Agreed. The Turf is the best pub in Oxford.
Sunningwell, Nr Abingdon, Abingdon, Oxfordshire OX13 6RB
“After what seems like a blink of an eye to some and an age to others the Flowing Well has re-opened its doors! With a newly installed pizza oven and a talented team led by our Head Chef our new open kitchen will feel like the hub of our pub but...” more...
55 reviews of The Turf Tavern in English
Had a couple of burgers here. But they were slightly overdone. A little firm inside the bun. Otherwise fine. The location and ambiance is second to none. Highly recommended.
Very nice pub in a small alley. They have a terrace outside which im sure is very busy in summer. The inside is pretty big. The food is good and service is fast. Try the apple crumble dessert. It is amazing!
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Been coming here for a while now, mainly outside seating. in the winter they have fires, which keep you toastie! Bbq’s in the summer and a good selection of drinks. Gets very busy in the evenings so make sure you get there early.
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Famous pub tucked down an alley behind New College. Been going there several years. Has decent beer, loads of seats across various little rooms, great atmosphere, especially in summer when you can take advantage of the outside. In winter you can get marshmallows to toast on the fires and mulled wine from the bar. The food is nothing special, and it can get seriously rammed in term time and at weekends. For atmosphere and service it's certainly preferable to the King's Arms but alas not open as late.
They used to be pretty charmless about chucking-out time, which seemed to keep getting earlier; but the barmen seem to be a bit more lenient recently.
Oh, they also get a bit age-check-happy at certain times of year (especially Christmas), and not all the barmen seem to have a firm grasp of what a twnetysomething looks like. So make sure you've got ID with you...
Been a frequent visitor to this pub for years. Used to be one of the best in the country! Since the refit in 2011 it is now badly affected by unnecessary spotlights, and general extra lights. The cosy atmosphere is now gone. After one pint my party left to go elswhere due to a spotlight reflecting off an "Over 18's only" sign right into our eyes! I really hope that they get a series of complaints and might consider removing/turning off a few of the new lights as otherwise the pub could be spoilt for good! The toilets have been improved though.
A comfortable traditional pub with a courtyard thats great to sit in in warmer weather. There's a good selection of ales, but I recommend the local Old Rosie cider - at 7%, it's stronger than most ciders and is very refreshing
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The Turf is a great pub, though part of its appeal is that it's a 'secret' pub - which just isn't true. It's always packed, but then again the food is pretty much worth it. The atmosphere is nice, though you feel a bit squashed most of the time. Still, I like taking people here because it's hidden away.
My favourite pub in Oxford easily. And everyone else’s if how busy it is is any judge, despite the sheer difficulty of finding this pub, even if you have a map.
The inside is all wood and lovely low ceilings and there are various outside sections which you can get lost in, if you didn't manage that already on the way here. The beer is local...and good too. I enjoyed a pint of….I think it was White Horse Bitter…..and tried to ignore the few spots of rain outside.
I believe its notoriety and history have been adequately covered below.
Comment 1 comment on this review
Andrew Hunter, 10 August 2010:
How the hell have i never reviewed the Turf Tavern!? This is an absolutely awesome pub and, unbeknown to many, you're knee deep in history if you're sipping a locally sourced ale at the bar here. Everyone below has said how great it is, so here are a few quick fire facts about the Turf for your enjoyment:
- It's foundations date from the 13th Century and the bar is 400 years old.
- It used to be called the Spotted Cow but the name changed in 1842.
- The Turf used to be an ilegal gambling den, so they setup just outisde the city walls to avoid prosecution.
- Former Australian Prime Minister set a Guinness World Record for consuming a yard of ale in 11 seconds in this pub.
- And of course, this is where Bill Clinton famously "did not inhale" back in the 70's
- FACT: This is an awesome pub.
Awww come on it’s not THAT difficult to find!
Although I have to admit to a 'Grand Meaulnes’ moment after the first time I went there. I’ve been back since, but never found Yvonne de Galais :-(
When you first enter the bar, it seems impossibly small, but the longer you stay there, the bigger it gets…try exploring.
Always a great selection of beer. Better atmosphere in the winter when the tourists have gone away.
So crowded that if you over-indulge and lose your balance, it is impossible to fall over.
The staff can get very p**ed off and surly if they suffer from claustrophobia, so try and be nice to them, they can’t help it.
The Turf Tavern is something of an Oxford institution, and a real treat for beer fans, with up to a dozen real ales on at any one time.
The pub can lay claim to being the oldest in Oxford - or at least the building can: the foundation date from the 13th century or so, although the timbered front part is seventeenth century. It became a a cider house around 1775 and then an Inn about 1790, called the 'Spotted Cow’. It became the Turf Tavern in 1805.
It’s not an easy find: it has no street frontage, and is situated on a passageway running between new College lane and Holywell Street. Once there, you’re confronted with two cosy beer gardens, and a warren of a pub with low ceilings and two bars.
The main event is the real ale, undoubtedly, and on my visit this included:
Turf Tavern Summer Ale
Humpty Dumpty Broadland Sunrise
Westerham Finchcock’s Original
Westgate Morris Mayhem
Brentwood Spooky Moon
Hardy & Hanson Olde Trip
Brentwood Martin & Su’s
Morland Old Speckled Hen
Westerham 1965 Special
Titanic Captain Smith’s
Beartown Ursa Major
Costwold Wheat Beer…
and, for cider fans, Weston’s Old Rosie.
That should be enough choice for anybody. They also do food, too, which has a good reputation, though I can’t vouch for it personally.
For the celebrity obsessed, it was the fictional Inspector Morse’s favourite pub, and Bill Clinton is said to have been a regular during his stay in Oxford.
Downsides? Well, it’s hardly an undiscovered secret, and is very popular with students and tourists, so it can get very busy indeed, and there are sometimes long queues at peak periods to get served. But it’s the sort of place you should visit at least once.
Oxfords most famous pub, despite the fact that it’s hidden away down a winding back alley. They serve a great selection of real ales coupled with the usual lagers & guinness.
Has one of the toughest pub quizzes in Oxford. It really seperates the town from the gown.
Is absolutely packed every single night. Mostly by students. But you might bump into the occasional local. Make sure you get there early.
Lots of fun happens in the outside areas, with barbecues in the summer and roasting marshmallows over braziers in the winter.
Overall, a great place. I just wish my workmates weren’t so lame about walking more than 10 minutes away for our after-work pints. Otherwise I’d be there a lot more often.
The Turf Tavern is one of those classic Oxford pubs that so appeal to locals and visitors alike. It has lots of olde world charm and is usually packed with academics, students and tourists. However, the beer is great with a good selection and the bar meals are reasonably priced and very tasty. It is not easy to find if you have not been there before, being tucked away at the end of a narrow passage, but it is the type of place you will want to go back to once you have visited. It has seats outside for nice days, too, so give it a try.
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