Below the Oxford Hub (centre for charitable student activities) lies TSK, a gastropub-style restaurant. This interesting fusion takes the remains of the old QI club and raises it once again from the ashes. Daily changing menu of seasonal specialities (think Hugh F-W let loose in the Oxfordshire countryside). 'Metric Mondays' means deals on carafes of wine.
Opening hours: 8am - midnight 8am - 1am 9am - 6pm Check website; often open until 3am at busy times Breakfast from 8am Lunch: noon - 3pm Dinner: 6.30 - 10pm Sunday lunch: noon - 4pm Coffee served all day. Aiming for affordable, seasonal food, giving thought to the sourcing, waste disposal, and fitting into the community. Private room for hire. Next events at Turl Street Kitchen
Organic, Locally-sourced & Charity Aiming for affordable, seasonal food, giving thought to the sourcing, waste disposal, and fitting into the community.
Private room available. Cuisine: Gastropub & British.
16-17 Turl Street
You Have Two Cosmic Text Messages, with pics Wed 19 Jun: Cafe open times
Acoustic Night Sun 23 Jun: 7.30 to 10.30pm
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Latest venue reviews
Liked the look of the place having had coffee there the week before. Very good lunch despite being very busy. Wonderful soup and best sticky toffee I think I've ever had. At times it was hard to get the waiting staff's attention but our waitress was delightful and we had 2 courses and coffee well within the hour. I liked the decor. New to Oxford, I've found this is one of the few places you can get a good coffee after 6pm yet also not feel like a loon just because you're on your own!
Simon (Unverified), 03/12/12
I keep giving TSK another chance. It's for a good cause and it would be wonderful if it is a success. But the service - at least in the bar/cafe area - is consistently poor. Queues quickly get out of hand, even at slow times; staff don't seem to regard it as a priority to ask waiting customers if they need anything; coffee and drinks take a long time to arrive; the coffee's still not as good as other contemporary central city offerings; the staff's main role seems to be firmly ordering coffee-drinkers out of the restaurant precinct!
These are really basic things for a cafe/bar to get right. Please do what you can, TSK!
Whistlersaunt (Unverified), 22/06/12
It was a maxim of my father's that you can tell a good restaurant by the speed with which you are offered your initial drink. Turl Street Kitchen gets full marks in this area: even on a packed (weekday) lunchtime the waiting staff were conscientious about swiftly offering and providing us with our juice and ginger ale.
Said ginger ale was Fentiman's and the juice was a locally-sourced apple and rhubarb. That tells you a lot about this place. The menu changes daily, and is small (no starters, 7 mains, 3 sides and 3 desserts) but seasonal and well-chosen. Predominantly English flavours are presented with continental clarity. Cold beef and horseradish in a crusty roll, mushroom soup; braised leg of pork with squash and chilli and creme fraiche; Jerusalem artichoke, brocolli and cheddar bake. They try to use locally-sourced, free-range, fair trade products, and you can tell by the taste: the mains are small but perfectly formed portions of real food, taking full advantage of simple, straightforward, well matched flavours.
Two half-slices of good bread (one white, one brown) with butter, is a pound, and serves as a fine starter, which is good because it's the only one on offer. I have to admire, actually, the way they've resisted offering the standard olives / meat platter / pitta and houmous starter selection one might expect. Not a sundried tomato in sight.
I had the grilled sardines with endive, chilli, capers and lemon, and my companion had the ham hock terrine with celeriac remoulade and a roll. We shared seasonal greens, which turned out to be fresh young butter-kissed kale and was absolutely delicious. The endive was a bit of a revelation. I've always thought of it as a fundamentally boring vegetable, but this was a little like roast parsnip and a little like caramelised onion and a little like steamed chinese cabbage, and fell naturally into tender, succulent sections. The celariac remoulade was indistinguishable from ordinary good coleslaw, and the ham terrine was fine but not specially exciting. Everything was just a touch over-salted, which I have to admit was fine by me but it is sort of cheating. We saw a fennel, cucumber and carrot salad (with mint and yogurt dressing) go past and it looked huge and amazing. Remarkably, the mains average at around £7, which for ethical food in Oxford is pretty good. There's also a 15% discount for students and friends of the Hub.
Being cheap, ethical and slightly more business-like than cuddly, the place is packed with the yuppies of the future and the hippies of the past. Nick Drake and Belle and Sebastian create alpha brainwaves unobtrusively in the background. Thespy and clean-cut students and lightly-bearded North and East Oxford types chatter happily at high volume and the ambience is busy but upbeat.
The loos are out into the main building and downstairs, and are freshly painted, clean and well-stocked, and there's a Dyson hand-drier. Someone has cared about the background details here. Corners have been cut to keep the costs down (cutlery and napkins are set out in DIY pots, pub style; you may have to share a table), but they're always the inessential corners.
We shared a chocolate tart and had a flat white and a double espresso. The tart was all right but not as astounding as it should have been for the calories: satisfactorily dense but not sufficiently bitter. Without the creme fraiche it would have been uncompromisingly one-dimensional. Fortunately it came with creme fraiche. The coffee was excellent.
They'll "try to accommodate" special diets, but it's not somewhere I'd take anyone vegan or gluten/dairy/nut free. Great place to take a vegetarian though: three out of the seven mains were veggie. Altogether a really sensible, intelligently-run place, one that doesn't try to ingratiate itself but keeps the love where it should be - in the cooking.
Miranda Rose (DI Staff), 21/02/12
I went for lunch here with a couple of friends. Let me first say, the venue was nice, if a little overcrowded, but that's probably the best thing I can say about our visit.
The food was a tad over priced for what you get; we waited almost an hour for our lunch (soup and sandwiches) to arrive, at which we were surprised, as it wasn't like there was a lack of staff, there were a lot of staff just standing at the counter doing nothing or chatting to each other, sometimes blankly ignoring the customers and continuing with their conversations. When our food was eventually brought out my soup was cold, and had a hair in it! I asked one of the staff for a refund and they were not helpful at all. As someone has already said, the place seems very unorganised, none of the staff knew what to do, and I had to ask them to get a manager to sort out the situation.
They eventually gave me my money back, but I don't think I'll be returning any time soon!
jackr (Unverified), 18/01/12
Great food and a fun atmosphere. Great that coffee only drinkers can't sit at the tables with laptops in the dining area unless they are eating as it annoying enough in Cafe's never to get a table because of some person drinking one cup of coffee for hours and writing a thesis! Great news staff having special coffee making training as have had mixed coffee experiences.
pandora (DI User), 30/11/11
We had a very good meal on a Friday night, moderately priced, well served, all fine. Pate, bream, and apple tart, absolutely faultless. We liked the atmosphere, the place and the staff.
The bar, however, is chaotic, you don't get served for ages. Also, I had anticipated that it might be busy, and phoned to reserve a table, leaving a message which they either didn't pick up or didn't act upon. Consequently you may face queues.
Once they iron out these service-related wrinkles it will be a good spot.
frazipan (Unverified), 26/11/11
Great venue... but it's early days and I'm not sure they've quite got the knack of running a cafe/restaurant.
Service at the bar/counter is poor even when they are not busy (I had a dozen staff walk past me avoiding eye contact one late afternoon) and the coffee is poorly done. No taste, excessively milky, just poorly done.
It's great that it's all for a good cause. Good service and good coffee can help a good cause too.
deskapparrell (Unverified), 16/11/11
Looking for a coffee at around midday on a Saturday, I was lured in by the sight of empty tables in the window. Turns out they're reserved for food-buying customers only - I was asked to drink my coffee in the noisier bar area or the comfy lounge. This would be fine if you want to relax with the papers, but I wanted to work at a table.
The coffee itself was fantastic, if a little on the small side. Staff were friendly and upbeat, though very slow to prepare a basic coffee.
In short, a great place if you want to chat with friends or chill. But not a good place if you want a work-in-a-cafe session.
Penny (Unverified), 12/11/11
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