One of the Real Pubs stable, the Oxford is clearly thriving, packed out on a Sunday lunchtime with big parties enjoying hearty roasts or choosing from a menu of posh gastropub fare. Dark grey walls, dark wood furniture and a dramatic oversized chandelier add up to a stylish interior. Staff were pleasant enough, but too rushed – it can take a while to order and get a drink – one of 20 or so wines by the glass, or a pint of Camden Town Brewery’s Camden Hells lager, perhaps.
The food can also be a bit hit and miss. Mussels came in a sauce where any hint of cider was overpowered by cream, but a plate of Spanish charcuterie with toasted Poilâne, cornichons and caperberries was fantastic: generous piles of chorizo, lean, chewy and intensely flavoursome lomo and deliciously salty jamón.
Inconsistency continued with the mains – pork, leek and ham hock pie with spring greens had a light shortcrust pastry lid covering a lip-smacking and moist filling, while a generous, well-grilled sea bass fillet on confit onion and fennel was again drowned by an excessively creamy sauce. Perfect fat chips did a lot to ease the pain. Lemon tart with undercooked pastry wasn’t a touch on the M&S version. Truly a mixed bag.