It's a sausage and mash restaurant, believe it or not, right in the heart of Oxford's Castle Quarter, and it's just 'right' - a celebration of all that's great about great British food. It's not a chain, but a single place, run by a single guy and his enthusiastic team. He's bound to be there, telling you which creation of sausages goes best with which creation of mash. Local beers, local staff and a good feel. Best place I can recommend
There are gardens everywhere in Oxford but they're not always that easy to get into. Oxford with its college gardens provides a cornucopia of just about everything and the art is to think about when you can get in them without paying the entrance fee that many now extract. Two of the most interesting and varied are those of Magdalen College and Merton College and one such occasion is the Oxford Open Doors weekend held every September. To add to the variety there are endless other colleges to visit with a huge variety of planting and landscape, such as Wadham, Worcester and New Colleges; of course, taking in as well, the delights of the historic and learning environment.
A small but lovely modern art collection exists on the upper floor of the newly refurbished Ashmolean Museum. It contains pieces by lesser known artists in addition to lesser known works by famous artists. I was amazed to see Tea Party in America, one of the first paintings by Howard Hodgkin, created when he was just 16! In addition, until 20 February there’s a special exhibition of sculpture by contemporary British artist Thomas Houseago, the Ashmolean’s first collaboration with Modern Art Oxford.
Largest stock of new and second hand books on Mind, Body, Spirit, Health and the Unexplained that I know of in the UK. Good for browsing and also internet service.
Unicorn is a vintage boutique simply like no other: upon entering, you will find yourself standing in roughly three square feet of floor space, surrounded by piles upon piles of what can only be described as untamed clothing that extends as far as the eye can see. After the initial amazement, you will soon be greeted by the lady who, on requesting an item, will dive- quite literally- deep into the realms of clothes and nearly always return (although sometimes a considerable time later) brandishing the said item, be it bodices or brogues. This quirky shop's capacity of three makes it all the more worth the visit when in Oxford.
5 Ship Street, Oxford, OX1 3DE
An ice-cream parlour/cafe with two sister sites in central Oxford, this one stands out because it takes you into vibrant East Oxford. The ice-cream is great, with 'petition' flavours which change frequently. It's light and airy and seems to be tolerant of the many local freelancers and students who sit and work there. It opens early and closes late - another bonus.
After you've been, wander up the Cowley Road away from the city to get a taste of Oxford beyond the gown-ridden centre.
104 Cowley Road
Cowley Road Area
Telephone: 01865 727111
Tasty tapas selections - with window seats enabling great people-watching. The lunchtime platters are great value at £7.50 for a varied and filling selection (the veggie one comes highly recommended), or pick from the menu if you want more control.
Little Clarendon St, Jericho
A self-service café set in the vaults of University Church of St Mary the Virgin. Inside is all long shared tables and dimly lit café wonderfulness. A leisurely coffee and a good book are perfectly matched to its unpretentious welcome. Its Catte St garden faces the Radcliffe Camera so summer lunching is particularly pleasant. The restaurant itself serves consistently tasty and adventurous locally sourced organic food and cakes and fairly traded teas coffees - we have only ever been for lunch after the storytime session at the central library - needless to say it is kid-friendly and affordable too. One thing to bear in mind is lunch is served from 12pm and is very popular so arrive early to avoid queues and shortages.
Tel. 01865 279112
Radcliffe Square, off High St, Oxford.
It is astonishing to come across acharming and friendly inn off a highway between Lechlade and Burford and have the most memorable pub lunch of chicken liver and brandy pate and a yellowfin tuna nicoise that didn't taste of dishwater, and all on a Monday after visiting William Morris's house at Kelmscott (which was closed, so we needed cheering up, and got it). The most beautiful village of old houses made of sublime Cotswold Stone - walks, woollen mills, beautiful things to buy, heaven - we will stay here next time- Tadeus Pfeifer, Basel
Filkins, Oxfordshire - website
Coven II is a underground drum and bass club in just outside Oxford's city center. It used to be a gay club until it closed at the end of the 80s. It was then refurbished and reopened as Coven II in the late 90s and has since been the best D&B club in the south of England. Not only is the building perfect; a ground floor and basement with balconies around the basement from the first floor, a pedestal for DJs raised around 15 feet off the floor, an eight foot sub-woofer located on the dancefloor and seating ares located in small caves in the wall. Recent huge acts to play there include Shy FX, Skepta, Mampi swift, Pendulum, Baraka, Skinny Man, as well as local MCs such as MC Choppa, MC Addict and MC TYG.
As well as a weekend saturday night Kinetic night, there is also a weekly gay night which has even attracted interest from MTV, and a Thursday student night with a different theme each week, including foam parties (with foam often reaching as high as the roof of the basement) snow parties, water fights (with over 2000 water guns provided) and fancy dress nights. There is also a thriving bar, as well as the main dance floor and smaller dance floor, and also an outside smoking area with heater lights and perfectly comfy seating. As well as being within five minutes of the city center and the Oxford train station, it is also just around the corner from a taxi rank. It can also be booked out for private parties regularly and the staff are all extremely outgoing and friendly, and will often get involved with the fun. That is why I recommend Coven II as one of the best nights out in the whole of the country.
Oxpens road, Oxford.
A beautifully imposing converted church on Walton Street, this is a student treat which somehow makes you feel as if you are in on a secret.
It's not too done up, has a lovely long zinc bar, and serves strong cocktails and proper pizzas.
Plus there is seating out the front to people watch.
119 Walton St
Oxford, OX2 6AH
The Gardener's Arms is a vegetarian pub in Oxford. It is situated in the Jericho, a picturesque part of the city, and has a large beer garden which is great in the summer. The food is good pub fare and all veggie.
This theatre company is an exciting organisation set up to give touring experience to gap year students and recent graduates.
I've seen all three of their productions so far - Talking Heads, Canterbury Tales and Aesop's Fables, and the standard is seriously high, especially given how young and inexperienced they are. Their productions are simple, relying on well-acted plays rather than fancy effects and costumes, and are well worth a look.
The Trout is so well known around Oxford that it hardly needs any recommendation. This cavernous pub can be found in Wolvercote, north of Oxford.
The Trout serves great food (minted lamb shanks are my recommendation), though it gets very full at the beginning and end of Oxford terms. Most of all it's the atmosphere that people come for - cosy inside in Autumn and Winter, and a large outdoor terrace in Spring and Summer.
It has a history which encompasses Henry II, Alice in Wonderland and Colin Dexter of Inspector Morse fame! It can be reached by car (a large free car park indicates how popular it can get), but far better to walk all the way up Port Meadow to the very top, by which point you will deserve your lunch thoroughly.
195 Godstow Road, Lower Wolvercote, Oxford
A cocktail bar and Slovakian restaurant located in the St Clements area of Oxford. Moya is smooth and sophisticated, yet the food is homely, warming and seems authentically Slovakian. Enjoy the venison in a red wine sauce, the sausages, and the goulash, and also the bellinis, manhattans and mojitos.
St Clements is at the far end of the High Street, but Moya is worth the expedition.
97 St. Clement's Street, Oxford, OX4 1AR
Tel: 01865 200111
Maison Blanc is part of Raymond Blanc's culinary empire but this Oxford cafe is the original. A small patisserie, boulangerie and cafe at the top of St Giles, it is perfect for Saturday morning breakfasts or cake and coffee. Everything is beautiful and scrumptious, from the almond croissant to the tarte au citron and the pain rustique. It is also surprisingly family friendly and we always see toddlers in here.
3 Woodstock Road, at the corner of Little Clarendon Street.
Tel: 01865 510 974
George and Davis' is situated on Little Clarendon Street in Jericho. It is something of an Oxford institution with quirky cow-themed pictures on the walls and a studenty appeal. It serves great ice cream in an array of wonderful (and sometimes weird) flavours and customers can start a petition for a flavour of their own design
to be made. If 30 signatures are collected the management will consider making it.
The cafe also serves great pizza bagels for those who need a savoury snack. It is open until midnight and, although there are plenty of students in term-time, it's worth making a visit.
G&Ds Ice Cream Cafe, Little Clarendon Street.
Creation Theatre Company are renowned in Oxford for combining fantastic open air settings with engaging performances; a fantastic way to spend a summer evening. They are currently showing Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice at Oxford Castle and Macbeth and Robin Hood at Headington Hill Park.
Tickets can be booked through the Box Office on 01865 766 266 or via the website www.creationtheatre.co.uk
Because it's frustrating, annoying, funny, challenging, embarassing and satisfying all at the same time. You are guaranteed comedy, even when you can't row and your lovely lovely is laughing at you banging into punts and other rowers or thinking of ways to sink American and Italian tourists who have no river etiquette. A great, great day out.
This new attraction located within the D-Wing of the former prison, is a fantastic introduction to the history of Oxford - (the city not the University) - and the stories of some of the Prison's former inmates.
As you walk through the tiny cells and atmospheric prison corridors, you hear all about the real people and events from the site’s turbulent past: the first Oxford teachings, the owners, visionaries, activists and inmates.
People like Marshall William Smith, the King’s prison keeper, who in the 1600s made Oxford Prison as feared and as notorious as Colditz; Mary Blandy a convicted murderess, who became an 18th-century celebrity; Jack Ketch, the public executioner and the man on which the Punch & Judy hangman character was modelled; and Anne Green, who survived her own hanging and narrowly escaped being anatomised by an Oxford medical student in 1650!
After your tour of the Prison there is the chance to climb the 101 narrow steps of the Saxon St George's Tower and enjoy the spectacular 360 degree panoramic views of the Oxford skyline.
Oxford Castle, (off New Road), Oxford, OX1 1AY
T: 01865 260666
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