Author Archive

To the Isis Tavern by Bicycle on Easter Sunday

March 25, 2008

From an admittedly limited sample, 50 percent of this blog’s posts to date have had something to do with rowing. This allows me to make a clumsy segue into this one: a review of the Isis Tavern, which looks out over the main rowing course in Oxford. (It turns out that coffee and books, while important, don’t quite encapsulate every aspect of our existence; you have to include pubs, and also bicycles).

The Isis Tavern in all of its former glory

So, growing restless inside on Easter Sunday afternoon, we set out on our bikes to blow away the cobwebs. The Isis Tavern is only accessible by foot or bike, which accounts for a large part of its charm. A leisurely 20 minute cycle from central Oxford along the towpath (past the ultra-flash University College boathouse), the Isis is beautifully situated, with a large beer garden out the front, a generous endowment of picnic tables, and a lovely view of the Thames sliding by. Inside, it’s cosy and homely, with an open fire and ample reading material (Cotswold Life was the pick of the bunch, with a quiz about which Jane Austen hero would be your perfect match). As well as standard pub fare, the Isis seems to specialise in less traditional cuisine such as home baking and high tea, making it popular with families on this holiday afternoon. We drank cider and micro-brewed wheat beer, both delicious, and nibbled on a tasty raspberry slice, made with homemade jam, trying not to think about the butter content. The lunch offerings also looked good: we salivated over generous slabs of toast with beans and cheese that passed us on the way to someone else’s table.

A quick google on our return revealed that it is generally agreed that the Isis has gone downhill since a change of ownership last year. This was evident in the shabby interior and the absence of a sign on the outside of the building (this photo was clearly taken some time ago). Nevertheless, we were most enamoured of the place, and thought the shabby chic actually added to the appeal. A return visit to sample the main meals will hopefully cement our new-found favourite. Visitors who come to stay with us can expect to be dragged there frequently.