A couple of months ago, I made the trip to Oxford to see J and, while many of you may (falsely) believe that there is a dearth of nice food in Oxford, I had the BEST TIME EVER.
Of course, I have to give credit where it’s due, and having friends who love food as much as you do is always such an advantage. I suggest you try it sometime, and stop making friends with thin and attractive people because you don’t stand to gain anything. (Except the remnants of their food after they’ve done Instagramming it, maybe. Sorry. My pet peeve lol.)
But how much can 2 Asian girls eat in 2 days, you ask? The answer is: A LOT. We will make you sorry you asked. Oh yes we will.
Our first stop on our walk back from the train station was Fudge Kitchen. I had spied it from afar and had to drag J in because! free! samples! I hate that we don’t have Fudge Kitchen in London because it is actually the best thing ever ever everrrr, and I’ve been in love with it since W first took me there in York. We ended up trying about a cumulative entire block’s worth of fudge. The best flavour was probably the Snickers, which the manager, who was the friendliest, most charming thing, was so very proud of. And for good reason! With 2 entire pots of peanut butter in it, it could only be awesome. I got a box of 4 slabs to go – Snicker’s, mocha, dark chocolate with seasalt, and my favourite, maple walnut! My record is 6 slabs on the trot. What’s yours?
5 Broad Street, Oxford OX1 3AJ
First things first, J took me to the Old Parsonage Hotel for a celebratory champagne afternoon tea.
You know how quite often we go for high tea, and the multi-tiered cake stand is nothing but an awe-inspiring, show-stopping centrepiece laden with things that look a lot better than they actually taste? It wasn’t the case at all here. Everything tasted and felt fresh, and while it wasn’t necessarily perfect by any means, it was certainly very good!
And being reunited with J was the sticky chocolate icing on this slice of chocolate-orange cake.
… Since J puts the friend in blueberry friand. (So ok, this looks like a financier but I swear it tasted more like a friand. And I promise I actually know how to pronounce ‘friand’. LEAVE ME BE.)
… And would never break my heart, though we’ll happily split an orange tart.
(It’s hard to be poetic about finger sandwiches, since I think, when you cut off the crusts, you rob the bread of its poetry.) J is the butter to my bread, and the breath to my life.
And instead of treating my food puns with scorn, I suggest you treat yoself and have a scone (er, you’ll only get this one if you pronounce ‘scone’ in that way).
Smothered with clotted cream, the original dream team.
In all seriousness, this was a very good afternoon tea experience. At £27/person for the champagne afternoon tea (and £20 without the champagne!!!!), less pricey compared to London, but, dare I say it, not lacking or perhaps even surpassing the standard of quite a few expensive places that shall go unnamed. The service was impeccable as well – or maybe I am just saying that because our waiter said I was ADORABLE (HAHAHA), plus I made friends with the cleaner in the loos.
OLD PARSONAGE HOTEL
1 Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 6NN
At some point while visiting the loos, I decided to seize the opportunity and make my own multi-tiered beauty simply because I could. Hehe.
Just a few hours after that, we went for tapas at Al-Andalus! We got albondigas (meatballs in rich tomato sauce), pulpo a la Gallega (chopped octopus legs served with boiled potatoes, topped with olive oil, paprika and sea salt), guiso de pescado (seafood cooked in a tomato sauce), esparragos a la plancha (grilled asparagus wrapped with serrano ham), and patatas bravas for less than £15/person.
AL-ANDALUS TAPAS BAR
10 Little Clarendon Street, Oxford OX1 2HP
Then we went to Freud for drinks. They have a massive cocktail selection, and I can’t remember what we had exactly, but I think we had the Gina, Moscow Mule, and Raspburi Russian (among others). It was in a cool space, like an old church, complete with very high ceilings and stained glass windows. And in terms of crowds, it was NOT AT ALL like London, meaning there was actually space to stand around or even sit, if you were so inclined. And you can dress like a SCHLOB, which is my specialty. Although there were some Oxford peeps in funky jumpers who were almost giving me a run for my money.
Oh wow, I just realised it’s related to the Freud’s in London! Cool beanz.
119 Walton Street, Oxford OX2 6AH
The next morning we went to Rick’s for breakfast because there’s nothing like some grease to soak up the night’s excesses.
We got the full English and the French toast, plus 2 pots of tea, for about £10 ALTOGETHER, and if you look at the portion-sizes they were definitely not lacking.
Granted, it’s nothing uber fancy. They don’t use happy eggs, locally sourced sausages or organically and sustainably farmed tomatoes. But I don’t care because I am an irresponsible consumer. And I make no apologies for it.
But I think any time my toast arrives at my table ALREADY BUTTERED, I am sold.
Our only gripe would be that the French toast was also made with the flaccid cheap bread that comprised our toast, but I emphasise that it’s only because we have been completely and utterly spoilt by our own French toast experiences (an example par excellence being Lantana’s/Foxcroft’s French toast oh my), which usually involve thick-cut brioche, generously laden with expensive choice fruits and some form of whipped ricotta/mascarpone goodness. For a fraction of the cost, this is as good as you can hope to get.
88-90 Cowley Road, Oxford OX4 1JB
Then we went to roam around and ended up at Turl Street Cafe, where I was extremely taken by this talking shell thingy.
I really think more places should have this! (But then I just like to talk to strangers hehe.)
We didn’t eat anything there but we had some lovely flat whites.
It’s a gorgeous space, really, not just for meals or coffee, but also for solitary reading/studying and group discussions. Or just for sitting around on your lardy ass while you wait for your next meal…
TURL STREET KITCHEN
16-17 Turl Street, Oxford OX1 3DH
Speaking of which, YAY LUNCH TIME!!!!!
For lunch, J took me to Pierre Victoire, which I stress is different from the Pierre Victoire in London. It is a cosy little French restaurant housed in a narrow, 3-storey building. Their set menu is very good value for money: 3 courses off their prix fixe menu for £23.50! We paid just over £30 for 3 courses/person PLUS WINE – a nice Chilean Sauvignon Blanc for under £5/glass.
Obviously the items on their prix fixe menu always change, so don’t expect to have what we had when you go.
For starters, we had salmon rillette with garlic bread.
As well as some sort of duck with something like a French caponata of sorts.
For mains, we had duck confit with potato gratin.
As well as pan-fried salmon with a creamy leek sauce.
For desserts – they are very keen to emphasise that all desserts are made from-scratch, in-house – we had banoffee pie.
And also panna cotta drizzled extremely generously with caramel sauce.
For what we paid, I really do think everything was very good. The portion-sizes were not astronomically large, but they were definitely more than decent. Everything felt freshly prepared, and neither the salmon nor duck was overcooked (both these proteins being highly vulnerable to over-cooking usually), and everything had the right amount of seasoning on it. I had not thought of having panna cotta with caramel but that was unexpectedly delicious – though I don’t know why it should be unexpected, since they are 2 of my great loves in life. And I’ve been to so many nice places where I’ve absolutely hated the panna cotta, but this actually had a good texture to it.
PIERRE VICTOIRE BISTROT
9 Little Clarendon Street, Oxford OX1 2HP
Later on, J took me to one of her favourite coffee places, The Missing Bean. And it’s not hard to see why she loves it so! It’s a tiny place, super popular with the locals, and they play some good tunes too. And the coffee? The coffee is magical.
I had a fantastic cortado there – cortados being one of my favourite ways to have coffee – and it was so good we had another to share. As well as a slice of pecan pie. Mm yum.
It was a bit of a scramble for seats though. We had to wait around for a bit, and our coffees and pie were already served before we had even found a table.
THE MISSING BEAN
14 Turl Street, Oxford OX1 3DQ
For dinner that night, we met J’s friends at Kazbar – for more Spanish food!
Kazbar has a really great atmosphere. It was packed and we waited quite a while for a table, but then it was Saturday night, and it didn’t really matter since we got to sit at the bar and get stuck into our drinks! They have a pretty extensive selection as well and I think I managed to try quite a few.
They also had a fantastic variety of tapas. We ordered a whole lot, but I was really hungry so, er, no proper pictures. But I remember the one that stood out for me was the sobrasada. And of course we ended the meal with churros.
Even though we had a lot to eat and drink, I think I ended up paying only about £30 or so?!
25-27 Cowley Road, Oxford OX4 1HP
We decided to move on to several bars. We attempted to go to the Mad Hatter, where we had to answer a riddle before we could be buzzed in.
“What is orange and sounds like a parrot?” I started shouting “CARROT CARROT CARROT!!!!!!” See, I’m not from Oxford but even I knew the answer to that, so I’m sure you’ll be fine.
Unfortunately, we got bored, so we left.
Then we went to Joe Perks’, which does coffee in the day and drinks at night. I got the awesomely named Planet of the Grapes, because it had elderflower and white grape in it.
Really nice night.
JOSEPH PERKS & CO
76, St. Clements Street, Oxford OX4 1AH
The next morning, I was all ready for BREAKFAST!!!!!! I don’t know about you guys, but when I’ve had a lot to drink, for some reason I’m extra energetic and extra hungry the next day – which, given that I am already a Morning Person, always energetic and always hungry, is quite scary I suppose.
J took me to Cafe Coco, where I met the most adorable waitress everrrrrrr who started telling me about how she is saving up to go to India this summer.
Again, a full English was in order because that’s just how we roll. (I love black pudding btw.)
As well as waffle loaded up with fresh fruit (ugh).
But I’m more a syrup kind of girl.
Again, generous portion-sizes, and even with 2 teas, it only came up to about £18.
23 Cowley Road, Oxford OX4 1HP
Immediately after breakfast, J took me to Jericho for coffee.
They serve their coffees with adorable jelly babies. (They should be called Jellycho. Though I’m not sure if that’s blasphemous. But whaddya gonna do. I speaker no Engrish ah, so I pronounce my R’s as L’s and vice versa.)
And J also got me this magnificent brick of a salted caramel brownie.
I am very rarely impressed by brownies I eat outside but this was very, very good.
If you look closely it has a squidgy layer of salted caramel in the middle, which adds to the great, dense, fudgy texture of the brownie, and at the same time injects a different layer of flavour to the deep, intense chocolatey goodness.
Yum yum yum.
JERICHO COFFEE TRADERS
3 King Edward Street, Oxford OX1 4HS
Then we decided to revisit the Missing Bean for a final cortado before I left half of my heart in Oxford. (But then I literally just saw J again recently hehehe.)
And that concludes my fatventures in Oxford! See, I told you you’ll be sorry you ever underestimated how much 2 Asian girls can eat in 2 days in Oxford…
Oh wow, ok, even I am mildly disgusted, since that is how I roll on a daily basis. Hope those of you in London are enjoying the heat wave! I’m off to the Canary Islands for a wholly undeserved break!