pub. So many in Oxford have the tourist-trap feel to them, or are rather student-unfriendly. Here, you can pull up a chair (made out of a barrel), have a quiet pint and a chat with your mates whilst enjoying the music playing out of the best jukebox in the city without having to shout over it. Open mic nights and a pub quiz punctuate the week with busier nights, but even on the quieter evenings, there’s always light entertainment from the local characters.
21 friar’s entry, OX1 2BY
17 st. clements, OX4 1AB
A previous edition of The Oxford Handbook described the Gloc as ‘pant-wettingly frightening’, but this may be a little extreme. Since its 2008 makeover, the blood-red walls have been painted white, Thai food has replaced microwave stodge and the staff will no longer threaten to piss in your cider. That said, you’ll still feel a lot more at home if you’re pierced, tattooed or wearing a leather jacket. If you like to listen to thrash metal at lunchtime, you’ve found the perfect place. It’s also cheap, particularly on Sundays when most drinks are £2 and the easy and generous weekly quiz takes place. Meanwhile, for snakebite-fuelled fun on Mondays, you can’t beat Heavy Metal karaoke. Expect a lot of banter from the regulars and an earsplitting rendition of ‘Whiskey in the Jar’. While it’s fairly quiet during the week (even if the music isn’t) the party atmosphere at the weekend makes it hard to find a seat. It’s not for everyone, but it has plenty of devotees, and even non-headbangers will leave with trousers dry and all four limbs intact – unless you decide to sing Good Charlotte.
The Half Moon should be legendary among students for its quirky live music and long opening hours, yet few bother to venture over Magdalen Bridge to find it nestled unassumingly on St Clement’s street. This is a shame, as the Half Moon is a proper little Irish bar where the prices are low, the people are friendly and the whiskeys are well stocked. The only downside is the scarce seating, as the small venue is often packed out. But turn up in time to grab a seat and you’ll be rewarded with some of the most cushiony soft sofas your behind could find in Oxford. Closing times are a hazy issue; I don’t think I’ve ever heard last order called. This isn’t because I have restricted my drinking hours to afternoons, but because serving often goes on into the early hours of the morning. The pub boasts a good scheduled programme of folk artists as well as the occasional jazz ensemble. But even when there’s nothing planned, punters take it upon themselves to provide impromptu entertainment. You will no doubt end up drinking your Guinness to the sounds of a man happily strumming away in the corner, or two guys playing jigs on the fiddle. Few pubs have as much character as the Half Moon and it is highly recommended.
jude the obscure the king’s arms 54 walton st, OX2 6AE
40 hollywell st, OX1 3SP
Having recently undergone a change of ownership into the hands of the Greene King chain, Jude the Obscure exhibits some signs, from a cursory glance, of a Wetherspoons-style makeover. Food advertisements are prominent – and £8.45 doesn’t seem too bad for a home-cooked roast – but this emphasis on traditional, if identikit, pub dishes is not an uncomfortable match with Jude’s long-standing focus on real ales. There is a wide selection, including guest ales, as well as the range of beers that one would expect. Although tucked away behind St Giles, the pub is easily accessible, its Walton Street location just off the hip Little Clarendon Street. Don’t be put off by its proximity to the infamously rowdy Jamal’s curry-house across the road, because Jude the Obscure generally has quiet clientele and a relaxing atmosphere. Armchairs inside provide coveted and comfortable views of the TVs, while perhaps the pub’s greatest asset is its back garden, a popular destination when its Jericho locale enjoys sunny weather. This is a pub which attempts to attract the very different crowds of ale enthusiasts and pub food lovers, but doesn’t do too badly on either count; Jude the Obscure is for more than just the hardy.
With its prime location, just on the corner of Broad Street and facing the Bodleian and Sheldonian, The King’s Arms is an ideal spot to have lunch or enjoy a pint, whether you’re just coming back from town, waiting for a concert or about to set off for the library. It’s open late on Sunday evenings – useful when everywhere else is closed and you desperately need a pint – and there’s always a gaggle of people spilling out onto Parks Road, laughing and chatting when the rest of Oxford is quiet. Being such an Oxfordy place, it seems only logical that the drinks are Oxford-price, and so is the food, but the service is quick and the English pub food is consistently good. They do great pies and sausages alongside good, fat, chunky chips. Service is friendly and the KA’s spacious interior oozes tourist-Oxford atmosphere, with plenty of cosy nooks to sit in as well as big tables. Avoid on rugby team nights and end of finals unless you are in fact a sozzled rugby player or just-finishing student.
rose & crown
82 Sst. clements, OX4 1AW
14 north parade Ave, OX2 6LX
The Port Mahon in St.Clements, is a welcoming and delightfully quirky Victorian split level pub. It has a well earned reputation for hosting some of the best bands from Oxford and beyond. The upstairs music room is cramped, dark and sweaty – everything you want from a small venue! However, those looking for a relaxing drink, rather than a mosh pit, can opt for one of two drinking areas; upstairs the cosy upper ‘green bar’ has a charmingly old fashioned atmosphere with nautical memorabilia adorning the walls, flickering candles perched on top of whiskey bottles, and a large working fireplace; downstairs the ‘red bar’ is dimly lit, minimal and just needs a cocktail menu to complete the late night vibe! (Oh, and The Port has a late license so no dreaded bell ringing on a Friday night at 10.55pm!) For summertime imbibing there is also a large beer garden as well as benches in front of the pub. The Port has many strings to it’s bow, including a well deserved reputation for exceptional food. The menu is chalked onto large blackboards and, unlike many pubs, changes daily. The burgers are legendary and the Sunday roasts are renowned for being the best in the area.
Up in north Oxford on the small, fairy-lit street of North Parade, this pub consists of a few cosy rooms inside around a central bar. The larger heated beer garden is hung with grape vines over the benches and makes a great setting for a summer drink. There is also a ‘cottage’ at the bottom of the garden where a large table for about 10 is set up between a fireplace, old piano and several freezers and space heaters that seem to have accumulated over the years. The pub is definitely on the expensive side at £3.50 for some of its ales but they are kept well and the range of whiskies is one of the best in the city – apart from, I am told, St Cross college bar. The food is also good, with big portions of mostly English food, like the pint of sausages, steaks and Sunday roasts. There are frequent lock-ins past the normal last entry time of around 11, where you can keep drinking until whenever the landlord gets tired. If you look under 30 you’ll probably hear him shout ‘enjoy the discotheque’ as you leave.
royal blenheim turf tavern 13 st. ebbes, OX1 1PT
4 hollywell st,
A fairly quiet pub by the back of the Westgate shopping centre, it has undergone a change of management in the past few years and has become a White Horse breweries pub. Fortunately this has given it a few overdue licks of paint and (as few people have yet discovered) a new drinks selection that includes around 10 ales on tap, split between white horse ales and 3-4 guest ales. The selection is probably only equalled by the Turf and the Kings Arms in town, making this place great for times when you don’t want to compete for standing room or freezing beer garden tables with what seems like every tourist and student in Oxford. And while it is not hidden down an alley and doesn’t date from before people moved out of caves, as many of the pubs here claim, from £2.30 a pint it wins hands down on price. There is also a good range of bottled Belgian beers and draught lagers, and food (including vegetarian) is served from 12 until 7.
Finding The Turf Tavern for the first time is tricky, but once you’ve ventured down the back alley off New College Lane, you’ll discover the inviting atmosphere that typifies one of the most loved pubs in Oxford. When at The Turf it’s easy to forget you’re only minutes from the Radcliffe Camera (outside term time at least, when it isn’t crawling with students). Although the pub itself consists of just a couple of small higgledy-piggledy rooms, it has two heated beer gardens which can accommodate scores of drinkers. This makes The Turf a favourite for group gatherings: it’s particularly crammed after graduation, and generally busy throughout the whole of the summer Trinity Term. Throughout the year they have many interesting events, from Real Ale festivals to quiz nights, and in the winter one of the beer gardens has cast iron charcoal grates to keep you warm; you can even buy marshmallows at the bar to toast, as well as a warming glass of steaming mulled wine.
Spending an evening in the Victoria pub, Walton St, feels a bit like being invited to a house party in the living room of a small stately home. With a fireplace in one corner, candlelit tables and wood-panelled walls, the Victoria is a piece of classic Oxford. Settle into one of the leather armchairs downstairs and sample the wines, spirits, lagers and ales available from the carefully restored antique bar. Cocktails are popular here as well, from the exotic-sounding Dark and Stormy, to the very British Pimm’s with fresh fruit and lemonade: Victoria herself would approve. She’d probably approve of the traditional pub food on offer too, consisting largely of pies made by a local family firm in Thame. Try the rich and flavoursome ‘steak and mature cheddar’ or the creamy, if rather sweet, ‘chicken, cranberry and brie’. The pastry is impressively light and fluffy, and pie with chips and salad comes in at a very reasonable £6.95. Portions might be a little small for some, but that’s a good excuse to sample clotted cream ice cream with strawberries or blackcurrants. Like all good house parties, the Victoria also has plenty of nooks and crannies to escape to. The extensive rear garden comes with a heated area under cover, just in case the weather decides to be a bit too British.
Broad Street contains some of the most famous buildings in Oxford, such as the Bodleian Library, the Clarendon building and the Sheldonian Theatre. But directly opposite the latter lies this tiny pub which is also most definitely worth a visit and which has a little claim to fame itself. It has, for example, featured in many tv-shows and films such as Oxford Murders (with Elijah Wood and John Hurt). There are also rumours about a witch’s broom being found in the kitchen after a serious fire. The broom was boarded up and it supposedly remains there until this day! And perhaps most importantly, it is very popular in Oxford for its delicious fish and chips! It was also chosen as Pub of the year in 2009 by the BBC, and one can understand why. This teeny tiny store that is sandwiched in between two large Blackwell’s is seeping with history and character and although it is bang in the centre of town, it is the perfect little hide-away. Although perhaps not if you are trying to escape your tutors; the White Horse has always been a popular watering hole for the academics of Oxford, meaning that you can usually overhear people chatting away about some new scientific breakthrough or other.
90 walton st, OX2 6EB
52 broad st, OX1 3BB
all bar one
All Bar One is located on the High Street and offers stylish surroundings for anything from a quiet drink to dinner with friends. Drinks prices on the whole are a little higher than many of Oxford’s other drinking spots, and thus the student crowd can be a little bit smaller. This isn’t always a bad thing, and if you’re looking for somewhere a bit more sophisticated and a little less ‘drinking hole’ then it may well be worth dropping into All Bar One. There is a good cocktail menu with unusual twists on some old favourites (Raspberri & Lychee Martinis and Coconut Daiquiris) which are all £5.75, and a smaller range of ‘Softails’ at £2.45 each (£9 a pitcher). The wine list is extensive and prices start at around £3 a glass for the house wines, and there is a wide range of beers and ciders on offer, although lovers of English ales might be a little disappointed by the distinctly continental feel of the bar menu. Another thing to bear in mind is that All Bar One’s drinks’ menu varies seasonally; at the time of writing Pimm’s, sangria and rum punch were welcome summer additions to the menu but the menu is about to shift towards more festive drinks.
There are two reasons to move to Cowley Road. The first is that you feel like central Oxford is harshing your buzz, man, and you need to be with the artists, the movers and shakers in middle class folk music and you want to buy something from the independent supermarket before it either goes bust or gets featured in the Guardian, and the second reason is that your college doesn’t offer you accommodation for all years and one or more of your friends believes the reason stated above. Between these comfortably sits Café Tarifa. Part of the impeccable independent bar triumvirate including also Kazbar and Café Coco, Café Tarifa is a glorious tribute to beanbags, young people and cocktails – also offering Shisha and Film Nights. It’s said to be based on beach bars in southern Spain, ‘part beach, part Fez and part cave’ – a great place for sunny nights to pretend you’re cool enough to be there. For the nights that the pub won’t do for the artist in your group and the rugby lad doesn’t fancy a campfire – Café Tarifa will be there to serve you a beer or a bloody mary. Just try to pretend you belong.
124 high st, OX1 4DF
56 cowley rd, OX4 1JB
duke of cambridge
5 little clarendon st, OX1 2HP
119 walton st, OX2 6AH
The Duke of Cambridge is halfway along Little Clarendon Street in one of the nicest parts of town. The inside has modernist décor, a long bar and an equally long list of cocktails. The place attracts young professionals from trendy Jericho, as well as a fair share of students. Cocktails are nominally £6.50, but the Duke is all about the daily half price happy hours, from five until eight thirty, seven thirty on Fridays and Saturdays. The timing is convenient for a civilised start to the evening before the haze sets in and the surroundings stop mattering. When the bell goes, punters either decamp to a cheaper establishment or resign themselves to full price cocktails. The drinks are good and prepared with passion, and the range is enough to titillate anyone bored of their standard pint. As well as the usual favourites, try some of their contemporary creations: the Ginger Tom is an excellent autumn cocktail, while Stimulant does what it says on the tin. With so much to try, I am sure you will soon find a plethora of new favourites.
You can’t miss Freud. Its imposing façade on Walton Street is instantly recognisable as Greek revival (18th century). The only mistake you’re likely to make is thinking it’s a church rather than one of the most unique cocktail bars and restaurants in town. Its original wood floors and decaying walls are complemented by understated furnishings, giving Freud an honest feel that other shiny, chrome-accented bars lack. Although it’s usually frequented by discerning night owls looking for a proper tipple, try going earlier in the evening before the sun sets for a truly arresting view of the stained glass windows. The bar at Freud is a testament to good drink. A lone bottle of Apple Sourz sits ashamedly in the shadows of Mozart chocolate liqueurs and Makers Mark. The wine list is admittedly short, but thoughtfully selected, satisfying even the pickiest of wine drinkers. Freud could easily be another tragically trendy cocktail bar in Jericho, but it isn’t. The friendliness and humility of the staff are a credit to the establishment. Be prepared to leave pretension at the door.
Donâ€™t leave home without it
NUS extra discount card
the essential student card
can you afford not to?
84 high st, OX1 4BG
68 cowley R=rd, OX4 1JB
According to Samuel Pepys, The Grand Café served the first coffee ‘in Christendom’. The year was 1650. Today’s venue is an elegant cafécome-cocktail bar with more than a suggestion of quality and decadence. This decadence is encapsulated by its ambitious architectural style: the exterior is an ornate neo-classical façade, complete with Corinthian columns, and the interior comes with chandeliers and arching ferns. By night, the Grand is a suave cocktail bar, and a popular drinking spot. The array of cocktails is impressive, the performance involved in the manufacture of your beverage is a substantial element of the purchase, and the special guest cocktails vary sufficiently to ensure that something will appeal to your tastes. The odd happy hour (it runs from 7.30 to 11pm) means that while the food prices might put off anyone fond of their bank balance, the half price cocktails (just £3.50) make a much more affordable extravagance.
It’s past midnight, the plentitude of pubs are shutting up and locking their doors, but you’re not quite ready to go home. Oxford has its fair share of nightclubs, except you’d rather relax; talk with your friends, somewhere unruffled with good music and atmosphere. There are not many places that open in the early hours and fit this description. However, if you venture a short distance up Cowely Rd. you’re in luck, because at No. 70 you’ll find a tiny bit of the Caribbean: Hi Lo, The Jamaican Eating House. As the name suggests, Hi Lo is a restaurant where you can find jerk chicken and spicy patties, as well as vegan dishes and fried plantain. But to get the best Hi Lo experience, you need to arrive a little later: at midnight, behind the unassuming façade, sipping mango and rum, red stripe and ting, you can sit and chat by candlelight till the sun rises. To the sound-drop of soul and reggae beats, the proprietor and his wife watch over the late night hubbub with pleasure and pride. Hi Lo is nothing if not full of character – not many places exist that can claim to have entertained Radiohead and David Cameron alike; it’s Hi-time you add your name to the list too.
House is perhaps the best place to go in central Oxford for cocktails. Run by the same people as the Duke of Cambridge (also definitely to be visited) but rarely as packed, it’s the kind of place you can go in your gladrags, rock up to the bar and chat with the bartenders, who are always pleased to give recommendations based on personal tastes and preferences. Apparently they do snacks and nibbles, though I’ve always gone straight for the main course – the cocktails. Most are priced at £6.50, but are well worth it for the quality of the ingredients, the atmosphere of the place and the time, energy and flourish put into every one by the knowledgeable and experienced staff. For gin-lovers there’s the Hedgerow Sling (sloe gin, lemon juice, crème de mûre soda and fresh berries), for something sweet and creamy but not sickly try the Fruit and Nut (Frangelico and Chambord with cream) and for almost any occasion (in my opinion) the peach Bellini. The surroundings are sophisticated and elegant but not stuffy, with round tables and curvy upholstered benches. The upstairs games room is sometimes open, with a decent pool table and lots of board games. Happy hours (£3.50 cocktails) are 5-9pm during the week and 5-8pm on Friday and Saturday.
Milano’s is a little-known gem on the Cowley Road. The same site has been occupied by bars for years but has gone through at least three incarnations during the time it takes to do a bachelors degree. Fortunately it seems to have settled down on being a ‘bar café tapas’. A fine selection of drinks is complemented by a small selection of pretty good tapas and pizzas and pasta dishes, which are reported to be authentic and tasty. The reason to go to Milano’s is not for the food; not that the food’s bad, but Cowley Road has better pasta, more authentic pizza and a far superior selection of tapas all within a minute’s walk. The reason to go to Milano’s is that the drinks on offer are a great price and the place itself is a pleasure to be in. Large windows and roomy tables ensure that evenings in this bar, situated on a corner of a residential street, will be pleasant. Couple that with the fact that it’s never too full like bars in the city centre or the music too loud to talk, as you’ll find further towards Cowley. Sadly Milano’s isn’t quite on the student radar – perhaps because of its recent identity crisis, but couple that with awesome drinks and a light and enjoyable atmosphere and it can be your ‘great little place in Oxford’.
blue boar st, OX1 4EE
92 cowley rd, OX4 1JE
32 walton st, OX2 6AA
36 Park end st, OX1 1JD
Raoul’s is a cocktail bar for people who really care about cocktails. Their menu the most extensive I’ve seen, but the quirk is that it doesn’t contain any cocktail you’re used to drinking. If you want a cosmo or mojito just ask (as any cocktail maker worth their salt should have the recipe internalised.) The staff really have a passion for what they do and they’re always happy to talk you through the menu, keen to make you something you’ll really enjoy. Short or long? Fruity? Creamy? They’ll have something in mind. I love the taste of grapefruit so I was recommended a giggle juice. It was artfully presented and carefully made using their own homemade syrups (they don’t use commercial factory-produced ones) and an imported soda from a fresh can (apparently a soda gun just isn’t good enough). I love cocktails so Raoul’s was a sort of pilgrimage for me – it’s won so many national awards I’d heard of it before coming up, but for those of you that are just looking to get wasted perhaps Raoul’s is not the place. Certainly the menu blurbs come across as a little holier-than-thou. However, with so many bars in the area one must distinguish oneself. If you want a truly good cocktail, you must visit.
At some point during our time at Oxford, we all need to blow off steam. Be your preference trendy wine bar or lush cocktails, there are worse destinations than Park End Street and for a little of everything you should try Kiss Bar. You may be heading out to celebrate results or just getting that tough assignment in – Kiss Bar covers all. Nestled next to the looming frontage of Lava Ignite, you are forgiven for sometimes missing the neon sign that signals this intimate night spot. Kiss Bar has been sat in the same spot for as long as memory serves, but somewhat recently underwent a bit of a refurbishment. There are wooden floors and the décor is fashionable, with the odd mirror ball and big comfy leather sofas. It’s enough to give just the right air of exclusivity. As you enter there’s always a friendly welcome from the staff, who are always more than happy to serve you a bottle of beer or a well prepared cocktail before you warm up for the rest of the evening with a shimmy on the mirrored dance floor. A perfect first drinks bar – careful you don’t end up staying though.
3 king edward st, OX1 4HS In a sea of terrible Oxford clubbing venues, Baby Love stands out as something a bit different. Although it is tiny and the admissions prices for club nights are extortionate, if you’re after a bit more atmosphere than reluctant crew dates ending in Park End, and some genuinely funky music, Baby Love is the place for you. The drinks menu is extensive and tasty, though the prices are representative of Oxford (i.e. don’t expect to buy more than one or two on a night out). Most importantly, this bar with its ‘intimate’ (read: minuscule) dance floor, replete with pole podium, plays host to some of the best DJs in Oxford, with a particular nod to the Action Stations! club night, playing the best of dancehall, ska, reggae and funk. The crowd is suitably eclectic, as the bar hosts everything from gay nights to indie raves, with the odd college bop thrown into the mix. Although the venue boasts two bars, one upstairs and one down, the fact that the place is nearly always packed out means that you might have to wait a while to be served, but the great music and friendly crowd means that you’ll never mind too much.
6 hythe bridge St, OX1 2EW Admittedly, the Bridge is Oxford’s most popular student club. It isn’t as classy as it pretends to be, but students usually manage to have a good time there, especially post exams. It’s got a reputation for being the best of the worst. If locals ever deign to go to a notorious student club, it’s usually The Bridge, and with good reason. The Bridge is dependable. Most nights feature the resident DJs, so people keep coming back for more of what they like. It’s not too big, not too small, and with the three different rooms you’re sure to find something you can tap a toe to. Hip-hop and R&B usually reside on the lower floor, while dance and house play to the popular upper floor. The Lounge bar features soul and funk, less popular, but way better. Prices are average, there’s always a cover charge, but the drink deals aren’t bad on the student nights. A favourite of many Oxford clubs and societies, it’s sure to be one of yours too. The best student nights are on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with international student night on Wednesdays.
VARSITY club 9a High St, Oxford
Oxfordâ€™s New Cocktail Bar & Club
Like us at facebook.com/thevarsitycluboxford for more offers and information on all our future events.
Happy hour 6pm til 9pm; Monday to Friday. Available for private bookings, email email@example.com for more info Find us on Facebook
park end st, OX1 1JD
27 park end st, OX1 1HU
For a Wednesday night, head to Lava/Ignite. Formerly Park End, the club never really lost the name. So if someone asks directions or suggests you head to Park End, you won’t be lost, wandering about looking confused. Optimists see the manyfloored venue as three clubs for the price of one; others see it as a nasty cocktail of cheesy music and drunken sports teams. The Oxford Uni student night offers up different DJs playing cheese, chart, dance, trance, rap and hip-hop. There’s good drinks deals and sometimes two-for-one cocktails, though you might just want to pay full price for one if it makes the drink better. The décor, lights and sound are marginally better than The Bridge, but only come here if the music you’re after is electro and cheese rather than hip-hop and funk. With four bars, the queues in Lava are usually manageable, especially if you’re sober enough to stumble between them. With a capacity of 1200, the club can look empty on slow nights, but stick to the Wednesdays and it’ll be a good, crowded time.
If you have to go somewhere on Park End, let it be Plush. Now Oxford’s only LGBT club, others have nights, but Plush does it right all the week through. Like every other club in Oxford, DJs vary for quality, but the addition of dancers, MCs and other acts mean you’ll never have to put up with it for long if you get a stinker (neither will the management). Famously the after party venue of Wadham’s annual Queer Fest, Plush does two things very well: costumes and lights. As a newer venue, nothing feels dated or cheesy, and when it does, it’s all part of the fun. The best thing about this club, though, is the people in it. From the bar staff to the management and all the people dancing around you, the vibe is as if to say, ‘We know you look hilarious dancing in those shoes, and we’re going to laugh about the Facebook pictures tomorrow, but oh, we’ll love you for it.’ And they do. And you love them right back.
frewin court, OX1 3JB
3 hythe bridge st, OX1 2EW
For a Union bar, this joint sure does get a lot of locals in it. There’s rarely a cover charge, you can show up in a t-shirt or a ball gown, and DJs spin guilty pleasures all night. The cavernous venue can be a bit of an issue for the vertically gifted, so just don’t wear heels if you’re over 5’8”. Tuesdays and Fridays usually have a request-based theme, with live bands earlier in the evening on the Friday only. Wednesday is a bit of an emo and metal night, though it’s not entirely clear how those two things fit together. Thursday’s your basic indie night, add a dash of drum and bass and that’s your eclectic Friday sorted. It’s all variations on a theme, so your best bet is to just show up ready for anything. The rock-bottom prices don’t hurt either.
Hot wings, beer, sport and dancing. Somehow it’s a combination that works. A relative newcomer on the scene with its partner, The Glee Club, both establishments already feel at home on Hythe Bridge Street. Although it can feel a bit empty at times, go with a group and you’ll soon fill the place up. (It is, after all, a favourite of the post-prescom crowd.) Or you could just use their severely discounted drinks menu to pregame The Bridge. It’s your choice, but one that comes with hot wings. Mondays are a straightup pre-game night, while Tuesdays will soon be home to an open mic. Thursdays claim to be the only rock and metal in Oxford, but between the Glock and the Cellar that feels difficult to believe. A true metal head, though, will certainly need the flexibility of multiple nights, so fair play. Wahoo is also the host of Industry Night, which sees all the bartenders and waiters of Oxford flashing their payslips for deep drinks discounts.
the bullingdon arms
162 cowley rd, OX4 1UE
You could easily walk past The Bullingdon Arms pub, and it is small, but with a decently-sized black box room at the back. Rumoured to have been the original home of The Bullingdon Club (unlikely), it now caters almost exclusively to locals in the holidays and Brookes students during term-time. It tends to be poorly attended by Oxford students thanks to the location, but it’s a good place to catch some pretty well-known Indie bands in an intimate venue. DubPolitics puts on some wildly popular nights here, but the true gem is Tuesday Jazz. Entry is free and the live bands are followed by the best soul and funk DJs. If you’re up for a real adventure, though, try getting down for one of the Famous Monday Blues nights or wait for a good reggae gig to come along. With bigger venues popping up like daisies on the Cowley Road, the Bully hasn’t changed in a long time, and it’s one of the few venues left which still feels like East Oxford.
frewin court, OX1 3JB On the smaller scale of things, the Cellar, off Cornmarket Street, is a familiar haunt to any Indie barflies or drum ‘n’ bass heads. The Indie Music Society hosts regular gigs and club nights there for student bands, and there is a range of club nights of different genres. It’s a spot for more urban styles as well. As a small club next to the Union, it hosts electro, drum and bass, dubstep, dancehall and reggae nights. It’s hard to go wrong. Skylarkin’ Soundsystem is an Oxford institution playing ska and reggae. There’s also YOOF, Bossaphonik and Wordplay, putting on various drum n bass and dubstep nights. On the opposite side of the spectrum is Focal (folk and local bands, get it?) and The Big Ten-Inch, featuring motown and good old rock and roll. There’s even a goth and industrial night. Seriously, you’re spoilt for choice. It can be a bit grimy and the pints may be a bit dirty, but it’s all part of going to a proper gig. And with the low entry prices and offers on drinks most nights, you’ve got no excuse.
jericho tavern o2 academy 56 walton st, OX2 6AE
190 cowley rd, OX4 1UE
Having previously been a Scream pub (á la City Arms) the Jericho Tavern has gone all upmarket in recent years, and can feel more like a wine bar than a pub at times. Painted black on the outside and much of the inside, with posh menus (beef, mascarpone and chianti lasagne) written in cutesy handwriting on the walls, it tends to attract young professionals more than students, although that may just be the location. That said, it is still a good place for a chilled-out drink, and they have a particularly good range of continental lagers, including the strawberry-flavoured Fruli. There’s also board games, a book exchange and a patio garden if you prefer to sit outside. The Jericho’s best-known feature is the music room upstairs, attracting a high calibre of live acts. The sound system is excellent, although due to the different floor levels in the venue the view isn’t; if you’re at the back you may find yourself staring instead at the murals celebrating Radiohead and Supergrass’ debut gigs here. The Tavern’s history goes back further than Britpop, though – indeed it claims to be so old that the whole Jericho area is named after the pub rather than the other way around.
What is now the O2 Academy has been the undoubted home of live music in Oxford for years. Once known as the Zodiac, a famed independent venue, it’s played host to numerous legendary bands including R.Et.M., the Arctic Monkeys and Rage Against the Machine. The venue was the location of the video of Radiohead’s Creep and over the years it managed to attract an eclectic mix of bands on their way up. Its capacity of 1,350 means this is the place to go in Oxford for anything really big. The Academy operates nationwide, which means that artists on the Academy circuit will invariably stop off in Oxford the day after a performance in Bristol and the day before a performance in London. And the individual initiative of club night operators secures headliners for special nights: some of Oxford’s home-grown brands have flourished because they attracted some high-quality artists to a city full of students. The O2 Academy also plays host to indie club Propaganda, the alt rock Room 101, and glam fest Trashy (another one of those Oxford institutions I keep talking about). The best thing is they’re all on Saturday – three rooms, one ticket. Sweet deal.
Oxford has a vibrant, original and home-grown open mic scene. It is astonishing how much talent there is in this small city – and you can see it all, mostly for free, on an open mic night. If you’re here for a long time, and interested in performing or getting to know local musical acts, it’s worth having a look round the different open mic venues to get a sense of their differences in character and audience – you will be sure to find one that appeals to you. The audience that open mic nights attracts is refreshingly eclectic: students and residents, young and old, and all the different shades of what can be labelled ‘artistic’. The audience tends to be very inclusive and supportive as well – as you’d have to be, to encourage people to perform in front of a group of strangers. The Catweazle Club in the East Oxford Community Centre, off the Cowley Road, meets on Thursdays (performers’ entry at 7pm, main show kicks off at 8pm). The atmosphere is incredible; velvet curtains bearing ‘Catweazle Club’ lettering are draped above the main stage, with the personable and warm MCing of Matt Sage. The crowd is welcoming and inclusive, and you immediately feel at home,
sat on rugs and cushions a few feet away from the performers. A huge range of talented bands and solo artists perform here, from heavy rock to violinbacked folk song. Their fame has spread outside of Oxford – they have been featured in a Radio 4 programme showcasing the talent they attract. There is now a Catweazle Club in London, Brighton and New York, but you saw it here first. This is an evening not to be missed. Then there are the pubs’ open mic nights, each with a different vibe. Far From the Madding Crowd, off Magdalen Street, features local comedians and musicians in their Monday evening ‘Talented Mondays’ open mic. The Port Mahon, on St Clements, hosts a Tuesday open mic and for the instrument players, there’s the Phat Jam session at the Cellar, off Cornmarket Street. The Cellar is a diverse venue for those who like their club nights with music, rather than sweaty noise. And this, so far, only takes us to half the week; Oxford has so much more on offer for open mics and instrumental jams. Check out www.dailyinfo.co.uk, under ‘gigs’, for more information.
direc tory. some useful names and numbers...
www.dailyinfo.co.uk ‘Your one-stop guide to Oxford Life’ is a staple to any Oxonian’s bookmarks bar, an unpolished snapshot of what’s on in Oxford.
01865 270270 Nightline is a listening, emotional support and information service, run by students for students.
Oxford University Student Union (OUSU)
When the urge takes you to hit the big smoke, The Oxford Tube can get you into London within 2 hours from Oxford Bus Station to Victoria Station, at any time of day any day of the week. With a reduced price for students (£13 next day return) and free Wi-Fi for the length of your journey, travelling to see a gig or visit a museum doesn’t have to be a pain. The other bus service is the X90 and both run very frequently throughout the day. If you’re more organised and not planning to travel at 3am, train services run throughout the day to Paddington, and fares can be as low as £3.30 for an advance single with a 16-25 Railcard.
Park + Ride
www.ousu.org 01865 288452 We offer advice, support and training to students.
07714 445050 A volunteer service offering low-cost, safe transport to vulnerable people throughout the night.
01865 252200 Here to make visits to the area as easy and fruitful as possible, with info on hotel bookings and attractions.
University Security Service
01865 272944 A point of call for anything crime related, not for use in emergencies.
It may have already struck you that driving through Central Oxford is an absolute nightmare. Between the confusing one way systems and the cyclists – Oxford isn’t the best place to have a car. Fear not, though, for there are comprehensive Park and Ride services dotted around the outskirts of Oxford. Thornhill (OX3 8DP) and Water Eaton (OX2 8HA) offer free parking for up to 72 hours and Pear Tree (OX2 8JD) , Redbridge (OX1 4XG) and Seacourt (OX2 0HP) offer unlimited parking at a price of £1.50 per day or £7.50 per week. All five provide bus services regularly from roughly 6am to 11pm.
Oxford is jam packed with little B+Bs and hotels that are perfect for spending a few nights in. It’s a good idea to check websites such as Trip Advisor (tripadvisor.co.uk) to coordinate prices with reviews from people who have stayed there. Also useful to note that outside of term time and sometimes during term time, a lot of colleges will offer accommodation that can be used as a hotel, with great links to the city centre and a unique setting.
Gloucester Green Bus Station, positioned right next to our building here at OUSU, offers a wide range of destinations for when Oxford gets a bit too much. From the grandeur of Winston Churchill’s birthplace, Blenheim Palace (S3) to the home of all overpriced designer knockoffs Bicester Village (S5/X5), for a quick cheap getaway its as simple as getting a bus.
index Colleges All Souls 22 Balliol 22 Blackfriars 23 Brasenose 23 Campion Hall 24 Christ Church 24 Corpus Christi 25 Exeter 25 Green Templeton 26 Harris Manchester 26 Hertford 27 Jesus 27 Keble 28 Kellogg 28 Lady Margaret Hall 29 Linacre 29 Lincoln 30 Magdalen 30 Mansfield 31 Merton 31 New 32 Nuffield 32 Oriel 33 Pembroke 33 Queen’s 34 Regent’s Park 34 Somerville 35 St Anne’s 35 St Antony’s 36 St Benet’s 36 St Catherine’s 37 St Cross 37 St Edmund Hall 38 St Hilda’s 38 St Hugh’s 39 St John’s 39 St Peter’s 40 St Stephen’s 40 Trinity 41 University 41 Wadham 42 Wolfson 42 Worcester 43 Wycliffe Hall 43
Places of Interest Ashmolean Museum 52 Bodleian Library 44 Botanic Gardens 70 Bridge Of Sighs 46 Broad Street 67 Christchurch Meadow 71 Covered Market 66 Cowley Road 68 High Street 67 Holywell Music Rooms 45 Little Clarendon Street 68 Museum Of Modern Art 55 Museum Of National History 54 Museum Of The History Of Science 53 Museum Of Oxford 53 New Theatre 57 Oxford Picture House 57 Pegasus Theatre 57 Phoenix Picture House 56 Pitt Rivers Museum 54 Radcliffe Camera 44 Real Tennis Club 46 Sheldonian 45 Shotover Country Park 71 The Castle 52 The Union 48 Turl Street 66 Ultimate Picture Palace 56 University Parks 70
Food & Drink Al-Shami 90 All Bar One 140 Alpha Bar 74 The Anchor 120 The Angel & Greyhound 132 Arbat 91 Atomic Burger 92 Atomic Pizza 93 Aziz 95 Babylove 146 Big Bang 96 Branca 97 Brasserie Blanc 98 Bridge 146 Browns 74 Bullingdon Arms 151 Byron 99 Café Coco 100 Café Creme 75 Café Loco 75 Café Tarifa 140 Cape Of Good Hope 132 The Cellar 151 The Chequers 133 Cherwell Boathouse 101 Cibos 102 Coconut Café 76 Combibos 103 Cous Cous Café 76 The Cowley Retreat 133 The Duke Of Cambridge 141 Edamame 104 Excelsior 77 Far From The Madding Crowd 134 The Fir Tree 134 The Fishes 121 Freuds 141 G&D’s 105 Gee’s 106 Georgina’s 77 The Gloucester Arms 135 Grand Café 143 Greens Café 78 Half Moon 135 Heroes 78 Hi Lo 143 House 144 Il Principe 79 Jacobs And Field 79 The Jam Factory 123 The Jericho Tavern 152
Jude The Obscure 136 Kazbar 107 The King’s Arms 136 Kiss Bar 145 La Croissanterie 80 La Cucina 108 Lava Ignite 148 Library 137 Living Room 109 Magic Café 80 Mamma Mia 110 Manos 111 Mick’s Caff 81 Milano 144 No.1 Folly Bridge 112 O2 Academy 152 Old Parsonage 113 Olives 81 On The Hoof 82 Open Mics 153 Organic Café 82 Oxford Blue 124 Oxfork 83 Pepper’s Burgers 83 The Perch 125 Pieminister 84 Pierre Victoire 114 Pizza Artisan 84 Plush 148 Port Mahon 137 Portabello 115 Purple Turtle 149 Quod 116 Raoul’s 145 The Red Lion 126 The Rickety Press 127 The Rose And Crown 137 The Royal Blenheim 138 The Rusty Bicycle 128 Shanghai 30’S 117 Spice Lounge 118 St Giles Café 85 St Giles Burger Van 85 Tick Tock Café 119 The Turf Tavern 138 Turl Street Kitchen 129 Vaults And Gardens 86 Victoria 139 Wahoo 140 White Horse 139 Zappi’s Bike Cafe 86
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ESS N E WAR A ING E D S I N A R RSTA E D UN R E T FOS ITY S R E DIV E T RA B E L CE
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Oxfordâ€™s leading cocktail bar for over 30 years
Published on Oct 16, 2012
The Oxford Handbook is a one-of-a-kind guide to Oxford, written by students with the insider knowledge unavailable to traditional travel boo...