Review: The Jericho Tavern

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.

Disclaimer: The Jericho kindly provided us with a complimentary meal in exchange for a review, but all opinions are, as ever, my own.

Review: The Porterhouse, Oxford

When my husband and I dropped into The Porterhouse for a Saturday lunch, I wasn’t intending to review the place. But we decided pretty immediately that the pub was worthy of a full write-up. Oxford has been in need of a great steak spot, and I’m pretty sure this is it. The Porterhouse has been put together with thought and attention to detail, and deserves to thrive.

We visited on a Saturday lunchtime, when the pub was quiet. It’s only been open for a few months, and they’re obviously still building up their customer base. As they’re tucked away down a residential side-street, you’d be unlikely to notice The Porterhouse unless you went looking for it on purpose. Once you make it there, though, you’ll be happy with what you find. The building has been renovated, and decorated with a careful eye: the dark blue walls, buttery leather banquettes, and  alternating warm wood and gleaming chrome tables all work together to give a warm and welcoming impression.


There’s a dining room area, which is slightly more formal, and the main pub room, which has a beautiful bar and is dog-friendly. We settled into a cosy leather booth in the dining room and got stuck in to the menu.

The pub has an extensive drinks selection. There’s beer, obviously, but also a carefully curated wine list, a selection of decent whiskeys, and (to my delight) some really excellent cocktails. I don’t drink beer, so it’s always a disappointment to me when a pub doesn’t really offer anything beyond beer and mediocre wine. Since cocktails were on offer, James had a Bloody Mary (he was feeling delicate), and I had a Campari Spritz and, later, and Old Fashioned.  The drinks were all well-balanced and made with quality ingredients, and were enjoyed rather too quickly by us both.



Obviously, with a name like The Porterhouse, you can expect steak to feature fairly heavily on the menu here, and they don’t disappoint. A comprehensive steak menu board features the changing cuts on offer depending on what’s best from their supplier at Smithfield Market. All are served with chips and salad with options of varying sauces and additional sides. That said, if you were dining in a mixed group where not everyone was a steak eater, you’d still be grand as they offer some fish and vegetarian options, as well as some non-steak meat dishes such as poussin or a mixed grill. We were also told that, with a little notice, they’ll do vegan food. Top marks from me: I eat everything, but I do have plenty of vegan friends and it’s good to know you could feed a varied crowd here too.

That being said, we were not there for vegan food. We were there for steak.


James had a medium ribeye with the requisite chips and salad, and a pepper sauce. I went for a rare fillet, with a bearnaise sauce. The meat at The Porterhouse is dry aged for 42 days, then cooked in a charcoal-fuelled Bertha oven that can reach 350C, and wow, does it pay off. The steaks delivered to our table smelled incredible and looked very tempting: plump and juicy with a gorgeous outer char. Both of our steaks were cooked very well.

I am picky about steak, because it’s so easy to do wrong and so delicious when it’s done right, and I was totally happy here. The meat had a real depth of flavour and a meltingly tender texture. The salads were simple yet considered – fresh, and lightly dressed – and the sauces were bang on. The chips, while definitely good, were not the best I’ve ever had – but this is a minor quibble on what was a fantastic plate of food. Everything was seasoned to perfection and it really made the simple flavours shine.


James (lightweight) couldn’t manage pudding, but I have never turned down a dessert menu and I wasn’t about to start just because I’d eaten a steak the size of my face. The list was short but sweet (see what I did there?) and I would have happily devoured any of the options. My usual M.O. is to go for whatever the chocolate option is (in this case, a fig and bourbon brownie), but there were other tempting things on offer.

Lovely Chris, who was serving us, noticed my quandary, and very kindly brought me a little portion of the brownie to try while I made my decision, so that I was free to pick another option, having sampled ‘the chocolate thing’. I know brownies, and believe me, this was an excellent brownie. Rich, dark, fudgy, and full of flavour and texture from the bourbon and fig. I’ll definitely order it again when I go back. The dessert I actually got, in the end, was the rhubarb and ginger crumble, which was served with a perfect custard and was also exemplary.


The Verdict – The Porterhouse

I am fairly particular about restaurant food these days – especially simple dishes where there is no room to hide – and I thought that the food at The Porterhouse was top-notch. The service also deserves a mention: Chris was friendly, knowledgeable, generous, and attentive without crowding us. They also have rooms on the upper floors, which we got a sneaky peak into, and they’re lovely – tasteful, comfortable, and immaculate. It’s exactly the sort of place I’d recommend to anyone coming to Oxford to stay. In essence, The Porterhouse provides classic British grill fare, but it does it very, very well. If you’ve not tried it yet, get a move on.


Meat, Broccoli, and Cashew Coiled Phylas Pastries

Secretly, I don’t like punting. Please don’t tell Oxford City Council, because I’m not sure you’re allowed to live here if you don’t like punting. And I’m pretty settled. I don’t want to be chucked out.

Don’t get me wrong – I love boats, and I love living on the river. Punting, however, is an entirely different thing to proper boating. It’s always so much better in quintessentially Oxonian pictures than when you’re stuck in the actual experience.

The problem is that once you’re sitting in a punt, you’re stuck sitting in a punt. It’s not very comfortable, and it’s always either too hot or too cold. It gets boring fairly fast. You move along the water very slowly. You are attacked by swans and wasps. You are always worried about losing your wallet or your phone in the grimy water.


What a moaner I am! Sorry to start this blog off on such a negative note, but I am only doing it to be able to segue into talking about the one thing that I love about punting adventures: picnics. Picnics are the only reason that I continued to go punting all the time throughout university. People would lure me in by saying ‘Come punting with us! Come on! We’ll have a picnic!’

I can’t resist a picnic.

I don’t know what it is about eating perfectly normal food in a picnic setting, but put cheeses, pork pies, and strawberries in a basket and plonk it all on a blanket outside somewhere and I am there. I love the ritual of choosing, making, and compiling all the various components of a picnic. I love packing things into bags and baskets and cool boxes and lugging it all outside and lying down on a patch of grass somewhere and eating far more sandwiches than is nutritionally advisable.

Nowadays, I am free from the social obligations of punting (there’s a first world problem if ever I did hear one), so I can transition into picnicking with abandon and delight. I mean, it’s August in England, so as I write this I am looking out of the window at a grey sky and pounding rain, but otherwise the time is ripe for a good old summertime picnic gorging-fest.

So, next time the planets align and we have a) sun and b) free time, we will definitely be having a picnic and I will definitely be making these.


Source: The concept of phylas pastry is one I found in the fantastic Honey & Co. Baking Book, which I have rhapsodised about on this blog before. I’ve since looked it up, and I cannot find any other references to phylas pastry on the whole of the Internet. Admittedly I didn’t look massively hard, but it didn’t come up in a Google search, so I think the concept might be theirs. However, although I have used their spiral pastry idea, the filling here is my own invention and I have changed a lot of the proportions from the original recipe, so this is very much my version.

Notes: This recipe makes four very hefty pastries. They go well with all sorts of salads in the summer (and probably in the winter too). I would say that a hungry person could eat a whole one, but half of one of these pastries will still be a very adequate serving for a less hungry person.


glug of oil (olive or rapeseed)
1 large or 2 small onions, finely diced
250g pork mince
250g beef mince
3 tbsp Ras el Hanout spice blend
6 tbsp chopped cashew nuts
1 small bunch of tenderstem broccoli, chopped into small pieces
500g block ready made all-butter puff pastry
1 egg, beaten and seasoned, for egg wash


  1. First, make your filling. Heat your oil gently  in a large deep frying pan, or wok, and pop your diced onions in to cook. After five minutes, turn up the heat and add both your pork and beef mince to the pan. Cook the meat over a high heat for at least five minutes, stirring it and breaking it up to make sure it browns evenly. Turn the heat down a little, and stir in your spice, nuts, and broccoli. Cook for another couple of minutes, then take it off the heat and leave to cool. The filling must be completely cold when you make the pastries, so pop it in the fridge once it’s cool enough. You can also make it the day before.
  2. Preheat your oven to 210C/ 190C fan/ gas 7. Dust a large surface generously with flour, then roll out your pastry to a rectangle of 60cm x 25cm. I actually measure this, because it’s always bigger than I think. Cut it vertically into four 15cm x 25cm rectangles. Take the first rectangle, and place a line of your filling down one long edge of the pastry. Push it together a bit with your fingers to make a long, dense line of filling. Roll up the pastry so that you get a 25cam long pastry cylinder full of meat, making sure the join is on the bottom. Roll it up into a spiral. Repeat all this three times. I am completely cack-handed and awful at this sort of thing, and I found it totally doable – it’s not as fiddly as it sounds.
  3. Place all four pastries onto a lined baking sheet, brush with egg wash, and bake in the hot oven for 25 minutes until golden and crisp. Turn your oven down to 190C/ 170C fan/ gas 5 and keeping cooking for another 15 minutes. Enjoy the pastries hot or cold.