The Jericho Tavern has a lot of history behind it. It’s a bit of an Oxford institution, in no small part due to its dedicated venue space where a lot of celebrated bands have played. While other pubs and restaurants around it have come and gone, The Jericho has remained. My husband, as a musician, has both played and attended several gigs there. They also run lots of other events: I once went to a yoga class that ran upstairs (#pubyoga is the only way you might get me to exercise). The pub has a lot of memories attached to it, both for us and for lots of other people in Oxford. So when we heard it had been given a bit of a face lift, and had a shiny new menu, we were only too happy to go along and check it out.
The main pub downstairs is huge, but manages to feel cosy rather than cavernous thanks to its deep blue walls, plush comfy benches, hidden away corners, and the friendly welcome we received on arrival. The dining area boasts huge windows with pretty stained glass that let in a lot of light and make The Jericho the perfect spot for watching the world come and go on Walton Street.
The menus are all available online, if you fancy a gander, but there’s a sandwich menu, a main menu, and a Sunday menu. Food is ordered at the bar. We were ordering off the main menu, which was full of tempting choices. The Sharers section looked great, particularly the Burger Board with its selection of twelve little burgers, but even we’d struggle to manage a dozen burgers between two people so sadly it was not to be this time. The snacks were also tempting, particularly the Pulled Pork Pie and the handmade Scotch Egg, but we were there for proper lunch. And proper lunch we got.
I went for the 21 Day Aged Sirloin Steak, Mini Yorkshire Puddings Filled with Caramelised Onions, Triple Cooked Chips and Horseradish Butter. You know, a simple, light, healthy weekday lunch. Yup. James had the Chicken, Portobello Mushroom, Leek & Pancetta Pie with Roasted Roots and Triple Cooked Chips.
Unusually, James definitely won on ordering here. I sometimes choose steak as a good litmus test for a new menu – something simple that’s easy to do well but is often done badly – but I would definitely have plumped for James’s lunch if I was choosing between the two. My steak tasted great and had a lot of flavour, which I enjoyed, but it was a little tough. The menu advertised miniature Yorkshires filled with caramelised onions, but as you can see from the picture, I got one Yorkshire and a pot of caramelised onions on the side. Nothing wrong with that, but if you’re going to specify mini Yorkshires you might as well serve them. The horseradish butter was great, though, and the chips were absolutely excellent. Perfectly crispy outside, fluffy inside, well-seasoned, and addictive. Exactly as chips should be.
James’s pie, while deceptively simple in appearance. was very tasty. Great pastry, buttery and full of flavour with a lovely flake and crunch, and a satisfyingly rich and meaty filling. His chips were as great as the ones that came with the steak, and the roasted root vegetables, while not especially exciting, tasted lovely.
By this point, James was ‘too full for dessert’. This is not a state I really understand, because I am never too full for dessert, so I ordered the Sticky Toffee Pudding and got two spoons, assuming I could persuade him to have a tiny nibble. This didn’t turn out to be an issue, because the pudding was delicious. Rich, warming, full of texture and flavour, and gloriously sweet and sticky. Definitely a winner.
I also should point out that we attended the relaunch party for the Jericho Tavern a couple of weeks before this lunch, and ate that night too. I had the chicken katsu burger and James had the sausage and mash. No pictures, I’m afraid, but both were really very good indeed and we’d happily go back and eat them again.
The service we received at the pub was excellent. The staff were friendly and helpful, and all of our food arrived in good time despite the fact that the pub was packed with Christmas party bookings. Generally, it was a very pleasant experience and we had a lovely lunch.
The only little thing I would note is that it was very chilly inside. I am always cold and it was literally snowing on the day we visited, so I was prepared to dismiss this as being just my problem, but then I heard someone on the table next to us say it was freezing. My husband asked one of the staff members if he could turn on the radiator, which was stone cold and clearly off, but, although the guy was very friendly and helpful, he couldn’t work out how to get it going. This is only a minor complaint though, and I’m sure it’s something fixable.
Overall, the refurbishment of The Jericho looks to have been a success. They’ve smartened up, but kept the heart and essence of the pub alive, making it a fresher version of the place people have loved for years. The new modern menu is full of interesting options, and it was good to see choices suitable for vegetarians and vegans too. The food we’ve tried there so far has all been tasty and satisfying, ranging from good to great. If you’re in the Jericho area and looking for a hearty and delicious pub meal, then The Jericho Tavern is the place to go.