This is the fourth post in the series Winter in London. Other posts include Bob, Bob, Ricard, Kitchen W8, Fernandez and Wells, and the Trout Inn.
I guess it's a bit misleading to call my series "Winter In London" when a large portion of my trip was actually in Oxford.
Oxford is a beautiful city and definitely worth a visit if you have time. The train ride from Paddington Station in London is less than an hour. If you travel during off-peak hours (e.g. something like anytime after 9AM), you can save close to half off the fare of the ticket!
The city center itself is quite small, and most sites are within walking distance of each other.
This is Christ Church, an awe inspiring building whose dining hall was actually used in the Harry Potter films (yes, THAT dining hall with the sorting hat and all . ..).
I spent about 3 days in Oxford and had a chance to check out some of the famous pubs in the area.
The Turf Tavern was the first place I visited. Legend has it that former U.S. president Bill Clinton, during his Rhodes Scholar years, infamously "did not inhale" here. The building itself has been around since the 17th century, sitting on top of a foundation that dates back to the 13th century (!!).
The pub is definitely off the beaten track (you drive through a bunch of small, windy roads before arriving at your destination). If it weren't for the cars, you could almost convince yourself that you've traveled back in time a few centuries.
I only stopped her for drinks, but they had a pretty cool selection of beers, most of which were unfamiliar to me (I'm not really a beer expert by any means). The inside lodge area was full, so we sat outside in the tent area and enjoyed our drinks. It was definitely a nice, cozy experience and felt so authentically British.
For dinner, we went to Jamie's Italian, Jamie Oliver's chain of Italian restaurants across England. Huge prosciutto hams hang alongside the window, giving the entire place an air of Italian authenticity.
Although some of the dishes, such as the burrata and the carbonara, were solid (no fresh pasta here, but it was cooked a nice al dente), other items were clear misses. The black truffle risotto was not cooked properly (too watery and mushy!) and neither dessert succeeded in impressing us.
The person who brought me here assured me that the risotto has been better in the past, so perhaps we just stumbled upon a bad night. Nevertheless, it may take me quite awhile before I decide to come back and give this restaurant another chance. There are too many other good places to try!
Circling back to my original point, I definitely think it's still worth visiting Oxford. The architecture is stunning, the history is rich, and it's just a fun place to walk around. You could probably make it a day trip.
If you do plan on a day trip, I would head back to London for dinner, since I think food is still generally so much better in London. However, if you do decide to stay in Oxford, you may want to check out the other pub that I visited, which I'll write about next in this series!
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