Turf Tavern

Turf TavernTurf Tavern
Turf TavernTurf Tavern
Bar, Eatery

4-5 Bath Place
Oxford, England, OX1 3SU
United Kingdom

+44 1865 243235 | map

View: Place Reviews | Events
Reviews: 17
Reviews by JonnoWillsteed:
Photo of JonnoWillsteed
3.66/5  rDev -13.3%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.75 | food: 3.25

A lunch-stop on an unseasonally cold drizzly June day in Oxford to visit the Bodlean Library.
Tucked away down a cobbled lane. We had lunch but the food was 'pub-grub' and pretty underwhelming - we thought it appeared to have been reheated in an oven vs cooked from fresh. On the flip-side service was very organised and professional.
We arrived and there were no tables free (and too wintery to sit outside where there would have been ample additional space). But diners turn over pretty quickly and we didn't have to wait more than 10 minutes for a table.
There was quite a wide range of beers and ciders on hand-pulls, but it being a visit on a busy day I stuck to a half of amber ale which was nothing of note compared to the cider my wife had which she thoroughly enjoyed.
ps. I can imagine the overall experience of this place might be a whole lot better on a dry and pleasant day.

 888 characters

More User Reviews:
Photo of cambabeer
4/5  rDev -5.2%

Hey, Bill Clinton didn't inhale here. Made it in here with my buddies as we backpacked Europe. Really nice atmosphere, the back patio was a great vibe to sit and have a couple beers. Cool old building as well... but watch your head!

 232 characters

Photo of TGS
4.59/5  rDev +8.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

This place is truly awesome. Best pub I've been to yet. It's hard to find unless you're with someone who's been there before, and that's a good thing. Too bad I don't have much of a taste for English beer yet... I'm still working on understand the non-carbonated room-temperature thing so that's my problem

 306 characters

Photo of McBraniel
3.82/5  rDev -9.5%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5

Great semi-secluded location, and easy to miss if you don't know where to look. About half of the places to sit are outdoors. The area around the bar is incredibly cramped, and has very low ceilings. Decent selection of beers (mostly ales). Was surprised (though I probably shouldn't have been) that nothing on tap was higher than 5.2% ABV, and some as low as 3.5% ABV. Recommended.

 382 characters

Photo of rbastone
3.76/5  rDev -10.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3

Visited the Turf while on a business trip this week. The place is classic - a real must-see if in the Oxford area. Hard to find 'Bath Place' - but keep your eyes open on Catte Street for a 'Bridge of Sighs' archway over a dark alleyway and you will find it (or just follow the 20-somethings that flow pretty steadily in and out).

Beer selection is local cask (Green King, etc.) and a few odd-lot bottles (ciders, macros). The staff was very friendly and the patrons were as well.

Word of warning: if you are over 5'6" tall - dont forget to duck when you walk inside the pub. Note also: great outdoor seating area with heaters.


 637 characters

Photo of alfrantzell
4.43/5  rDev +5%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

To find the Turf Tavern, start at the High Street and take a right at the nook, a left at the cranny, and go straight through the crevasse. There are some street names involved, but they're inconsequential.

The ceiling is low and interferes with foreheads. I would have been annoyed had I not been preoccupied with Ruddle's Best, Slater's Premium, Becforth's Bitter, Slater Why Knot, Holey Moley, and Old Rosie's Scrumpy. Decent grub too - I sessioned a steak and kidney pie one night and a winter ploughman's lunch the next.

The pub has signs about its colorful history, which dates back to the 13th century. One such reads: "Bill Clinton while at University here in Oxford in the sixties, 'did not inhale' whilst smoking an illegal substance. What he does with cigars in his own home is his business."

Oxford is so educational.

 834 characters

Photo of bump8628
4.63/5  rDev +9.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

The Turf is my favorite pub in the Oxford area, which is saying a lot since there are a number of good ones. I visited quite frequently while studying in Oxford for a summer. It's located down an alley that starts just beneath the Bridge of Sighs. If you can't find it ask a local.

The atmosphere is great with a low ceiling, a great beer garden, which is big by English pub standards, and plenty of seating. The age and history of this place is pretty cool too (see the walls in the back of the garden for details). It tends to get crowded with tourists at high times.

The food is fair. I've had the fish and chips, which seems to compare favorably to that of other pubs in the area. The Turf has one of the best selections of cask ale in the area in terms of selection and they do a nice job of bringing in different beers and keeping it varied. Make sure to check both the front and back bars as they sometimes have different beers on. It also has a nice selection of authentic cider and perry. The service is good and the ales are well-kept.

A must visit for those in the area. In fact, it'd be a crime NOT to visit if you are ever in Oxford.

 1,149 characters

Photo of tunreeb
4.5/5  rDev +6.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4

The Turf Tavern is hard to find but worth the adventure to get there. The entrance is not on a street, it is located in a very narrow gangway (between two buildings that are very close together). We were taken there by friends who live in Oxford; I don't think we would have found it on our own. Our friends told us that you know a pub is legit when you need to "mind your head" when you walk through the doorway. The pub is very small and inviting, it gives you a sense of old time England. In fact the pub is so small that the rest rooms are in a building across from it.

Consumed several pints of their Summer Ale, served at the traditional English temperature - as cool as the cellar is on that particular day, which makes for a very flavourful brew.

When in Oxford, be sure to stop in for a pint or three.

 812 characters

Photo of lhaqq
4.4/5  rDev +4.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Went here a lot when I lived in Oxford. Getting there in itself adds to the atmosphere. Near the Radcliffe Camera there is really small alleyway with a little arrowed sign next to it pointing to "The Turf." If you follow the alleyway back, you're led into a pretty small cozy pub. There are a fair amount of wooden tables outside, surrounded by bricks, cobblestones, and some vines. Inside is pretty small (can stretch and almost touch the ceiling) and made of old dark wood. The beer and food are good. I think I had their caesar salad once, which was good, but I usually just went for the beer.

 596 characters

Photo of oldrampratt
4.63/5  rDev +9.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

I thought I would check out the reviews of a few of the Pubs, and Bars I've visited on my journey though this planet. I lived outside of Oxford way back in the mid 80's,This was a main stopping point on the many pub crawls I barely remember. The place doesn't look like it has changed much in the last two decades. Great place for a good British pint. Be it a good ale or stout.The food wasn't bad either. I hope to visit the Turf again.If you are tall you will have to duck your head when going into the pub, the ceiling is short. The Turf is a definate stop if you are in the town centre of Oxford.

 600 characters

Photo of tronester
4.83/5  rDev +14.5%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

I visited the Turf when in the UK with some friends in March of this year. We were in Oxford for a few days, and every afternoon we would stop by for a pint.

If you enjoy cask ale, this is one of the best places in Oxford to visit. They had 8 handpumps dispensing real ale. Each pint I tried was fresh and flavorful. They also had a few other kegged beers and ciders.

The food is also good, and reasonably priced. The pub has a very traditional feel to it, and it should as it's been around for centuries. One thing to remember though if you are tall is to watch your head, as the ceilings are quite low! Overall, I must say if you are in Oxford, this is one place you have to stop by.

 687 characters

Photo of harpus
3.86/5  rDev -8.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5

I was taking the tour of Oxford University and the tour guide pointed out where the bar was. This place is back in an ally. The people working at the bar were helpfull when I asked them about the beers and what to try. I tried the Turf's Summer Ale because it was the onlyone for them and half pint of the Scrumpy. The summer ale was not bad. The Scrumpy that was served is proper Scrumpy from what I have heard. This was my first Scrumpy, and I enjoyed it. It was slightly cloudy and uncarbonated. If in the area it is worth a stop.

 533 characters

Photo of Stephen63
4.22/5  rDev 0%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5

Really good pub in Oxford that is not easy to find. This accounts for much of its charm I think. Well worth seeking out.

The Turf is one of those pubs that works with a mixed clientele i.e. regulars and visitors. Great cask selection that constantly changes so you'll probably not find that same beers on your next visit.

The bar is small and so don't expect to get a seat, decent enough seating area outside though if the weather allows. Certainly one of the top bars in Oxford and a must visit when you are there.

 521 characters

Photo of ridedammit
4.03/5  rDev -4.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3

A and I were hiking and travelling around southern England and found this pub after researching local pubs at a book store in Oxford. After reading that Tolkien frequented this pub I was sold. As others have stated you have to walk down several small alleys to find the place which is part of its charm.

When we visited there were 8 cask offerings, some from the guest brewery White Horse. There are several rooms to choose from and an outdoor beer garden to during the warmer months, although many were outside in December huddled near some coal burning fires. The feel of the place and the quality of the casks make this place one of the better English pubs that I visited. Unfortunately for us smoking was still allowed, apparently next year (2007) smoking will be disallowed and you may be able to taste your beer :)

 824 characters

Photo of HardTarget
4.22/5  rDev 0%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Not a lot to add to the other reviews below. A great pub! Quickly rotating casks insures a fresh pint, and at least 4-5 real ales to be had. The bartenders were always friendly and there are lots of different places to sit, either inside the low ceiling pub or lots of room outside. The real charm of the place is it's location. It's tucked back down an alley and surrounded by very high walls. The easiest way to find it is to find the "Bridge of Sighs" near the Bodleian Library, a neat arched bridge over the street between two buildings. Just past that, there is a small alley. Trust fate and take the walk, it's well worth it.

 631 characters

Photo of mitchfor3
4.03/5  rDev -4.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3

The Turf is one of the oldest pubs in Oxford and one of the most famous. It does get a fair amount of tourist action (the only ones who tip) from continental Europe and America, but it also gets a lot of students from Oxford and a decent number of very-regular regulars.

Touted as the place where Bill Clinton "didn't inhale" in his Rhodes scholar days, the Turf is hidden down a back alley, marked only by a tiny sign painted on a brick. Down the alley, one reaches the pub, which is made up of three outdoor courtyards (heated with lamps in winter) and the low-ceilinged, dark wood building itself. Inside it's your typical English pub, not cleaned up like the ones you might find on main streets in London, and smelling of smoke and traditional pub food. The bar is in the lowest-ceilinged part of the building, so low that taller bartenders have to duck to get from one side to the other.

The Turf advertises itself as an "education in intoxication." The selection changes day-to-day, as there is a new guest brewery (with a repoirtoire of roughly 5-7 ales at a time) every two weeks. There are a few extra ales, unpredictably offered, that are not part of the guest brewery at any given time. Besides that, they offer a few wines, typical lagers (Stella Artois, Castlemaine XXXX and Carlsberg), Hoegaarden (pricy at 3 pounds), Guinness, a relatively limited liquor bar (anything and tonic or coke), and a few "fashion" drinks and bottled American macros. (The staff is condescending to those who buy in bottles, knowing that the price isn't worth the taste and that the label is everything... college boys buy bottles for girls to impress them.) Also - occasional guest ciders, but always the mild Strongbow and the biting Westons Old Rosie Scrumpy with 7.3% abv, and mulled wine in the winters.

The staff are relatively well-informed about the offerings, but there are a lot of change-ups as the school terms begin and end, and the frequent guest brewery changes

Guest ales can be hit or miss, and if there's something you really like, you better go back a lot so you get your fill of it. Sometimes a bit crowded and obviously the prices are a turnoff when the pound is so strong. All in all, a great little pub, personable and welcoming, and a fun place to try new ales.

 2,292 characters

Photo of GreatPondBrewer
4.14/5  rDev -1.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

Surprisingly decent place in Oxford considering its touristy nature. Turf is pretty well hidden and I can really imagine fellows and students having navigated the back alley to the pub since time immemorial. However, I did it in 2005 yet it was probably the same walk.

The building is slanted and looking like it is slipping into the street all over the place. The inside is of course dark wood floor and has two bars back to back yet seperated by a wall so they are in two rooms. I would estimate that there were about 10 or possibly 12 hand pumps with some pretty off the beaten track stuff for Oxford including Caladonian and Hobgoblin (which tasted damn good) All the beer I had was fresh and properly cared for. The building had extremely low ceilingswith three sperate rooms two of which were for mainly standing and drinking while leaning up against the wall, while the third room was more of a sit down area. Possibly there was food, but if there was I didn't try any. I think there was also an outside seating area for the warmer months and the bathroom was a walk out across the alley. All in all a good out of the way place amid the hustle and bustle of Oxford.

 1,176 characters

Turf Tavern in Oxford, GB2, United Kingdom
Place rating: 4.22 out of 5 with 17 ratings