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Turf Tavern, Oxford

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user reviews of the Turf Tavern, Oxford

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

For years I’ve been meaning to visit this place out of season, and see what it was like without the crowds. Well now I’ve kept my promise, though it was a Monday in October rather than a “foggy November Tuesday”. And the answer is – pretty much the charming quirky place it used to be. Some of the few people there were still foreign tourists, and the food prices were out of this world, but never mind.

The beer range appears to have shrunk, with only 6 being available, but it was still a good range, with no Greene King beers at all, and a couple of dark beers. I tried the Cottage Black Diamond ( a mild) which was quite nice. People have complained on BITE about poor service and short measures, but I didn’t see any evidence of that. I did notice that the seating in one of the courtyards had been rotated through 90% though !

Martinsh - 2 Nov 2016 22:57
I keep coming back here despite vowing that I never will again. Its trading on past glories a little bit and hiking prices to the edge of taking the p*ss. Short measures were given out time after time as well, with top-ups asked for. However, on this last visit, the Wadworth 6X was the best I'd had in many a year, so pleased that we did take some friends here for a pint.
littledrummerboy - 14 Mar 2016 15:38
The alleyway leading to this pub is situated just under the Bridge of Sighs (Hertford College). It's not that hard to find!! 6 ales on when I went in. Quite busy and the beer was well kept. This little tavern is worth a visit.
wolvesfan - 21 Dec 2015 09:24
Not that hard to find, it's just not on a road. Plenty of people in, so it can be found. The outside area is larger than the inside. very popular venue. 2 bars.
On my 2 visits here the beers were not up to scratch. UBU Purity and Bridestones Bramling, both at £3.70. Extensive food menu gives the game away, it's a Greene King pub. I would only go back to show it to someone who's not been there.
rpf1955 - 25 Feb 2015 20:55
Notoriously difficult to find, it was going on 20 years since my last visit.

It seems many pubs in Oxford have progressed in the passing years leaving the Turf in a bit of a mess.

On our visit it was packed. Proper busy, inside and out. Three deep at the bar. Which must mean they're doing something right. They are, it's a lovely historic pub. The beer was good (though the claim of 11 real ales seems a tad much).

However, the understaffed bar was struggling. Short measures were the norm.

We only got there in time for two drinks. No sooner had we sat down with our second drink than we were being asked to drink up. I found this odd, looked to the bar and saw people still being served. After being mithered and mithered we were the last to leave the pub at 2310.
Now, I understand there are people living very close by, but if the licence states silence by 11pm (I've no idea if it does, but they seemed keen to take glasses out of peoples' hands) then call last at half ten.

This pub was a let down.
vicpark - 9 Oct 2014 01:24
I wish to complain – they are making this place too easy to find ! Back in the 1970s, I lived for a year in Oxford within 100 yards of this place, and never even knew it existed. So I won’t tell you how to get there. Merely say that, starting from the Bridge of Sighs, there are two ways of getting there, a quick way, and an interesting way.

There are two dark beamed and low ceilinged small bars (this time I actually drunk in them !). But the main places for people to congregate are three flagstoned courtyards, one of which is where we entered (and has awnings to protect people from the weather), another is a sloping one on the right just by the pub entrance (usually the quietest since it’s no smoking), and another round the back of the pub, past the toilets (an experience to use !) and under the old high city walls.
As always, there is a good range of beer. I had White Horse Wayland Smithy. But the dreaded “this beer is resting” signs have made an appearance again. Also, the beer list is somewhat perfunctory, not mentioning the brewery.
The place has other drawbacks as well. It is undeniably a tourist trap, though the difficulty of finding the place and its popularity with students means that the clientele is varied. I’ve never encountered the horrendous queues or rude bar staff that other posters have mentioned though.
There are various chalkboards listing numerousfamious people who had been to the pub. I’ll start with thebest known – this is apparently where Bill Clinton famously didn’t inhale The list also includes Maggie Thatcher, Stephen Hawking (somehow can’t imagine him drinking beer), Bob Hawke, Winston Churchill and Oscar Wilde. There is also the inevitable Inspector Morse placard !
I’m afraid in all my visits, I’ve never eaten here so can’t say anything about the food.
8/10 – could be the best pub in the world, but needs to look to its laurels.

Martinsh - 2 Sep 2014 23:16
Returned to the Turf. Not quite so charmed this time. Still love it, and it's a must visit place in Oxford, but somehow the second visit is not so impressive as the first. The food menu is quite limited, but you can get a £5 off voucher from the pub's website.
SilkTork - 18 Apr 2014 18:57
I had a few hours to kill and sat in Turf Tavern with a book, a beer and a sandwich was the perfect way to do so. A gem hiding in the middle of Oxford. The sandwich was fresh, the beer great and the atmosphere just what I was looking for.
niksic - 13 Feb 2014 22:43
everything about this pub is just stunning: the way the building is hidden from view, nestling in between other old buildings and walls. the building itslef is a wonderfull old lump. the interior with its inglenooks and low cielings and dark wood beams everyhwere. and to top it off 11 real ales!

only downside was how exceptionally busy it was. admitedly it was a sunny saturday afternoon, but what else do you expect. theres good reason as to why 200 tourists were trying to cram into every space inside and out.

i am looking forward to visiting on a cold turesday night when i might get a seat.

CHELSEA_on_tour - 12 Aug 2013 10:27
If you don't want to rub shoulders with intelligent, educated, articulate young people, then perhaps the Oxford pub scene in term time is not for you.

We found it made a very refereshing change from some places one could mention, believe me.

It was busy, but not overly so on the cold night we went, so we were able to take in some its more interesting features.

The beer was turned over well, so expectedly came up to scratch.
eddybeer - 11 Aug 2013 12:17
Well worth the detour down a side alley and a classic old-style Oxford pub. The beers could be better but deserves to be part of the Oxford scene.
16jamesdoc - 15 Jun 2013 16:06
As I am a Morse & Lewis fan I made sure we visited all their haunts in Oxford. We loved the old world feeling of small snug rooms & friendly staff in this pub tucked away beside the "bridge of sighs."
It is popular with tourists & locals so there is a good "buzz". The food is delicious, served by a young staff that are efficient and friendly. The menu has lots of choice and offers meals that are just a little different from other establishments, like the sharing boards. There is also space outside that would be lovely on a warm day.
This pub is not to be missed when visiting Oxford .Great pub . Love fantastic real ales choice . Is it still Greene King?

realpub - 21 Apr 2013 20:33
This has been the random pub of the day now for nearly 2 months. Is this now a pub record?
Thelittleman - 13 Jan 2013 21:12
This pub went down the tube's years ago as soon as Green King got hold of it.

A great shame as it used to be a great pub.


Huey - 11 Jan 2013 16:36
Fair comment below, it's a pretty overrated pub by the standards of others around it, the nearby Kings Arms for example has a much more interesting choice of beer. I'd still go in for a drink but it wouldn't be first choice. I guess it's in every tourist book (as a "hidden gem" perhaps!) and the setting is pretty quirky, but sadly as a result it's got a complacent attitude.
OldRogue - 2 Jan 2013 14:02
I enjoy the Turf less each time I go. The quality and availability of beer seems to be on the slide, there are never enough staff on, and getting served takes an age. The location is interesting, but I don't think there's much atmosphere to the building itself. The staff are very rude as soon as it turns 11pm.

I find it something of a tourist trap, trading on reputation. As an Oxford resident, I tend to avoid it.
thomashenry - 13 Aug 2012 17:11
great atmosphere but the staff are quite grumpy, especially at closing time...
Kmo27 - 17 Jul 2012 14:21
Last two times I've been in, there's been either one or no beers on. This is in the evening too, not the middle of the day when there might not be much custom (although maybe there always is custom here). Plumped for an Estrella instead, and was charged 4.05. Make of that what you will. I recognize the comments about 'beer resting'; I'm starting to think it's a ploy to pretend they have more beers on than they actually do.

Anyway, besides the lack of beer, you also have to put up with brusque bar staff that often tip over into the sarcastic and unpleasant. I get the impression that most of the staff don't really want to work in a pub, and see the customers as more of an inconvenience than as an asset. Come last orders, be prepared to get harangued at five minute intervals until you've finished and gone.

I'm not sure about a must visit if you're here - a must see, perhaps, but leave it at that.
junkets - 23 Nov 2011 00:06
Famous tourist pub but retaining much of it's character. Apparently owned by Greedy King but sells a large range of guest beers. A bit pricey but cheaper than the Kings Arms. Has a help yourself policy for water from a tap on the bar and a tray of glasses. Despite being rather touristy, it remain a must-visit when in Oxford.
baxterfish - 14 Nov 2011 19:29
A definite tourist trap (the owners have even put up a sign to direct you down the lane to it now!!). However,it is worth a visit if only for its position and its range of beers. Yes it can get very busy and we nearly walked out after we had to wait while the people in front of us faffed around with their food order and then wanted to pay with debit cards - individually!! Why don't customers go to the pub with cash any more!!! Anyway,we waited and had a couple of good beers (we paid in cash with the correct money - for which the barman appeared very thankful). Two bars and three outdoor drinking areas - always popular and despite the crowds you could not leave Oxford without visiting The Turf.
mcroyal - 6 Oct 2011 12:35
A pleasant oldie-worldie pub down an alleyway off Holywell Street. It's probbaly worth a visit but it is a tourist trap and you can expect to queue at the bar for a pint the same way you'd be queuing to get in to a tourist attraction at busy times. The DBC Yachtsman was a nice enough pint but while I was drinking it and then paid a trip to the bogs in the place there were still people at the bar who hadn't been served. Nice old pub but avoid at busy times.
anonymous - 25 Sep 2011 08:55
Visited yesterday afternoon, half the beers were off with a sign on the pump saying 'beer resting' WTF is that about? That said the Roosters Yankee I tried was in good order and the courtyard garden is a pleasent place to while away an hour. This used to be the most expensive pub in Oxford but all the other city centre ones have now caught up and passed it, god knows how students can afford to drink when all the beer is 3.30 a pint and upwards.
Hodge1 - 9 Sep 2011 08:57
I'm really disappointed. I love this pub but had a very bad experience when I went there on the 19th July. The main bar has 5 hand pumps - all were off. When I asked the barman if there was a problem he was very rude and offhand. He siad they had three beers in the other bar but if I wanted to know about them I'd have to go and queue up there - worth noting that the other bar was only 10 yards from where he was standing. Such a shame
moosekavitch - 22 Jul 2011 14:29
After avoiding this place for months due to surly self-reverential staff and overall disappointment with the range and quality of beers, I tried to give it another go. On a saturday afternoon I walked into the courtyard and immediately saw it was packed. On fighting my way into the pub I could see that the bar was 2-3 deep in people wating to be served and that around half the pump clips were turned round (beer not available). The humid heat and smell of frying in the pub convinced me that I'd be better off elsewhere. I'd just come from the White Horse on the Broadway where they didn't seem to have these problems (despite being fairly busy themselves).

When you've got a steady stream of tourists following the advice that this is a 'must visit' pub, then i don't suppose you need to worry about repeat custom and try and make it enjoyable for them. Wont be going in for another 6 months.
mafting - 9 Jul 2011 23:26
Interesting pub with lots of character. The Old Rosie was a treat, albeit potent.
stevebex - 22 Jun 2011 21:09
As I remember it from years back (though with added June sunshine). Very busy, and promotion of real ale ensure good turnover across the range.
mtaylor40 - 9 Jun 2011 22:15
Of the choice of ten real ales, Black Country Ales Fireside and Oakham Ales Scarlet Macaw were both well kept (neither were chilled, thankfully, as in some places) and very good although the Scarlet Macaw was at the bitter end of my taste range.

This is a warren of a place inside and out and very popular considering it is very difficult to find, presumably all have given up looking for the way out or don't want to leave. Very good atmosphere and very busy on a Tuesday night at the end of May.

Three courtyards to choose from one seemed to have a quiz going on the other two more laid back and chatty. Inside had various low beamed ceiling rooms.
Wirral_RealAlians - 30 May 2011 14:41
excellant pub with two low ceilinged bars and good choice of well kept ales. Nice outdoor areas too.
covman45 - 23 May 2011 17:42
A classic 'must visit' eccentric English pub, with access through little alleyways and an excellent choice of ales. Can be difficult to get a table particularly in this good weather. Had an excellent 'Summer Ale' and (White Horse) Wayland Smithy pretty good too.
uriahheep - 27 Apr 2011 16:08
One of the best central pubs in Oxford. Their house brew Summer ale was in good condition and garden was pleasant if you could get a table.
ArhurPint - 16 Apr 2011 13:18
Had a great couple of beers in here a few days ago, beer quality is excellent, service good, and always busy.
wellinformed - 14 Apr 2011 12:46
Fabulous Pub if you like wonky walls, tricky corners and large well kept ale cellar - all in the city centre.
parmantom - 1 Apr 2011 11:19
Well now I've fallen out of love with the Bear due to inconsistent beer quality it's back to the Turf for me on a nice sunny Monday dinnertime.

Staff were great on my visit, nice chat with a few of the locals in the small front bar and a few pints of Summer Ale. Not "too many" tourists on a cold February Monday so that made it bliss!
MisterX - 27 Feb 2011 23:23
Great selection of beers, good atmosphere and a nice pub. I agree with Inspector Morse!
alerick - 26 Feb 2011 08:33
Well said Tebbs! I visit The Turf every time I am in Oxford and will applaud you for keeping a great selection of beers (and as an aside - well done to GK for allowing you the freedom). Of course the place gets busy - it is an extremely popular pub and a recognised stop on Oxford's tourist route so let's accept that and give the staff a chance! Prices are fair considering the pub's status but the beer is always good and interesting. Customers who don't recognise a beer should always ask for guidance or for a taster - it is a great way of introducing people to new beers and, of course, stops punters complaining about beer they just happen not to like without having ever tried it before. Every pub will have problems at some time for many,many reasons (staff not turning up; beer running out; large numbers of customers at one time etc.etc) but overall you cannot visit Oxford without visiting the Turf.
mcroyal - 9 Feb 2011 21:34
Hi everyone,

My name is Jonathan Tebbs, I'm one of the assistant managers at the Turf, and before that worked for 2 years as a barman during my studies in Oxford.
I've set up an account on here so I can have a go at defending my beloved pub! If anyone has any issues relating to the pub, especially on the topic of our real ales, please feel free to contact me, as I spend most of my life in the cellar there and take extreme care with the beers we bring on. Apologies to those who have been dissapointed by certain beers being off when they came in, but I refuse to bring a beer on if it is not ready!

I just wanted to quickly answer a few of what seems to be the regular problems people have when visiting.
Firstly, there is the issue of how busy we are! I truly am sorry to anyone who has to wait at the bar or for food, but the simple fact is that we are incredibly busy pub with an incredibly small bar! We can fit at maximum 4 people behind the bar at one time, and due to the fact that we are made to keep to strict wage budget we very rarely have as much staff on as we'd like. What I can assure you that regardless of how busy it is when you come in everyone there will be trying as hard as possible to get you served as quick as possible.
Secondly, yes we are Greene King! We know it all too well! Please stop reminding us! It would however be nice if everyone would not automatically assume because of this we are a bad pub. Come in and make an informed decision yourself. I'd recommend popping in soon as we have the lovely White Horse Black Horse Porter coming on, as well as their new brew 'Blowing Stone'!
Finally, I'd like to say a quick word on those who believe they have been shortchanged regarding beer exchange. I will readily admit that I am loath to replace a pint, but only if there is not good reason. As mentioned earlier, the beer would not have been brought on if it was not ready, and only in the depths on the winter is there ever any chance of a beer being on long enough to go off! We, and I, pride ourselves in our beer quality, and we are happy to provide tasters and advice to make sure you pick a beer you like, 99% when people bring beer back to me it is because they haven't tried it before and assume because they don't like the taste of it it must be off. I would be lying if I said I liked every single beer we had in the Turf- but ale is all about personal preference, hence why it infuriates me when people simply ask 'give me your best ale'! We have 11, often ranging from dark porters and stouts to light hoppy golden ales. I personally prefer a massively hopped, strong beer, preferably a classic IPA, 5%+ and enough bitterness to melt your taste buds! So obviously my best would not be a dark beer, but it may be for you!

So if you want to ensure a good pint please come in and try and catch me at the bar, though you'll be very lucky to find me out of the cellar!!!!!

tebbs - 7 Feb 2011 16:13
Brilliant real ales. As other reviewers have stated it is always packed but service usually remains friendly
guestale - 24 Jan 2011 14:13
Used to think this pub was ott priced but now everybody else has caught up, fine pint of Burton Bridge Porter for 2.90m and also Green King special reserve on draught well. So nice to see high gravity winter ales on draught,
Hodge1 - 25 Nov 2010 19:32
The beer range in the Turf is always very good, although it's now bettered by a number of other central pubs in Oxford. It's something of an institution, but I rarely enjoy my visits. The two serving areas are far too small for the size of the pub, and it often takes up to 15 minutes to get a drink., which is simply unacceptable. With all the other options nearby, I think the now Turf compares poorly.
thomashenry - 29 Oct 2010 10:24
Having heard only good stuff about this pub, i popped in whilst on a pub crawl last weekend. I have to say I was utterly disappointed. I'm surprised even the tourists waste their time in here.

I notice previous posters on here have commented about the friendly staff, well they must have been sacked or ill on this occasion. I asked for pint of ale, Shepherd's Delight i believe it was called, and before i could blink, a pint (if you can call it that) was slammed onto the bar, slopped everywhere, and looked as flat as pancake. By the time i got back to my table it had perked up a bit and didn't look quite so lifeless. However, after three sips, me and my group all agreed it was off. I strolled back to the bar and asked if i could exchange it for another. The barman tried some from the pump (not my glass!) and said it was fine and i'd have to buy another pint if i wasn't happy about it. That was it, case closed, no room for discussion.

Maybe it was an off day but i won't be rushing back anytime soon, especially when there are far better/friendlier watering holes in the vacinity.
Dunnlop - 20 Sep 2010 13:32
Apart from the periodic scrum of tourists ( and I admit to being one of those) this is still one of the best pubs in Oxford. The beers are very well kept and if you are there in a crush, try the bar in back as it is frequently less busy that the obvious front bar. Worth the hunt (if you've not been here before, getting there can be a bit of a challenge). This one has been holding up well, in spite of its popularity.
prm1177 - 14 Aug 2010 20:43
Popped in for a pint on Saturday and at 4pm was over run with tourists - both drinking anything but real ale, and traipsing through the pub and then out again.
However, mid-afternoon Monday was much quieter and more pleasant.
Both pints which I had (Greene King's Olde Trip and Fossil Fuel from the Isle of Purbeck Brewery) were decent and very well kept. Should hope so from a place that usually has between nine and 12 ales on tap and a hefty turnover meaning the beer doesn't have time to get stale.
Avoid at peak times, but otherwise seek it out.
J
duchyjim - 28 Jul 2010 13:19
Visits to Oxford are rare, but I first went there about 25 years ago, and it has been consistently good. Beer quality & choice is excellent, staff are really friendly, service is good, and it's a great place for a beer or three. Clientele is a mix of tourists, beer drinkers, scantily clad students etc.
Dylanwing - 9 Jul 2010 22:25
Nice place tucked down a small passage. Don't try looking for it if you're already leathered.
Expect to see Charles and Sebastian teasing Mr Samgrass.
Juanfortheroad - 29 Apr 2010 18:37
I loved the layout and decor/style of the pub. But, sadly, they only had Strongbow Cider.
Pat_Bateman - 7 Apr 2010 16:52
The sort of pub that you have to visit just to say that you have but, unless you're very lucky, almost impossible to get a seat ot table inside. Took some friends there yesterday about 1800 who'd never been - place was pretty full with lots of staff dashing around serving less than appealing looking food and collecting glasses. Beer range was OK - The White Horse Bitter was good. Not, in my view, a place to linger though.
cheshirecat - 27 Mar 2010 11:07
This was my first visit to this pub and having had high expectations due to reviews on this site, I have to say I was somewhat underwhelmed. There are four separate drinking areas - the front bar, a second bar directly behind it, and two rooms following on behind that. The two back rooms had little or no character, merely being extra space to drink or, on my visit, eat. I opted to stand in the front bar which at least had some atmosphere.
Six pumps, on my visit serving Abbot, St Edmunds Ale, Potbelly Aisling and Turf Summer Ale. I had two pints of the Summer Ale which were good and refreshing.
I might pay another visit next time I'm in Oxford but there's no escaping the fact that this pub is over-rated.
holbornboy - 18 Dec 2009 13:10
A must if you visit Oxford. Little changed from when I was last here 25 years ago!! Very small inside but plenty of seating outside. Good range of ales.
Mothroy - 6 Dec 2009 19:53
I've never been a huge fan of the Turf,for a start its a job to find or direct people to. Its always busy with people I'd rather not be drinking with. Mortar boards and too many people saying "Yaah" to everything. And Greedy King will always be in the back of my mind. However to be sociable I visited on the saturday of their festival,but I came away disappointed. The beer was on stillage and was totally flat,without life or condition. 3 a pint across the board. Actually I couldn't wait to leave. Oh well.
an_ecunemical_matter - 31 Oct 2009 12:19
Bit of a sod to find , but worth it , it seems larger than it is and has some low beams for those of us over 6 foot , 10 varied ales on , i tried the Turf Summer Ale , not bad . Clientelle was mostly students and a few locals . Entertainment was provided by a Spanish bloke (one of the students fathers ) trying his first pint of Guiness , his face was a picture . Well worth a visit .
trenchlad - 15 Oct 2009 15:35
Found the pub by following the buzz of conversation coming from what I thought was a dead end alleyway!! Very impressed when I asked where White Horse beer was from and what sort of beer it was. The young lass gave me a the full run down on it including tasting notes!!

Although this is a GK pub, there is a fair selection of constantly changing beers from other brewers but I did find the St. Edmunds pint just the ticket for a hot summers day. Watched "service" with interest and found it to be well organised - just some of the customers don't seem to know what they want! Visited there about 4 times in 5 days and found it to be consistently good; ate there once and it was good value and good quality. A little bit of a wait but if you want fast food go somewhere else. Actually it was good to find all the rubbish "food" concentrated in one short street in Oxford - easily bypassed!
JBGatelad - 12 Sep 2009 13:18
A very nice interesting pub. A good choice of ales. Good friendly service.

Impressed my Chilean lady friend who loved the idea of drinking in the same bar as Morse.
ericstadd - 20 Aug 2009 22:17
Three Greene King beers on offer when I visited, plus Milton's Pegasus and Mauldon's Silver Adder - both good, with the Mauldon's my favourite. I was disappointed the Turf Tavern's Summer Ale was off.

Interesting mix of post-work-drinking locals and tourists. It's a long time since I've heard orders that combined Pimms with real ale! But it's that kind of place. All round, a pleasant place to stop off.


Roodeye - 19 Aug 2009 17:51
LittleFamilyFish -

"Due to it's location a lot of the clientelle are locals rather than passing tourists."

You are joking, aren't you? The Turf is the biggest tourist pub in Oxford - it's in all the guide books!
griffo59 - 18 Aug 2009 14:28
The Turf is hidden away at the end of narrow alleyways in the centre of Oxford. Due to it's location a lot of the clientelle are locals rather than passing tourists. 11 cask ales are on offer and there was also a cider on handpump (Old Rosie). Low wooden beamed ceilings greet you on entering and the whole building is oozing with character. Beers tried were all on form and though busy the service was friendly and efficient. There's plenty of outdoor seating and it's position makes it quite a sun trap in Summer. Food wasn't tried but looked good and prices seemed reasonable. Deserved Good Beer Guide entry and well worth seeking out if you visit Oxford.
LittleFamilyFish - 11 Aug 2009 15:54
Always very popular with both 'town and gown', as well as hoards of American and Japanese tourists who confuse it with Startbucks, by ordering various lattes, mochachinos and flavoured mineral waters.

However, still the best pub in Oxford for ale and character. The food is good, and prompt, if a bit pricey.

Bar staff are usually knowledgeable and friendly.

Avoid at busy times, but if you can make it 'off peak' it's great.

If you look closely in the shadows, the ghost of Inspector Morse can be seen, sipping a pint of Wychwood Hobgoblin.
griffo59 - 7 Aug 2009 18:30
Busy, full of graduates in capes and mortar boards.. And a guy dressed as a turkey. I love this pub, great atmosphere, great beer (Loved the Village Idiot), good service. If its good enough for Morse......
Dylanwing - 14 Jun 2009 15:32
Thanks a lot Lee. If you'd have left that any longer than 2 minutes without correcting it I'd have been losing sleep again.
shakespiers - 2 May 2009 11:26
Oops!

Should read:
"An education in intoxication" reads a banner in one bar of this sprawling "village" of a pub.
lad_newton - 30 Apr 2009 22:19
"An education in intoxication" reads a banner in one of this sprawling "village" of a pub.

I paid my first visit in over five years to this fascinating hostelry last night (29th April). As it was a relatively warm night for the time of year the outside drinking areas were in almost as much demand as the interior. Tall punters beware this pub was built several centuries ago at a time when people must have averaged less than five feet in height!

The Turf Tavern has undergone a sympathetic refurbishment around four years ago but remains perfectly intact.

Visitors to the Turf should note that waiting times at the bar for service may be as much as 10-15 minutes on account of understaffing. I was pleased to see that staff (whom I found quite friendly) were making every effort to serve us as quickly as possible but queues at all bars were noticeable at 9.45pm.

I enjoyed a pint of Hopback Crop Circle which was on good form, and there was a lively atmosphere throughout the pub.

Definitely worth more frequent visits.
lad_newton - 30 Apr 2009 22:17
My favourite Oxford pub, I always make a point of visiting when inthe area. Often busy but has a great atmosphere, the staff are always helpful and attentive and the beer is always great.
gingerbeer - 4 Apr 2009 17:09
Yet another visit this week and perfect yet again on every count, just the way it should be! Lovely pint of B&T SOS and MrsX enjoyed her Westons Old Rosie too, staff were excellent and very humorous which really does up the atmosphere and visit enjoyment factor. I always laugh to myself when I leave here and look at the pub sign stating "Greene King" and chuckle thinking this is one pub that even they've not managed to yet sc*ew up despite their record.
MisterX - 26 Mar 2009 15:37
Very nice pub. Had a pint of GK IPA and a sandwich and both were excellent.

Lots of students combined with a few families and a few locals, friendly staff, outside drinking area perfect for a summer afternoon!

Slightly difficult to find, but well worth tracking down!
CM23 - 20 Feb 2009 04:46
While quite possibly having the quirkiest layout of any pub I've ever frequented, this popular haunt fails on several fronts. It's not a surprise to see that so many people rave about it, but add one dragon of a barmaid and a remarkably weak selection of non-ale beverages and you get one overrated 'institution'. While Greene King, Oxford's ever-presents, have tried to mask their ownership, alarm bells start ringing when you see Strongbow making an unwelcome appearance alongside their own IPA. Nice try, but you're not fooling anybody.
plymouthpirate - 18 Dec 2008 17:33
A wonderful pub with two bars, a little busy when we arrived Saturday afternoon at the tail end of lunchtime. Bit of a labyrinth of a pub, more so when you've had a few. If it's busy you can always sit outside, just bring some warm clothing. Excellent range of beers, some Greene King infiltration though, but choice is pretty big nonetheless. I had Black Hole brewery Super Nova, very nice.
Booze_Allen - 8 Dec 2008 18:04
Fantastic pub, was really busy with students because of 'Matriculation' when I went, nice to see the youngsters drinking the real ale too, the age range of the clientele is across the board though so certainly not a kiddie pub! They get the turnover of ales so it's pretty much top notch stuff. A great place to relax and have a laugh.
Abteilung - 22 Oct 2008 20:40
Also have lots of local brewery beers from White Horse Brewery. Lovely blokes, lovely beer. Mmm.
toaster - 2 Oct 2008 21:39
Lovely pub. Maximum good beers. Minimum head room. Can get very busy, but lots of outside space with fantastic braziers and marshmallows available for purchase and toasting.

All in all, a pub with a huge amount of heritage, thankfully not ruined by corporate brewery world.

If you're visiting Oxford and don't pop in to at least have a quick half, you've missed out.
toaster - 2 Oct 2008 21:38
I was there on Saturday and was very impressed with the pub, the beer was superb and the food was good...however, the staff left a lot to be desired. Poor service inside, ok I accept it was busy, but staff should be noticing who has come to the bar and in what order to serve them, and outside, we were made to feel most unwelcome.
King_Viv - 16 Jul 2008 20:38
The pub is a very popular place to go in Oxford and provides a good range of real ales and very reasonably priced and excellently cooked meals. Be careful though that you don't get short changed on your pint, mine was missing a considerable amount from the top!
Gets very busy especially on sunny days and if you are in a big party, arrive early as the staff don't like you moving the tables around outside.
Having said that though, I would certainly return if in the city.
pistolknight_ViVi - 16 Jul 2008 00:53
If you want to know a nice place where the locals go to have a good time, the Turf Tavern. I stumbled upon this place and it looked interesting, so i decided to eat. The food was priced cheaply and was high quality. I actually received my meal in about 4 minutes. The staff at the Turf was the most friendly ive ever encountered in the UK or the states.
JOgilvie - 11 Jul 2008 04:51
I work at the Turf and am really pleased so many of you have enjoyed coming to the pub. I just thought I would make a comment about the drip-tray pint issue some people have mentioned below to explain why we do it and why we don't think it is a problem.

Because we are a very busy pub which is well-known for its ale, we go through our 11 very very quickly. Also, because it is a very old building with even older foundations, the cellar is extremely small and the ales do not have as much time in the cellar as they can enjoy elsewhere. (Sometimes our choice of beers reflects this - ie. through experience we've learned that some beers require more settling time than others and so we tend not to get those beers in much) This means that although we only ever serve the beer when it is in good drinking condition, it is not always in perfect pouring condition. The effect of this is that sometimes the beer is a little more 'lively' than we would want - this makes it hard to pour without more head than we would get in perfect circumstances. So, in order to give people full pints rather than ones with large heads, or with too much delay, and without over-pouring them which not only wastes beer but results in a flatter, muddier pint, we tap the excess head into a second pint-glass which is kept on the drip tray by the appropriate pump. The original pint is then topped up from the pump. The tapped-off head then has time to settle out for the next customer to buy that pint, normally within a couple of minutes. When it is quiet we don't need to tap off the head and don't use the system. There is only ever a centimetre or so of beer in the tapped-off glass.

As far as I can see the only difference to the beer sitting in a glass by the pump and the beer sitting in the barrel in the cellar is that it does not get drawn through the line. (As anyone who has worked with ale will know, when you vent the beer before tapping it, you make the beer open to the air in the cellar - unlike a lager). Drawing beer through the line gives it a little life and freshness because of its journey but does not add anything else to it whatsoever. Since, when we are using the tapped-off beer, only a tiny proportion of the pint is not drawn through the line, this quality is not lost.

Of course, the system has to be properly managed so that there isn't too much beer sitting for too long, but in busy periods we are essentially just starting some else's pint a few moments before they order it - it is settling before you order it and while we can be doing something else rather than between you ordering and paying. Given the fact we can only ever have 4 people behind the bar for such a huge pub it is a way of saving time and getting you served slightly faster while not wasting beer or, as far as I can see having any impact on the quality of your beer. Of course, if any of you ever have a problem with the conditioning of your pint do come up and let us know - we take our reputation for serving good beer seriously and want you to be happy with what you get.

I hope this helps explain the matter. If you have any other questions about it, do put them down and I'll try to remember to come back here and reply to them!

Dan
dan1980 - 5 Jun 2008 13:20
Famous 16th Century city centre pub within spitting distance of the Kings Arms down a side alley by the much photographed Bridge of Sighs ( there's another alleyway off Holywell Street ) and close up against the old city walls.

As previous contributors have pointed out, its a GK pub, but it serves a good range of approx a dozen real ales, including local micros ( these included West Berks Good Old Boy and White Horse Wayland Smithy on my early May visit. As the pub itself proclaims - " its an education in intoxication".

There are several outside drinking areas - the one in front of the main entrance has chalk boards providing interesting snippets of information on the pubs history / customers.

At the time of my visit, the Southern Counties Beer Festival was in progress in the garden at the back and the usual CAMRA worthies ( all looking like Bill Oddie of course ) were starting to roll up.

Mind your head on the low beams in the front bar and look out for the inevitable picture of Morse and Lewis supping a pint in the pub.

Recommended - but likely to be busy whenever you visit
JohnBonser - 30 May 2008 14:04


The question all you poor publicans running Greedy King pubs should be asking your BDM's (or even Rooney Anand and David Elliott), is, why can't you sell beer from micro breweries? It doesn't half make a difference.

This is a Greedy King pub too!


meeko - 19 May 2008 16:42
Surely if GK want to move forward in the right direction then a visit to this pub should be a must for their execs. A superb example of well kept ever changing beers from a large selection of micros and of course the usual GK stalwarts. The pub is hard to find, tucked away in the back alleys of the city but is worth the struggle (ask at The White Horse for directions) The food is the usual fayre from the brewery titans, but this pub is about beer and frankly it doesn't need anything else, yes it has a lovely garden, yes the decor inside is fine, but its all about the beer. This may be the best beer in Oxford if not then certainly the best choice.
wellinformed - 21 Apr 2008 17:41
This is an excellent little pub tucked away in the streets of Oxford. It is a bit of a tight squeeze in there and it gets busy at lunchtimes. Despite being a Greene King house the beer range was very good including some local breweries. As for the food, good value and with quick service.
ranger1485 - 19 Apr 2008 17:26
Visited this pub once at a lucnhtime, sitting in the beer garden. It *should* have been good - decent facilities, pretty building, decent beer & cider & food. However, the visit was spolit by the manager who was downright rude to me and several of my friends. I guess nobody ever explained to him that kicking the back of a customer's chair to get their attention before telling them to move out of the way(no please or thankyou!) was not acceptable behaviour. Not to mention lying about it when challenged about it later, and refusing to apologise.

Not a pub that I'll be returning to!
morrisgirl - 16 Apr 2008 17:00
Certainly been a fine place to drink on my last two visits - can't believe this place is a Greedy King house, but there you go, proves what can be done.

A very good range of ale on, served well (didn't notice any of the drip-tray shenanigans mentioned elsewhere).

Lots of nooks, crannies and alleyways - easy to get lost after a few if you're not familiar with the layout - and mind your head on the door frames if you are taller than an Oompa Loompa.

Can get incredibly busy and large queues forming at the bar, however given the age of the place (and the tight layout) it's best to either accept it or move on and come back at a quieter time during the day.

At present, well worth a visit, possibly the best pub in Oxford town centre.
Quinno - 31 Mar 2008 20:26
I always make sure to visit this pub whenever I am in Oxford. The food is superb, the ales are wonderful and there is always a wide variety. The staff are always welcoming and very friendly.
This is one of the most popular public houses in Oxfordshire, so do not be suprised if it is busy. Any regulars of The Turf will know this and will either get there early to order lunch or be more than happy to wait for the freshly cooked food (Try the Salmon and the Lamb - cooked to perfection).
This pub deserves the title of "National Perfect Pub 2007" and I fully expect it to keep on winning that title whilst the current management reside. Try this pub for yourself, you will not be dissapointed.
tutifruity - 31 Mar 2008 07:13
Whats more to say about this pub, without doubt the best pub in the UK. Great real Ales, Unique building - Buy a tourist map to find it, as It'll never get passing trade - with it been down a medieval passageway
Dave0044724 - 15 Mar 2008 22:22
OK so it is a bit of a tourist trap (who told them where it was?) and visiting on a Saturday dinnertime as I did yesterday is probably the worst time of the week in facing that aspect but that aside the Turf is still one of my very favorite pubs in England. I've met more real characters in this pub than probably any other I've been in and you always get a friendly welcome from the regulars and the service I've always found both friendly & efficient.

The beer I sampled was in superb condidtion yesterday, especially the Summertime Ale which was glorious. Also how many pubs do you know with an outside "no smoking" front garden too? Brilliant! GK have showed that they can run a pub properly by simply leaving it alone pretty much and allowing it to be what it always has been - A classic English ale house. Love it, despite yesterday's tourists with their multitude of cameras. :)
MisterX - 2 Mar 2008 11:56
Large rambling pub with a paved beer garden front and back. The back is overlooked by a splendid church tower and has charcoal burners. It's down a side alley. Chalk boards tell of the famous incidents here, such as Clinton "not inhaling" and Bob Hawke downing a yard of ale in 11 seconds - a world record at the time. A Morse pub apparently. Certainly it's a pub packed with charm, atmosphere, good food, history, uniqueness and an amazing range of beers, including a house beer only available at the pub. Awesome. A top scoring pub.
SilkTork - 17 Feb 2008 14:28
You want ale, this is the place. 11 real ales on two bars, lots of guest beers and regular "Meet the Brewer" evenings. Also a beer festival that shows up the Oxford Beer Festival abortion!
alcapone69 - 11 Jan 2008 01:30
This is a great looking pub, and it is usually full so something must be right. I was wary about going back as I had been served from glasses on the drip tray that had been standing for a while last time I was there, but my drink was served from the pump, although from where I was standing I could see a glass on one of the trays.
gillhalfpint - 3 Jan 2008 15:07
The Turf gets a little busy but is wondrous in so many ways, not least its terrific ales and lovely beer gardens. The idea of winter braziers is superb and most of the interior is nicely "olde-worlde" Tucked away down an alley way, this is one of the city's classic pubs.
BoehmBawerk - 21 Dec 2007 12:22
I remember the Turf Tavern from my student days and we always used to go there in the winter for mulled wine. The real treat in the simmer was the Hook Norton beer. Unfortunately, when I went there recently neither were available. What was available was the kind of surly management that made me drink up quickly and head for the pub across the road on the corner!
RAFsprog - 15 Nov 2007 20:05
I remember the Turf Tavern from my student days and we always used to go there in the winter for mulled wine. The real treat in the simmer was the Hook Norton beer. Unfortunately, when I went there recently neither were available. What was available was the kind of surly management that made me drink up quickly and head for the pub across the road on the corner!
RAFsprog - 15 Nov 2007 20:05
What a shame that such a charming historic pub should be marred by rude management. We were a large party of well-behaved individuals, who had phoned ahead to let them know we were coming. We got nothing but snarls, sarcasm and outright hostility. A disabled member of our party was repeatedly knocked into by the surly manager, and he didn't apologise (we had also asked about wheelchair access ahead of time). Two members of our party began to sing; apparently this is against the rules well, rules is rules, but there is no need for unpleasantness. I shall not be returning until there's a change of management.
fjane37 - 11 Nov 2007 13:23
Our visit to the Turf was utterly disappointing. It deteriorated so significantly in the past few years! I took my friends for a traditional Sunday roast there and it was horrible. Fatty meat, microwaved frozen vegetables. Awful. We will not be back which is a shame - the place has so much character, but don't go there for your meal.
tania_l - 1 Nov 2007 16:50
Recently visited this pub for the first time. I didn't realise it was a Greene King pub until I read a leaflet in the bar that said it was, so it must have retained most (or all) of it's original charm. I had an excellent pint of White Horse Brewery Saracen IPA, followed by a pint of Summer Lightning. Wanted to stay longer...
Slake - 13 Sep 2007 23:54
I was a customer at the Turf on Friday 10th August and was served with a drink topped up from a glass on the drip tray. I challenged the barmaid who claimed it was freshly drawn and never stands long. In the past I have thought highly of the Turf but not any longer. It will be a long time before I go back.
Caraman - 16 Aug 2007 10:08
We called in last Friday, as we always do when in Oxford, and yes, there was a good range of beers available. I was disturbed to see that they were pouring beer from glasses standing on the drip trays to serve to customers though. When I heard someone say they had received beer this way, I went to watch from the side of the bar and asked staff why they were doing it. I was told the cellar was not cold enough so the beer had to settle. They said it only stood for 10 minutes and if not served to customers it was thrown away. Weird. Wonder how CAMRA would take the practice. I did have beer served straight from the pump on the back bar and it was in excellent condition.
gillhalfpint - 15 Aug 2007 10:48
Oh dear oh dear, Greene King what are you up to again? Real nice refurbishment, a comprehensive attempt to wipe out the character and charm of the pub. Still, at least the one grace is that the beer range and quality is one of the best in the country. Funny that not a soul was caught drinking anything from the Greene King 'portfolio'. Wonder why...(does anybody drink GK in here?) A succesful pub, for two reasons which never in my life have I associated with this PubCo:
The beer is amazing, and the staff are knowlegable and chatty. If this was a free house or owned by a local like Wychwood, then 10/10.
bagwell - 15 Aug 2007 08:11
great pub, great atmosphere.

only negatives is that some of the outside seating was a bit on the unsteady side and it took quite a while to get served.

otherwise a big thumbs up.
emzblue - 20 Jun 2007 01:19
Pubs like the Turf are what drinking is all about. incredibly owned by Greene King it seems to get away with murder compared to other GK pubs I visit. The beer list is always extensive, the staff always seem to have a knowledge about the beers, which is rare these days, and despite it being busy there is always a space to be had. We managed to get food last night at 9:30pm when all the other pubs had stopped hours previously. The Turf is a great pub.
imdownthepub - 16 Jun 2007 07:57
Very fine Oxford pub. It can be crowded at times but really that's not such a bad thing as it a) attests its popularity in a city where mediocrity sinks, and b) ale sales are so high that the quality is always maintained. Don't be put off by the fact that the Turf is owned by Greene King. The policy adopted here is to allow almost cartre blanche in the selection of guests. Enjoy.
CJG - 18 May 2007 16:05
I visited at about 1 p.m. on a Saturday and the extensive outside seating areas were all completely full. I didn't bother going inside as the pub was also heaving with people. The toilets are outside so I was at least able to test the gents!


twm_sion_cati - 30 Apr 2007 14:47
The Turf is a must visit for any tour of Oxford, that being said it is very touristy and student full most of the time. The beer list has become somewhat 'safer' over recent years, but there is always something new available. Its a job to get a seat anywhere and the bar areas are packed, but it is definitely worth the effort.
imdownthepub - 16 Apr 2007 08:48
Still a great pub with an ever changing range of real beers
alewhale - 10 Apr 2007 10:01
This is an exemplary pub. It is located down a stupendousy picturesque, narrow alley and nestles beneath ancient city walls, with spires rising behind it. Inside it's a warren of snug little bars, old wooden beams and uneven stone walls. There's a very large range of ales and a famous cider on tap, the food is very good and the service is professional, fast and friendly. Clientele seem to be a mixture of students, dons and tourists. One of the bets pubs I have been to.
Greshon - 20 Feb 2007 18:09
This is my favourite pub in the city centre without a doubt, many beers and some cider too. The food is wonderful aswell. The only downside is that it gets soooo busy.
tabbycat - 12 Feb 2007 17:45
I went here one lunchtime and had a thoroughly enjoyable time. The atmosphere was great and the food was lovely. I'd reccommend it to anyone.
anonymous - 25 Jan 2007 19:58
I had low expectations from the Turf that were turned on their head. Had a couple of nice pints of hobgoblin (I don't drink this stuff enough), the staff were friendly without being annoying. Loads of people ambling in and out but it worked at the turf. I am always a sucker for a pub tucked down a narrow alley way. If your tall be prepared as the ceilings are amazingly low. I obviously never experienced the Turf pre-Greene King so can't comment on any changes.
jorrocks - 2 Jan 2007 17:48
This is the best pub in Oxford. Especially if you like real ale. It can get very busy in the summer(tourists) and winter(students). Try the Turf Tavern Ale. Never tried the food but there is a non-smoking eating area at the back. Accesible for wheelchairs.
oxfordboy - 29 Dec 2006 16:19
Touristy in one way, but it is also very very tucked away so you still have a sense of stumbling on a hidden treasure. Ive known this pub since I was a teenager, and it still seems a bit of a special place. Best for the setting really - it has a good selection of beers/real ales, I understand, but that is of little interest to me as i don't have a beard.
Service varies from charming to lazy - food again varies. Go there for the setting and sometimes the good company.
spincat - 28 Oct 2006 12:50
Tucked away down one of Oxford's many intriguing side-streets, the Turf is frequented by a mixed bag of punters, and is well-worth visiting for its traditional interior, and in the Summer, its excellent garden. Most notably for real ale fans, it continues (for now) to serve a staggering range of 10 ales, notwithstanding its rather quiet transfer to Greene King recently. Normally that means the end for beer diversity. But it just goes to show that when they choose to, an autocratic and predatory company like GK can adopt a more flexible policy on allowing other brewers' product a place on their bars. Maybe the clout of the local Oxford clientele was enough to worry them into making it an exception? I can't see it being so popular if every handpump was dispensing IPA, Abbot & Speckled Hen, however pretty it is!
Mind you I must say that when I was last there in May, nearly all the beers were off as they'd run out over Bank Holiday - teething trouble I hope?
TWG - 4 Oct 2006 18:15
We were there last summer. There was always a queue at the bar, but only because the Turf seemed to specialise in lazy, talkative barmaids.

This kind of thing does take the gloss off a visit to a nice pub.
Biggles - 26 Sep 2006 16:45
Fantastic pub. Fantastically hidden. Fantastic ales and the food is ace when they do it. Prices aren't too bad. Staff are pretty good. Two beer gardens or outdoor areas rathe than gardens. Very smokey indoors. A seriously good place if you can find it.
anonymous - 26 Sep 2006 16:28
Loved this pub I must say. I am a real "atmosphere and oldie worldie" type of pubbie person and I enjoyed my couple of visits there. Yes it does get packed in the summer with loads of tourists, but well worth the visit.
kiwimaj - 26 Sep 2006 13:40
HIDDEN GEM TUCKED AWAY
madmatty - 16 Sep 2006 08:07
The fact this place actually has a good range of beers served not too badly is irrelevant, since it's so packed at all times that you'll never get to taste any. Food slow and standard. Outside in use all year: ineffective braziers, where you can toast marshmellows. Only go if you're a tourist, a student or enjoy complaining.
thedts - 5 Sep 2006 02:16
A great pub. Entertainingly difficult to find if you don't know where it is and a great little warren of rooms. The only niggle being the number of tourists who populate it during the summer for hours on end nursing mineral waters.
anonymous - 17 Aug 2006 10:08
Great creaking wood pub, even if the food is a little weak. Unlike all the below posts, this pub is good any time of the year, even if around term time it tends to be more packed as many of the colleges are nearby. Poor selection of lagers, but good on the ales and cider (beware of Old Rosie). Staff turnover is high, but they are always friendly.
Moose82 - 31 Jul 2006 15:37
A multi-roomed pub in an historic building, also benefits from various outdoor areas. The "retail space" (bar and food counter) had difficulty meeting demand on our visit, and substantial queues built up. Once ordered, the food service was quick, and of good quality. A very good selection of beers, catering for most tastes. Highly recommended, especially "off peak".
fromedrinker - 19 Jun 2006 14:33
always different guest ales and watch out for the visits from local brewmasters. make sure to sit outside and toast your marshmallows on the braziers. as previously mentioned, best avoided during term time.
fatlad - 29 Apr 2006 14:35
The Turf is just one of those pubs you have to visit if in Oxford.
GeeGeeStables - 22 Apr 2006 11:59
Always an excellent pint but as previously stated avoid University Term times and the Tourist season. The wait for service can be very exasperating when the students/tourists in front of your are literally spoilt by the choice available. The staff turnover is high which does not help the situation as there always seems to be someone new on "learning" the ropes.
derekbutton - 17 Apr 2006 21:15
Very pleasant, good food and good beer. Nice outside seating area. I'm reliably informed that this pub is best visited outside of the university's term time and outside of the main summer tourist period.
Muzthing - 6 Apr 2006 21:48
No complaints about the beer, the food or the ambience, all of which were acceptable or better. Last night, however, I had the longest wait of my life at the bar. There was no bar-rage and the queue was orderly as it snaked through the pub, but I still think it's excessive to expect customers to wait 20 minutes to order a pint and a glass of wine.
junket - 9 Mar 2006 12:04
Was up in Oxford last weekend and after a mate asked me to check out the turf tavern I thought I'd better oblige.

Took a little bit to find but it was definitely worth the trip - felt a bit old in there as it was full of students (but hey, I was in Oxford so that's more of an observation than a complaint).

Considering it was a chilly night in February I quite enjoyed sitting outside under the heaters nursing a pint or two. I'd go back again, if only to sample one or two other beers....
brodie_bruce - 17 Feb 2006 15:35
Was in here for the first time in a while this weekend, just for the one. Young but incredibly friendly and well informed bar man. They had about 10 cask ales on - I don't remember such a selection when I was a student, but maybe I was just too Stella'd up to appreciate. Had White Horse "The Guv'nor", a good but very volatile 6.5% pale ale.

The Turf is just one of those pubs you have to visit. Yes it gets busy, food isn't great and service is overstretched, but its an amazing singular place.
anonymous - 16 Jan 2006 11:00
This is a great pub, I just wish it wasn't always so busy. All the American tourists seem to find their way here, and the students pack it out too.

Last summer they had great bbqs, and recently they were serving mulled wine, so you can tell a bit of thought goes into this pub. There's a large selection of cask ales, and sometimes the odd cask cider too.

You have to visit this pub at least once....if you can find it that is!
clockworkpurple - 15 Jan 2006 14:29
This is a fantastic pub - great range of beers and an awesome atmosphere. It does have a tendency to get rather crowded, however, especially in the evenings, so service could be rather slow - but this doesn't detract at all from it's great character.
bobdebilde - 15 Dec 2005 12:34
Truly great pub. Have no idea how it manages it but despite being rammed with students and tourists, it has a great atmosphere and huge selection of good real ale.
northoftheriver - 14 Nov 2005 18:51
Some of the previous comments start "This could be a ".... this pub is centuries old, if it isn't now ! it'll never be...
must be Americans...
This is a great old pub steeped in history,
good beers on tap, excellent patio, only possible flaw may be food service slow during lunch rush..... enjoy
GIVEBLOODPLAYHOCKEY - 16 Sep 2005 20:30
I discovered this pub in 1951 as a choir boy at Manchester college. We were invited to sing carols, for mince pies, after the Christmas service at the college. The customers made a collection and we choristers went home with pockets bulging with coppers. What a Christmas we had! When occasion permits I pop in for a quick one, (52 years on) and it still has the old charm, warmth and welcome from half a century ago.
In August 2005 there is a group of International book lovers arriving in Oxford for a convention, several commited beer drinkers have asked if I can show them a SPECIAL pub. You bet I can!
Swampy - 14 Jul 2005 22:35
You'd need to know the area to find this pub. However, it is certainly in a memeorable location once you have found it, tucked away in a tiny alleyway. A fine selection of cask ales is available and the staff are noticeably more friendly than other local establishments. The place is also recommended for doing great ciders and sometimes even perries.
kyle473 - 15 Jun 2005 16:15
This could be a "hidden gem", however it is in the guidebooks...thats how we found it! Service was good, however they closed off a part of the bar leaving a small que at the other side for the rest of the night... One of the most interesting pubs I have ever been to though! I will definitely go back there next time I'm in Oxford!
IvyIvyIvy - 1 Jun 2005 09:32
This could be a really nice pub. An interesting location, tucked away down the back alleys of Oxford, it serves an excellent selection of well maintained ales. The building is of tradional character and has some dangerously low beams in the bar area. The problem with this place is that it gets rammed with punters. The bar areas are small, and subsequently getting a pint of hoppy nectar can be a real test of patience. In this case however, the quality of the beer and the ambience of the place probably make it worthwhile.
gravedigga - 2 May 2005 14:01
This is the best pub in Oxford. Bearing in mind the number of tourists and students, the staff keep up with the customers well.
With regard to beer, it must be that the cellar is cared for extaordinarily well. The lines are clean, and though several of the 11+ beers are emptied most of the time, there is something worth drinking at all times -with much enjoyment-.
The above is in contrast to every other pub in Oxford, but mainly because it The Turf Tavern is so good in its own right.
anonymous - 1 May 2005 22:35
How anyone can possibly call this pub 'over-rated'! A great selection of ales and ciders in a pub that is TRULY historic, over hundreds of years! It may well be 'owned' by a 'suspect' pub group, but at leat they have left it largely as it has been over many years - well done! (Don't like your other 'plastic pubs, though!)
peterpenberthy - 15 Jan 2005 01:24
It's a nice pub - but the serving area is so small you have to queue for your pint - very slowly. Also while the real ales selection is good, the lagers are poor. Tricky getting a seat unless it's winter as well.
Steve Mc - 23 Sep 2004 16:28
its the best pub on earth and the staff are all fit - specially GUV
bunny - 14 Sep 2004 12:25
Loving the fact that they serve Hoegaarden on tap!!
anonymous - 12 Jun 2004 17:16
Overrated
thegooddoctor - 15 May 2004 15:49
Fantastic array of beers here. Tucked away in a winding alley.
Aaron - 14 May 2004 04:28
Top notch pub this one, the pint of cider they do in here is about as potent as they come, 3 pints and you will be bouncing off walls on the way home. Nice low ceilings, friendly staff and brilliant braziers outside in winter.
hongkongdave - 1 Dec 2003 19:12
Great guest ales in a pub laden with atmosphere. Perfect to sit outside in the beer gardens during the summer, but also great to sit around the braziers with mulled wine and roasted chestnuts during the winter. That's if you can drag yourself away from the ales for long enough
Adi - 22 Nov 2003 19:09
11 Guest ales! It's incredible.

V attractive bar staff too - they weren't too slow when I went.
Ian - 5 Nov 2003 20:53
try "old rosie", the cider they serve at the turf. its 7.3% and tastes 10 times better than shitty blackthorn or strongbow
alex - 26 Oct 2003 01:43
There is nothing better than sitting outside having a beer on a summers day, yes there is actually, doing it anywhere but the Turf. Ok its got great open air areas and the beers ok but the staff are never exactly in a hurry, in fact i thought they were on a go-slow till i realised they were like that everytime i went in, apart from waiting thirty minutes (no joke) for a drink i actually did enjoy it hence why i kept going back for the entire time i was in Oxford and would go back again (i just might sneak something in to sip while i'm waiting for my pint of Hoe!!!
Nick - 29 Sep 2003 16:52
Great pub, great beers, the cider hurts though, a must visit pub when you are in oxford.
jockhughes - 4 Sep 2003 08:46
Its the second oldest pub in Oxford (after the Bear), but the oldest original pub building. Real beers, real atmospheres and a lot of outdoor, yet covered, space.
Rob - 29 Aug 2003 13:03
we had a white (Belgian?) lager which was so memorable, we shut down the place at night, and opened it the next morning. And we were only in town for 20 hours!
Hitomi and Ken - candlestick66@hotmail.com - 29 Jul 2003 01:34
Great hidden away pub. Nice beer pice atmosphere. One of my favourites in Oxford
Pete - 11 Jul 2003 13:26
When i was in they had "old western marie" cider. claimed to be 8% - well they had something else in it - very potent. The place drips atmosphere and the bar staff are friendly and nice. Lucky i'm going to uni over the road at Wadham, plan to make it my regular! Definitely recommend
Adam - 20 Jun 2003 17:13
This pub is just the most important to visit if you are in Oxford. It's kind of hard to find - hidden down a little road which looks like it goes nowhere, however it is lovely. IT has low ceilings and is a bit confusing because although when you walk in you think its small, it goes off into lots of small rooms so that you can fit quite a lot in there. The outside garden is complete with heaters so that even when it gets a little chilly you can enjoy the courtyard atmosphere. It has a good range of beers and drinks in general although the food didn't appear very impressive - even for pub standards. But for a drink its really recommended. Like Clyney said above, watch your head - its the oldest pub in Oxford and it is built in traditional ways. But A MUST SEE.
Lucy - 13 Jun 2003 11:10
Fantastic pub, remember to duck if you're more than 5'11" or so...
Clyney - 9 Jun 2003 06:47
As far as I'm concerned....Heaven on earth for beer drinkers! looking forward to going back in July 2003!
Les - 27 May 2003 04:16
Lovely pub. Really good beer. Afternoon drinking doesn't get any better than this.
Sickboy - 5 May 2003 12:18
Very Very Wicked. As is anywhere with 10 guest ales.
Tom - 15 Jan 2003 15:59
Even in bad/cold weather, nothing beats sitting outside around the braziers.
Phil - 5 Jul 2002 13:31
great pub, particularly when the weather's good and you can sit outside
Miranda Wood - 13 Jun 2002 16:45
The most amazing place - the staff are friendly and the beer is good. Try it!
Cathy - meggi49@hotmail.com - 5 Jun 2002 11:11
Loads of scrumpy and cider. Generally and excellent 'traditional' oxford pub. Brilliant for summer all day sessions.
Chopper - triniboy70@hotmail.com - 31 May 2002 13:42
It's cool
Clare

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