Food and drink
Head chef Charlie Barr has come up with an interesting alterative to starters, six deli boards on which you get different assortments of what might be called English tapas, stilton, beef and slightly less local dishes like hummus and salsa.
Charlie and her team are very proud of their local sourcing of meat and fish. Free-range pork and 28-day dry-aged Aberdeenshire steak do taste better than average British pub fare. Vegetables are seasonal and there is no truck with Air Miles ingredients. The night I visited, the waitress told me with pride that there were no mussels. If they can’t be brought in fresh and over a short distance, The Fishes would rather cross them off.
Good selection of wines by the glass and bottle. Greene King IPA is the resident real ale on tap. Continental beers and lagers including Leffe and Hoegaarden.
It still looks like a pub when you get inside, but I was impressed that the first thing we saw on walking in was a group of men playing a board game. The TV is wallmounted in the snug (a small room to the right of the main door) and it was turned off. All this I really liked. Even when there is a match on, those who want to shout at the television don’t do so in the main room. We were the first to eat and when we asked for the background music to be turned down it was. Love this place!
The décor isn’t overwhelming but it’s clean-lined and colourful. If you’re looking for a radical pub-makeover go to the Bell in Hampton Poyle. The Fishes has those old-fashioned wall-mounted glass cases of fish in profile and more modern massive lampshades hanging from the ceiling - but nothing over the top. Warm, pleasant and unobtrusive
Friendly but maybe over-friendly. I really didn’t need to be told to “sit back and chill” or to have terrine explained to us as “lumpy paté” but I’m sure they meant well.
Three miles south of the city centre. From the grim Botley Road, home of Aldi and PC World, a narrow lane runs parallel with the Ring Road. This becomes North Hinksey Lane and eventually enters the village. You cannot miss The Fishes.
Oxford has a number of these little villages tucked away inside, or just outside, the Ring Road. A confusion of streams and small rivers on the flood plain stopped them being absorbed into the city proper.
Allow £15 for a main course and you’ll probably spend another £15 on starters and the rather attractive puddings.
Tables to book
Personally I prefer the main building. The modern conservatory is fine, and so is the deck. Rather than try and book, take a look round and see what suits you.
The Fishes belongs to Peach Pubs, a small Midlands chain of 13 gastro-pubs with an ambition to own 22 eventually. The Fleece in nearby Witney is one of their pub hotels.
- Backpackers / Students
- Families with younger children
- Travellers with pets
- Escaping the crowds
- No fuss
- Nature / wildlife