I reviewed (almost) all of the restaurants at the top of Westgate so you don’t have to
Mowgli and Victors are top-tier
Westgate is definitely one of the best parts of the little city of Oxford, and its restaurants are quite different to your typical Five Guys and Zizzi. I remember as a first-year student obsessively only going to the Nando’s in Westgate because I honestly had no idea what any of the other restaurants sold. But, I did commit myself to trying every one of those restaurants in my three years at Brookes, and I’m pleased to say, now that I have completed my degree, I have (almost) completed this mission.
Unfortunately, Cinnamon Kitchen has closed since the pandemic hit, and I haven’t managed to go to Sticks ‘n’ Sushi just yet, but I do aim to go to this one before I leave Oxford.
So, if you’re a bit unsure on which of the restaurants in Westgate are actually worth going to, read my reviews below to see what food you’re in for, which cocktails bang in each place, and which eatery is the best to post on your uni Instagram highlight.
Victors is definitely the place you just get your parents to take you to when they tell you that they’re coming up for the day and they want to take you out for dinner. The restaurant gives off a sophisticated vibe, with low-lighting and fake purple wisteria winding round the bar and the pillars.
The drinks menu is huge and the cocktails always look amazing, which is probably why a lot of people go to Victor’s just for drinks. I recommend the Kiss & Candy cocktail if you love a sweet cocktail and candy floss, as candy floss comes as a garnish!
The food menu has quite a range of food – you can get sushi, steak, salads, pizzettes (smaller pizzas) and a burger. To start, I would recommend the Chicken Skewer and for the main I would personally recommend ‘The Victor’s Way’ Burger. It has two burgers in it with the nicest cheddar cheese melted on it, and comes with fries included in the price. Some of my friends have recommended the chicken and the pizzettes on the menu too.
The menu is more on the pricey side, but it’s the perfect place to go for a special occasion, like a 21st birthday.
The Alchemist is a cool place to go if you’re looking for some drinks with a twist. They have cocktails that change colour and some release smoke when they’re delivered to your table. However, the actual taste of the cocktails aren’t that special in my opinion, and because some of them have cool effects, they’re more expensive than your classic cocktails.
That being said, I had the Colour Changing One, which had a cool effect and tasted nice, and I’ve had the Bath Bomb before, which was also cool. The Mad Hatters looks like a really fun one to try, as it is Alice in Wonderland-themed, and you share it between two people.
The food is quite average – I had the Katsu Curry, and although it was nice, it couldn’t quite live up to Wagamama’s katsu curry, so I learned my lesson from then on to never get a katsu curry from somewhere unless it specialised in Japanese food. I’m not sure if they still do the fajitas, but I had chicken fajitas at The Alchemist and they were really good, so I still think it’s worth going to try out the food.
That being said, if you’re looking for something different, it’s definitely worth going to get a fun experience, and the perfect place to take your friends from home if they come to stay.
Dirty Bones is New York-inspired restaurant that specialises in chicken and waffles. The interior is quite dark and mysterious, but very much fits the New York vibe. I’ve been to Dirty Bones the most out of all of these restaurants and their food has always been so good.
For drinks, I recommend the Top Dog cocktail if you want something alcoholic and a bit fruity, and the Butter Baby milkshake if you want something sweet. The milkshake is so thick and creamy and the flavours are insane.
My favourite main that I’ve had there was the Chicken Waffle Bun. It was so yummy and different to anything I’ve had before, so I’d recommend it. I’ve also had the Spicy Chicken Burger, the Chicken & Waffles that comes with maple syrup, and the Crispy Fried Chicken and all of them were so good. I’d also recommend the Crispy Lamb Fries, but beware they are a bit spicy and are very filling, so I’d recommend that you share them with someone else.
Dirty Bones is like a boujee version of a chicken restaurant, and they sometimes do good student deals during Student Night and sometimes do lunchtime deals if you want to try it for a cheaper price.
I love Mowgli. I went here for my 21st birthday and it lived up to my expectations. The interior is so pretty, as the whole restaurant is lit up with jars of fairy lights. Some of the seats are also swings, which makes the experience a bit more fun, although they don’t actually move much.
I had the Masala Espresso Martini, which was so nice, and the Chilli Mango Margarita, which didn’t taste like a traditional margarita and was more fruity in flavour, and better than a normal margarita IMO.
The easiest way to describe food in Mowgli is that it’s like Indian-style tapas. I think we had two rice portions and five dishes to share between three of us and this was the perfect amount, but you can order more if you need to.
We had the Gunpowder Chicken, the Mother Butter Chicken, the Angry Bird, the Fenugreek Kissed Fries and the Mowgli Sticky Wings and all of the dishes were insane. The food isn’t too spicy but the spices and flavours in the food make them so tasty.
Mowgli is definitely my favourite restaurant and I’m going to find as many excuses as I can to go there.
The Breakfast Club
The Breakfast Club looks like an American diner inside, which was cool. I had the Morning Glory smoothie, which sounded like it would be nice but I didn’t enjoy how it had cashew nuts in it. I thought the taste of them would be minimal but it was quite significant for someone who doesn’t really like nuts, so if you don’t like them, I’d avoid this smoothie.
For food, my friend and I shared the Pancakes & Berries and the Classic All American because we couldn’t decide. All of it was really filling, but I don’t remember either of the dishes being too special, and they didn’t live up to our expectations. As with The Alchemist, it’s a good place to try out, but it didn’t wow me.
If you go to London, you’ll see loads of Pizza Pilgrims restaurants around, but I don’t think there’s many elsewhere in the country. The inside of Pizza Pilgrims was cool, and we sat on this high-up table.
To drink, I had the Ferrero Rocher Espresso Martini, which came with a Ferrero Rocher on the side. This was probably a weird choice for me to have with a pizza but I really enjoyed it.
I had the Burrata & Pesto pizza for my main, because I’m obsessed with pesto. It was really yummy but I shouldn’t have ordered it because I don’t really like burrata, but if you do like burrata, it would be the perfect pizza for you.
Some of my friends had the Double Pepperoni & Spicy Honey pizza and said that it was so good, so if I go back, I’m going to try that.
I’ve only ever had Vietnamese food once before so I was really excited to try out Pho and it didn’t disappoint. To start, we shared the Spring Rolls with peanut sauce (between three of us) and they were so nice, and the perfect starter to share if you want a starter but you don’t want it to fill you up.
For my main, I had the Chicken & Prawn Wok-Fried Noodles. These noodles were quite different from anything I’ve had before, but they were so nice. There were some vegetables in there along with the prawns and chicken, and despite the portion initially looking quite small, it was really filling.
Overall, I love the restaurants at the top of Westgate because most of the restaurants there are not ones that you can go to normally, as some only have a few branches across the UK.
My personal favourites are Mowgli and Victors. The vibes inside both of them feels classy, the service in both was really good, and the quality of the food was great. If you’re looking for somewhere new to eat, I’d definitely recommend both of these!