The George Street Social is the kind of cafe-bistro-bar conglomerate that Oxford does so well. Situated half-way down the city’s main food street, it definitely holds its own amidst the strong competition.
The GSS prides itself on its locality, making it the perfect place to visit if you’ve found yourself missing Oxford over the vac. Portraits of the city’s finest adorn the upstairs walls, inspiring the many students typing away diligently on their laptops. The décor is industrial inspired—think exposed panelling, steel lamps and vintage objects—but there is a hint of fun in the puns on the literature themed stairs (‘Olives and Twist’, ‘Gone with the Wine’).
Any menu with ‘heritage carrot’ as a salad ingredient maybe takes itself a little too seriously, but there is a variety of options ranging from light brunch plates to hefty main meals and also some exciting sharing boards. There is also a pleasingly broad selection of vegetarian and vegan dishes, as well as good catering for anybody with allergens.
My co-editor, who had dragged me here after raving about the baked eggs, had the shakshouka with tomato, peppers and feta. I, meanwhile, had the smashed avocado on toasted campaillou, with poached egg & chilli (campaillou, as I discovered, was an enjoyably crusty sourdough-type bread that was sourced from a local bakery up in Summertown). The flavours of this posh avocado on toast were all perfectly balanced, but I did find myself wishing there was more for my £5.50. Nevertheless, the prices are around the standard for most middle range Oxford restaurants.
Things we didn’t try but wish we had were drinks from the inventive cocktail menu, including a delicious sounding ‘Raspberry Collins’ with Beefeater gin, lemon juice, sugar and fresh raspberries, and the mouth-watering cake selection. The restaurant also very much lives up to its ‘social’ label, with weekday happy hours between 5-8pm and Friday evening events. All in all, the George Street Social is a great place to experience the buzz of Oxford again after six weeks at home.
George Street Social, 35 New Inn Hall Street.