My trifecta of North Oxford gems. The city center Big 5 steal most of Oxford’s Publight: Turf, KA, White Horse, Lamb and Flag, and Bird and Baby. All are, to a certain extent, obligatory and hold a somewhat affectionate place in my heart. Mostly, though, they are a pain to frequent as they are perma-rammed with people. They can be fun for a loud night but when I just want to have a pint and bite with friends they are borderline traumatic. I mean last summer Pete and I were trying to flesh out our Alps plan at Turf and had to shout across the table.
Thus I give you my North Oxford favs. Good beer, good food, and generally more pleasing atmosphere. The Royal Oak is a big place on Banbury but full of nooks and crannies to have a quiet word in, and generally has something interesting on tap. The Rose and Crown is the queen of North Parade, one of Oxford’s prettiest streets and one of the last genuine Free Houses in Oxford. For me, though, the GA is home.
Tucked in on Plantation Road (there is also a GA on N. Parade) it is to me the perfect pub. Great food (100% Veggie/Vegan but by god their chilli must have the flesh of dead animals in it it is so so so so hearty), quality beers and fun landlords. It manages to have a good vibe by not trying to beat you over the head with it’s Britishness or quaintness like most pubs in Oxford. Moreover, it is rarely frequented by marauding bands of undergrads or tourists. It feels as if it is a ‘real’ pub tucked into a town of Pub-like places. When I lived in Jericho I would pop round for a pint and to write. Something unthinkable in Turf.
I guess the GA’s status as the OUMC pub helped build my affection. 1-?? pints/week since sometime in 2007- with ocean induced hiatuses of various length tossed in- builds some loyalty. But still, even new comers love it. And a venerable old Jericho pub connoisseur- who can remember jamming with river tramps in front room pubs- claims it is the last ‘real pub’ in Jericho. Anyhow, all 3 are good, and a damn bit better than the madhouses in City Center.