I’m back from lovely Oxford, which has to be one of the world’s most beautiful cities. As well as lots of wandering around going ‘ooh’ at the buildings, there was a good bit of eating out, which went very well indeed.
- We had a set lunch in Loch Fyne, a slightly upscale chain of fish restaurants. The offer was a starter, a main and a glass of wine for £12.50. There was a reasonable amount of choice on the set menu, and my sardines and Cullen Skink tart were very nice. My friends Catherine and Rupert both had plaice, which they said was nice if a little overcooked.
- The same day, we went for dinner in a quite fancy bistro called Gee’s (heh heh). The food was very good indeed and the restaurant’s interior is gorgeous, but I found the service a little cold and snooty. This may have been connected to the fact that I was the scruffiest person in there: most of the women were in frocks and pearls and I was in a hoody. However, I don’t believe that should make a difference, do you? We had delicious Foie Gras Parfait and very good salads, but Rupert’s Rabbit Cottage Pie was the standout. Big thanks again to Rupert for treating us to this lovely meal.
- I tried out Nando’s one afternoon for lunch, based on Peter’s recommendation, and found it to be a very good cheap eat indeed. The chicken is delicious, and the amount of choice on the menu is very impressive. I had a very satisfying lunch there for only £8. You get unlimited free refills of your soft drinks, which is a nice touch. Nando’s have branches in Belfast and Dublin (in Dundrum).
- All of us attending the Ecampaigning Forum were extremely well fed by St Anne’s College, and there was also some very good pub meals: the British do pub food very well. Every bar seemed to have very good quality fish and chips for very reasonable prices.
The other main notable things about going out in Oxford is that lots of restaurants were offering really good deals, and that the booze is really cheap. Oxford is a town that is largely populated by extremely posh people, and is not generally a cheap place to live: the cost of living is reportedly comparable to London’s. But the bars and restaurants are still offering much better value than in Ireland. Two Bombay Sapphire gin and tonics cost me £5.80 in Oxford (and not in a student bar); I was charged €8.50 for a single rum and coke in Tripod in Dublin last weekend.
Lots of restaurants were offering deals, such as two courses for £12, or three for £15, and these were not just chain restaurants but some very nice-looking independent bistros and restaurants. It’s depressing really, even considerably swanky parts of the UK are still much cheaper than Ireland. Sigh. Anyway, I’d really recommend Oxford as a destination for a weekend break: it’s beautiful, easy to get to (an hour and a half on the bus from Heathrow), easy to get around and (of course) cheaper than Ireland!