Thursday, 14 November 2013

Natural Bread Company, Little Clarendon Street (breakfast)

I got quite excited about the arrival of the 'posh bread shop' in Jericho. The Natural Bread Company have outlets in Woodstock and Eynsham and regularly attend Oxford's farmers' markets, but now they have a permanent presence in the city. It's not merely a shop, either - according to their website it's a 'cafe and bread bar' called 'Companion'.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

My Sichuan, Gloucester Green

Even though My Sichuan hasn't occupied the old school house in Gloucester Green for that long, several effusive reviews in national newspapers have acclaimed its authentic, spicy and slightly esoteric cuisine. I've talked to people locally who corroborated them. So perhaps we were unlucky - but we found it hard to see what the fuss was about.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Itsu, Cornmarket

On a working day, finding lunch can create challenges. Of course, those of us who don't have access to a canteen would ideally be bringing in a healthy and interesting packed lunch every day, but life isn't always that simple. So that leaves the bought sandwich, but eating filled bread can seem monotonous after a while.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Bangkok House, Hythe Bridge Street

Google reveals that Mexico City and Victoria in Canada are contenders for having the world's smallest Chinatown, but Oxford must edge them out: on Hythe Bridge Street two (well-regarded) Chinese restaurants and a Chinese supermarket are hemmed in by the Backpackers' Hostel, the Bridge nightclub, and Bangkok House - which, as the name suggests, serves 'authentic Thai cuisine'.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Luna Caprese, North Parade

Update (2014): Luna Caprese has now closed, and been replaced by MVH.

I've often complained that many of Oxford's restaurants muddle along at a level of comfortable mediocrity. Right now, however, I'm simply thankful that they're not all like Luna Caprese.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

The Perch, Binsey Lane

Update (2014): the Perch has been taken over by new owners and now serves a less continental food menu. 

I'd lived in Oxford for at least five years before I made it to the Perch (before that, I eschewed it for the overpriced and over-popular Trout up in Wolvercote). Even then, it took a few more years for me to realise that you can reach this pub from Port Meadow via a winding and wooded path, and it wasn't until today that I actually ate there.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

St Giles' Café, St Giles'

I feel a bit sorry for the people running the all new St Giles' Café. An internet search for their establishment produces numerous references to its former incarnation as an old-fashioned greasy spoon: only at the bottom of the page does the new owner's website appear. Well, here's one more hit.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Bill's, St Michael's Street

It was the desserts that did it. After a few weeks of walking past and being tempted by a menu that included lemon meringue pie cheesecake, warm mini doughnuts and marmalade and brown bread ice cream, I had to try Bill's. 

Friday, 26 April 2013

The Rickety Press, Cranham Street

Another week, another visit to a local restaurant I've been meaning to try for ages. This time I ventured into Jericho's back streets to visit the Rickety Press, one of Oxford's holy trinity of new and popular gastropubs (the others being the Rusty Bicycle, which is under the same management, and the Magdalen Arms).

Monday, 15 April 2013

The Jam Factory, Hollybush Row

Anyone who arrives in Oxford for the first time by train must be unimpressed by the bleakness of Frideswide Square just outside the station. But it is enlivened by the Jam Factory, a splendid brick building where Cooper's Oxford Marmalade was originally produced. It's now made elsewhere, which is rather sad, as a delicious smell of boiling oranges must once have wafted over the city.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Branca, Walton Street

This week, back to Oxford, and to one of those restaurants that I've often meant to visit. Branca in Jericho has been serving Italian food (that's as specific as the menu is) for as long as I've been here, in what its website informs me used to be a Victorian locksmith's premises. It's now been converted into a very smart-looking restaurant, with a pristine and airy interior, ornamented by impressive spiral staircases and an olive tree growing under glass at the back of the room.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

[Out of Oxford] Sartori, Covent Garden

Even provincial food bloggers get to go to the big city sometimes. When I set myself the task of finding a decent, reasonably priced restaurant in Covent Garden that wasn't a tourist trap, universally favourable reviews directed me towards Sartori, and fortunately they were not wrong. In fact, I went back with more people two weeks later.
(photo from

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Ashmolean Dining Room, Beaumont Street

I was going to begin this review with some thoughts on being a provincial food blogger: given that most Oxford restaurants charge less than their London equivalents, should we expect lower quality, or at least less finesse? Or does good food come at a more reasonable price outside the capital? I thought that the restaurant at the Ashmolean, which after its high-profile opening in 2009 was hailed as a significant new addition to the Oxford dining scene and reviewed in most national newspapers, would be an ideal testing-ground for my theories. Unfortunately, though, my experience there was disappointing by any standards.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

[Out of Oxford] La Perle, Milford-on-Sea

Milford-on-Sea in Hampshire boasts a nice beach and a fine view across to the Isle of Wight, but this seaside village is not an especially appealing place in winter. On a cold evening in February the dark main street was lit up only by the lights of La Perle.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Combibos, Gloucester Green

I've been busy recently so I thought I'd do a quick review of somewhere well known to me and to many other people who regularly pass through Gloucester Green. With its crumpled newspapers, genuinely friendly staff, and the lowest and squashiest sofas in Oxford (from which you have to peer up at the person opposite you), Combibos always has a pleasingly familiar feel.

Friday, 4 January 2013

[Out of Oxford] West Beach, Bournemouth

I do like to be beside the seaside. Perhaps not so much on a damp and windy January day in Bournemouth, but the glass-fronted West Beach restaurant, mere yards from the town's famous beach, was quite a cosy place to stare out at the grey surf beating on the shore, before we strolled along the promenade and found some rather classy beach huts. But would the West Beach similarly unite style and function? As often, the answer is a non-committal 'yes and no'.