British, Modern Restaurants in Oxford
1. Cherwell Boathouse British, Modern restaurant in Oxford Bardwell Road - OX2
“An idyllic setting on the River Cherwell” – “right on the water, watching comings and goings and the odd person going overboard on their rowing boats” – guarantees a memorable occasion at this “beautiful Oxford institution”, incorporated into a boathouse (run by the Verdin family since 1968). The food has always risked playing second fiddle here, and even though fans praise its “simple but perfect cooking”, there were a number of “very average” reports this year (“I have had worse, but prefer better”) or gripes about an excessive level of pricing. Some compensation can be found in “the best wine list in Oxford”… or “you can always hire a punt”.
2. The Vaults and Garden Cafe British, Modern restaurant in Oxford University Church of St Mary the Virgin, Radcliffe Sq - OX1
“In the medieval vaults of the University Church, in the centre of Oxford and the university” – this sweet but also “busy and vibrant” self-service café serves “large portions of freshly-cooked daily specials at very reasonable prices, as well as soups and salads”. Great views of the Radcliffe Camera from the outside tables.
3. Quod British, Modern restaurant in Oxford 92-94 High St - OX1
The “modern brasserie” in the central Old Bank Hotel serves “interesting, well thought-out dishes with a bit of pizzazz” in a “nice room – not too formal but equally quite smart”. It’s “such a pleasant place to eat: the food is not fancy and overworked but properly and consistently cooked”, and “the prices are very reasonable”. “Service is pleasant and efficient without being particularly friendly – like the food, they get the job done.”
4. No.1 Ship Street British, Modern restaurant in Oxford 1 Ship Street - OX1
“Classic bistro food” – “delicious and beautifully presented, amid a good ambience” – makes this a handy venue for a meal, an easy walk from the Ashmolean Museum in the city centre; the set lunch is particularly good value.
5. Ashmolean Dining Room British, Modern restaurant in Oxford Beaumont St - OX1
“The beautiful roof terrace of the Ashmolean Museum” makes a “great location” for an “excellent afternoon tea” – with a glass-fronted indoor area for winter use and an open-air lounging space and bar in the summer. More generally though, it’s “a pity the food is overpriced and doesn’t live up to the setting”.
6. Wilding British, Modern restaurant in Oxford 11 Little Clarendon Street - OX1
This “independent & affordable” restaurant, wine bar and vintner in Jericho makes a “very welcome addition to the Oxford food & drink scene”. With more than 400 vintages available, wine is very much the star of the show, backed up by “very knowledgeable staff” and a “friendly ambience”. There are also branches in Salisbury and Frome.
7. The Old Parsonage British, Modern restaurant in Oxford 1 Banbury Rd - OX2
This very “attractive hotel” just north of the city centre makes good use of a “lovely” seventeenth-century building with an ambience redolent of “Oxford academic power and money”. Foodwise, the ratings are dragged down by the odd reporter who feels its “bog-standard brasserie food needs more competition”. The best bet might be its “very nice traditional tea – especially when served in the courtyard garden”.
8. The Punter British, Modern restaurant in Oxford 7 South St - OX2
This “picturesque riverside venue” on Oxford’s Osney Island (which opened in 1871 as The Waterman) is notable for its “laid-back but beautifully presented vegetarian food, full of flavours from a varied and interesting menu”. “I’m not a vegetarian myself but most definitely hope to be back”. Top Tip – “the whipped goats’ cheese”.
9. Gee’s British, Modern restaurant in Oxford 61 Banbury Rd - OX2
The “wonderful greenhouse setting” of this romantic and long-established north Oxford fixture was revamped and extended to the tune of £1.5 million during a three-month closure last year, giving it an appropriate leafy atmosphere. Originally a late-Victorian florist’s, the Grade II-listed building was converted into a restaurant almost 40 years ago. There’s a “nice buzz” to the place, and a “reliably good European menu” from new chef Matt Smith, but the feeling persists that – if you take into account the prices – the food is somewhat “run of the mill”.
10. The Magdalen Arms British, Modern restaurant in Oxford 243 Iffley Road - OX4
From the illustrious stable of London’s Anchor & Hope and Canton Arms, this “cosy”, high-quality gastropub exploded onto the Oxford dining scene in 2010. It keeps a much lower profile nowadays, notwithstanding its “friendly” style and “fantastic” cooking.
11. The White Hart British, Modern restaurant in Wytham
“A foodie gem”, this well-known eighteenth-century pub in a village on the outskirts of Oxford has been going through a period of flux, hence we’ve removed a rating for the time being. High-profile chef Jon Parry joined in summer 2022, after our annual diners’ poll had concluded, having made a name for himself cooking over an open fire at The Mash Inn in Buckinghamshire, and declared his ambition to ‘turn The White Hart into something really special’. Four months later, owner Baz Butcher announced his intention to sell up and retire to France.
12. The Mole Inn British, Modern restaurant in Toot Baldon
This “charming pub with delicious, imaginative food and a welcoming atmosphere” is “tucked away down a narrow road” in a village close to Oxford. “Fantastic garden” for dining in the summer.
13. The Bell British, Modern restaurant in Hampton Poyle 11 Oxford Road - OX5
2021 Review: A “buzzy, busy pub” with nine rooms plus flagstone floors, oak beams and slouchable leather armchairs; while the food is perhaps good rather than stellar, they’re “trying hard” and it’s handily located if you’re en route in or out of Oxford.
14. The Crazy Bear British, Modern restaurant in Stadhampton Bear Ln - OX44
2022 Review: Despite its weird and wonderful decor, this lavishly decked out hotel not far from Oxford – a fixture of the area for over a quarter of a century – attracts relatively little feedback nowadays. It’s all still positive though, especially when it comes to the Thai dining room (there’s also a more traditional, British one). Service is “very engaged” and the classic twelve-dish sharing menu “well presented and flavoured food that reflects the cuisine”, without being “touristy”.
15. The Nut Tree Inn British, Modern restaurant in Murcott Main Street - OX5
“Lovely historic pub” that “never fails to delight” having “maintained an extremely high level of food and service” for more than 15 years under Mike & Imogen North, respectively chef and front of house. Even one diner who “doesn’t really like gastropubs as they seem to occupy a peculiar no-man’s-land that is neither one thing nor the other” says “this is an exception that delivers on all levels!”. Top Tip – “exceptional soufflés to die for!”.
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