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The New Oxford, Salford

Dave Bishop asks whether this award-winning pub lives up to its reputation

Published on June 19th 2008.

The New Oxford, Salford

'Errrm, only gorra bluey. Lennus more ackers cos wanna get chemicked. Darrel do, bezzie. Eh, take a dekko at tha frisby wi tha college pud.'

Which, roughly translated, means: 'I say, I only possess a five pound note. Could you please furnish me with some more cash because I'd really like to get merry on alcoholic beverages. Thank you - that will do nicely, my best friend. Look over there at the bar. There's a lesbian enjoying the company of a fine young student.'

Half close your eyes, and, with the steel tables and chairs in the courtyard and young sophisticates enjoying a civilised pint, you could almost be in a Parisian place or Roman piazza.

That education into the deliciously diphthong and catarrh-infused Liverpudlian dialect came from a book called Scouse English which my daughter bought me for Father's Day - quite why she bought it, I don't know.

What fun, and what an insight into that alien world at the other end of the East Lancs Road. But as I sat in the beautiful surroundings of The New Oxford pub, reading this amusing tome, it occurred to me, as a boy born in Burnage but now settled in Stockport, that Salford was also a bit alien to me.

It's that over-the-Irwell thing. A bridge over the river too far. And, like scousers, you often get the impression that the odd French fry lurks on the shoulders of a Salfordian.

However, thanks to all the swanky new developments, the majesty of the Lowry Hotel and Lowry arts centre and some excellent restaurants and pubs, Salford is shedding the Coronation Street cliche and becoming a pretty decent place to visit.

I've been to two pubs in Salford in the last few months - the King's Arms, which, with its little theatre, real ale and eclectic menu, is, to coin the scouse idiom, one of my bezzie boozy experiences. The other is The New Oxford, which I thought couldn't possibly compete.

It does. The location alone, off Chapel Street and close to the university, is enough to tempt you in. It sits on one side of cobbled Bexley Square, facing some bijou shops and offices and next to the historic magistrates' court building. Half close your eyes, and, with the steel tables and chairs in the courtyard and young sophisticates enjoying a civilised pint, you could almost be in a Parisian place or Roman piazza.

At first we thought The New Oxford, for all its awards (Greater Manchester pub of the year etc) and reputation, wasn't doing well as, at midday, the missus and I were the only ones in. We should have known that people were having a Sunday lie-in, because within an hour there wasn't a single spare seat. The pub was rammed.

The clientele - ranging from fresh-faced students to smart families - were no doubt attracted by the way this pub has been spruced up without sacrificing the quality of the beer, as so often is the case.

We were torn over what to drink. A whiteboard sports a vast choice of real, cask ales and cider, while chunky menus guide you through the many Belgian bottled and draught beers and brews from other countries.

The people who run The New Oxford obviously love what they sell and feel passionately about it, which shows in their description of the Slaapmutske Tripel, which reads: 'An excellent tripel (a highly fermented golden beer) from Dany at the Slaapmutske brewery. Dangerously drinkable so at 8.1 percent, this tripel is the perfect nightcap.'

Er, tempting, but at that strength it could be good night for ever, so I went for the Father's Delight, as it was Father's Day, from the Hopstar brewery, followed by some Abracadabra from the Northern brewery, while my wife had Rin Tin Tin from Blakemere brewery and then some real Cheddar Valley cider.

All were excellent, especially the Abracadabra, which although unfashionably dark, was still light and played a liquoricey and fruity tune on the palate.

There's no food on Sunday, so we made do with a couple of packets of Seabrook crisps (cheese and onion, of course). Meals, served through the week from noon-4pm, include baked spuds with fillings for £3.50 and chilli for a fiver.

As the place filled up and the hubbub became louder, the music became increasingly hard to listen to, which was a shame, as The New Oxford played, among many other gems, 'Shake Your Moneymaker' by Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac, 'Heroes' by Bowie and 'Rock and Roll' by Led Zep - that tells you all you need to know about how classy this pub is.

Decor comprises oak floors with matching oak tables and chairs and wooden blinds in a similar hue against a background of cream and mushroom walls, while obscure beer posters and beer mats along every inch of the picture rails constitute the art. Black and tan quarry tiles elegantly skirt the bar area.

For the sweet-toothed there's a sweety machine on the bar, while an unobtrusive games machine lurks at the other end.

There are two rooms. The back one, sporting a nice open fire, is dominated by a huge telly, although it all looks so tasteful that you can't imagine anyone getting too rowdy during a live 'Salford Reds' game.

Sadly, because my stomach was crying out for some proper scran, our visit only lasted just over an hour. But we will go back during the week and get the full deal with more real ale and reasonable food.

The only doubt would be over whether we could actually get in.

Rating: 14/15
Breakdown: don't know Food
5/5 Drink
4/5 Decor
5/5 Ambience
Address: The New Oxford
Bexley Square
off Chapel Street
M3 6DB
0161 832 7082

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5 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

seepeyJune 19th 2008.

sounds good, will check it out

JennJune 19th 2008.

@ bored reader- Some people actually go out to the pub and enjoy a few drinks and! I'm up for ManCon reviewing every type of establishment (steady) as I'm afraid due to this 'credit crunch' I cant afford to eat out every evening! In fact if you need any volunteers-I'm up for that too (just don't ask the fella above though he obviously doesn't have time for such frivolity!)

bored readerJune 19th 2008.

I check out your food reviews every week, this is just a joke why on earth review a pub (a lovely pub at that!) on packets of seabrooks and sweety machines!!!! come on are things in mancheter really that desperate or are your budgets tight due to the "credit crunch!" please dont waste our reading time

RICHARD NASHJune 19th 2008.

excellent pub in a lovely square with a vast and i mean vast array of ales that you dont normally see, i suggest you take a train to Salford Crescent stn and start at the Crescent pub and then walk down the hill to the oxford and then finish at the Kings Arms just down the road ,,, 3 of Salfords finest .

squirrelitoJune 19th 2008.

This pub is a liitle gem and, along with the Kings and the Crescent, makes for a pleasant mini-pubcrawl. Now, if they could just sort out some decent food and drink in the Pint Pot, all would be rosy.

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