I love anything and everything with a bit of quirkiness to it.
Therefore, whilst searching for somewhere a little bit different to celebrate my birthday, I remembered hearing about a place, which takes you ‘down the rabbit hole’ and into an eccentric bar, where not drinking out of a teacup, tankard or jar sets you apart from the rest.
The Mad Hatter on Iffley Road, Oxford is the epitome of quirk.
On arrival, we were greeted by a mysterious front door coated in ‘grass’, a golden mirror and a black and white ‘path’ leading towards a miniature door. Unfortunately, there was no potion to shrink us down small enough to squeeze through the door, so instead, we pushed on the grass-covered intercom and awaited instruction on how to enter.
The intercom came alive and we were asked a riddle to gain access – ‘what is white, black and Asian?’ (write your answers in the comment box below if you know it). Luckily for me (I’m awful at riddles), I had a clever bunch of friends with me and before we knew it, we were lounging on a regal chaise lounge with a teacup of bubbles in hand.
Boasting a crimson red and gold dabbled colour scheme, huge, rustic chests, which were used as tables and a bar stocked to the brim with unique tipples and cocktail concoctions, The Mad Hatter cleverly captures the weird and wonderful illusion, which is so prominent in Alice and Wonderland yet, in bar form.
As there were more than ten of us, we had to choose a chapter from their ‘tea party packages’ prior to our arrival. The Mad Hatter himself, kindly emailed me over the menu, which included themed names such as, ‘Down the Rabbit Hole, ‘Advice from a Caterpillar’ and ‘Who Stole the Tarts’.
Most of these packages included a mixture of prosecco and/or champagne, giant cocktail teacups as well as, shots and ranged from £150 for ten guests to a whopping £500 for thirty guests (although split between everyone, this isn’t toooo extortionate and is perfect for a special occasion).
We ended our evening at The Mad Hatter in true style – shooting tequila at the bar whilst donning some fabulous sombreros.
The Mad Hatter is wacky, extravagant and like no other and I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves a dose of eccentricity before or on a night out.
Have you ever been to The Mad Hatter in Oxford? Let me know what you thought by commenting, Facebooking or Tweeting me :)!
Oxford is renowned for its ancient beauty. However, when the sun begins to shine, the flowers start to blossom and the tourists frolic to the riverside by the bucket-load, the city acquires an even more majestic glow than usual.
With a treasure trove of exciting sites and activities out there to be uncovered, what are you waiting for? Grab your sandals, a picnic and, of course, a bottle of Pimms and check out my must see sights in Oxford this summer:
Explore the Botanic Gardens
The Botanic Gardens in Oxford display the most diverse range of plants in the world. Thus, this idyllic patch of vibrant flower beds, lily ponds, woodlands, orchards and glasshouses are a must-mooch whilst in Oxford.
Punting is iconic to Oxford. Therefore, jumping in one of these rustic, wooden boats this summer, is a no-brainer. Pack yourself a picnic, a bottle of prosecco and (if you can) a muscly man who is willing to do the punting, and you’re on to a winner of an afternoon…
Wander around the University’s grounds
As expected, the Oxford University grounds are simply stunning. Whether you are wandering around its impressive colleges and libraries or its picturesque gardens and parks, the University will transport you to, what feels like, a scene in Harry Potter.
Uncover the Covered Market
Selling everything from flowers, leather and souvenirs to cookies, milkshakes and pies, Oxford’s Covered Market has plenty of shops and eateries to keep you occupied.
Make sure you check out Moo-Moo’s milkshake bar. Imagine your favourite chocolate bars, all blended into a milkshake… heaven.
Quench your thirst with a cocktail at Varsity’s rooftop bar
Lychee and chilli sling. That is all…
Watch an open-air play
Rent a bike
Feel like a local for the day. Rent a bike and see how many of these must-see sites you can tick off.
Watch a film under the stars
You don’t have to go as far as London to watch a film under the stars… thanks to Cult Screens, you can now watch your favourite films at different, quirky outdoor locations across the city. From the Castle to the Pitt Rivers museum, pull up a beanbag, slump back with a cool, crisp beer and enjoy…
Have you ever been to Oxford during the summer? What would you add to this list of great things to see and do in the city?? Please comment, Facebook or Tweet me to let me know :)!
Last weekend, as it was one of the gal’s birthdays, we decided to act like the 23 year old sophisticates we are (hmmm…) and head to a bar in Oxford for a few civilized cocktails and a good ol’ chinwag.
After hearing rave reviews about The Varsity Club, a four-storey cocktail bar situated in the heart of Oxford, boasting eclectic, quirky decor, scrumptious cocktails and a lavish rooftop bar with impressive views across the city, we were sold and booked ourselves a table.
When we arrived, we weaved our way up the mountain of stairs (gym sesh at its finest… with vodka at the end of it) and were greeted by a cosy yet, buzzing cocktail lounge.
With its rustic bare brick walls, mood lighting, vintage-style chairs and tables and atmospheric tea light candles flickering in old jam jars, the bar’s shabby chic furnishings gave it a warming and homely feel.
We couldn’t wait to kick back on one of their plush sofas with a delicious cocktail in hand.
Serving everything from the traditional martini and mojito to the slightly more riskayyy ‘sour’ (your choice of spirit mixed with egg white and maple syrup… urghhh) and lychee and chilli sling (check out the menu here), each cocktail is carefully mixed and embellished with its own adorable garnish.
From cute, colourful flower petals and perfume (my friend swears she saw a barman squirt perfume in her drink…) to dainty, pearls of sugar and flaming, seeded passion fruit, each cocktail has its own special finishing touch.
Despite the cocktails being more than desirable, the rooftop bar is definitely The Varsity Club’s unique selling point! With its pretty, twinkling fairy lights, stylish seating area and fabulous views, it’s the perfect place to sink a few Coronas on a summer’s afternoon as the sun slowly disperses behind the silhouette of Oxford’s stunning historic buildings.
The Varsity Club is also home to a coffee shop (downstairs) and a club (first floor). Meaning you can start at the bottom and make your way up as the day goes on… coffee to start the day, Varsity cooler and tequila to finish…
If you’re a little strapped for cash (cocktails are around £8-12 each), head over and sample the rooftop bar and cocktails during happy hour (Monday – Friday 5pm – 7pm).
They also serve a wide selection of food (the menu sounds YUM) and host a ‘pongathon’ every Tuesday (count me in!!).
If you’ve ever been to The Varsity Club, what was your favourite cocktail? Please comment, Tweet or Facebook me to let me know :)!
Also, please don’t forget to pop over and give my Bloglovin’ page a like :).
As soon as my friend and I stepped into Kazbar on Cowley Road in Oxford, we felt as though we’d been transported into a rustic Moroccan bar… in Spain.
The glass conservatory, which holds the bar, created the illusion that we were outside.
Green ivy, foliage and twigs crept their way up the faded-mustard coloured walls and were draped in beads, flickering candle holders, pieces of fabric and random ornaments, which all contributed to the restaurant’s consciously shabby decor.
Once we’d stopped ourselves from drooling over the cocktail menu at the bar, we were led through to the restaurant area, where the Moroccan charm waltzed up a gear.
Greeted by intricate, glowing lanterns of all shapes and sizes, which were randomly scattered throughout the restaurant, endearing large Spanish posters plastered tastefully across the ochre walls, strings of twinkling fairy lights dangling in the windows and shabby chic stone benches plumped up with inviting deep red, fluffy cushions. All of which, were topped off with cute, mosaic tables and grand, green potted plants, which both added to the al fresco dining feel of the restaurant.
Team all of this with the sweet smell of incense sticks and the mellow beat of flamenco music, and you’ve got yourself a Mediterranean haven.
As I was driving, I couldn’t indulge in one of their mouth-watering cocktails or largeeee refreshing beers however, both the Fig and Vanilla Daiquiri and Marrakesh Express sounded particularly delicious (damn you driving!)
Nevertheless, as there was no alcohol in the mix, this only meant one thing – we had to make up for it in food… and that, my friends, we did…
Wanting to sample anything and everything on the menu (looking back, our eyes were definitely being farrrr too greedy for our bellies), we ended up choosing eight tapas dishes and a side of bread between the two of us. Ranging from tasty paella and fragrant beef tagine to succulent, paprika infused octopus and flavoursome gambas pil pil, everything was scrumptious and reasonably priced (approx £3-8).
We left feeling as plump and round as the comfy cushions we reclined onto after we had finished stuffing our faces.
Whether you are looking for a chilled out bar to slurp on a cocktail or two and enjoy your surroundings or a restaurant to have an evening meal, Kazbar oozes relaxation yet, excites every one of your senses at the same time!
Pop in and let Kazbar bring the Mediterranean to you… Surely that’s an offer no one can refuse?
Have you ever been to Kazbar on Cowley Road, Oxford? What was your favourite part of the experience? Please comment, Facebook or Tweet me to let me know :)!
Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and the surrounding area are home to some of the most highly esteemed restaurants in the country. From Heston Blumenthal’s three Michelin star restaurant, The Fat Duck in Berkshire to Raymond Blanc’s two Michelin star restaurant, Le Manoir in Oxfordshire, there is adventurous and exquisite food in arms reach of my front door… food, which unfortunately, I can’t bloomin’ well afford (wait until I’ve got into full swing of this employment malarkey, I will treat myself to a meal at one of these restaurant… for blogging purposes only, of course).
However, in the mean time, my family and I have become experienced in the art of hunting down restaurants in the area, which deliver quality food at an affordable price. Here are our picks of the best restaurants close to our home village, Brill:
The Angel Restaurant, Long Crendon, Buckinghamshire
This may be a slightly biased choice as I have worked at The Angel Restaurant for over 6 years now however, I have no doubt that the restaurant’s regular diners would agree that eating at The Angel is a culinary delight.
Known for its outstanding selection of fresh fish, charming character, beautiful conservatory (especially when their Christmas decorations are up) and friendly and attentive staff (if I don’t say so myself), dining here is a must if you’re in the area!
Whether you are looking to enjoy a refreshing pimm’s on the terrace during the summer or snuggle up next to a roaring log fire during the winter, The Angel is a memorable experience all year round.
With meals ranging from £12 – £28 (for the fillet steak) and a great value set menu on offer during the week (two courses for £10.95, three courses for £15) there is no excuse not to check this gem out.
Dishes you must try: The Thai spiced lobster risotto, twice baked blue cheese souffle, smoked haddock (main course) and chocolate fallen angel.
The Mole and Chicken, Easington, Buckinghamshire
Set in the tiny hamlet of Easington, The Mole and Chicken is blessed with scenic views, a homely atmosphere and top notch food!
I have never been disappointed by the food at this charismatic restaurant and my family and I continue to go back here as often as possible (or, as often as one of us will agree to be designated drive… soooo not as often as we’d hope).
We went for a meal here last week for my Sister’s birthday (I pulled the short straw… no wine for Lydia) and the food was just as scrumptious as ever!
Although the food may seem a little pricey, it is well worth the set back and is a small percent of what you would pay at one of the Michelin restaurants close by.
Dishes you must try: The confit duck salad, steak (the sauces are, stick your finger in the jug and lick the plate, yummy) and shoulder of lamb.
The Sir Charles Napier, Chinnor, Oxfordshire
If you’re a fan of Made in Chelsea, you may recognize this restaurant from the scene when Richard takes Kimberley on a first, ridiculously extravagant, date.
However, this restaurant has A LOT more to offer than it’s Made in Chelsea claim to fame and helipad, one of these things being its well deserved Michelin star!
Nestled among the secluded Chiltern Hills, The Sir Charles Napier provides mouth-watering, quality food in an idyllic setting, at an affordable price.
Although their a la carte menu may appear pricey (as would be expected from a Michelin star restaurant) they offer a set lunch and dinner menu from Tuesday – Friday at the unbelievable price of £19.50…. I KNOW!
Whether enjoyed among the unique sculptures (by Michael Cooper) that are dotted around the restaurant or on the blooming veranda, which fools you into thinking you’re in the South of France, the food is so exquisite it doesn’t really matter where it’s eaten!
Dishes you must try: The haddock and cheese souffle, John Dory and chocolate and orange pave with salted caramel ice cream and popcorn… put your tongue back into your mouth and stop drooling…
The Pheasant, Brill, Buckinghamshire
Overlooking the fabulous windmill, The Pheasant is the perfect place to relax with a crisp glass of wine and watch the sun set over the rolling hills of Buckinghamshire.
Although The Pheasant is a lot more ‘pub-like’ than the other restaurants and the service is more laid back, the food is delicious, wholesome and not pretentious (basically… people like my greedy Dad don’t go hungry) and can be enjoyed looking over one of the best views in Bucks!
Dishes you must try: The fish sharing board, pork belly and pie of the day (great value and big enough to feed a small army).
After an interview in Oxford I felt the urge to go and explore.
Although I only live a half an hour drive from this city, most famously known for its prestigious University, I felt as though I had never properly taken advantage of the history, the beauty and the elaborate architecture which it has to offer.
Therefore, on Wednesday I decided to take a mini self-guided tour around the city to see what I could discover.
After admiring some… alternate street entertainment and guzzling down a much needed coffee from Starbucks I made my way towards the covered market.
Located a five minute walk north of the high street, the covered market offers a variety of shops ranging from florists, cafes and milkshake bars to butchers, fish mongers and stalls serving fresh food from all over the world.
It’s a great place to pick up some unusual and eccentric gifts (I found a shop called East 2 West which sold Indian style clothing, Buddhas and incense sticks… I fell in love!!) as well as to stroll around and absorb the different sights and smells floating through the market.
Next, I played the old travellers trick of trying to get lost in a city to see what you can find.
On this occasion I uncovered a group of exquisite colleges which are a part of the University of Oxford as well as the breathtaking Bodleian library.
As I caught a glimpse of the pristine cylindrical Radcliffe Camera and the surrounding buildings, my pace quickened.
I was instantly taken aback by the beauty of the architecture in front of me as well as by the fact that I had never seen this area of Oxford before, even though I live so close!!
I ended my journey relaxing with a book in the picturesque botanic gardens, reveling in the scenic view of punters, ducks (I was attacked by one hungry duck!) and picnickers – a perfect end to a perfect day.