Oxford’s newest pub, well, returning pub anyway as it originally opened in 1656, is The Plough on Cornmarket Street.
Since Austin Reed’s closure in 2016, it had been empty until the back end of last year. At the moment they’re going through a ‘soft launch’ with the grand opening in February. In talking with Steve Jones, who will assist in running the bar, he mentioned they still have more furniture to arrive, coffee cups to be delivered and some finishing touches to add. The main bar downstairs does look a bit like a Spanish café rather than a pub at the moment so I’ll be interested to see the new furniture. I’m not sure if this is because people walking past aren’t used to seeing the premises open or not, but it does feel a bit like you are in a goldfish bowl with the large panel windows.
The renovation has been finished to a high standard with beautiful copper tanks behind the bar for beer storage, these are a great feature that will draw punters in just to have a look. This is a joint venture with XT Brewing Company in Long Crendon so the beer will be brewed there and brought over to fill the tanks. They produce some brilliant beer so looking forward to seeing what selection they have on! They still have a good range of your more commercial lagers on tap for those who don’t want a craft brew and an extensive selection of spirits.
XT4, Hop Kitty, XT IPA, XT Larger and Polar Bear were on tap. To start, I opted for a pint of the Polar Bear milk stout (4.6%), by Animal Brewing Co (part of XT but they make their special one-offs). Lovely and dark with a rich creamy flavour, I managed a few of these before changing for the lighter, Hop Kitty. As you would guess, Hop Kitty packs a hoppy punch but has really subtle fruity notes with hints of mango coming through. A very drinkable beer and at 3.9% you can get through these quickly!
I’m looking forward to the grand opening in February and will definitely be returning to sample more beer in prior to this, fingers crossed. I will also be interested to see the food offering which will be served in the restaurant upstairs.
More to follow!