Food and drink
The menu is more traditional than the restaurant design. Expect stone-baked pizzas, pastas and risottos. Fresh salads come with excellent dressings and the antipasti can be served tapas style. In effect this means that you can get two half dishes on your plate rather than one. Meat is locally sourced when possible.
Branca’s cocktails are popular with Oxford’s ladies-who-lunch-all-afternoon. Try a Carol Channing (framboise and eau de vie topped with prosecco) to find out why. The wine list is by no means exclusively Italian.
Branca takes its cue from modern Italian design classics - Alessi, Gaggia, Ferrari – rather than bottles of Chianti turned into table lamps. The 110-seat restaurant has a light and airy feel: warehouse style with red leather seating, glass, chrome and dark wood. The lobby has taken out its ceiling to give a lofty sense of space. However, all that height and the hard surfaces can make it very noisy.
Wire sculptures of the human form, crafted by Rachel Ducker, are everywhere and have almost become a Branca symbol.
At its best, a high octane environment with friendly but busy staff.
Walton Street is one of my all time favourite streets in Oxford. You have at least two very good cafés; the Phoenix Cinema with its bar upstairs; and the Jericho Tavern with its free WiFi, comfy sofas and anagrams above the bar. There are also two bookshops, one very good charity shop, Liscious for over-the-top design and masses of first-rate places to eat. Not to mention a great florist and two Indian restaurants. If I were ever to be sentenced to internal exile I’d ask if Walton Street could be my prison. I’d be sufficiently stimulated and certainly well-fed.
Hot antipasti from £4.95; pizzas from £8.45; meat dishes all cost more than £10 apart from the 8oz Branca burger with chips (£9.95). The £6.45 lunch (Mon-Fri noon-5pm) is popular with the Oxford University Press crowd escaping the canteen. Price is for a small main (pizza, antipasti, pasta or risotto) with either a glass of house wine or a Peroni.
- Backpackers / Students
- Business travellers
- Families with younger children
- First-time travellers
- Travellers with pets
- No fuss
- Chilling out