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Latest venue reviews
Last night my wife and I decided to redeem our Groupon Voucher worth £55.00 (for a steak, bellini cocktails and desert for two). We were running a little late for our booking following a late meeting, but the staff were friendly and accomodating.
However, this did not make up for our dissappointment with the meal.
We had bellinis and ordered a starter of garlic bread with cheese (this was an extra £3.50). Given the value of the voucher, we anticipated a good sized meal. When they arrived, we were both suprised that the steaks seemed no bigger than around 4 ounces, and although my wife's was ok, mine was a bit grizly. A few chips, one mushroom and some beans accompanied the steak. Then came desert - lemon cheese cake and chocolate brownie. These were fine - good sized portions and lots of flavour.
The portions we got seemed a lot smaller than those being presented to other diners.
In summary, if we had ordered a starter, main, desert and coffee and from the menu - it would not have come to £55. We left dissappointed and felt the voucher misleading. It also cost another £11.70 on top of the voucher value for the extra drinks and bread that we had.
We did not feel that we got the true value of the voucher and are thankful that we only paid £24 for it, because that was all that we felt the meal was worth.
We won't we going there again in the near future.
Abruzzo (Unverified), 06/02/13
Had another lovely meal on Saturday night. The calamari was very tasty and the pork loin from the specials menu was delicious. The service was, as always, great. Highly recommended.
Sasa (Unverified), 29/01/13
Great value and atmosphere at the Oxford Retreat, had the best fish and chips ever and rib eye steak. Staff are exceptional and nothing is too much trouble. Will be going back as for the money paid it's so much more than pub grub.
Mrs Jolly (Unverified), 18/11/12
Having not eaten at the Retreat for a while I bought a groupon voucher which we redeemed this evening. The steak and mash was excellent washed down very nicely with the bellini and great value too. The menu read really well and the dishes we saw looked lovely. Well done Retreat we will be back very soon paying full price!
Jan (Unverified), 22/10/12
Despite to the pouring rain and dark night, we found this easily and there was pay parking close by. The staff were warm and friendly, and the place bristled with a cheerful and festive atmosphere. The meal was the best steak I have had in years: every thing was delicious - from the house Malbec and recommended cider - to the dessert. The staff could not have been more attentive and our table was cozy and romantic. We are new to Oxfordshire and if driving is an issue, it is very close to Gloucester Green bus station.
2yanks (DI User), 28/09/12
I used to come to The Oxford Retreat all the time when I lived in Oxford and always loved it, but was slightly worried it had gone downhill after stumbling across a recent bad review. I am so happy that I went along anyway. The food was excellent, the staff were helpful and friendly and we also took advantage of the good weather by sitting in the garden.
All in all it was a lovely way to spend Friday and meant I had a fab Oxford reunion.
Alice S (Unverified), 02/04/12
This used to be quite good...run by a decent landlord, good beer, background music, open fire in winter.
Seems to have been taken over by a much younger crowd....heavy rock music, fire not lit at all, lights turned off. Beer's ok though.
Pity 'bout that.
mastersandman (Unverified), 20/01/12
I've lived in Oxford for 3 years and only just found this place. It's fabulous! I have sadly wasted the past three years frequenting the more famous 'Morse' pubs in Oxford. This pub is different, with a true community atmosphere. The staff are friendly and the food is not just run-of-the-mill pub grub, it is actually restaurant standard. I have now tried the steak, the fish and chips, the pumpkin salad and the sweet pepper risotto. Every single one was created with skill and detail. I cannot recommend this place enough. Well done The Oxford Retreat! You have a new loyal customer.
Mike Richardson (Unverified), 23/10/10
I travel to Oxford from the states once a year to do research at the university, I can never go without going to the Oxford Retreat. I have been to dozens of pubs across the UK in the past five years and the OR is still my favorite, also has the very best bangers and mash I have ever had anywhere, and I have compared! The building has great atmosphere and the staff was also very nice. I recommend it highly.
I've been to the Oxford Retreat twice recently with rather large groups. Both times the service and food were excellent and for an extremely reasonable price. The ordering was clear and easy and all the food for each course came together with the utmost of skill and attention from the wonderful staff. The drinks kept coming at an appropriate rate too!
It's great to see a place where the serving staff are clearly proud of what they are doing and the kitchen staff take so much care to prepare the food so expertly making it look and taste so nice.
If you're looking for somewhere to take a large-ish group (10-30 perhaps) then I would highly recommend The Oxford Retreat. They also let you pay separately at the bar as you leave. That works really well and avoids the normal bill-nightmare.
Tony Brett (DI User), 18/02/10
The Oxford Retreat has been one of our favourite restaurants for a very long time. This year, I booked my wife and I in for our anniversary Valentine's meal. The food, which is always amazing, was exceptional. I had beautifully cooked scallops and prawns served with a bisque sauce and my girlfriend had a light salmon mousse.
For mains, we both had lamb which was tender and full of flavour, although the sea bass looked equally delicious.
The desserts were exquisite and summed up a perfect evening and helped make this night a night to remember.
The price was surprisingly low for the quality of the food that we were served; the service was polite, friendly and unimposing.
This is now our number one restaurant in Oxford and we will recommend it to all our friends. A very special place with a very talented chef.
Mike Hanlon (Unverified), 16/02/10
Visited the Oxford Retreat recently and it was great. Lovely candlelit supper, the best steak I have ever had, great friendly service and a very decently priced wine list. The bill was also surprisingly good considering we consumed two bottles of wine! I would highly recommend going there for a lovely cosey supper. Its also very central so easy to get to.
Lucy (Unverified), 09/02/10
I have just returned from a weekend in Oxford with my girlfriend. We had searched the internet for a place to eat and decided the menu at the Oxford Retreat sounded the nicest. We weren't disappointed, the service and food were excellent. The Manager was very friendly and made us very welcome. I can not recommned this bistro/restaurant highly enough, if you are a local or visiting Oxford you must try this place. 10/10
Dubliners (Unverified), 31/01/10
Best beer garden in Oxford. Went here the other night for a few drinks with the intention of heading on to a club but ended up staying until 3am. Once the restaurant shut, they served amazing stone baked pizzas in the garden. Very cool clientele. Will be back!
Sam (Unverified), 30/11/09
Have been to the Retreat several times now and each time have been extremely impressed by the place. The service is always top notch, you never have to wait too long for your food and the food itself has always been delicious. Highly recommended are the Risottos and the Sunday Roast. The atmosphere in the place is also extremely relaxed and very pleasant.
anh (Unverified), 11/04/09
I visited the Oxford Retreat last weekend with my family, who cover a wide age range and include a vegetarian and a VERY fussy eater.
The staff went out of their way to make sure that we could all eat really well and were very attentive during our meal. The food was fantastic, all credit to a very accomplished chef.
We stayed for some drinks long into the afternoon and found the atmosphere and general attitude of everyone in the bar to be very welcoming. I would fully recommend a visit to this wonderful bar...and if the sun shines you can also make the most of the terrace at the rear of the bar which is a great place to catch up and relax.
Kelly (Unverified), 05/08/08
If there was a prize for 'most-improved pub', The Oxford Retreat should definitely win. There is a very relaxed atmosphere and they have somehow managed the impossible and cater for pretty much everyone. The staff are kind, well-trained and attentive. The food is of a very high standard - and not stupidly expensive.
I've found it entirely suitable for a 'works do' - they will even reserve small areas / tables for you, even if you are not eating. And they sell well-kept London Pride. It's a great place to meet (near bus and train stations). You will probably plan to go on somewhere else and end up staying here all night.
Riverboy (DI User), 06/05/08
I was a regular at The Retreat when I was at Oxford, and aside from the friendly atmosphere, smart design and great drinks, I WOULD SELL MY SOUL FOR THE CONFIT OF PORK BELLY. I can only hope that I'll be back there soon.
Charlie M (Unverified), 22/04/08
Went recently for drinks only having not visited since it was converted to a wine bar from the fight club that was the old Antiquity Hall. Was very surprised and pleased with what I found.
The re-fit has breathed new life into the place and it now feels really classy and quite trendy. The sandstone style bar is a lovely feature and the range of spirits luring behind it is even more impressive. I had a rarely seen Kirin draught beer which tasted very average, but that's not the bar's fault.
Seating is generally of the sofa and pouffe variety with the left hand bar area given up to dining tables. There's a small kitchen hatch (perhaps disturbing situated next to the toilets) so you can check the chefs are not using the microwave or slacking off too much. I presume they think this adds a high class restaurant touch but then again Nando's and Wagamama both do this as well.
Recommend if with a partner as the ambience is relaxed and the drink selection impressive, but if you're with a work party or football team night out this place is not for you.
Joe B (Unverified), 06/04/08
The Oxford Retreat has improved drastically. On my previous visit, well before Christmas, the soup I ordered was far too salty (and I really like my salt) and the range of starters we ordered were nice, but nothing special.
However, I had lunch there recently and was very pleasantly surprised and impressed with the standard of the food. I ordered two starters (no main!), both of which were on special, and restrained myself from ordering a third - the Chicken Livers sounded divine and I was sorely tempted. Reminding myself that ordering two starters is just within the realms of decent gourmandizing and that to order a third would just be gluttonous, I settled on the Smoked Salmon Roll filled with a Salmon Mousse and the King Prawns and Scallops.
The Salmon was good. Hard to get wrong really, but some places insist on serving up poor quality stuff akin to what you might pick up on BOGOF in Sainsbury's. This was no such thing. My companion ordered the soup of the day (Butternut Squash), which was deliciously creamy with hints of pepper and not too sickly sweet. I thought it was pretty delicious. He then followed with the Roasted Vegetable and Feta Bruschetta which again, I couldn't find fault with.
The star of the show, without doubt was the King Prawn and Scallop dish. Superbly presented on tiny blobs of creamy mashed potato which had the perfect hint of sweetness the excellently cooked Scallops and Prawns were a sheer delight.
Dr Mukti (DI User), 27/02/08
After a busy day travelling, my boyfriend and I arrived in Oxford gasping for somewhere warm where we could relax and enjoy a nice beer. The place that ticked all the boxes, and added a fantastic atmosphere to boot, was the Oxford Retreat.
We ended up staying for dinner (I had the very tasty chilli coriander calamari) and my boyfriend had what has to be the BEST steak in history. Served with perfectly cooked beans and topped with gorgeous mushrooms and bacon, we didn't think this could get much better.. and then.. we tasted the accompaniement, a stock, brandy and mushroom jus.. this was absolutely divine and will keep me coming back to this wonderful, warm and friendly pub.
Laura & Stuart (Unverified), 03/02/08
I went to The Oxford Retreat for the first time just after Christmas as a friend from work had recommended the venue. After a long day's shopping in the sales, we were so pleasantly surprised to enter the warm, intimate and very welcoming pub. For a Tuesday afternoon, the venue was reasonably busy and definitely had a nice "buzz" about it. We all had a goblet of their speciality steaming hot spiced cider, on recommendation by the very friendly bartender. It was delicious! We sat on one of their comfy leather sofas by the fire and ended up staying there for most of the evening. I didn't get a chance to try the food but will definitely go back as the restaurant looked busy and the menu seemed very well priced. I would definitely recommend this place to anyone in town. It is well worth walking down George Street to get to and is probably the best venue that we have found in Oxford for a relaxed "girlie" wind down. Full marks indeed!
Joanna (Unverified), 14/01/08
The Oxford Retreat is doing quite a lot right. At first glance, the set-up seems slightly curious: the bar, which is often lively, is a bit close to the romantically lit dining section, where polished wooden tables, shiny cutlery and couples quietly clinking glasses might be expected to mix uneasily with the usual atmosphere of a pub or cocktail bar. But although the bar area can get quite crowded, the dining tables are sheltered enough for the effect to be of a snug cocoon from which to people-watch, and the noise of the standing drinkers is reduced to a pleasing bustle.
The food on this occasion, was also an interesting mix. To the usual choice of upmarket wine-bar meals (sirloin steak, hearty salads, posh fish and chips, calves’ liver…) was added the decidedly swish Christmas menu, including offerings such as parsnip and roasted chestnut soup finished with honey and chantilly cream, and Scottish salmon supreme with scallops. I’m not sure that parfait of fois gras with chicken livers is really a wise choice for a review piece, as it’s bound to be lovely anyway (it was) and I have to own up online to eating fois gras (I did), but, ah well. A more prosaic pint of prawns went down equally well – generous, and with a distinctly lemony lemon mayonnaise; small thing, but important. The varied menu allowed us cheerfully to end up with wildly disparate main courses. The confit of pork belly with crushed garlic potatoes was absolutely delicious, if unexpectedly sticky, and beware: when they say garlic they mean garlic – gorgeous but lonely. The chicken burger was, well, what you might expect by way of a decent pub meal, while the shared pudding of white and dark chocolate roulade was a real treat; rich and moist. This lot came to £62 with wine and coffee, and I only wish I’d had room for a ‘retreat mince pie’.
The staff were kind and attentive, and when we managed to knock over a wine glass they swept it up so quickly and discreetly that we only felt like complete idiots for a second or two. They kept popping up to ask how our food was, once before we’d had a chance to try it, then sensitively disappeared and left us to get on with it. I must also mention the table, which, though not too high to eat from comfortably, came right up to my chest and made me feel like an excited child allowed to sit up with the grown-ups. Which could be why the glass got knocked over.
This place is well worth a visit, it’s intimate but busy and people seem to take an interest in whether you’re having a good time. The food, though it sometimes misses the mark slightly, is prepared with attention and imagination. Offering cocktails, real ale, candlelit dining and Sky Sports, The Oxford Retreat is a bar that tries to be all things to all people. Unlikely as it may seem, it succeeds.
Susie Cogan (DI Staff), 20/12/07
Went to the Oxford Retreat for the first time with the wife last week and we have not had such friendly and attentive service anywhere! Food was excellent and a nice mix of rustic bar food and top restaurant food (loved the pork belly!) Definitely going back!
Phil (Unverified), 18/12/07
Just had our staff Christmas party for 15 people here. Amazing food, friendly (and good looking!) waiting staff and the manager came over to our table to welcome us. Couldn't have asked for a better venue! Thank you Oxford Retreat. Will be back next year!
JS (Unverified), 11/12/07
We went last week and the food was outstanding even for my veggie friend, great beer and service and the waitress was very cute too!!! Well done Retreat we'll be coming back .
Just spent my 30th Birthday celebrating in here with my partner and some very good friends. What can I say.... Fantastic! Great value for money with more than enough on the menu to please us (including one vegetarian!) Very accommodating service - We wanted to watch the Rugby before sitting down to eat, which they happily factored in. Sadly they couldn't arrange for us to win the rugby!
A sophisticated establishment with a down to earth atmosphere. Perfect! The owner, manager and all the bar staff were fantastic and I would definitely recommend it to all.
Thanks for a great evening.
Claire (Unverified), 22/10/07
Having a rare Sunday off we decided on a pub lunch. We called first to make sure that they were still serving and, more importantly, to ensure they had vegetarian meals on offer. We were assured that as well as the standard pasta and risotto there were 'loads of other' vegetarian options! Fantastic!
Things started well with an enthusiastic and pleasant bar man, but out of 7 or 8 specials available not one was vegetarian, not even the soup. The menu did indeed offer more vegetarian delights.....Garlic mushrooms as a starter and not one but TWO risottos. For a 'modern' pub menu I can only deduce the Chef and Manager have no imagination or understanding of what is expected of them. We did not have to deal with the embarassment of explaining why we were leaving because once the lovely bar man had enthusiastically recomended the roast and pointed us to a table no other member of staff came anywhere near us.
For somewhere that has obviously put some effort into refurbishment it is a shame they didn't do the same with their menu.
We can however thank them for the lovely meal we eventually had elsewhere. The manager and chef from the Oxford Retreat would do worse than to have a sneaky look at other people's menus; which might give them some inspiration.
Charlie (Unverified), 22/08/07
I eat here all the time and all I can say is that the Manager is the friendliest person I've met despite what I've read on this page - the staff are top class and the food is even better - have a chat with Mark the chef he knows his food - check out the mad mojitos - very nice!
Andrew (Unverified), 10/05/07
Restaurant: Food is good, certainly better than average for Oxford and reasonably priced: Mains at under £9. The specials are good and there is a wide selection without going overboard. Wine list is on the short side, but with an adequate choice of second and third tier wines. Service was attentive without being too intrusive. Restaurant is usually busy and so booking is generally wise.
Bar: Service is good and the bar staff cheery - BUT they need to learn how to make cocktails. Occasional real howlers. This is a point they really need to work on. Really busy at the weekends due to proximity to clubs and they have bouncers on the door.
Anon (Unverified), 30/04/07
This could be a lovely restaurant, but it is spoiled by an exceedingly rude manager, who would do well to follow the friendly and helpful example of his bar staff. Both our food and drink order had to be changed because of unavailability, but the unapologetic manager withdrew the bar staff's offer of complementary coffee because, he informed us, the two different replacement bottles of champagne we were given actually added up to the original price we paid. Also, on Saturday night at least, the name "Oxford Retreat" is very ill chosen: there were two hen parties and a stag do, though the manager didn't say a word to the noisy stag revellers! Given that the food was nothing to write home about, we won’t be going back.
EAD (Unverified), 30/04/07
Certainly better than the days of Antiquity Hall - not a fight in site! The restaurant has a calm feeling to it, but the food is overpriced. I recently went for Sunday lunch which although very rich and delicious, cost £12 each and was swimming in red wine jus, bit stingy on the vegetables as well.
I would go back to try the rest of the menu mid week. However, bar staff very friendly.
Debs (Unverified), 16/04/07
The cocktails and decor of this place are amazing as are the bar staff. The food also looked great. However we found the manager extremely rude: he seemed to be unhappy that we extra people in our party, so he demanded we move to stand by the bar rather than sit down. We were made to feel distinctly unwelcome. I have never been spoken to like this before. Our group were mild mannered, post graduate folk, and 3 of us have been involved in Christian ministry. I'd never go back.
Rev (Unverified), 25/01/07
This pub has been transformed into the most sophisticated, welcoming place in town. If you're out centrally you must go along for the cocktails, which are amazing. The food was mouthwatering and choice is wide so it's possible to please everyone. Definitely the most exciting thing to hit Oxford in a while, craving a Cosmo now!
Anon (Unverified), 16/12/06
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