We were kindly invited down by Jeremy (Jem), the new landlord of The Castle pub for a Thursday evening meal to try out their new food and drinks on offer after recently re-opening back in September 2017 after being shut since January 2017.
The Castle sits just opposite newly rebuilt Westgate Centre on the corner of Paradise Street and Castle Street.
If you didn’t know ‘The Castle Tavern’ from before, it was especially noted as a LGBTQ+ destination in Oxford.
Since being taken over by Oxfordshire’s Hook Norton Brewery and Jeremy, I asked him if he had plans to maintain the reputation and his response was quite heartwarming to the effect of, “I want this to be a pub that welcomes anyone and everyone, just how any good pub should be” which was great to hear.
Continuing on the topic of the landlord, Jeremy, I can’t remember seeing a landlord or landlady so welcoming and friendly to all of his or her customers. I particularly remember Jeremy making an effort to have a good chat with each and every person he spoke with at the bar and served food to.
With the dark wooden beams in between the spotlights on the ceiling, this pub maintained a nice blend of keeping its original character whilst remaining modern in terms of facilities which, lets face it, most of us enjoy this inside a pub when done well.
The biggest impression that was left on me was that The Castle felt like a typical countryside pub in the Oxfordshire countryside, I kept forgetting I was in the centre of Oxford!
The Food and Drinks
Firstly if we start off with the drinks. There was a good variety of draft and bottled beers on offer. For a small pub it had what felt like the selection of a large, equipped Wetherspoons.
I opted for a Pilsner Urquell, one of my favourite pilsner beers and was pleased to see this was offered on draft, many pubs only offer this only in bottles.
In terms of food, The Castle offer a modest variety on their menu with 20 items in total, including pizzas, sides and desserts which made the decision of choosing what to eat easier. I opted for a margherita pizza with additional toppings of prosciutto and Nduja sausage.
As well as this, we asked for a bowl of nachos which came with mozzarella and cheddar cheese, salsa, sour cream, guacamole and some red and green chilli peppers.
Conclusion and final thoughts on The Castle Oxford
I’m not going to say that it was the best pizza or nachos I’ve ever eaten, because that would be a lie and to be fair The Castle Oxford is not a pizzeria, nor is it focused on being a restaurant.
My take on The Castle Oxford is that it is a typical British pub that welcomes its customers with open arms and serves a good variety of drinks.
A place where you can actually build a rapport with the landlord and for him to remember what your favourite drink is. A place that’s not so big you will loose your friends and have to wait an hour to be served. A place that you could sit in for a few hours with good company and not feel the need to jump over to the next bar or pub after one drink.
I believe The Castle Oxford is something Oxford has been missing for a while.