George Street Social opened it’s doors at the beginning of February in the old Java & Co Coffee shop on the corner of George Street (obviously!) and New Inn Hall Street. They’d utilised the power of social media in the weeks prior to opening, and I was quite excited about the prospect of another good coffee bar in the centre of town – Oxford really is becoming a coffee lover’s dream.
The day after they opened was freezing and having walked from Jericho, we were in dire need of a good coffee and decided to pop in. And that’s where it almost went all wrong.
Now, before I go any further I have to say that I really, really dislike hipsters. That seems a little harsh so let me expand that to I dislike trends. Even as a teenager, when my compatriots were sporting Fila trainers and Lacoste polo shirts I’d be practising my eyerolls in my check shirt and jeans. The mere glimpse of a check shirt, jeans rolled up to flash a male ankle and a twiddled or oiled beard makes my eyes spin like a Vegas slot machine.
So walking into a stripped down, exposed brickwork, visible piping, peg menu board was always going to be an issue for me. A few days earlier there had been a Buzzfeed article listing 24 things you’ll find in a hipster restaurant. I mentally ticked off half the list without even trying!
There were other factors which irked me too, such as a large wooden table proudly displaying their cake selection – right at waist height and mostly uncovered. No sensible or clear queuing system. The first three drinks I ordered from their very extensive drinks board weren’t available. Eventually I settled on a double espresso and a slice of their sausage roll, displayed uncovered on a wooden platter marked with measurements and charged by the dimensions of your slice.
Another involuntary sigh escaped when my espresso was served in a water glass. A WATER GLASS. Cups and mugs have worked for years! Why complicate things?! It wasn’t a bad coffee though, despite the visible grinds in the bottom of the flipping glass. The sausage roll was actually really good – crumbly buttery pastry and well seasoned sausage meat. Mr C had a slice of the chocolate cake, which as expected was dry from being exposed to the elements.
Upstairs I approved of the board games, the lego on the walls and the books to borrow. I also somewhat bizarrely really liked the coloured grouting on the bathroom wall tiling! Not so impressed with the broken loo on their second day.
Unusually for me, I felt that posting that as a review on what was their first weekend would be a tad harsh and so resolved to go back a week later. On that trip, I noticed some of the food was now covered, cold brew was now available and the pizza slice was okay, although it literally was just a pizza slice.
A third visit for a hot chocolate after a long, cold day at Bitten Street made me warm to George Street Social even more. Despite being served in a large water glass (WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH A CUP!?!?) it was a damn good hot chocolate and definitely hit the spot.
So, as I sat there in my logo’d t-shirt advertising my street food event, the one with the craft beers and the artisan food, sipping my hot chocolate, discussing acapella and filling in a colouring book, I decided that maybe a little hipster isn’t too bad after all. I’m still a little baffled by the whole cafe/canteen thing but the food is pretty good, the drinks are good and I kind of like it.