Let’s kick off this blog with one of my favourite pubs in Oxford.
At first sight, the Old Bookbinders Ale House is a quintessentially English pub with its wood panels, apparent beams adorned with stamps and coasters, board games stacked in the entrance, wood tables and chairs mismatched in size and local prints on its walls. It has that encompassing feel that can either enchant or intimidate a foreigner like me. However, on the two occasions I visited, this pub passed the enchantment test with flying colours.
Being French, I came for the food rather than the beer and in this department also, the Old Bookbinders did not disappoint. The menu is short and to the point with something for everybody, including “a load of crêpes” as they say on their blog, and yet it doesn’t lack ambition. I was not expecting this pub to offer snails or stuffed mussels but it does both and both were excellent, with a homey feel that made my inner Proust happy.
The service was also one of the most genuinely easy-going I have seen in Oxford for a long time. The staff is attentive without being intrusive or pushy and it is plain to see nobody has asked them to force their smiles or follow a protocol of pre-learnt phrases that scream “we only care about targets, not people”.
One of the best things about the Old Bookbinders is that everybody who was there appeared to be enjoying themselves and the place was packed even on a Tuesday evening. I suspect it is constantly packed. For me, what makes the success of this pub is its lack of pretention. This is not a gastro pub; this is a pub where you can also eat (excellent) food. The ale drinking and fine dining crowds rarely come together but here it works brilliantly in a warm atmosphere. As a great philosopher once said, I will be back.
The Old Bookbinders Ale House:
17-18 Victor St, Jericho, Oxford OX2 6BT