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Eagle and Child, Oxford

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user reviews of the Eagle and Child, Oxford

please note - reviews on this site are purely the opinion of site visitors, so don't take them too seriously.

10:15 on a sunday night and a choice of this or the Lamb and Flag over the road.

Both shut bang on 10:30.

You can feel the history of this place dripping off the walls but the beer quality was dreadful. Old Hooky had to be sent back - dull, cloudy and rank. It was changed with minimal fuss (held to light, which failed to penetrate) and swapped for a brighter oxford gold.

Visit blogged at http://bit.ly/2tFIpRz
Mappiman - 27 Jul 2017 15:20
Have been here many times and it has been a good experience. Today was ok ish, I ordered food and a beer. So far so good, then the food was just plonked on the table without a word. The guy behind the bar really needs to want to work here and gain some customer skills. After all, the customer pays his wages.
rpf1955 - 14 Jan 2016 18:23
Popped in today (Fri lunchtime approx 12:30) not particularly busy, but it all changed when a party of American pensioners flooded the place. The nooks and crannies at the front of the pub were all taken , as was the rabbit room and rear conservatory. We have a pre conceived idea of our American cousins, especially the more mature variety. However, these folk were charming, ordered quickly and were served quickly. I did n`t partake as the food was so expensive. I felt a bit sorry for them, as they expect good service as a given. The couple behind the bar were efficient, but were blank expressioned. Just a bit of light-hearted banter or just even a smile would have made all the difference, but nothing. I felt ashamed that these visitors would judge all of us from this poor service. I hope not. The toilets were poor, the seat was hanging off the pedestal. I went in because it was close to the Ashmolean and there was the Tolkien and CS Lewis link (like a tourist) so I can`t moan if it`s touristy. (The Lamb and Flag over the road is better, and has more room but is cash only) Me? I gulped down my £3.80 Timothy Taylor Landlord, which was excellent, and went on my way. They do Brakspear bitter as well.
anarchobeer - 11 Sep 2015 18:45
Decent enough boozer, mobbed on Saturday evening. Beer quality good.
pwilkins - 24 Nov 2014 12:39
The front and middle patrs of this pub are the best. the rear is an add on.
Friendly and helpful staff. Good food served in the evening till about 9 i think.
Brakspear bitter £2.90 was very good and Caledonian Autumn Red was not quite my taste, £3.35. Overall a good pub.
rpf1955 - 10 Oct 2014 16:26
Have seen the pub a few times on TV (Inspector Morse. Lewis) si I decided to seek it out. It's not as I imagined it at all. On TV it looks to be a 'big fronted' pub, nothing could be further from the truth!! It is a very narrow/long pub with 3 distinct areas (as commented below), a very nice pub all the same. I tried the Porter and it was spot on. The pub is owned by St John's College. My only negitive comment would be to say in needs a good clean, there are a lot of cob webs!!!
wolvesfan - 6 Oct 2014 10:20
Been to this pub twice, and I have to admit that I liked it much better the second time ! This may be because it wasn’t so crowded on my latest visit.

As previous posters have said, there are three distinct areas to the pub. A couple of snugs at the front, the main part of the pub by the bar, and a newer conservatory at the rear. I seem to remember on my first visit that I was forced to drink in the conservatory, and really didn’t like it. [ Incidentally, the toilets, which are reached via the conservatory, are definitely older, so I am thinking they were originally outdoor, and it is a courtyard which has been covered over ]

This time we sat in the main part of the pub and, quite by chance, my friend sat in Tolkein’s seat ! There are a lot of literary memorabilia and plaques on the walls. Mainly, but not exclusively for Tolkein and CS Lewis. Not overdone, they are genuinely interesting, and the place has a lot of history associated with it. My friend was disappointed that an old map on the wall turned out to be Oxfordshire and not The Shire !

There were 4 beers available, including a Nicolsons house beer (St Austell ?), Brakspears and Hook Norton Lion Bitter. Price was cheaper than some - £3.40 a pint. There was an extensive range of food available – but the prices were horrendous (£10 - £12). Finally, it has to be mentioned that for much of the time we were there (Saturday lunchtime) there was only one member of staff serving at the bar – leading to a long queue.

7/10 – deservedly on tourist trail, but suffering from it.


Martinsh - 2 Sep 2014 23:05
Love the front and middle areas of this pub. Reminds me a bit of the Jerusalem Tavern in London. The back bit ruins it all for me, sadly. Beers are well-kept, but expensive - I paid more for a 4.1% stout here than I did for an Old Peculier (5.6%) over the road at the Lamb and Flag. Friendly staff, who know their onions when it comes to beer. Thought there'd be more stuff up about Lewis, Tolkien and the rest of the Inklings too. A bit of a mixed experience for me, as it's a place I've been meaning to visit for a while.
littledrummerboy - 20 Aug 2014 13:09
Well known Historic pub in the centre of Oxford very much on the tourist trail but real pub lovers may be somewhat disappointed. Currently appears to be under The Nicholsons chain - which works well usually - the beer selection was standard Nicholsons fayre and well kept. Bar staff were efficient and friendly. The pub is long and thin and has been extended on several occaisions - The middle room smells of kitchens and the back smells of the gents - very traditional. The 2 front room snugs were closed for painting - but expect my experience would have been better had they been open. Changes may be coming here soon - hopefully for the better. Its OK , but there are a lot of much better pubs nearby which have upped the game.
DiscoJoe - 15 Mar 2013 16:33
Hmm. Don't know what I was expecting, but the experience started well and then went steadily downhill; a bit like walking through the pub itself. Nice little snugs on either side as you enter, then a thin and pretty mediocre bar, a ramshackle shed/conservatory bit, and an horrific gents' toilet which would not be out of place in the orc's guardroom in Mordor. The choice of beer was good and my selection was fairly well-kept. Overall? Not a pub to avoid, but nor is it one to which I would deliberately divert my way.
Tiniggs - 20 Sep 2012 11:48
Was there on Saturday, 9th June, for the first time in a drinking career spanning almost 45 years. Lovely vibrant pub with loads of character, the ale was good (we had Brakspear's) but the Ladies toilets were utterly disgusting!
grannyboozer - 11 Jun 2012 09:29
I have been so unimpressed with the beer in this place on my last few visits that i said I wouldn't return. However, yesterday I had a pair pf friends with me who wanted to do the "tourist" things so I allowed myself to be dragged in.

What a mistake! A boring beer range - a house beer from St Austell, Triple FFF Pressed Rat, Brakespeares Bitter and something from Adnams. Coming soon - Doombar and Tribute! The Adnams was flat and insipid. We left in a hurry.
cheshirecat - 2 Jun 2012 09:38
If someone with a more serious literary reputation than that old bore JRR Tolkien like - say, Jordan or Piers Morgan - had once drunk here, I might be impressed but it's still an essential stop off on any Christminster pub crawl.

Which makes the series of open goals they miss all the more annoying. Not the beer, mind. That's good and varied. No, more the absurd conservatory area out the back that is chillier than a Highland Glen + the lack of seating + the dismal food. Could be a real gem.
BoehmBawerk - 31 Dec 2011 22:10
Not quite sure but was expecting this pub to be bad, but it's actually very nice with lots of character and a decent choice of ales at reasonable prices. Makes the most of it's Tolkien/C.S. Lewis connection, but who can blame them? Recommended.
baxterfish - 14 Nov 2011 19:12
As has been mentioned this is now a Nicholson's pub with a range of guest beers. Classic interior with al the connections to the literati. They do mini-meals for around 3.00 which are quite good if you just want a snack and a pint; but yes,it often suffers from lack of staff.
mcroyal - 1 Jun 2011 21:38
One of the most famous Oxford pubs, the Bird and Baby was the pub used by C.S.Lewis, J.R.R.Tolkein et al. for many years, and also a haunt of DCI. E. Morse (presumably more so in his disastrous days at St. John's). A Nicholsons pub with their usual poor service and short measure.
delpus - 1 Jun 2011 14:44
Enjoyed Butcombe Old Vic, a very nice chocolaty dark porter, and Brakspear Oxford Gold, both well kept, in the back room past the bar.

The front 2 rooms are small and heavily paneled and popular, beyond these on the right is the bar with a small seating area and beyond this is a back room with a further modern conservatory feel dining area.

The back rooms seem to be former outside back yards roofed in, judging by the small pointed roofs which seemed to trap the salt and vinegar fumes (the only criticism). The back was full mainly of students competing with each other at lively loud chatter whereas the front was a quieter chatty affair.

Wirral_RealAlians - 30 May 2011 11:59
Enjoyed Butcombe Old Vic, a very nice chocolaty dark porter, and Brakspear Oxford Gold, both well kept, in the back room past the bar.

The front 2 rooms are small and heavily paneled and popular, beyond these on the right is the bar with a small seating area and beyond this is a back room with a further modern conservatory feel dining area.

The back rooms seem to be former outside back yards roofed in, judging by the small pointed roofs which seemed to trap the salt and vinegar fumes (the only criticism). The back was full mainly of students competing with each other at lively loud chatter whereas the front was a quieter chatty affair.

Wirral_RealAlians - 30 May 2011 11:58
As previous reviewers, potentially good, but.....too small for a start, and the british system of fighting at the bar means it becomes quickly irritating, and the bar staff, if british, can be less than responsive- ok beers on tap usually though and a nice mix of dons and tourists, but too much of a toytown feel getting the punters in and out- not eaten there.
alezilla - 8 Jan 2011 21:51
All pubs should be like this. True: they try it on with the tourists over the Tolkien/Carrol link a bit but there's a good selection of changing real ales on tap, the staff are friendly and will let you try a sip before you order a pint, and the food is sensible, not pretentious, and good value.
The barman wasn't very happy over the World Cup because they didn't have a tv showing games, which was why he complained it was too quiet then, but this made it more attractive to us that night and I was glad to show some visitors this great pub.
oxford_hasher - 29 Jul 2010 23:05
Went yesterday, not impressed at all, food was at best mediocore, the side dish of vegetables could have bee sold to the army as bullets!. There was also an appalling stench coming from the toilets. not good.
SGA - 18 Jul 2010 09:47
Went yesterday, not impressed at all, food was at best mediocore, the side dish of vegetables could have bee sold to the army as bullets!. There was also an appalling stench coming from the toilets. not good.
SGA - 18 Jul 2010 09:46
Called in last Sunday afternoon, first pint, looked like "thunder and lightning" also tasted on the turn to vinegar! Returned to bar, male member of staff admitted that it was "crap" but it always tastes like that!...not the response you normally expect. Replaced by Stonehenge Sign Of Spring..much better.
It would appear the management (or at least the staff) of the E & C think that it is acceptable to sell cr*p ale because when we left, they had not taken same off the handpull and continued to offer it for sale. Sorry, I can't remember what the beer was.
One gets the impression that this pub is trading on its past history, come on, buck your ideas up
hail_the_ale - 20 Jun 2010 22:17
Good beer, very long and narrow drinking area, good atmosphere. Usually busy. This would be a really good pub but last time I was there it was spoilt by the truly dreadful piped music - God knows what Tolkien, Lewis et al would have thought.
newbury_drinker - 11 Apr 2010 12:54
Popped in yesterday lunchtime - it was fairly busy with diners. 4 beers on offer - 2 regular and 2 guests. Prices reasonable and quality reasonable. That about sums the place up - worth dropping in for one if passing but there are far better pubs in Oxford.
cheshirecat - 27 Mar 2010 10:47
By most metrics a decent pub, although punching below its potential. The beer is decent (four handpumps, normally two of interest), and the two snugs at the front are cosy places to sit, though the rest of the pub is a bit awkward. Quite why this is one of Oxford's Good Pub Guide listed pubs I don't know; there are probably 15 to 20 better in the city.
thomashenry - 31 Dec 2009 15:05
This is an old, atmospheric pub with dark wood panelling and, according to pub legend, was a favourite of Tolkien and C.S. Lewis who used to meet in a room at the back. It's a long, narrow pub with two snugs at the front, a drinking area in front of the bar and a lighter conservatory area at the back. I sat in won of the cosy front snugs. There are four handpumps - on my visit they were serving Old Hooky, Brakspear's Bitter, Lancaster Blonde and a Shepherd Neame Christmas ale. I had two pints of the Old Hooky, which were well kept. There was a mixture of covers of old classics (Rod Stewart singing 'Wonderful World') and Christmas songs playing at an obtrusive volume, to the detriment of the atmospheric surroundings.
A fine pub and well worth including on any Oxford crawl.
holbornboy - 13 Dec 2009 23:33
Lovely cavernous front-end, but usually too busy to get a seat, so you'll probably have to make do with the extention out back. Good beer, however.
plymouthpirate - 5 Dec 2009 12:38
Pretty busy (as most central Oxford pubs seem to be) which makes for a good turnover of beer, which was good though not quite top form.
Snarling_Mallard - 29 Nov 2009 11:09
Popped in last night for a pint with some friends that were visiting from out-of-town. Three ales on offer, of which Brakspears' Bitter and Hobgoblin were OK. We were served a lousy pint of Guinness though. Generally over-hyped and I agree with the comment below that the Lamb & Flag over the road is a better option.
BotleyBen - 25 Oct 2009 08:53
As previously stated front rooms are great , the rest of pub just a couple of corridors and a bland back room , beer ok , 4 ales on my visit . Very touristy and full of Americans .
trenchlad - 15 Oct 2009 15:12
The place was a bit humid and regretably the little snugs at the front were full. Got a seat in what seemed like a corridor and enjoyed a pint of two of Brakspears. Had a pasta dish which actually wasn't too bad for what I expect was "instant" pub grub - at least the salad with it was tasty and fresh, the whole being not bad for the price. I see it has now dropped out of the GBG for 2010 as there must be places that deserve it more.
JBGatelad - 3 Sep 2009 20:53
As other reviews say; the front rooms are good the rest of the bar at the back lack atmosphere. Forget Tolkein, this pub could be anywhere. Try the Lamb and Flag opposite instead.
stevet650 - 14 Aug 2009 22:06
Awful Tolkienesque tourist trap. Avoid!
griffo59 - 7 Aug 2009 18:17
The Eagle and Child is a great pub and an awful pub at the same time. At the front of the building there are some tiny, but characterful old rooms where you can enjoy the excellent local beer. However, towards the back of the pub there is a recently-added conservatory area which is pretty charmless. So you're experience of this pub will depend a lot on where you can get a seat.

A word about the food: it's awful. The clientele are unfussy students and tourists who'll never be back, and that's reflected in the lack of effort. I'm struggling to think when I last ate this bad: my roast beef was a cheap, fatty cut wedged on top of a greasy Yorkshire. The unforgivably bad veg was overcooked to the point of rubberness. And it was all cold when it arrived.

Use this pub for midweek evening drinking with a small group of friends. Avoid like the plague for Sunday lunch.
FrancoG - 1 Dec 2008 09:19
Not a bad pub , full of character , beer fine . On my visit full of very annoying americans , 2 pints of your famous english beer , brakspear, spitfire or pride sir ? NO 2 pints amstell please . Got chatting to two of them told them Lord of the rings was based on a true story , tolkein had just jazzed it up a bit ! Thick t--ts believed me , God help us !
oggwyn - 3 Oct 2008 21:34
Very disappointed with this on my first and only visit. It was smelly (not just the bogs - the whole place stunk of sweaty bodies and stale beer), grotty, and the beer not up to scratch. Range was also very poor and uninspiring (do they do anything but Brakespear and London Pride in this town?!) Very overrated - I left most of my pint and departed.
mafting - 11 Sep 2008 20:31
Well worth a visit if in Oxford. The beer is very good and reasonably priced. The food at lunchtime was excellent however I agree with a previous comment about the toilets - they do stink!
ranger1485 - 19 Apr 2008 17:22
'Character', 'olde English', 'Tolkien' - you know the score.

Fairly enjoyable - the front (olde) part of the place is inevitably tiny due to the retention of the snug drinking areas, but is nice to sit in if you're lucky enough to find a space. There is a more modern Everest double-glazing catalogue conservatory area out the back - not particularly great, but it does at least offer some extra seats.

Ale selection very mainstream (Brakspear, Pride and...another one) on my visits, but served well enough.

Toilets stank, felt like I was going to pass out - improvement needed here!

Well worth a stop on an Oxford crawl for the heritage factor, but not worth a session unless you get a seat in the front area I think.
Quinno - 31 Mar 2008 19:33
Wood panelled place bursting with charm and character. There is a middle bar for serving, and several small rooms in which to sit and sup. Four casks. Plenty of history. A really nice place.
SilkTork - 17 Feb 2008 00:41
Enjoyed a lovely meal and excellent real ales in this friendly pub. It was busy being Saturday after Christmas, but we had no trouble getting served and the food was prompt.
gillhalfpint - 3 Jan 2008 14:57
This pub was completely full on a Saturday lunchtime, so I went elsewhere.
twm_sion_cati - 3 Dec 2007 10:53
The Eagle & Child has improved dramatically as a pub since it was bought from Greene King a little while ago, it has taken a time to remove the transfer ties and now it is one of the better places in Oxford to go. Owned by the same college now as The Lamb & Flag opposite, there is more atmosphere in this one. The beer range and quality is now good and despite it being a bit touristy, you can use it for just drinking. Very pleasant.
imdownthepub - 16 Jun 2007 07:45
DATE OF VISIT: 21/05/07

Very nice pub a short stones' throw from Oxford city centre. I mainly wanted to visit it because of it's associated history with some of it's former clientel (Tolkein, CS Lewis, Amis etc). As you can imagine there are various references to these literary giants adorned on the walls including a plaque from CAMRA. The staff were friendly and helpful and the toilets weren't brilliant but I've seen much worse. I had a pint of Brakspeare and a club sandwich that was quite tasty all of which came to 7.85.

I do very much recommend a visit just for the history of the place. Because of that expect to see loads of fat Americans wandering around but nonetheless if ever you should visit raise your pint and toast the authors who found their inspiration there...
wezmiester - 24 May 2007 18:41
A pleasant pub, conveniently located with a good selection of beers. The front part of the pub - notably the two front alcoves that flank the door - has much more character than the modern conservatory at the back. It also has a quiz which is impossibly hard, designed more for the dons than mere mortals.
drewsy_uk - 14 Apr 2007 21:12
Very nice, quiet old pub just out of the centre of Oxford, famous for its associations with JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis - they used to meet in here to discuss their respective book projects. Nice atmosphere.
Greshon - 9 Feb 2007 16:38
Stopped in for the typical tourist reason. Unfortunately every other person in town evidently had the same idea. Despite it being a slow day almost everyowhere else in Oxford the Bird and Baby was full (not rammed). It was impossible to find a seat until one retreated well into the new bit which rather defeats the purpose of being there. Drank a surpisingly tasty pint of Brakspear and listened to undergraduates whine about the future when they have to support themselves(the horror!).
jorrocks - 2 Jan 2007 17:44
Nice pub, one of the better known Oxford watering holes. Very food orientated, but both the Adnams Broadside and Pride were in perfect nick. Nice to come in a well known touristy pub such as this and not feel you're being ripped off - see my comment re The Rose and Crown in North Parade.

Try the Lamb and Flag over the road as well
JohnBonser - 8 Nov 2006 13:55
The Eagle & Child does naturally trade to some extent on its illustrious history and it is probably one of the most famous pubs that will likely be known to non-Oxfordians. However, happily it doesn't overplay this and I just found it to be a comfortable, cosy, mellow little place with plenty of alcoves and cubby-holes in which one can deposit oneself free from interference. Personally I'm a bit of a bar propper normally, but here it seems more sensible to be seated.
In my limited but pleasant recent experience, I found the cask beer to be acceptable, although not excellent (in fairness this might've been owing to the excessive heat on the day of my last visit). I have indifferent memories of the service although that is perhaps good news; if it had been appalling it would've stuck with me. Didn't sample the food - I hear it is reasonable.
All in all a worthy little nook, certainly one to consider on a pan-Oxford crawl. Anything one feels this pub might lack will surely be compensated for elsewhere.
TWG - 30 Oct 2006 17:18
It's a pretty decent place given the touristy location, food surprisingly good and tastes fresh, usually 3 or 4 ales on. Though true the Royal Oak is definately worth the walk further on up the road, this is a fine place to break your journey!
OldRogue - 25 Oct 2006 13:52
The previous post surprises me as the bar staff every time I've been were clearly overseas students with no comprehension of how to pour beer. The smoking section is cosy, the non-smoking potting shed hideous. Food alright. You can do better than this across the road, or just up it at the Royal Oak.
thedts - 5 Sep 2006 01:48
I was impressed by the friendliness of the barmaid who served me and by the fact that she offered me a top-up without being asked. As I'm an anti-smoking nazi I went and sat out in the extension (which is non-smoking), but this is unfortunately the rather soulless new part of the pub. Smoking is permitted in the marvellous panelled little rooms at the front of the pub, which is where all the historical atmosphere is. Hopefully I'll try again when smoking is totally banned.
Good pint. Food looked to be good value.


twm_sion_cati - 31 Jul 2006 15:46
A very friendly pub, and one with a good, if not overwhelming, selection of ales. My traveling companion tells me the wine selection was better.

The history of the place is undeniably a draw, but much to their credit, the managers haven't plastered up "THIS IS THE PUB WHERE THE INKLINGS MET" everywhere, or labeled the toilets "DWARFS" and "ELVES" or anything like that. In fact, it's entirely possible to spend a pleasant evening in this pub without ever knowing that Lewis, Tolkein, Williams et al. were not so long ago regulars.
Hodsthorn - 4 Feb 2006 08:37
I love this pub for the history! It is a great pub for having a quiet catch up with a friend, while taking in the history of it all.
Vickilou - 1 Dec 2004 07:10
Very unfriendly to families. If you have children or you like children mind the pub
Thomas
Thomas - 25 Aug 2004 16:57
Oxford is Mecca to Tolkien fans, and The Bird and Baby, along with his Colleges, is a stop that you can't miss. To lean on the mantle with an ale your hand, standing in the exact same spot the good Professor used to stand and read from his epic work-in-progress, is an awesome experience that gave me chills both times I have visited. The food is good and the people are friendly. I give it a 10!
Lesley - 16 Jul 2004 14:55
I recently went to the pub and would give it 'two thumbs up'. The pub has a very old english feel to it and the food it of good quality. This is a definet must go place. Even if you aren't a Lewis or Tolkein fan.
Kate - 22 Mar 2004 21:45
As did Amis father and son and CS Lewis. However, not quiet as good as it was in the mid 80s hence a low score from me!
Acid Sorceror - 18 Feb 2004 09:47
Known locally as the 'Bird and Baby'. Nice old building with a newish 'conservatory' at the back. Lots of nooks and crannies for a quiet drink, although the place is usually busy. For those interested, Tolkien and his crew used to drink here.
The Good Doctor - 10 Jan 2004 17:44

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