Talking to friends, George Street Social seems to occupy an intriguing place in the minds of students in Oxford. It gives the appearance of a high-end brunch and cocktail spot, and many steer clear unsure of what it really offers. In reality, it does just about everything from breakfast to lunch, dinner, and drinks. However, upon closer inspection of the prices, those same students might steer away from lunchtime or evening trips.
I went in around midday, meaning that I was able to try a selection of both the brunch and lunch offerings here. Many of those lunch dishes also overflow onto the evening food menu.
Brunch is probably what George Street Social is most well-known for and it is without a doubt where the best value for money is to be found. Served from nine until three every day, there’s everything from healthy granola and yoghurt to shakshuka. That shakshuka was certainly my standout, both in terms of taste and price. At just £9.50, the vegetable shakshuka comes alongside a huge serving of sourdough and is full of flavour-packed peppers and tomatoes. It has a lovely chilli kick to it that is balanced perfectly by the goat’s cheese and makes for a truly good-value and filling dish.
The pancakes on the other hand disappointed. Like the shakshuka, they are great value at £7.50 but that price shows in their size. Advertised as ‘American’, they were small and thin to such an extent that they simply couldn’t soak up the maple syrup drizzled over the top of them.
Moving onto the lunch menu, the items here are high quality but also much higher cost. The nachos are definitely the best choice on the sharing options and are worth ordering alongside a few evening drinks. Our small portion was easily big enough for two or three people, costs just £6.50, and has a great balance of salsa, sour cream, and guacamole to balance the jalapenos on top.
Trout is served atop a truly good chopped niçoise salad complete with anchovies and olives. The fish is noticeably high quality, cooked and seasoned well. New potatoes always disappoint me as a side but these were made passable by so much dressing and weren’t overboiled. All in all, this is a good dish — the only thing that put me off was a price that I fear students simply can’t stomach.
There aren’t any desserts at George Street but there is cake. The selection is huge and interesting with everything from cookies and cream to red velvet. Disappointingly though, our red velvet and cookies and cream must have come from the end slice. Clearly kept overnight, the edges were rock hard to touch and both were dry throughout. It’s a shame because I don’t get the impression that this is normal but I’d be remised not to mention it.
Overall, George Street Social is good. Disappointingly though, I can’t say it is any more than that. The brunch offerings verge on great and the value proposition there makes it a worthy competitor to the famed Oxford Brunch Bar just up the road. Regular quiz nights and a long drinks list make it a good spot for evenings catching up with friends over cocktails and nibbles. Unfortunately, though, it needs to do a lot more to justify the high price point of its food at lunch and dinner.