Towards the end of 2010, I temporarily moved to the Jericho area of Oxford. Migrating from a 3-bedroom house in a village to a no-bedroom studio flat in the city meant my boyfriend and I now lived in close proximity to many eateries, as well as to each other.
To stave off cabin fever we took to venturing out more for meals. Sunday lunch started to become a regular fixture, as did Saturday breakfasts or brunches. Lying in bed, we would weigh up laziness versus hunger, until hunger inevitably won. Sometimes this would mean a brief trot for one martyr down the road to Gluttons deli to snag a Chelsea bun, but occasionally we would rise from underneath the duvet and head out for food.
Joe’s Bar and Grill, 260 Banbury Road, Summertown
French Toast with Maple Syrup and Bacon. It was perfect. The bacon was chargrilled, there was enough maple syrup to keep me happy and the French toast was sooooo crispy! I think, I suspect, there must be some kind of deep-frying or something going on. Perhaps shallow-frying in a lot of fat. I don’t know what it is, but it is the best French toast I have ever had. I’ve also had the Eggs Benedict, but I’m beginning to suspect I don’t really like Hollandaise that much. It all seemed beautifully executed, but every time I have ever had Eggs Benedict I’ve been very neutral about the Hollandaise, and this was no exception.
Branca, 111 Walton Street
Our nearest stop, Branca is a popular Italian restaurant that I noticed, one day, served weekend brunch. I didn’t have to hop up and down too much to persuade my boyfriend we should try it. On a first visit I had the French Toast with Maple Syrup and Bacon, to see how it compared to Joe’s. It was more reasonably priced, but there was less syrup. The bacon was again beautifully chargrilled, and the toast was more like one would expect. It was very good, as were the scrambled eggs with bacon I had on my second visit. Scrambled eggs is a calculated risk, but this was cooked to my taste (soft, moist, buttery).
Jericho CafÃ©, 112 Walton Street
A good all-rounder at any time of the day. Their breakfast didn’t inspire me to such rhapsodies as the places listed above, but that may be down to a lack of maple-syrup-based items more than anything. They do a lusciously creamy gnocchi dish on their non-breakfast menu that both my boyfriend and I have enjoyed on separate occasions.
Combibos, 93 Gloucester Green
I haven’t eaten here for a little while. They stop serving at 11.30am, and the last time we rolled up at about 10.45, they had called time on as they were so busy. However if you do get here before the cut off, they have a great range of breakfast favourites, and I’ve never been let down (foodwise) yet. In fact, even being turned away for cooked food worked out okay, because we swooped in to EdamamÃ© as soon as they opened, and had a lovely early Japanese lunch instead.
CafÃ© Coco Royal Oxford, Park End Street
A very nice full English for a good price. They do a range of pleasant pizza and pasta options later in the day.
Mick’s CafÃ©, Cripley Road
Mick’s is a caff. Prices are very low, it is quick and casual, and the food is filling. It is NOT a gourmet experience. If you want a budget bacon sarnie on the go, or a heap of beans on toast then Mick’s may well be the place for you. I’ve eaten there on occasion, and lots of friends at work swear by it. However I think I’ve become too much of a food snob to enjoy it as much as they do. I knew this day would come.