Port Mahon

Two cask ales: St Austell Trelawney and Thwaites Wainwright. Odd mixture of decent-looking bit-posher-than-pub food and downstairs in the (hireable) red bar, TV football and boards advertising Jaegerbombs. 'Fairy quincunx'. Reasonable single malt selection. Gigs upstairs. Toilets down rickety staircase in cellar. Hosted a session of music by John Cage in January 2013.


When it had been first redone in February 2000, they had a rather ambitious program of nine real ales and a real cider. But no folk music. The bottled Black Sheep in the fridge was a safe enough bet, however. I am pleased to report that the number of ales has been scaled back to a more manageable half dozen, the amount of custom has shot up, the folk club has returned and Bloomsday is still celebrated on June the 16th. However, the real cider has gone, and in keeping with the other Morrells ale houses, we have, for instance, a bicycle with front rod brakes, a step ladder, historic beer bottles, models of those birds I can't remember the name of but look like avocets, and LPs stuck to the ceiling. Discovery of the week is that they have an interesting range of country wines, including birch and dandelion, at two pounds a pop. The name commemorates a battle in the Napoleonic Wars that happened off Port Mahon in Minorca (not Mallorca, as a correspondent in Spain points out). The sign used to be of an old sailing ship off the Minorcan coast, but it's gone now.


Before the day before yesterday, this was a heavily folk music oriented pub under Irish management. They had Famous Oxford Irish People like Bernard O'Donoghue turning on on Bloomsday and everything. The day before yesterday, however, the old landlord walked out and a manager was installed by New Morrells. At the moment, it's a two bar pub, a public bar on Jeune Street with a pool table and a darts board, decorated with old maps of the British Isles and Oxfordshire, and a lounge bar with a fire on St Clements decorated with those brass plates with ships on them. Two casks set into the wall, one labelled Morrells 5401 and the other Morrells 5041. There used to be a huge collection of jugs hanging from hooks in the ceiling, but they've gone now.