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The Oxford

3 out of 5 stars

The Oxford bills itself as a gastropub, a place where one can sample beers from around the world as well as enjoy a higher class of food than a standard pub. The menu is full of delicious-looking foods with a decidedly International flair, though it does include shepherd’s pie and bangers and mash. What disturbed me about this was that this was a pub with a theme that couldn’t stick with it. Menu prices were cheekily listed with pound signs rather than dollars. They served fried cod on the menu – a sort of fish and chips but that came with no chips. There were chips on the menu which came with sandwiches but they referred to potato chips, not fries.

The interior decor is exquisite, giving you the feel of three different restaurants in one, the left side being the main bar area with 6 or so large TVs, one of which must be at least 72″. The center dining room leads on formality with white leather chairs, futuristic chandeliers and a few “space pod” booths that look like padded rooms. The right side contains a room with gorgeous LED constellation lighting in the ceiling. The decor isn’t particularly pub-reminiscent other than giant UK flag painted on one wall and a picture here or there of a soccer or rugby team. No international sports were being played on the many TV’s, though.

Food was a bit hit-or-miss. For appetizers, my crowd enjoyed the calamari and the small order of potato wedges, but felt the Caprese was just ok. It is nothing like the traditional- it contains roma tomato and mozzerella yes, but also a herb aioli and the ingredients were melted on top of plain focaccia squares. The combination was interesting but the mayonnaise did not belong – it took away from the delicate flavors of the other items and just added more greasiness. We were excited to try the fried avocado appetizer, but they were out of avocado this evening. It seems to be a popular one.

The bangers from my bangers and mash were described as “boar and cranberry” sausages. The mashed potatoes were good and also the gravy that came on them. The bangers were flavorful, but I detected no cranberry and the sausage was a bit dry. The sauteed spinach which came with the dish was tender but didn’t seem to be seasoned at all, it was bland. Overall I enjoyed my entree but I can’t say that the addition of the fancy ingredients made it any better than a standard bangers and mash. In fact I kept wishing I had peas on the side rather than spinach. Many in our group ordered salads, which they seemed to enjoy – the fried goat cheese salad was particularly popular. Adding meat to the dish doubles the cost, though. A friend who ordered Beef Nottingham (braised ribs off the bone) reluctantly mentioned that they were also a bit dry. Which is strange because ribs should generally be moist due to the fat content. The crowd enjoyed their pub burgers.

My advice? For best value, skip the daring entrees and just order an appetizer or one of the more simple items on the menu to enjoy with the international beer that you can’t find anywhere else. Skip the martini’s unless you know the bartender. Our waiter confirmed that the martini one person sent back was made by the bartender who always gets his drinks sent back. Why do they let that bartender make drinks if he obviously is not good at it? An $11 martini should be made right. The Oxford, however schizophrenic it is, has a delightful atmosphere and the potential to deliver you a wonderful evening, if they are able to work out some kinks. Like many of the upscale businesses downtown, they can’t quite seem to live up to their gastro marketing.

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The Oxford
(919) 832-6622

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