Most of the really great pubs in Oxford are something of a hike from the centre of town, but The Grapes is a gem right on your front door. Situated next to the Wig and Pen, it provides a nice alternative to those of us who don’t want to spend an evening wishing we were dead. You would be hard pushed to find two pubs so close together that are so different. The Grapes is tiny, so if you arrive during the lunchtime luvvie rush or after the score of regulars, then you’ll be hard pushed to get a seat, though with its pleasant 60s soundtrack and a moderately priced booze, you’ll want to spend some time here. To appreciate its unique charm try to get there at three and stumble out at half-past six. The walls are decorated with posters from events at the nearby theatres, and Daniel O’Donnell and the Chippendales seem to have a stake. The barmaid is beautiful, but we fear she is betrothed to the genuinely funny barman (sample comment directed to the Boy Texas: “would you like a haircut with your pint?”). We can still dream. The wonderful thing about this pub is looking outside to see the centre of Oxford in full swing, while you are sat in a sliver of George Street where time seems to stand still. The only interruption is the front door swinging open to catch a split second of passing conversation. We paused to consider the bewildering late afternoon light as we slumped out into what we had thought was the middle of the night. “That barmaid’s well fit,” mused Pat. “I know,” agreed Texas. “I really, really know.”
ARCHIVE: 2nd Week TT 2003


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