Oxford, Day 19: Grand Cafe

Originally published June 15, 2012, this blog post series is an undergraduate short-term study abroad trip in Oxford, UK in partnership with Salve Regina University and St. Clare’s Oxford. The blog post may have been edited for clarity and updated with relevant travel information and links.

The other day I was blogging from another dorm that has WiFi—but really, there is internet back at my dorm! It feels as good as Christmas morning.

My roommate and I did visit the Grand Cafe on High Street—it was absolutely gorgeous.

Believe it or not, Grand Cafe is the oldest coffeehouse in Europe:

Over the years, the site has been a Coffee Shop, an Inn , an Hotel, a Grocer’s Shop, a Co-op and a Post Office.  The Grand Café as it is now was established in the mid 1990’s.

The very earliest record found of this site in Oxford was penned in 1391 when an Inn called “Tabord” was leased by St. John’s Hospital [where Magdalen College stands today].  Then, in 1510 it was extended and expanded and renamed “The Angel”, becoming Oxford’s most important coaching Inn.  During the 18th century, 10 coaches started out from here headed for London each day at 8:00 a.m! The horses were grazed in the meadow next to Magdalen College – hence “Angel Meadow”

According to a number of trustworthy sources, including Samuel Pepys,  a Jewish entrepreneur named Jacob established the first English coffee house in 1650.


For more history on coffeehouses in Oxford, read this article in Cherwell, Oxford’s oldest student newspaper.

High Street is arguably the most fashionable street in Oxford’s city center. It is still a little touristy, but the upscale boutiques and the farther distance from restaurants and bars keeps foreigners from wandering far down the street where the Grand Cafe is.

After passing Jack Wills, the Covered Market, and Starbucks, the sidewalk has a higher ratio of Oxford students and residents to tourists.

The Grand Cafe

Back at the dorm, I bought vegetarian, all-natural sausage at the market to have with pasta. I did not have time to make a proper sauce, but it tasted pretty good with plain pasta. The future plan involves cooking a sauce on simmer for the day with sausage and having it with tortellini.

For Literature of Oxford, the class met up at the dorm where most of the students live, which is a ten-minute walk down the road from Logan House. Some students and the professor prepared a surprise tea party and we watched a movie version of Persuasion (1995). I tend to be overly critical of films, but this adaptation did a good job of sticking with Austen’s original text and casting actors who could bring the dialogue alive (whether the performance was Oscar-worthy is debatable).

After the movie, the university hosted a goodbye BBQ for international students who have been studying and boarding since January and our group was also invited to come. I watched some of the EuroCup match (Italy vs. Croatia, 1-1) while eating some American-style BBQ–a bit of a paradox, don’t you think?

Fusili, Vegetarian Sausage, Olive Oil served with Sparkling Cranberry Juice
Tea party!
British swag
Scone with butter, clotted cream, raspberry jam, and a dollop of whipped cream served with Earl Grey tea
Cake from the BBQ
Oxford's High Street in Oxford, UK

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A Francophile based in coastal New England

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