9 Marston Road, Oxford Oxfordshire OX4 1BL. Tel: 01865 247114
When it comes to dining out, you can’t beat traditional pub food for good value for money. There are many pubs throughout Oxfordshire offering excellent meals, and one of these is about a 10 minute walk from the city centre. The Plasterers Arms is a pub owned by Morrells Brewery, a family brewery based in Oxford since the 19th century. Up until last May, it was leased to private management and had an Irish theme to it. It was mainly used by students during term time and was quite empty during holidays. It did serve food, but the quality was something to be desired. After being served up a pizza with blue mould on the base, we never ate there again. Last May, the brewery took over the pub and gave it a complete refurbishment. False beams were added to the ceiling, the lounge and public bar were knocked into one, seating was upholstered, carpets were replaced, the exterior was totally re-painted and had lots of floral hanging baskets and displays added, and outdoor benches were replaced. The interior was decorated with copper pots, paintings of world war II pilots and planes, old product signs, old bottles were placed on shelving, along with a few old books, an old radio and old hand sewing machine. The best effect are the huge mirrors, cleverly placed on certain walls to make the pub look much bigger than it actually is. It also has a large garden area, which is usually full during the summer months, heaters are placed evenly throughout the garden for when the nights get a bit chilly. The front of the pub also has a few benches as well as parking for about 10 cars. To walk from the city centre would take about 10 minutes, walking down the High Street, over Magdalen Bridge, and up St Clements until you reach the junction for Marston Road, London Road and Cherwell Street. There is a bus stop outside the pub, a number 13A bus from the city centre will cost about 35p. As well as the major changes with t he pub decor, it is now under new management. Real ales on offer are: Oxford Blue, Varsity and John Smith’s and the lagers include Kronenborg, Fosters and Harp Irish. An extensive range of wines and spirits are also available. A new food menu has been introduced which has become very popular with people from all walks of life. Food is available all day, every day with a wide range to choose from. Starters include soup of the day and a warm bun (£2.10), prawn cocktail with salad (£2.95), and breaded mushrooms with a dip (£2.50). These are my favourite starter, and compared to other establishments, these are very tasty and excellent value for money. You are also served a salad side garnish. For the main meal you can enjoy steaks and grills served with chips or potatoes of the day, peas, sweetcorn and a half of tomato (from £4.50 - £6.50 for an 8oz steak). If chicken is your dish, there are breasted meals (£5.25) or half a roasted chicken (£5.95), served with the same as above. Fish lovers can choose between traditional chip shop cod or a generous shoal of scampi (both £5.95). Vegetarians are also catered for. They can choose between vegetable lasagne (£5.95) or vegetable bake (£4.95), both served with garlic bread and salad. Other traditional meals include burgers, spaghetti bolognaise, steak and apple pie, omelette and lasagne, to name but a few. Children’s meals are around £2.95 for chicken nuggets, jumbo sausage or fish tiddlers, served with beans and chips. The menu has certain items marked with a star, this means that if you eat between 12 - 7pm, Monday - Friday, you can have 2 meals for £6.95. Wednesday night is ‘Steak Night’, and for £6.95 you can enjoy a 16oz rump or T-bone with all the trimmings. This really is excellent value, and the steaks are massive as well as delicious. You can usually find me in here on this night. All meals are served on plateau style plates. Excellent fo r the steak dishes, but other meals do look a bit lost on them. A Sunday roast (£5.95, kids £3.95) is available at Sunday lunchtimes, but this is very popular so I would suggest getting there early. Plenty of snacks are served daily, baguettes and toasties served with a wide range of fillings. If you still have room for a dessert, there is an extensive range available. Ice-creams, mousses, puddings, crumbles and gateaux’s might tempt you (average price £2.95). To wash all that down with you might be after a bottle of wine. The wine list contains both white and red. Prices range between £8.95 - £11.95 per bottle. Celebrating? Jacquart Brut and Moet et Chandon Champagnes are also available. Although children are catered for on the menu, there is nothing in the pub or garden to entertain them. They are asked to sit quietly so others are not disturbed. There are a couple of fruit machines for adult entertainment, as well as Sky TV, background music and a dart board. Friday evenings there is usually a disco from 8 pm which plays modern type garage sounds. They also have 'special' nights. These have included 'Race Nights' and Quizes. Update: The management have recently told me that they plan to have family days in the pub garden during the warmer weather. They will have things like bouncy castles for the kids, and possibly a barbeque. On the whole, it is a great pub offering excellent food at excellent prices.