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Queen's Lane Coffee House

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Listed in Restaurants and Cafés

Vies with the considerably posher Grand Cafe on the opposite side of the road for the title of England's oldest coffee shop.
Opening hours: Mon - Sat 7.30am-8pm, Sun 9am-8pm. Wheelchair friendly.
Cuisine: French, Italian / Pizza, Lebanese / Greek & British.

Good wheelchair/buggy access
40 High Street

Mon - Sat 7.30am-8pm, Sun 9am-8pm
Telephone: 01865 240082

Map Website

picture of Queen's Lane Coffee House

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Reviews of Queen's Lane Coffee House

Tried this place again recently having used it on and off 6 months prior. The paninis are still good but the coffee was nothing like as good as it used to be. I understand the place had a reputation for coffee but they must have changed what they used to serve. The service was polite as ever but I left feeling a bit disappointed they can't give continuity.

Jeepers , 23/02/12

My experience of this venue has been distinctly mixed. It's comfortable and actually rather well presented; the toilet facilities are cared for. The food (I've had it on a couple of occasions) is quite tasty.

However, twice now, the waitresses have forgotten the food part of my order. In 2011 I ordered scones and jam, and it never turned up, and last weekend I ordered a pain au chocolat, which was also forgotten. The worst thing about the last incident is that the item still went on the bill! With little apology or grace, the item was crossed off it when I pointed out that I hadn't actually been served it.

This didn't happen at a particularly busy time, and is the kind of thing that annoys people and makes them not want to come back. It doesn't make people feel welcome or valued as customers. It'd be easily remedied with a bit of staff training.

Stx42 (DI User), 20/01/12

The Vegetarian Breakfast was very disappointing for nearly £6, one piece of thin white toast with a sprinkling of scrambled egg and mushrooms, and the 'tomatoes' turned out to be just a tomato cut in half. I was left so hungry I had to go home and make a sandwich. The tea is also the worst kind you can expect from an establishment with 'coffee' in the title (a la Costa et al) - a tea bag in a big coffee cup as opposed to the tea leaves in a pot that many other places on the High offer. I'm sure for coffee and full-English breakfasts this is not a bad place (my girlfriend quite liked her smoothie and Deluxe Breakfast), but I think for tea drinking veggies there are at least a couple of good options nearby (including the Grand Café and Patisserie Valerie). It's a classic Oxford location and is always packed, so I sense the proprietors think they don't need to try very hard, the next time I'm on the High for breakfast I won't be be returning to the Queen's Lane Coffee House (at least not in a hurry).

Tea Nerd , 02/05/10

I go to Queens with my friends to have fun and some stimulating conversation. The coffee is great. I have no idea what the takeaway paninis are like as I always eat in or make food myself at home. The place is very busy - what does that tell you? It is very popular! Get over it!  :)

Badger , 08/11/08

I've had a love/hate relationship with Queen's Café in the past. Sometimes the food is very nice, but sometimes it's slow and dreadful. I suspect it's because the café is often packed, and when busy, the staff simply cannot keep up.

Eating in aside, I've had several disasters when trying to take away simple panini/drink combinations. The latest escapade was with several friends, when I ordered 5 sandwiches to take away for the group. 2 ham panini, 2 salami, and one baguette. Not rocket science, but somehow I only got 3 panini, despite several confirmations and much gesturing to the server. The main problem was when the server grilled my baguette (vegetarian baguette with tomato and lettuce: why would you grill this?), and a few minutes later his boss started to berate him loudly, saying that you should never grill a baguette. The same said boss then bags the ruined baguette, and hands it to me. I tell him that I wanted it fresh, not cooked, and his reply was, incredibly: "it's only slightly grilled".

One of my friends then found a penny in her panino. Upon returning to the cafe (after punting, so a couple of hours later), they gave me a rather dismissive "oh, that's not possible, the food is prepared in the kitchen, and there's no money in there".

The food can be ok, but not cheap, and don't expect efficient or polite service!

MZ , 08/05/08

Stuck in Oxford early on a Saturday morning, unwilling to have coffee out of a Styrofoam cup or a bun served on a plastic tray, I resolved on trying this place. The cafe looked closed when I arrived shortly after 8am, but at closer inspection waitresses were in action in the kitchen and another customer was already in, so I chose a table and proceeded to look at the extensive breakfast menu. I didn’t fancy the full house, so I went instead for scrambled eggs, bacon, orange juice and tea. In a matter of minutes, the waitresses served the drinks, shortly followed by an excellent portion of scrambled eggs and bacon. What can I say, the scrambled eggs were delicious, and not the powdery stuff you often get these days, the bacon was done to perfection. All in all an excellent breakfast experience, however, not an inexpensive one as the bill came up to over £7. Yes, I know I should have gone for the full house which at just over £5 seemed definitely good value for money, but after a long night the thought of baked beans with ham and melted cheese didn’t really appeal, so I am not complaining and I can definitely recommend this place.

Josh , 08/04/06

Reputed to be the oldest coffee house in Oxford dating from 1654, Queen's Lane Coffee House's recent refit has enhanced the feel of this traditional Café , and made it much more spacious. It serves hot chocolate and coffee for £1.45, a selection of cakes and pastries, but also some fantastic sandwiches at a good price. Cold sandwiches come at around £2 - £2.45, while hot sandwiches, either as paninis or ciabattas start at £3 and are served with salad and nachos. You can get a good cream tea with clotted cream for £2.45 a person, but, thankfully, it's not all olde English: the house platter of humus, falafel and dolmas at £4.50 is excellent for sharing (well, you might want to get two if you're hungry) perhaps with a bottle of wine (limited but sound choices here start at £10.45 for a bottle of Muscadet).

It's at breakfasts - all day long - that Queen's Lane really excels.There's a range of well-priced choices, from a great value full English for £5.50, including coffee and orange juice. Beans on toast is a reasonable £2.75 for a good portion. The breakfast bap with sausage, bacon, fried egg and tomato is £2.95, as is a vegetarian choice with mushrooms, scrambled egg and tomato.

There are some nice contrasts in Queen's Lane - the watercolours of Oxford Colleges on the wall alongside a wide selection of auto magazines in a rack (for the non-Jeremy Clarksons among you, they also keep daily newspapers), traditional English food juxtaposed with the more cosmopolitan influences of North African and Mediterranean cooking. It can be smoky, but service is friendly and efficient. No credit cards.

Abby Chicken , 03/12/03

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