The Eagle and Child
49 St. Giles, Oxford, United Kingdom
www.nicholsonspubs.co.uk/the… - 01865 302925
The Eagle and Child Oxford Reviews
Lunch and history! May 30, 2012
I was on business in Oxford and after an early start I was more than ready for lunch. I had parked the car in St Giles, a beautiful, wide, boulevard style street close to the universities. My choices in the immediate area were limited to a small cafe, a take-out sandwich shop, or a pub lunch. No contest! Having decided on a pub lunch, I then had two choices, the’ Lamb and Flag’, or the ‘Eagle and Child’. Now, while the ‘Lamb and Flag’ is a beautiful old place, I have been in there several times, so today it would be the turn of the historic ‘Eagle and Child’.
The ‘Eagle and Child’ is historic because it has been a public house since 1650 and it was the preferred ‘watering hole’ of ‘The Inklings’ - a writers group in the 1930’s that included, amongst others, JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis. These meetings were held in an area known as the ‘Rabbit Room’ which is naturally where I sat for my lunch.
The exterior is very attractive if unremarkable, and is very typical of many older English pubs that can be found up and down the country. It is the inside of this place that really provides a sense of history. It is small, cramped even, and quite dark inside even through it was a beautiful sunny day. The pub is made up of small nooks, very narrow rooms, painted brick walls and a rather haphazard layout, no doubt the result of outbuildings being swallowed up by the main structure over the years.
There is no attempt to modernise or luxuriate the fittings. The tables, chairs, benches and decoration are all very basic and the pub is all the better for it. What there is in abundance is charm and charisma and there is a real sense of history. Thoughts naturally levitate to the characters that have shared this space for a drink and good conversation over the years. The clientele while I was there consisted largely of tourists, mostly American, and this comes as no surprise as this is a place that would naturally attract curious visitors.
There is a fully serviced restaurant on site but as I was alone and only wanting a snack I chose to eat in the bar. The bar menu is ‘no frills’ that fittingly consists of mostly typical English fayre. There is quite a comprehensive choice that includes steaks, chicken, sausage & mash, and of course fish and chips.
I chose a lighter option and went for the chicken and bacon sandwich on toasted wholemeal bread with a side salad. The sandwich was delicious with generous portions of grilled chicken breast and perfectly cooked bacon. The salad was tossed in rather too much olive oil for my taste but this didn’t spoil the occasion one bit. All of this was washed down by a refreshing glass of lime and soda water. There is a fine selection of English ales at the bar, but as a driver, sadly they were out of bounds for me.
To summarise, if you’re looking for somewhere a little upmarket or contemporary you may be disappointed, but if your preference is for a step back in time, character, and good value, no nonsense food, then this place is certainly recommended.
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