If we were in London, in a cool area like Shoreditch or maybe Clapham, The Rickety Press would blend in. It’s got the deliberately-weathered barstools, the kitsch wall decor, and the obligatory pulled pork dish. In Oxford, it’s a treat. Not everywhere here has yet given in to the trendy pub aesthetic.
On entering, one is immediately confronted with a bar from which the friendly staff serve a whole range of drinks. Not being a beer-drinker, I was pleased to find a non-Strongbow cider on tap. Yet the real highlight of the drinks menu is the array of cocktails. Far from the dramatic creations you can purchase further South in Jericho, these feel decidedly grown-up. There’s nothing too sickly that it will put you off your food; the Cider Sour is a favourite (Old Rosie again) and the Gin Fix is delightfully refreshing.
But on to the main event. Whilst it would be perfectly acceptable to have a casual drink at The Rickety Press, trekking into the hidden side-streets of Jericho will work up your appetite for a somewhat meatier reward.
“Meatier” is indeed an appropriate word in this instance. There are vegetarian options, including a vegan pizza, but the stars of the show are really the burgers. It’s not the kind of place you need to worry about how outlandish to be: just go for the signature Rickety burger and you won’t regret it. Determined to venture a little further in the name of food journalism, however, I sampled the amusingly/cringe-inducingly named Piggy Smalls. Any combination of pulled pork and brioche is a sure way to please me, so they’re on to an automatic winner here. I had to actually stop partaking in the conversation of my group, so intent was I on enjoying my meal.
Overall the menu is fairly simple. The public demand for good food without the frills meets the more palatable aspects of hipster-ism, resulting in a pared-down menu of burgers, pizzas and salads which range from the simple (Margherita pizza) to the fashionable (quinoa salad). It is, unfortunately, one of those places which doesn’t include chips with your meal. When did this become the norm? A proper British pub simply shovels masses of chips onto your plate, with no regard for portion size. Not so in this sort of place.
Price-wise, we’re talking slightly higher than the chain restaurants on George Street, but not by much. It’s certainly worth it for the difference in atmosphere. A meal for two with drinks and sides will probably come to £30-£40, putting it in the “special treat” area of the Oxford dining scale, which isn’t quite as high as “birthday treat” or above that “graduation treat”. There are a few fun extras if you feel like pushing the boat out; at £4.50 per portion, the cheese ‘n’ truffle chips are a glorious waste of money that I am eager to taste. A “special treat” occasion can be a meal with your significant other at the end of a long week, a lunch with visiting relatives to show off your local knowledge, or an impromptu drink and dinner after a long walk around Port Meadow with friends.
It may be somewhat predictable, but the Rickety Press makes up for what it lacks in originality with an all-round pleasant experience.