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|The Rose & Crown, North Parade. Tel. 510551|
The Rose & Crown on North Parade is one of Oxford's cosiest pubs. With two small inside rooms with fireplaces (and one corridor with seats), the overflow into its lovely patio garden (with retractable roof for all weathers) is a necessary delight. The tables outside are well heated (far warmer than those in the unroofed garden of the Turf Tavern) and can be occupied in even the coldest weather. The pub also has a piano and several board games, though it wouldn't be wise to tap on the ivories without consulting the governor. At the back of the garden another room can be booked free of charge for parties or watching sporting events. On most nights of the week the pub fills with locals and students, and it can be hard to get a good seat if you don't get there early.
The bar's selection of lagers and ales is quite limited, but well selected, to a few kinds of Adnams, Old Hooky (recommended), Guinness (cold or regular), Stella and a few others. You have the option of straight glass or handled mug - said to keep the temperature of the beer from getting warmed by your hands. There is quite a reasonable selection of bottled beers, non-alcoholic drinks such as J2O and soft drinks, and liqueurs to choose from. They serve wine by the glass and the bottle, and the selection changes seasonally. The bar serves pistachios by the pint and has traditional pub snacks from pickled eggs to pork scratchings.
The menu is vegetarian- and vegan-friendly, as it is one of the few pubs in Oxford to offers a wide selection of salads, including Greek, Nicoise and mixed greens. They also offer falafel and hummus, tzatziki, and taramasalata. They serve baguettes for lunch with an entire page of fillings including brie, stilton, chicken, ham, beef, peanut butter, fruit and vegetables.
Their meat entrées are hearty, served with chips and salad. One can choose between a honey glazed chicken breast, traditional sausage and mash (the sausage flavors change daily to weekly, and the serving is gigantic), gammon steak (which I've never tried, but looks dodgy), and rump steak (also never tried, but looks delicious). They have daily specials and traditional roasts on Sunday afternoons with Yorkshire pudding and dessert. For fish lovers they serve grilled trout, and they also do a poppy seed bagel with salmon and cream cheese.
The service depends on how busy it is - you order and pay at the bar, and the staff bring your food to the table, along with freshly ground pepper and a selection of mustards for meats. Prices are average (£4-£9 for a meal and the upper end of beer prices), and the ambience is exceptional.
I would recommend taking the stroll over to North Oxford to drink and dine at the Rose and Crown, as its warm atmosphere and delicious food sets it apart from the cold, touristy pubs in the centre of Oxford.