Food Wars: Cowley vs Jericho

Recently, some of my fellow finalists embarked upon the arduous task of finding houses for next year. Two were dead-set on living in Jericho despite the fact that it’s 0.9 miles from Bridge. The other two were equally headstrong about living in Cowley.

It seems that this feud between the two ‘indie-alternative’ neighbourhoods isn’t restricted to house choices. You either go to the Phoenix or the Ultimate or to… I’ve run out of examples. But I maintain that this rivalry extends to restaurants since both are filled with cute little independent joints. Jericho lags behind Cowley on that point since strewn amongst greats like Al Andalus and Manos lie the likes of Branca, Cafe Rouge and even Strada.

However, Jericho takes a confident stride forward when it comes to pubs. Yes, everyone loves the Jericho Tavern but I personally prefer Jude the Obscure sitting just next door. On the other hand, The Star on Rectory Road in Cowley boasts an alcoholic slush puppy. And, if you enjoy pseudo-celebrity spotting, that guy from Foals kicked me off a pub quiz machine there once.

You can’t deny that Cowley wins when it comes to price. Hearty £5 meals galore can be found in Red Star (like Wagamama’s but better) and Atomic Burger (at lunchtime anyway.) And the recently opened Oxford’s Grill doles out food as cheaply as their hideous sign would indicate, for £6 you get two courses of the most delicious Turkish delights. It’s not all cheap though – Santorini has a habit of sneakily charging for bread but their kleftiko is so good you forgive them. Similarly, Arbat is not cheap and looks kind of tacky but I’ve never eaten badly there.

I suppose it’s class that Cowley lacks. Pierre Victoire, average to good though it may be, has an undeniable sense of occasion. And the aforementioned Al Andalus has that but also the food to match. It just doesn’t seem like it’s trying too hard, something which the Santorini waiters could learn a thing or too about. The Jericho Cafe could give them lessons. Nowhere else encapsulates ‘easy like Sunday morning’ so well.

I’m going to conclude this like I have all seventy two essays of my degree: both have their merits. Cowley for every day ‘frugality’ and Jericho for a little ceremony. Still, the ceremonious future Jericho inhabitees I know have a special place in their heart for Aziz. So I suppose Cowley should win for its ability to make converts.

Ari Haque