LivingTravelBrown's Café - A favorite in Oxford's covered market

Brown's Café – A favorite in Oxford's covered market

Brown’s Café at Oxford Covered Market is the kind of local secret everyone knows. For decades, students, locals, teachers and tourists have been rubbing shoulders at this unpretentious, typical English ‘café’, no matter that it has been run for years by a Portuguese family. They come to fill you with cheap home-cooked food, well made and served with friendly dignity.

Brown’s has been forever

The decor seems to have been there before the flood: pale cream painted wood-paneled walls, sometimes decorated with dusty clusters of plastic flowers, and checkered vinyl tablecloths on some of the wobbly tables.

But appearances are not everything. I had lunch with an Oxford professor who had been a regular student 27 years earlier. Today, her daughter was tucking in a huge slice of apple pie, topped with yellow cream sauce, a coffee favorite. All around us, university students and professors, tourists, secretaries, shop assistants, truck drivers and market traders devoured traditional English food like shepherd’s pie, stuffed potatoes, liver and onion, hake and French fries, plus sandwiches and hamburgers, none of that. It costs a lot more than a five and all homemade by the family owners.

By the way, don’t confuse this Brown’s Café with the bistro and cocktail bar across from St. Giles church, also called Browns. That one’s a half mile away and a million miles away in style.

Nursery food?

What the British call nursery food is the kind of simple, familiar food that most of them ate as children and fondly remember. This is the kind of place where you can enjoy yourself, and it would be difficult to spend much more than £ 15 even if you choose three courses from the most expensive items on the menu.

Does the thought of a full English breakfast first thing in the morning (eggs and chips, bacon, sausage, baked beans, grilled tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms) give your stomach flip-flops? It is not to worry. Not too many English people can face all of that, before noon, either. So it’s good that Brown’s serves breakfast all day, less than £ 10 for the Monty complete with toast and coffee. This is what you need to know:

  • There’s a veggie breakfast, cheesy omelettes, and baked stuffed potatoes, but otherwise veggie options are limited.
  • Occasionally Portuguese sweet eggy cakes are available. Buy them if they are on when you visit, they are homemade and delicious.
  • It is always busy and bustling, but the rotation of the table is fast. Go early for lunch if you don’t like to wait.
  • They still make their tea in a large, old-fashioned kettle, with real tea leaves.

Brown’s Café Essentials.

  • Where: Avenue 4, (Market Street entrance) Oxford Covered Market, Oxford OX1 3DZ
  • Open : 9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Saturday
  • Accessibility : wheelchair
  • The Bottom Line: It may not look as beautiful as it could be, but it’s quick, familiar, hearty, and tasty. This is a useful place to visit when visiting Oxford.

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