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Bookbinders Ale House, Oxford

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user reviews of the Bookbinders Ale House, Oxford

please note - reviews on this site are purely the opinion of site visitors, so don't take them too seriously.

Another pub that was busy on our Thursday evening visit and as the previous reviewer says, it's near to the canal, along which you can walk (in pitch darkness) to the station, if you're walking in a straight line (we were just about). The Old Bookbinders has a nice, cosy interior. I seem to recall most seats being taken, which must have been why we plonked ourselves at the bar. It's another Greene King pub. But, you wouldn't necessarily know it. Their house ale Bookies Best was on and they also had Belhaven/Saltaire CCC. But, they also had Skinner's Betty Stogs, Timothy Taylor Landlord, Black Sheep Baa Baa & St Austell Proper Job. All were a bit too pale/blonde for my liking. We both opted for the Baa Baa. But, it was clearly on the turn. I was about to call the bar staff over. But, the young barmaid was very perceptive and had noticed our discontent. She poured a sample herself, agreed with us and offered us another ale. Proper Job for me and I was very pleased with the service. All beers will eventually go off. But, to notice customers' disapproval was very encouraging. A good end to our day in Oxford.
blue_scrumpy - 13 Apr 2019 08:18
Just about the last pub left in Jerico. Handy for the canal.
Very entertaining French Chef (Owner?). He pointed out to us we had arrived at the magic half hour when the lunchtime and evening menus were both available.So a great selection on offer. seemed to be a changing selection of guest ales and quite a lot of bottles on offer. remembering this was Oxford, it was reasonably priced.

captaineric - 15 Sep 2017 11:44
Greene King. Farriers best 3.40 and good. Very nice inside, beer tap badges on ceiling beams. Even a train set attached to the ceiling. A collection of plastic lighters above the toilet doors. Good food menu, restaurant food at pub prices. Plenty of people eating.
rpf1955 - 25 Sep 2012 16:26
Back in fine form, having been shut for a while after a few dodgy months. The free monkey nuts have also returned, several good ales on, think they're doing food too.
OldRogue - 21 Aug 2012 13:06
Had a couple of reasonable pints in here the other day, lacking in atmosphere, and whilst i appreciate and like the unusual decor i do feel it could do with a good clean. I noticed a sign proclaiming "for sale" so hopefully things will improve.
There were only three ales on, but space for ten, that speaks volumes
wellinformed - 14 Apr 2011 12:54
oh how the great have fallen
from CAMRA pub of the year to 1 greeneking ale
sad sooooooooo sad
realaleman1979 - 27 Feb 2011 23:21
The back room is my favourite bit of this pub. It's cosy and full of musical paraphenalia. The guest beers we've had have all been fine. Although in general I'm not a GK fan, this pub seems to rise above its association.
beerminx - 23 Jan 2011 18:21
Well, it used to be (pre GK) a wonderful pub. Now - well, hit and miss. Rather expensive (even for Oxford) and you never know if there are any guest (ie non GK) beers on at all. Certainly wouldn't be in my top ten of Oxford pubs let alone POTY.
cheshirecat - 6 Feb 2010 21:59
A bit disappoinitng to be honest..didn't realise it was a GK house until I saw the limited range of ale on offer. Had the sole guest beer on offer which was drinkable but can't say this pub deserves it's place in the GBG... there are far better places in Oxford that aren't in it than this.
anonymous - 6 Feb 2010 21:41
Very interesting, though higgledy-piggledy interior. Pleased to find GK Mild for only the second time (the other was the Isle of Wight!) - enjoyed this and also the GK Sun Dance.

If you have a few bevvies, make sure you remember which door you came in - as one leads to a parallel universe!*!
JBGatelad - 3 Sep 2009 20:45
Only after several visits did I realise that the BBs is affiliated with GK, which is certainly a testament to its character and quality. There's low ceilings, tables and chairs of all shapes and sizes, and nik-naks aplenty. A decent and affordable menu is another selling point, particularly if you're a Pieminister fan.
plymouthpirate - 1 May 2009 18:28
One of my favourite Oxford pubs, always serves a nice pint and staff are friendly
gingerbeer - 4 Apr 2009 17:05
mattm - fair enough, and I'm very glad that you do so! I'm just aware that there are GK landlords in the area who would like to do the same, but are contractually obliged to only buy bitter from GK. I don't run a pub, so I don't know the ins and outs. Either way, keep up the good work at the BBs.
thomashenry - 26 Jan 2009 13:26
Note from the landlord of the Bookbinders...Previous comment suggests that we 'get away with more leeway' when in fact we pay a premium for our real guest ales (two per week), making them even more expensive than the inflated prices that we purchase ales through our tie with GK. 'Leeway' comes at a highly inflated cost! MM
mattymarren - 18 Jan 2009 03:01
Slightly undeserving winner of this years' Oxford CAMRA POTY, but a fine establishment nonetheless. Seems to get far more leeway with guest beers than most GK pubs, and the interior is atmospheric, if slightly over trinketed. Good staff, and a friendly atmosphere.
thomashenry - 22 Dec 2008 14:10
Always a pleasure to visit this pub. The staff, although different every time i have been, are always pleasant, polite and helpful. The beer is always great and regularly changing, despite being a Gk pub.
On the MORSE TRAIL so expect tourists mingling in with the locals and students. Worth a visit to see a good example of a back street boozer with well kept ales and well behaved locals.
wellinformed - 21 May 2008 19:05
Last pub of Oxford crawl Sat, and only notes that survived! GK IPA, Fireside & Mild, Smiles Mistral, Holden's Golden Glow, Olde Trip had gone. Very comfortable front bar with good buzzy vibe and nooks & crannies off rooms to rt of bar. Friendly barman discussed beers & pubs from the crawl.
trainman - 14 Feb 2008 13:13
Enjoyed a Shepherd Neame seasonal beer well served in this friendly pub. Plenty to see with intersting decor.
gillhalfpint - 3 Jan 2008 14:54
Very good local pub, have always had well served pint from pleasant staff. Food looks fine and prices very reasonable. Do not consider entering the quiz unless accompanied by several mastermind winners. Great place when quiet or busy
southside - 6 Dec 2007 22:31
One of the pubs competing for the title of best pub in Jericho. A vaguely literary atmosphere lends this pub a conviviality which makes it perfect of a winter evening.
BoehmBawerk - 8 Oct 2007 13:26
Last visited on 31 December whilst idling my way around Jericho looking for inspiration. Not sure I found that at the Bookbinders, but I did at least find a decent backstreet local boozer that was surprisingly pleasant.
Ale-wise, it seems that "the Oxford effect" has again had sufficient cachet to persuade the usually notoriously-protectionist Greene King to allow this pub to serve 2 or 3 guests as well their own portfolio, which is a significant draw to the beer connoisseur all too used to GK offering their own fodder only. The beer was kept in good nick, and dispensed by friendly staff to boot; something which we cannot take for granted.
I don't know its history, but it certainly looked to have been rather deliberately "oldie-fied", with horse brasses, nick-nacks, old pictures and even barrel seats all in place. That isn't to say that it wasn't comfortable, though. I recall this pub was used in the pilot episode of the infamous "Inspector Morse" series, and despite being under what most would assume as the better husbandry of Morrells, it looked considerably more bedraggled that it does now. A lot has changed since 1986, and generally I think it's been for the better. One can imagine the dearly departed sleuth tucking into a nice pint here to help him "think"!
Not No 1 BITE material, I would've thought, but a worthy venue nevertheless. As part of a local crawl taking in the Harcourt, Radcliffe etc it could be very useful.
TWG - 27 Feb 2007 15:57
Pleased to see this has made it into BITE's Top 10. It stands out in a city with many good pubs and is one of my favourites. Great pub quiz as well (Tuesday nights if memory serves).
grecian - 27 Feb 2007 12:03
An excellent backstreet boozer, easily the best in the area with descent selection of real ales, warm (which is a lot more than can be said for too many) and friendly. I agree with 'Journeyman's take on the tunes...very eclectic and all very pleasant on the ear.
anonymous - 26 Feb 2007 02:11
Good range of beers, well served. As for food, the menu is limited but well-prepared, generously proportioned and not too expensive. Superb for sausages. Wonderful building, with (suprisingly) books all over the place, fake door handles on the toilets and signs in Polish. Free monkey nuts from a barrel in the middle of the place and locals with dogs make this an interesting pub. Superb pub quiz, with convoluted rules and ludicrous themed rounds. A few tables outside for Summer with a great view of the Orthodox Church.
thedts - 5 Sep 2006 01:41
Was introduced to the Bookbinders recently and it gets top marks from me. New landlords seem very nice, well kept real ales (shame that they're tied to GK) and a great selection of background music played (Ray Charles, Belle & Sebastien, Vivaldi and the Jam while we were there). Good mix of punters too. I'll be back!
journeyman - 7 Jul 2006 20:40
Chavman is more a Gucci loafers wearing city boy. I think he might work in back office in my shop actually, there's a TM Lewin clothes horse with spiky gelled hair I have seen who fits the bill.
anonymous - 23 May 2006 16:00
Ok I've tried the food now - Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings there are some dishes on a 2 for 6 offer, pretty decent cooking too (sausage and mash etc). Did I mention the free monkey nuts before too?

Chav_man you should get out of London a bit more often, you certainly won't find many pubs like this there. If you like a cosy, interesting, friendly pub this is the place for you.
OldRogue - 23 May 2006 13:46
Now called "The Old Bookbinders", I found this to be a comfortable and pleasant watering hole. The staff seemed friendly and took care to pour me a good pint. Plus there's monkey nuts in a barrel.
Muzthing - 6 Apr 2006 21:45
This is one of the worse pubs I have been too. I am not sure what all the fuss is about.
Chav_man - 9 Mar 2006 17:58
This mpub was popular with Oxford students many years ago and was shoiwn in the very first "Morse" murder programme, "The Dead of Jericho". It was then a Morrells pub now sadly an ex-brewery, but was always popular and summer time you could walk the nrearby canal towpath.

Beerbunter - 10 Feb 2006 10:08
Perfect, friendly cosy feel, free boardgames and monkey nuts, strange collections dotted all over (look out for the upside down toy train track on the ceiling for instance...) while the Old Speckled Hen I enjoyed was very well kept. Food looked nice and good value. And the best thing is it's so well hidden it's not overrun with tourists.
OldRogue - 24 Jan 2006 13:18
Excellent food and beer. Friendly Scottish landlord. Lots of interesting little nooks and crannies with a real cosy feel. Perfect for a session on a wet Sunday afternoon.
Hugh1971 - 25 Apr 2005 10:53
I agree that this place is a shining haven. Great staff and a good crowd. Perhaps nip in to partake in the pub quiz if you're free of a Wednesday evening.
Marie - 13 Aug 2004 22:57
I don't suppose they still do a meat draw here. Or have great Morrells Mild. Or usually have no students in. Those were three selling points which made this a fine pub in its time.
Justin - 9 Jun 2004 23:19
What a fantastic place, the selection of real ales is amazing and the staff are friendly. an oasis of lovelyness in a sea of shit oxford pubs. keep up the good work.
Jock - 25 Jan 2004 21:24
Fabulous Jericho pub. Excellent selection of beers straight from the barrel or on tap. Unusual pricing system - depends on the alcohol content of the beer. You can usually buy a tray of half a dozen small glasses of varied real ales. Chaotic, charming, unique. Free peanuts from a barrel by the door! Excellent music - jazz, blues, lots of guitar riffs and growly old classics. Nice tucked-away back room, warm and cosy and extremely friendly. very mixed bunch of people drink there. Definitely one to visit, it's always a favourite with locals, particularly interesting ones.
Gabrielle - 22 Sep 2003 21:07
Visited Bookbinders early last monday night. Fewer beers available out of term time but still an excellent pub. Definitely first port of call next time in Oxford
Pete - 11 Jul 2003 13:24
Charming ex-Morrell's freehouse in the Jericho area of Oxford. Full of odd gadgets and little boobytraps to catch out the unsuspecting visitor and give the locals something about which to chuckle over their pint! Jazz and blues background music with occasional live gigs. Up to 10 beers on handpump and gravity (direct from the barrel) and excellent food. Intimate low ceiling and subdued lighting. Quite hidden away, but well worth the effort of finding. Floor covered in monkey-nut shells. Check out the "Don't Know" loo. Visit this pub - its full of character!
Lee - - 25 Mar 2003 17:05

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