An English (and Russian) Welcome (Oxford)

Here I am, writing you from Oxford!

Two weeks of exploring and getting to know this city. This is the first time I’ve actually had Internet access while traveling. That’s exciting since I’ll be able to share my adventures and discoveries along the way. I’ll most definitely be checking out the food scene – as well as delving into some history, of course. We’ve already had quite a culinary welcome – from a modern British pub,  to a full English breakfast and my very first Russian meal. Here are some great spots to eat while visiting Oxford:


The Oxford Retreat is a “boutique pub” located on the Oxford Canal. If you check out their website, you’ll see this restaurant/bar prides themselves on using fresh, seasonal produce from local vendors. We didn’t know this when we stumbled in just after arriving last Saturday evening. Since the restaurant was full, we enjoyed our drinks and meal in the bar, on a comfy sofa. For drinks, we tried: Staropramen, a golden lager from Prague. Brothers Pear Cider, a slightly sweet hard cider from the UK – made from pear, obviously!  We ended up going tapas style and ordering several “starters”: scallops (maybe the best I’ve ever had), calamari, and creamy mushroom bruschetta. The food was excellent and the service very friendly.

Address: 1-2 Hythe Bridge Street, Oxford, OX1 2EW

Tel: 01865 250309  (Reserve for the restaurant)


Combibos Coffee
is a great place to go for breakfast. It’s a coffee house that also serves such delights as eggs benedict and a “full English breakfast” (a veggie version is available). I also noticed they have scones with clotted cream, jam and tea for £2.99 – will have to go back for that! What’s an English breakfast by-the-way? Eggs, hash browns, tomatoes, (veggie) sausages, mushrooms, beans, toast. Yum, yum. Nice, relaxed atmosphere and great choice of music. Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” is displayed on the wall, along with other famous quotations.

Address: 93 Gloucester Green, Oxford, OX1 2BU (near the bus station)


Arbat
is an authentic Russian restaurant located a short walk from the Magdalen Bridge.  I can’t compare to other Russian food, but this was a fun discovery. Drinks to try: Baltika, a beer from Saint Petersburg. The house red wine, from near Makhachkala, the capital of the Republic of Dagestan in the North Caucasus region. I just learned this is an important wine growing region due to the mountainous terrain. What did we eat? Starter: Grenki, fried garlic rye bread (had never seen such dark rye before). Mains: Kartoshechka s gribami, a vegetarian potato and mushroom dish served with a very fresh mix of raw veggies on the side. Shashlyk, a combination of marinated meats (served on skewers) and veggies. This restaurant has a whole slew of traditional dishes, from Borsh (soup) and Plov (slowly cooked meat and rice) to Medovik (honey cake) – too bad we were too full for dessert!

Address: 84 Cowley Road, oxford, OX4 1JB

Tel: 01865 236376


Parking hint:
parking is difficult in Oxford. I’d recommend going straight to one of the outdoor parking lots. During the day you pay by the hour, but from 8pm-8am there is a flat rate (a few pounds max). Come with change to put in the machine and then display your ticket in the window of the car. You can also easily get around by foot, bicycle or bus.


Why I’m happy:
tea is always served with a side of milk – you don’t even have to ask!

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