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“Impressive” 4 of 5 stars
Review of The Grand Cafe

The Grand Cafe
84 High Street, Oxford OX1 4BG, England
01865 204463
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Ranked #313 of 483 restaurants in Oxford
Price range: $20 - $30
Cuisines: French, Café
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Romance
Dining options: Breakfast/Brunch, Lunch, Late Night
Oxford, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
10 restaurant reviews
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“Impressive”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 23, 2013

Great decor, lovely selection for breakfast, quick and easy. Went with my Mum and she covered the bill, not sure I would be able to do so as I am a student. Perhaps somewhere for special occasions.

Visited March 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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183 reviews from our community

40% Recommend
    23
    51
    38
    49
    22
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Greek first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Any
English first
London, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
8 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“Gorgeous Decor”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 22, 2013

Gorgeous decor, pleasant staff who were especially attentive to the little things, noticing straightaway when new napkins were needed, bringing food to the table with nice flourishes. Best waffles in town. Small and overcrowded, but somehow it worked. Children found the ornate insides riveting. Not sure how overpriced it is as we found it quite average as shared a pudding.

  • Visited April 2013
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Oxford, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
5 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“Quaint”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 19, 2013

Fantastic atmosphere , the coffee is the best in Oxford and the staff are friendly particularly at the weekends, they work very hard

Visited March 2013
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Oxford, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
129 reviews 129 reviews
66 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 41 cities Reviews in 41 cities
43 helpful votes 43 helpful votes
“Great atmosphere, but inconsistent service”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 12, 2013

A visit to Grand Cafe depends on the staff in charge. Sometimes it is very good, but sometimes quite bad. The style of the café is very nice and the room looks larger than it actually is. You always sit relatively cramped next to other guests and conversations can easily be listened.
The tea and coffee quality is very high and the old style of tea serving sets the cafe apart from other places. The afternoon tea is nicely presented, even if the tables are mostly too small for it.
It is a shame that no cake is served with the "normal" afternoon tea and only 2 different kinds of sandwiches. However, the scones are large and tasty.
On my last visit I got a dirty plate and on the new plate was another spot that was cleaned by the waitress with her finger which was then followed by "Is this ok now?". Her attitude was a bit rude.
The place is mostly busy, but the managers need to ensure that they employ staff that can cope with stress and do their customer focused job in a friendly manner at all times.
Just try it yourself and come to your own conclusion.

  • Visited April 2013
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
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Truro, United Kingdom
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“Not so grand”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed April 12, 2013

The Grand Cafe in Oxford claims proudly on the front window that it is the 'first coffee house in england 1650'. For this reason alone, we decided to take afternoon tea there. We wanted it to be a fond memory of our visit to Oxford, and we didn't mind paying what we expected would be inflated prices.

Up a couple of steps, and through a door with a charming kettle counterweight - so far, so good. A sign asking us to wait to be seated, suggesting a certain refinement. The man behind the bar indicated that we didn't have to wait, and could sit anywhere.

When I sat down, I found that a long bit of dried willow had escaped from the back of the wicker chair and was tugging at my clothing. No matter, this was faded grandeur, after all, with marble columns. As we looked around, we saw that little attention had been paid to the surroundings for some time. I'm not sure when the smoking ban came in, but one wall at least was heavily stained a smoker's yellow/brown. Most of the varnish had long since decided to quit the table tops, and our table was in need of a wedge under one of its legs.

The waitress attended us promptly, and we ordered a cream tea, with Assam for me, and Blue Mountain coffee for my partner. If you are a coffee drinker, you will know that Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee commands a very high price, and so I was not surprised to see that there was a supplement for this choice. After taking our order, the waitress came back in some confusion and said that the price of the Blue Mountain was not included in the cream tea. I pointed to the menu where the supplement was mentioned, and said I was happy to pay this. This seem to have escaped her notice. Call me old fashioned, but I expect waiting staff to be acquainted with their own menus.

Our order was brought promptly - two large scones each (excellent scones), a small pot of cream, a small pot of jam, and our coffee and tea. It seemed to me that if we had ordered just one cream tea, they would have brought the same amount of cream and jam - they certainly couldn't have brought less. There was not enough - it's as simple as that. We come from Cornwall, and therefore have quite a lot of experience of cream teas. Compared with other offerings, the scones were generous, but the cream/jam were miserly. We asked for more, and the little pots were re-filled without protest, and without any supplement appearing on the bill.

The tea cup was, to be frank, dirty, so we asked for another. This too, was a little grubby, and also chipped. I have no idea whether these were machine or hand washed, but they would not have been acceptable, even in the cheapest of 'greasy spoon cafes'. The tea strainer still had some tea leaves in the bottom. The coffee was pretty weak, too.

When we asked for a bill, the waitress began to clear the table, and balanced the two cups and saucers on top of the tiny cream and jam pots on top of the plates, all in one wonky tower. Young people are amazing, and sometimes surprisingly skillful, so I thought that maybe she was a circus performer and could pull off this balancing act. No such luck. There was an explosion of cascading crockery and It all shot off in different directions. To give her her due, she managed to prevent any of it flying off the table completely, but it was by now evident that she was new to the job.

The bill came to just less than twenty pounds, including that supplement for the Blue Mountain coffee. This is a bit steep compared with other establishments, but it would have been OK if we had taken away a fond memory.

This is a lacklustre, down-at-heel establishment that needs a good clean, better staff training, and more generous portions. At the moment, it is trading on its position in the high street and proud claim to the first coffee house in England. I don't mind paying for a memorable experience, but not one like that. I would not go there again.

  • Visited April 2013
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
    • 2 of 5 stars Food
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