The Eagle and ChildPosted: 11/06/2013
After three eventful weeks in London, we all uprooted and relocated to Oxford. The journey itself was pleasant, as Oxford is only an hour and a half’s train ride away from London, and the countryside views are nothing if not picturesque.
To put it mildly, I loved Oxford. I was fortunate enough to stay in accommodations usually occupied by actual Oxford University students. Our apartment (or “flat”, as the Brits say) was quite spacious and homey. Our classes also took place in a classroom at Oxford’s Brasenose College, so although I didn’t actually learn from any Oxford professors, it was somewhat like getting the Oxford experience, especially since we also had access to the Bodleian Library.
Overall, though, I liked the small town vibe that Oxford had, especially compared to London. Everything was within walking distance, and I no longer had to suffer the mugginess and crampedness of traveling on the tube. As we now had a kitchen in our flat, we relied more on our own cooking than on eating out, but of course we still had to eat out sometimes. Our first group dinner in Oxford was at the famed Eagle and Child, a pub a few minutes’ walk from our accommodations.
The Eagle and Child is a tourist destination in Oxford in its own right, as it was famously the hang-out of a literary discussion group called the Inklings, whose most famous members included J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Due to the size of our large group, we got the whole back room to ourselves, where, funnily enough, they’d labelled a random door as the entryway to Narnia. I mean, we all know that the entryway to Narnia is through a magical wardrobe in Professor Kirke’s house (or by the other methods shown in the other six books in the series), but it’s still a cute touch. There was also a map of the magical world of Narnia on the door, showing Narnia and its southern neighbours, Archenland and Calormen. I devoured the Narnia books as a child, and having dinner in the same place that C.S. Lewis regularly visited was quite exciting for me, in an admittedly geeky way. Other than that, though, the Eagle and Child was not unlike the other pubs I visited during my time in England. The decor was quaint and functional, while the food leaned towards the traditional rather than the imaginative.
Pickles had the Fish and Chips (£10.75), which was served alongside some mushy peas and tartar sauce. I was mostly impressed by the size of the piece of cod, as it was massive, especially considering the price. She found that the fish was a bit dry on the edges, which is quite standard for fish and chips. Still, she enjoyed how crispy the fish was, and that the batter was not too heavy or thick. The chips were the thick, starchy, potatoey kind, which I personally don’t prefer, but what’s a visit to the U.K. without trying some fish and chips?
I was lucky enough to be sitting beside Sim and she graciously allowed me to snap a photo of her dinner, which was the Vegetable Burger (£7.95). The menu stated that the veggie patty was composed of spiced aubergine, red pepper, sweetcorn, and chickpeas, but Sim commented that it mostly tasted like chickpeas. She enjoyed the burger as the patty was nice and crispy, as were the accompanying chips, which were again the thick variety. The burger also came with some coleslaw on the side.
Stacy and Catherine also shared a Tear and Share Cheesy Garlic Bread (£4.75). They were actually away from the table when it arrived, and it smelled so heavenly that we were all tempted to steal a bite. It reminded me of the clam chowder bread bowls I’d really liked as a child. I’m a sucker for anything that comes in an edible container. Anyways, this bread was filled with a thick, creamy garlic and cheddar sauce, and it was exactly what was expected, being warm and satisfying. Surprisingly, it also wasn’t messy at all, which I might have guessed from the look of the dish when it first arrived.
As for me, I had the Basket of Fish (£10.75), which included scampi, goujons (strips of fish), and calamari, as well as the requisite chips and tartar sauce. Everything was lightly fried, a bit oily as expected, but not too heavy, which I liked. The fish itself was light and flaky, while the calamari was quite tender. The chips were the same as the ones served above, but for some reason, I really liked the tartar sauce. I’m generally not a fan of tartar sauce, but the one here was light and tangy, which complemented the fish well. I usually find fish and chips to be a heavy meal, but I didn’t feel too bloated here, and I had plenty of room left for dessert. To add to the Britishness of my meal, I also indulged in a glass of Pimm’s.
Luckily enough, we still had room for dessert, so Sim and I shared a Warm Chocolate Brownie (£4.25), which was served with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. It’s not like this was anything special or unique, but it was certainly a nice way to end our meal. The brownie had a nice crust to it, with softer, chewier layers underneath, and the cool, sweet ice cream helped to provide a textural contrast. It was also of a decent size to share between two people after the meal we’d consumed above.
Overall, the food we sampled at The Eagle and Child was quite yummy, and of course it was exciting to eat at the favourite haunt of the Inklings. If you’re passing through Oxford, I’d definitely recommend having a meal here, if only to experience the vibe of the quintessential British pub. Oh, and don’t forget to have some Pimm’s as well!
The Eagle and Child
49 St. Giles
Oxford, United Kingdom OX1 3LU