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A new series looking at the best dining options within walking distance (1.5 miles) of city landmarks worldwide. Here we offer our 5 IDEAL restaurants close to the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

The Bodleian Library, in Oxford, is one of the world’s oldest and most iconic, housing over 12 million items and supplying the knowledge and inspiration which gave us the internet, the Hobbit and the unification of quantum theory and general relativity. It’s an absolute monument to intelligence, rigour and discipline, and just so happens to be bang in the centre of Oxford, with arms open to all, making it an easy focus of a day’s sightseeing in the city of dreaming spires.

We’re just thankful that the university’s great alumni weren’t distracted by the myriad great food options close by, or maybe Newton’s well documented search for a proper phat Thai may have taken priority over mooching under that tree. We’ll never know….

Anyway, here are 5 IDEAL restaurants close to the Bodleian Library.

Quod (0.1 mile)

You’d be forgiven for entering Quod, seeing tables of proud parents and reluctant scholarly offspring, and making assumptions. Assumptions that the food will be the identikit bistro kind found in establishments of this nature in every student town in the country. Assumptions that prices will match. You’d be wrong though. Quod is an unassumingly classy affair, unmissable on the High Street, but quite private and intimate within. The weekday set lunch menu, where you can get two courses for just shy of £17, is a snip.

Address: 92-94 High St, Oxford OX1 4BJ

Website: www.quod.co.uk

Kazbar (0.6 miles)

Located at the mouth of Cowley Road, where the vibe of the city changes from spires and whimsy to something a little more gritty (we much prefer Cowley, if you’re asking), is Kasbar. Part cocktail part meze bar, this is a cool place, whether you’re drinking or eating, make no mistake. Kasbar has some serious style and personality, with lowlit lighting and Moroccan decor setting a scene which you can sink into for the whole evening. The merguez sausage is superb, as is the babaganoush. Stay for the sangria.

Address: 25-27 Cowley Rd, Oxford OX4 1HP


Gee’s (0.8 miles)

It’s not often we prefer lunch to dinner, but Gee’s demands natural light to fully appreciate its majesty. Set in an iconic Victorian greenhouse, the restaurant is stunning architecturally and the food’s ain’t half bad either, managing to be both light and gutsy, a tricky balancing act pulled off with aplomb. Mediterranean is the watchword here, although loosely, with an ingredient led menu elevated by a lightness of touch in the kitchen. The pizzetta are perennially popular, and we always stick around for a freshly cut Cuban, post dessert (because, frankly, why not?)

Address: 61 Banbury Rd, Oxford OX2 6PE

Website: www.gees-restaurant.co.uk

Magdalen Arms (1.2 miles)

We are creatures of habit, seeking comfort in familiarity during these dark, uncertain times. So as regulars of the Canton Arms and Anchor & Hope in London, it’s the Magdalen Arms, run by the same group, that we so often settle in to when in Oxford. Sad, we know, but not without good reason. A great selection of ales; a warm atmosphere which still has ‘old school pub’ at its heart; and a consistency of food which keeps so many, so loyal. Go with friends and all out, with a sharing meat ‘for 4 or 5’, which changes with the seasons but remains resolutely ambrosial.

Address: 243 Iffley Rd, Oxford OX4 1SJ

Website: www.magdalenarms.co.uk

Oli’s Thai (1.4 miles)

The name doesn’t exactly fill the increasingly more discerning Thai food fan with confidence; a knowing juxtaposition of ‘authentic’ Thai food (see also London’s Farang) finding its home in neighbourhood, suburban Britain.  The food though, pulls in the punters with feverish regularity. Be sure to book – this baby gets busy – and order pretty much everything; the menu is concise and designed for sharing.

Address: 38 Magdalen Rd, Oxford OX4 1RB


Joseph Gann
Joseph Gann
Chef and food writer, with an interest in mental health and mindfulness

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