The Gardeners Arms (Morrells), Plantation Road, Oxford OX2 6JE.
Tel. Oxford (01865) 559814.

Pontus Lurcock writes:
Has emerged triumphantly from Morrells Hell under the stewardship
(according to the sign) of New Wood Inns. The tat has been radically
pruned; I managed to spot a lurking chamberpot, but that's about it.
There are books, but they're just about readable enough not to qualify
as tat. The decor isn't back to the "stumbled into someone's living
room" standard of yore, but it's a perfectly pleasant pub and there's
a sofa.

The beer is glorious, especially when compared with the previous
Morrells-mandated modicum. Timothy Taylor's Landlord is on
permanently, and there are three guests. For the past few weeks these
have been Adnam's Broadside, Stones, and White Horse Wayland Smithy.
All good beers in good shape. The non-cask selection is encouraging
too: Leffe Blond and Brune on tap, the inevitable Hoegaarden, and a
good range of bottled famous Belgians (if I recall rightly, even the
bottles get guests). Crisps are of the thoroughly palatable Jonathan
Crisp breed.

Food is still entirely vegetarian and better than before: a pretty
standard pub selection of pies, curries, and the like, at pretty
standard prices. Nothing extraordinary. Round the back there's pool
and darts, and of course the garden.

There's a quiz at 8.30 on Sunday. It's rumbustious, none too serious,
and great if you like that kind of thing. (If you don't, there's
always the garden and back room, but the quiz will be hard to ignore.)

Old reviews: Morrells Varsity GBP 2.00 (26.i.2001) If you look in the windows, you can see tat on every wall. Half ships, framed photos of planes, metal adverts for Camp Coffee, and so on. Never mind that the Gardeners did use to look like a traditional pub. Never mind that Morrells wouldn't know what a traditional pub looked or felt like if they were locked in one till the Last Trump. There used to be unobtrusive sound. Now there is loud sound on rubbishy speakers, which starts off annoying and then they turn it up. It makes anyone more than a foot or so away inaudible. The many and various jugs that vanished from The Port Mahon are still missing from there, but there are now jugs on the ceiling of the Gardeners. And they come in only two or three varieties, metal milk jugs and Guinness jugs, which were probably made in 1998. In an industrial estate. In Wellingborough. The Brakspear Special wasn't bad. Even the garden furniture has been replaced, but the inside of the Gents is exactly the same as it was, and if you are a man you can go there and you can hide and you can even cry if you like. (31.x.2000) Mark Dickerson adds: Should one want to feel like a ghost, they've retained some of the old wallpaper near the dartboard, and the bar-rail. I've a creeping feeling people will still feel nostalgic about the place in a few years (probably after someone decides they can make even more money building flats on the site). Beef and barley pie, escapologist rabbit and affectionate spaniel RIP. Editorial update: They've lost the gravity-fed casks behind the bar, which is probably sensible given the amount of trade. The choice is now Varsity or Oxford Blue. (26.i.2001)
Old review Food Monday to Saturday 12 noon to 2pm, Sunday 12 noon to 4pm Morrells Oxford Bitter GBP 1.94 Wadworth 6X GBP 2.20 (18.v.2000) Owen Massey writes: The Gardeners Arms on Plantation Road is a very nice pub. Plantation Road is one of the narrowest, worst-lit roads in North Oxford and this pub is exactly halfway along it on its north side, opposite a selection of tumbledown cottages. Once you're inside, though, the real fires and sofas (not just settles but real, tonic sofas) create a welcoming atmosphere, as does the floppy-eared cocker spaniel. It might be expensive as pubs go. (I presume it's Gardeners' rather than Gardener's, but one never knows. Apostrophes in pub signs are as rare as serious news items on PM.) Editorial notes: Facilities out in the garden. Smallish garden with garden furniture for the sitting on, and they do food from 12 noon to 2pm Monday to Saturday. The crisps they do are Ready Salted, Cheese and Onion, Salt and Vinegar, and Roast Chicken, not to mention bacon fries. (17.xii.1998) There was an article in The Scotsman on Hogmanay 1998 complaining about the difficulty the writer had in getting hold of a hot toddy in pubs. This is the only pub I have seen which does indeed do them. The writer was very complimentary about a pub in West Clare that takes its time over the making of them, and sticks the cloves into the slice of lemon. This the Gardeners Arms does also. (1.i.1999) The present management, however, is being ejected by Morrells of Oxford on the 31st of May, and they'll bring in managers. They'll probably revamp the place unpleasantly. The move from the best Morrells Graduate in Oxford to undistinguished Wadworth 6X is a bit of a retrograde step, I'm afraid. (18.v.2000) Appears in Kate Pugh's Vegan Oxford. 2002-07-14 / 7.ii.2001 / 18.v.2000 / 31.x.2000