Coffee lounge which transforms into a pan-Asian buffet (self-service, eat-as-much-as-you-like for a set fee) for lunch and dinner. Free wifi.
Opening hours: 11am - 11pm. Lunch 12 - 2.30pm Mon - Fri, 12 - 3pm weekends. Dinner 6 - 11pm. Fair Trade coffee and hot chocolate. Food served: Indian / Thai / Chinese / Continental buffet. Wifi access available.
Fair Trade products Fair Trade coffee and hot chocolate.
Cuisine: Chinese, Indian & Thai.
Food served & Cocktails
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Latest venue reviews
Having read the reviews, we are delighted with the amount of positive feedback and can only hope that people continue to enjoy our restaurant. We value all customer comments both positive and negative and endeavour to maintain a high standard for existing customers but also to utilise criticism in order to make improvements.
With this in mind, we have greatly expanded our food selection and now offer over 30 dishes in the buffet plus an a-la-carte menu. There is also now a large variety of cocktails available for after dinner drinks or for those who want to enjoy a drink in our sophisticated lounge area without eating.
Once again we want to thank all of our customers for supporting The First Floor and invite you to inform us of anything that we can do to further improve your experience. We can only apologise to those that did not enjoy their visit, with the hope that they will come back and sample our new and improved selection.
The First Floor Team
TheFirstFloor (Unverified), 08/11/12
Am a very big fan of Indian cuisine and after recent trips to Thailand have discovered a new-found love for Thai food. Whilst speaking with a colleague about potential restaurants in the Oxfordshire area which offered such foods (I have been to a few in the last couple years that often offer average service and food), my colleague suggested this restaurant and I thoroughly enjoyed everything about it!
The food was authentic and without a doubt the best Indian cuisine I have had in the last couple of years. The fact that it was offerred as a buffet made this all the more impressive. Whilst predominantly enjoying the Indian cuisine that was on offer, I also tried some of the Thai options and found it to be up there in taste with some of the dishes I ate whilst in Thailand.
On the Saturday evening that I went I booked ahead as suggested by my colleague and found the staff to be extremely helpful. The restaurant is not only well organised but also has a good design. As you come up the stairs, you are greeted by a lobby-like area adjacent to the bar where you can enjoy refreshments before going through to your table. I went with a couple of friends and my partner and the four of us had a 10 minute catch up before being seated. The restaurant was very busy but there was never an issue with the buffet (always seemed to be ample food to help yourself to!) and despite being as busy as they were, never felt the service slip and rarely found myself queueing at the buffet.
I have read some reviews that suggested the restaurant was too noisy, I felt it was busy but never "too noisy". From the moment we entered The First Floor to the moment we left, there was always a vibrant buzz about the place. I never had to shout or raise my voice whilst talking but at the same time didn't feel as if I had to whisper because of the company around me. From the porch entrance all the way up to the toilets I found the whole restaurant very clean and hygenic and as a whole, and cannot offer enough praise to The First Floor and its staff.
My evening was extremely pleasurable and like any group of friends - the night was concluded with a mini-review on the food and restaurant. Both of which were fantastic and I shall definitely be revisiting soon!
Simon B (Unverified), 23/07/12
Visited for lunch on Sunday of the Jubilee weekend, three of us including one child.
Initial impressions were good, restaurant is modern, quite stylish, and the window seating area is quite nice, although the view itself isn't inspiring, being a supermarket and some flats above. Staff were very friendly and efficient and unlike other reviewers we did not experience the staff offering us additional drinks. That said, we ordered three non-alcoholic cocktails. Naan breads (included with the buffet) were cooked fresh to order and were very tasty.
I was initially a bit disappointed by the limited selection of dishes on offer, however, by the end of the meal I certainly felt that I had had a good meal, with sufficient variety and was satisfied. The food itself was tasty, seemed fresh, so no complaints there. When we asked, the staff confirmed that on bank holidays they expect a very limited number of patrons; there were only perhaps 5 tables occupied for lunch over nearly a couple of hours. Maybe that explains what appeared to be a smaller number of available dishes. Unlike another reviewer we did find a reasonable selection of desserts.
My summary is that I thought it was very good value for money (the lunch price with the £1 child offer), whilst the number of dishes may have been a bit limited this was probably due to the bank holiday, the staff were friendly, the surroundings very pleasant and the food was delicious. I would certainly eat there again.
PaulO (DI User), 02/06/12
I have been here a few times, but on the last trip I wasn't so impressed.
It was extremely noisy for most of the meal, as there was a table of noisy rugby lads who kept cheering and were very loud. It was like being in a school dining hall!
The food however was good, with standard Chinese / Thai food, and a good amount of it. But unfortunately the overall experience was spoiled because of the noise!
I probably wont go back there as it was unrelaxing. For the price I'd rather go somewhere else.
Miss Demeanour (Unverified), 25/05/12
Loved it! Staff are friendly and very quick, which I actually liked rather than waiting to be asked what I would like. Atmosphere was great with a fantastic choice of food and the naan breads are in a class of their own, all made to order, fresh and hot.
I suffer from various allergies and they were able to help me with the meal I needed, even though this was organised direct with the kitchen, nothing was too much trouble for them. Even though it was extremley busy they did not forget that I was sat there, and asked if there was anything I needed and cleared everything away quickly and replaced with fresh items, without having to ask, which is very rare.
I would recommend this restaurant to anyone I know and will definitely return to visit them again!!
Well done, keep up the good work!!
Steph (Unverified), 17/12/10
I've eaten here and whilst the staff are quite keen to foist drinks on you - standard behaviour at a place where the hook is a potentially loss-leaderish all-you-can-eat buffet for a set price - I have to say that the choice was decent, the surroundings acceptable/verging on stylish and the food reasonably tasty. As with any of the various all-you-can-eat buffet places around town (Thai Orchid, Mirch Masala, EAMAYL, etc.) I guess the trick is just to get there early enough for there still to be enough choice left, then pick a little bit of everything till you know what you like, then go back for seconds of that. Works for me.
Roo (DI Reviewer), 16/12/10
Offering Christmas Day Dinner plus all-you-can-eat buffet - 12pm until 4pm, £19.95 pp.
Sarah (Unverified), 16/12/10
Visited with a friend for lunch recently. We were greeted and ushered to the window area (as the last reviewer notes below) which offered splendid views of some grotty flats above Boots' opposite! The food on offer looked good though after inspection there were way more than average vegetarian dishes and the only meat on offer in any form was chicken. I guess this was a cost saving measure but as a meatie I was not happy! In addition to this we were asked if we wanted another drink really frequently (I presume this is where they make their money, like most restaurants) and we ended up paying for the Pan-Asian buffet (£8.50) when we initially wanted the light lunch (£5.50) - woops.
Overall, I'm glad I have now tried this place and think it's brave of them to cook dishes from several different cultures in one place. I just left feeling not 100% satisfied.
Joe B (Unverified), 09/12/09
Average quality food… friendly, polite but pushy staff… very small plates… and what’s totally annoying, clients are almost taken by force to sit and eat at the window area, probably to give passersby the impression the restaurant is fully packed with customers.
Lionel (Unverified), 21/09/09
I have eaten in a large number of Oxford's restaurants: I must congratulate the owner and team of the First Floor, as myself and my wife felt the whole experience was outstanding. The food was delicious, you would expect this quality of food to be delivered on a plate to your table in some posh establishment in London with a price to match.
The food was very good, the staff attentive, the atmosphere friendly, and best of all fantastic value for money. I have since been to the restaurant six times this year, and will be returning.
Paul Wallis (Unverified), 09/09/09
I cant think of enough adjectives to describe how wonderful this restaurant is! The food is to die for. The staff are extremely friendly and so are the chefs. Weighing 22 stones, you can safely say I love my food. There was a huge selection of starters, which range from traditional Indian to Oriental and Thai. It's clear there were seperate chefs for each type of food, who have clearly mastered the art of cooking.
I went there last Saturday with my family to open my Ramadan fast. The staff were exceptional. They provided us with dates and ice cold water, and we were then able to get up at our own pleasure and help ourselves as we pleased. The owner personally greeted us, which was nice. The huge sellings points for me on this restaurant were the atmosphere, the furniture and layout of the restaurant. It definitely feels like a lot of money has been spent.
I can safely say the naans at this place are by far the best I have ever tasted in the UK. They were lightly cooked in a tandoor to perfection and then seasoned with whatever flavouring I chose. The curries were exceptional, catering again for everyone. Traditional hot Indian food for the spice orientated, and mellow dishes too for people who prefer the milder option.
Once I had got past the starters and main course, to then be greeted with exceptional desserts is clearly the icing on the cake. My personal favourites were the mango mouse and profiterole cake! They really were exceptional! I would strongly recommend the tender berry cocktail too, which is made with coconut cream, strawberries and ginger ale!
There was eight of us eating on Saturday; looking at the quality and quantity of the food we had in comparison to the bill at the end was definitely worthwhile. Since then I have been back. I went last night just to check that we hadn't fluked it, and as expected our experience was just the same!
All credit goes out to the people behind the First Floor: it really is a flourishing asset to a multi- cultural town such as Oxford.
Umar Mehmood (Unverified), 08/09/09
I think I would not go there again as the food was very cold. I suppose it was on a Saturday and it was closing time. The noodles were very hard and dry. They should have a variety, not just mainly chicken. The dessert was not much of a choice, just fruit salad and crème brûlée. The pickles had too much salt.
Otherwise it's ok.
Pam (Unverified), 16/08/09
The best tasting restaurant food in Oxford! I lived in London for 12 years and then Birmingham for 3 years. In the last year and a half living in Oxford I've tried numerous restaurants and cafes. I have to say honestly they have all been a complete waste of time and money till now. Finally, I don't have to travel miles to Brum or London to get some half decent food. Most of the so called Indian food in Oxford is mainly Bengali style, no offence to my Bengali cousins, but it's a long way off from good North Indian and Pakistani cuisine, definitely been adapted to the white taste.
So, my partner and I went to the First Floor restaurant on a Saturday evening. We felt there was a decent range and good flavours for an Oxford restaurant. The Indian options were still typically Oxford flavours, so avoid if you want authentic North Indian/Pakistani tastes. But the pan-asian was great, 'cept the Malaysian chicken needs more work (and I've spent enough time in Kuala Lumpur to say).
The chocolate cake was to die for, very light mousse.
profess75 (DI User), 03/08/09
We went to the First Floor Restaurant on Wednesday night. The restaurant is really nice, very modern.
We both had high expectations, but sadly we were disappointed. There just didn't seem to be enough choice for each section and I really don't know where the food was for the continental bit, apart from a bit of pasta, there wasn't any pizza or soup and I had read in previous reviews about the lovely desserts - what desserts?! There were 3 things: fruit salad, creme brulée, and something else which I can't remember the name of! I was expecting at least a few nice cakes!
I'm not sure, but was it because it was a Wednesday night and cheaper and quieter than going at the weekend that they just didn't bother to cook the whole range? And the lack of choice for dessert? That's how it seemed, and it would be interesting to hear from other people who have been in the week to see if they had a similar experience.
We certainly won't be in a hurry to go back. Maybe they should just stick to two types of themes maybe Chinese and Indian and have more of a range for both.
Overall a very disappointing meal. Ps I agree that most of the dishes seemed quite spicy and I like a bit of spice but think they over did it a bit!
PW (Unverified), 01/07/09
Went here for our wedding anniversary. Didn't enjoy the food at all - seemed to taste all the same - very spicy. Friendly staff. Nice puddings.
The Piglets (DI User), 17/05/09
Forget your typical student establishment with dreadful food, service, and inflated drink prices - this is for all you young, middle aged and mature Oxford people, like me, who complain that Oxford has very few places to eat or drink that you would take a relative or friend from out of town. The atmosphere is so welcoming, service excellent without being OTT, and the staff very pleasant. Where else can you relax over a cup of coffee without a racket of garage music or the constant chatter of laptops? Well done First Floor, you deserve to succeed.
splash (DI User), 21/04/09
Tried out TFF today: friendly staff, relaxed atmosphere, beautiful decor. Definitely worth a return trip.
Z (Unverified), 28/03/09
I went to 'First Floor' last week after a friend kept telling me how great it was, well my friend certainly wasn't wrong. I would recommend this place to anyone: lovely food, a very wide range of dishes to choose from, very attentive staff who were very friendly without being 'too much in your face'. The atmosphere was relaxed and we were not at all rushed. What can I say? Just can't wait to go back.
angela (Unverified), 23/03/09
They are going to have to do better than this: to start with the positives - The location is good, the decor was a high standard. The atmosphere was OK, but the restaurant for a Saturday night was not exactly buzzing being less than half full with staff standing around. The service was good.
A wide selection of choices on offer, but for each choice that I tried the quality never impressed. Nice bottle of Rioja 2006 though.
feedme (DI User), 22/03/09
I took my family here for my mother's birthday and whispered to one of the lovely waiters that it was a special day. We were thrilled with the excellent service anyway, but on top of that they brought balloons for our table at a moment's notice and surprised us all with a cake and a happy birthday tune at the end of the meal. The food here is excellent, I couldn't really fault anything I tried, although if you're not a fan of spicy food you may have to be a bit careful what you choose!
I agree with the ladies who reviewed this restaurant in December - do make sure you leave room for pudding, these are delicious. I think a couple of my family went home feeling a little ill but that's because they couldn't stop eating not because of the amazing quality of the food! I recommend this restaurant to everybody, I think it will become one of my favourite places to eat in Oxford.
Lou (Unverified), 20/02/09
Having been to the First floor restaurant we found the food exceptional. The buffet was regularly replenished and staff very warm and friendly. The food labelling was well executed and well laid out. It is a HALAL restaurant so there is no possibility of pork being present on the buffet. We would like to wish The First Floor every success for the future.
Mandy (Unverified), 11/02/09
Despite the studied innocence of their font, The First Floor is no small player in the restaurant scene. It's newly opened on the Cowley Road, and there's obviously some serious backing behind it.
A relatively small entrance onto the road, next to Helen and Douglas House charity shop, takes you in to a smart central atrium. Upstairs the atrium (with promiment lift) is a central feature, as is the panoramic if unlikely view of Cowley Road and all its delights. I can imagine that this is a lovely place for coffee while you watch the bustle below.
Waiting staff were keen, and because they're not serving the food they're not too busy, leading to very attentive service. They whisked away crockery and cutlery, and glasses getting a little low were topped up to the brim before we'd realised what was happening.
Classic and non-alcoholic cocktails were on offer. "Exotic pineapple" was flamboyantly served, and refreshing, though not made from freshly pressed fruit juice. Margarita contained ice slush. Good salt rim, but very sour limes as if they were under-ripe.
Cono Sur Cabernet Sauvignon Carmenère was very nice, and £18 per bottle. They have an interesting and varied selection of wines, intelligently described, including fair trade and organic options. There was no indication the food matched up to these high ethical standards! Three whites, two reds and both rosés were available by the glass, or if your budget's a bit grander there's Dom Perignon at an eye-watering £145 per bottle!
The food was plentiful and drew from all ranges of the advertised 'pan-Asian' cuisine. Roughly broken down into areas of culinary similarity, there is certainly no shortage of choice. A surprisingly varied selection of palette cleansers and/or appetisers including gerkhins, olives, unidentified but tasty pickle (possibly lime) and a very more-ish honey and chilli offering. All go well with the small flatbreads offered as accompaniment.
Following round the U-shaped food serving arrangement takes you from rice, noodles and a delightful if suprising creamy pasta dish to chinese, via indian and finally slices of pizza! This appeared to be the token Continental dish. I am not sure where this fits into the overall culinary vision, but assume it's there because some people like to have pizza with everything, which is quite fair enough.
Dishes seemed freshly cooked and things that ought to be are pleasingly crunchy. In fact the heating lamps are so effective the spoon handles are quite crispy too. Quality of ingredients is that one would expect from the middle range of the takeaway market. Of note is the extensive salad area in the middle of the U. Large bowls of chopped tomatoes, cucumber, yellow/green pepper and iceberg. Yum, and lots of it. Also recommended is the tasty apple salad.
There is certainly no shortage of choice. An interesting plateful can be achieved at every visit. We particularly liked stir-fried vegetables with large mushrooms. Popadoms and prawn crackers were also available in quantity. The Indian subcontinent is represented by delicious deep-fried tempura crossed with bhaji vegetables, and curry made of a meat I couldn't identify, possibly chicken. Of course it would not be pork as the restaurant is Halal.
The whole issue of labelling was interesting - neat little placards identified Pizza and Spicy Wings, which we had worked out anyway! We guessed there might be more labels on their way. In the meantime vegetarians had to check with nearby staff which dishes were safe for them. Meanwhile you needed to be adventurous, as you can't be sure what meat you were choosing, nor how hot the curries are!
Dessert was covered by fruit salad (which goes well with the other salads as a main course) and apple fritters flanked by whipped cream and chocolate sauce, as you prefer. Some chocolate tower cakes appeared later in the proceedings. This is a place to go to hungry, and we'd recommend starting with dessert, to make sure you have room for it.
Latin American music added a very different flavour to an already overloaded plateful. The other noise issue was to do with the acoustics - the large and echoey space sounded atmospheric and busy with few diners. However it proved hard to communicate effectively with waiting staff. While more people might muffle the resonance they'd also make more noise.
A colouring sheet for children is on offer, with animals representing the different nationalities of food. There's a rack of newspapers and comfy sofas. Our bill came to £54 for two, including wine and cocktails. We'd recommend going to sample the buffet while it's 20% off.
Jen Pawsey (DI Reviewer), 11/12/08
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