Listed in Pubs and Bars
Upmarket but relaxed pub with decent food and a hire-able upstairs (with staffed bar).
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 12pm-11pm, Sun 12pm-10.30pm . Wifi access available. Games: Pool, machines.. Next events at The Cape of Good Hope
Food served, TV Sport, There are sofas & Live music events Games: Pool, machines.
Quiz Night Tue 28 May: 8.30pm
Language Exchange + Beer! Tue 28 May: 8.00pm. Free/by donation
Open Mic Wed 29 May: 8.30pm. Free entry
Live Lounge Cape Thu 30 May: 8.30pm
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I have to confess I was a little suspicious of the new management of the Cape- solely because they call us “Dialy Info” on their otherwise-excellent website. Fortunately, I am a professional with the class to rise above this sort of thing.
Anyway, the Cpae of Godo Hpoe was taken over by new management late last year, which, coupled with a redevelopment and a new menu, definitely qualifies it for a review (or should that be re-review). One feature of the New and Improved Cape is a packed schedule of events; whether it’s close-up-magic on Mondays, a pub quiz (with an unusually generous £30 first prize) on Tuesdays, or live music pretty much always, the place tends to be lively, and by lively I mean loud and busy. Fortunately for those who prefer a quieter pubbing experience, the vagaries of the English summer keep the “garden” at the back relatively quiet, but if you are in the main bar, expect it to be on the hectic side of crowded.
Still, they manage to get the food out fast no matter how busy the place gets (which isn’t necessarily a good sign, of course). The menu encompasses the firm favourites of pub grub- burgers’n’fish’n’pie’n’chips- but some have a refreshing twist to tempt even the more jaded appetite. Lamb burgers with tzatziki, mascarpone and Chianti lasagne, wasabi and crab fishcakes sit next to more traditional pies and pork products like winebar refugees in a village pub- slightly out-of-place, but intriguing nonetheless. Our party decided to sample both types of dish. First on the “less usual” list was the Taster Plate for two to share, replete with garlic bread, tiny burgers impaled on kebab skewers, hummus and calamari. One of the nice things about this menu is that it does actually give you options between “pack of crisps” and “pie and mash”, with a selection of dishes that would make fine individual starters, or work as somewhere between snack and appetiser when split between a group.
The taster plate did pretty much what it promised, with cute bitesize burgers and simply fantastic crispy garlic flatbread. My fish and chips were very nice- although accompanied by extremely minty mushy peas and tartare sauce complete with whole capers, the fish seemed a little lacklustre. My companion thought the steak, mushroom and ale pie disappointing- not at all bad, but not as delicious as the menu had promised. The pork belly, on the other hand, was pronounced “luscious”, exactly the right mix of crispy and tender, with excellent mustardy mash and (a distinct pub rarity) perfectly-cooked leeks.
Special praise here should be reserved for the Cape’s chips, which skirted the razor-thin line between soggy and burnt to emerge satisfyingly large, combining roast-potato softness within and satisfying crunchiness without. It’s a little detail that was done exactly right- which, to be honest, the Cape needs more of. All the broad strokes on this menu are good. The meat is reassuringly meaty*, the servings are generous, the prices reasonable, the selection broad enough to give variety without inducing paralysis. A few tiny tweaks on each dish- an extra option on the selection platter here, a slightly less grilled burger there- would push this meal out of “good pub grub” into “worth a detour” territory.
Except the pork belly. That was bloody perfect.
*In case you think I’m carnivore-biased, my vegetarian friend pronounced the non-meat options to be perfectly adequate, even if the crudités were a little wilted.
Alwyn Collinson (DI Staff), 22/07/10
Rather than the saying 'there's no such thing as a free lunch' I should probably title this review 'there's no such thing as a GOOD free lunch'. I'm on the Cape's mailing list and received an email recently informing me that they were launching their new menu and would I like to come along and sample their fried chicken, on the house? Well yes, yes I would.
I went along on Monday with high hopes and vague suspicions that there would be something in the small print stating I had to buy a side dish or pudding or some other catch. Fortunately there was none. Sadly the catch was that the food was so dreadful it was borderline inedible. The chicken had been incinerated almost beyond recognition, the odd dry bone poking out being the only reassurance I got that it was indeed chicken, or at least some form of small animal.
The coating on the chicken was brittle and bland and left a distinctly unpleasant old oil flavour in the mouth. Slaw on the side was drenched in mayo and my chips were alright but cold. The dish was badly plated - the chicken in an oversized frying basket which took up most of the plate and didn't allow for anywhere to cut the chicken, the chips in one of those now fashionable little pots which look nice but mean your chips get cold very quickly, and the slaw was in yet another pot. The overall effect was more like items on a tray than food on a plate.
Dr Mukti (DI User), 01/05/13
My partner and I, had excellent and very reasonably priced Sunday lunch today.
He had beef and I had the nut roast (which was delicious, despite the slightly negative connotations usually surrounding non-meat roast dinner). Both came with a Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, broccoli, gravy, carrots and all was delish! Friendly service and a great atmosphere.
VickyJP (DI User), 27/11/11
Went in on Saturday night for drinks and was not impressed. There were perhaps 30 customers at most and two bar staff, with no one waiting at the bar, but despite this every single table had uncollected glasses on it and the bar itself was swimming with spillage that was not mopped up in over an hour. The service was disinterested and the scrumpy cider very watery. All in all a bit of a shame as the decor and plentiful seating area outside for smokers like me would have made me come again. Not recommended!
samsab (DI User), 27/07/09
Drinks are obviously good (if slightly expensive) with a huge range, especially of continental beers and spirits. The general atmos is nice but I always feel the ground floor lacks any character during the day as is too dimly lit and is nearly always chilly. Visited for lunch recently and was disappointed with the slow service and general quality of the food. Had a chicken burger which took ages though we were nearly the only people there, and once it came it was overcooked. My portion of chips with it was small too. My friend's chicken flatbread was apparently quite tasty though.
Joe B (Unverified), 19/02/09
Agreed that the beers are a little pricey and on occasion the service is below par. Apparently they have a mid week deal on at the moment, two dishes and two drinks for £15. Will report back on the outcome.
LassenB (Unverified), 04/02/09
We went to this pub on Sunday expecting a decent roast for £8. They forgot to put the roast potatoes on the plates! When we complained we got given 5 tiny little potatoes to share between two. When we queried this, we were told it was Head Office rules for portion sizes. We asked how we were supposed to share 5 potatoes between two, but all in all, the staff seemed more interested in looking at a laptop with their friend than serving us.
Bad customer service and not outstanding food either!
H (Unverified), 29/04/08
The fact that the Cape of Good Hope served an all day roast was enough to tempt me and a friend into the old scream pub. On first impression the bar was quite smart and had a very good selection of drinks. There were only 2 meat roasts on offer - beef or lamb. There was no broccoli left so we were told we could have peas instead. Now for a roast which costs £8.95 you should expect above average food but this was the worst roast I had ever eaten! The parsnips were practically raw, the meat was so tough I had to leave most of it, the gravy was minimal and watery, the potatoes were undercooked. All in all it was appalling. If you ever consider going to eat here THINK AGAIN!!
mojo baggins (DI User), 27/08/07
Went here on Sunday for what turned out to be a lovely sunday roast both for myself (vegetarian) and my meat eating partner.
Having had a disasterous experience at another Oxford pub we decided to try the Cape of Good Hope having remembered that it did a reasonable Sunday lunch and more importantly offered more than the standard pasta and risotto for vegitarians.
The Vegi Sausages that stood in for the meat on my roast did a fine job and for once I was not left jealous of the choice my partner had (beef or lamb). The sausages were a duo of parsnip and carrot, brilliant. The red wine gravy was thick enough to more than satisfy as a gravy and retained a pleasant hint of red wine, exactly as it should do. The yorkshire puddings were unremarkable and could have been easily done to order rather than as part of a large tray (i got a corner atleast) and the advertised mash was replaced by peas and green beans much to my distress but to the joy of my partner.
Lovely Sunday lunch somewhere that certainly benefits from the students being away on holiday so my advice would be to enjoy before they all get back.
Charlie (Unverified), 23/08/07
I liked the Scream pub better, this is now just a pretentious wine bar, full of posh students and idiots willing to pay £3.50 for a pint of beer.
Matt F (Unverified), 10/07/07
Since it's transformation (thank God), it is now a regular haunt both with colleagues after work and friends over the weekend, food is great, prices are actually pretty reasonable and the Sunday Roasts are superb. Not too keen on the occasional jazz sessions though.
Jamie C (Unverified), 26/03/07
Since late 2006 this god-awful Scream chain pub has been re-incarnated as the Cape of Good Hope. It last had this name back in the early-mid 90's but is now a trendy wine bar that's in keeping with this end of the Cowley Road. Linked in some way to the more pretentious Jericho Tavern on Walton Street, it serves up some fantastic euro beers at steep prices with a good wine list as well. I have been several times and recommend the Fruli strawberry beer on tap and the fiery wasabi peas(served in glasses). Upstairs the old Point music venue is now another bar area with tables for dining and apparently the food is pretty good. Despite its classy image it was loaded with rowdy drunk Oxford Utd fans when I visited first time which was off-putting.
Joe B (Unverified), 14/03/07
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