As an East Oxford gal, The Rusty Bicycle – aka The Rusty – is well known to me. They do awesome pizza, have a cracking little beer garden/patio at the back, and is very popular with students.
Probably better known for its regular menu of pizzas and burgers, The Rusty has been serving up weekend breakfast and brunch for a while now, but has started a new weekday offering, from 9am – noon Monday to Friday.
Oxford already has an extensive offering on the brunch scene. You have your classic Full English greasy spoon at Tick Tock, both bountiful and easy on the wallet, plus avocado toast and poached eggs at cafes and brasseries all over the city. There are pancakes galore to be found at George Street Social and The Breakfast Club, or innovative seasonal choices at Silvie, who excel at vegetarian.
So do we have room for more eggs?
Of course we bloody do, we love a bit of brunch. With a burgeoning student and residential community, there are always plenty of people looking for somewhere nice to hang out in the morning – somewhere with decent coffee, good food, WiFi and plug sockets for the laptop brigade. The Rusty Bicycle ticks all of these boxes.
Full of character, The Rusty’s Oxford Blue walls and wooden floors house mismatched furniture, bicycle paraphernalia and chalkboard art. The rear garden is a lovely little oasis of brightly painted wooden sheds cleverly turned into dining nooks, potted plants and picnic benches.
The brunch menu contains the classics of avocado toast, poached eggs and Full English – the meaty ‘Boss Man’ or ‘Mighty Veggie’. Breakfast buns feature too, with bacon, sausage, black pudding, egg, cheese and veggie alternatives all present and correct. A variety of papers, Bucks Fizz (£6) and Bloody Mary’s (£6.50) help to complete the morning scene.
For review, I chose the Mighty Veggie (£10), laden with cheddar and leek fritter, smashed avocado, Portabello mushroom, hash browns, beans, San Francisco sourdough and poached egg. My dining buddy chose Chilli Avo’ Smash (£6) with added poached egg (+£1.50) and lemon marinated feta (+£2), with a coffee and orange juice each to wash it all down.
The avocado was going down well across the table, while I happily dissected my plateful. Tinned baked beans? Tick. Familiar triangle hash browns? Absolutely. Locally roasted coffee (Ue on this occasion), good quality sourdough, plump Portabello and perfectly poached eggs? Yes, yes, yes and yes, albeit slightly odd in shape on the eggs’ part. Ghosts? Dementors? Tadpoles?! The suggestions get ruder, so I’ll stop there.
What did throw me though, was the cheddar and leek fritter. No sign of tired tofu or spongy soya substitute – this was a hunk of glistening, homemade heaven. Crispy golden breadcrumbs on the outside, soft and creamy on the inside with sweetness and sharp provided by the leek and cheese in unison. A thing of beauty to taste, though a little bulky on presentation – taking up a quarter of the plate it was a little heavier going than ideal.
Portly fritter aside, the presentation was on point – neatly placed ingredients served in ‘rustic’ enamel bowls, on top of trendy metal trays with branded greaseproof sheets, and Italian tomato tins recycled into cutlery storage. It’s hipster paradise, but not so much so that generations X, Y and Z won’t feel equally comfortable. The casual ‘pub’ feel is still very much there.
So if you’re looking for somewhere to type out that tender, nurse a hefty hangover or hang out with the baby army, breakfast at The Rusty should be on the cards.
We dined as guests of The Rusty Bicycle