Gloucester Green market is a regular staple in the local market calendar. Over the years it’s offering has extended to include more street food as well as – let’s face it – some tat. It’s also in a fairly unattractive setting, considering it’s in the heart of such a beautiful city.
However, the market has been making an effort to spruce itself up, with new market stall roofs in a variety of colours, plus the addition of bunting and seating. Not quite enough seating, but progress! It’s also in an easy to get to location; slap bang in the middle of Oxford, next to the coach station and about a five/six-minute walk from the furthest main route bus stop.
We’re all about the food though, so how does that stack up? We went along as a team to find out, and to start a new challenge – finding the best meals for a tenner. The rules are simple: each person gets £10 to spend on a meal and any drinks or desserts must be included.
We know, totally at your service.
OK, so the offering was actually pretty good. We went on a Saturday, Wednesdays are better for street food, but we found plenty. Everything from souvlaki, to dumplings (of which there are loads), burgers, stir-fries, curries, hot dogs, churros, brownies, Ethiopian food, goulash, and more.
Here are the top picks from our visit.
I had a good old wander around, not wanting to make the wrong choice then end up with major food envy. There were plenty of stalls that caught my eye – the duck burgers, curry from Taste Tibet, numerous dumplings… But, it was the Greek Souvlaki stall that I kept veering back to.
I’m a fan of Greek food, with fond memories of gyros in Athens a couple of years ago and tasty souvlakis from The Souvlaki Brothers in the Covered Market, so was pretty hopeful.
It didn’t disappoint – excellent fluffy pitta bread, wrapped around warm lamb kofta kebabs and salad, slathered in homemade tzatziki. They had a delicious salad plate on display on the counter, which I’d definitely be up for trying another time. Tasters of the freshly cooked meat were being handed out, so you can try before you buy if undecided.
Totally stuffed and happy with my choice, I didn’t have room for pud, but had change left if I did. Win.
Sometimes the heart wants what it wants, you know? I was really pretty impressed with the variety of food at the Gloucester Green lunchtime market, and several things were tempting. The Polish pierogi looked delicious. I rarely turn down a momo. The duck burger looked incredible. And I was very intrigued by the Hungarian food on offer.
But what did I get? Chips. Yes, a big pile of cheesy chips. I’d had a long week, and I’d been craving chips, and lo and behold there was a stall selling super-fancy piles of chips covered in tasty toppings. So I got a big plate of cheesy chips covered in crispy bacon bits. I regret nothing.
I chose the ‘Big mother ducker’ by Wot the Duck. Confit duck, caramelised red onions, rocket, honey mayo and brie (tantalisingly caramelised before my eyes). It looked and tasted more like an artisan burger creation you would pay a lot more for at a restaurant than a quick and easy meal from a market.
I loved the carefully considered balance of flavours – this had been thoughtfully invented and is carefully made fresh to order each time. You can also choose your dessert from these guys who use more of their duck produce in their duck egg salted caramel brownies.
I’ve lived in Oxford for nearly a decade and never been to Gloucester Green market on Saturday, which seems silly now I know how fun it is. It took me at least fifteen minutes to choose from an array of bustling stalls full of delicious smelling food, almost all of it with a veggie-friendly option.
In the end, I went for a halloumi salad – three generous slices of fried halloumi nestled on a bed of delicious stuff I’d been able to entirely customise (heavy on the grilled veg and hummus, some salad, no onion, if you’re wondering). This was a very satisfying process that reminded me a bit of buying penny sweets as a child, though a bit more healthy. All the elements of the salad were fresh, nicely cooked and nicely seasoned.
I had enough change left from a tenner to afford an order of churros in chocolate, which were exactly as I expected – hot, crisp, dusted with cinnamon sugar. I’m never going to Pret on a Saturday in Oxford again.
We had three guests, who all stuck to the rules of the challenge. Guest 1 chose a pork vindaloo, which apparently was properly hot, in a good way. It was also thoroughly enjoyable based on how well they scoffed it plus the accompanying sounds of pleasure.
Guests 2 and 3 both chose curries from Taste Tibet. One opted to add a vegetable momo to veggie curry, the other selected a mixture of chicken and veg curries, both topped off with homemade dipping sauces and fresh herbs. Churros were also taken advantage of here – and I may have been tempted into having one!
So there we have it, a selection of great lunches, all for under £10 each. We were really impressed with the international selection of food at Gloucester Green Market and found plenty we’d have eaten. None of them fell down on flavour either.
The markets currently run as follows:
- Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9am to 4pm
- Fridays from 9am to 5pm (for trial period of 6 months starting on 5 April 2019)
- Saturdays from 10am to 5pm
Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays are the prime street food days. Fruit and veg are there on a Wednesday, then flea markets on Thursday and Saturday. We haven’t tried the Friday market yet.
Yes, I started off harsh on Gloucester Green (for which redevelopment has been talked about FOR YEARS). However, the street food and produce are well worth a visit. If you do visit the flea market, you may well pick up a bargain or ‘vintage’ piece for your efforts.
One other point to note is that market organisers, LSD Promotions (yes, that is their name), require all caterers to be polystyrene free by 2019, insisting on eco-friendly/compostable food packaging cutlery & disposables.
Gloucester Green Market
Gloucester Green, Oxford OX1 2BU