The Rusty Bicycle had everything you'd want from a brunch spot: funky vibes and yummy food. I went with a friend I hadn't seen all term, and we had the loveliest morning catching up over one of the tastiest brunches I’ve had yet in Oxford. Brunch is famously so much more than a functional meal. It’s not about getting calories into your stomach in the most efficient way possible, it’s about taking a pause from a hectic day of doing an Oxford degree to enjoy a properly cooked dish at a leisurely pace with a large side portion of gossip. I immediately rated the décor and ambiance of: it had the relaxed, slightly bohemian kind of Cowley Road feel which isn't as common the other side of Magdalen Bridge, with vibrant posters, feel-good bunting and the trademark cutlery in retro tins. And it was just the right level of busy: enough customers for decent people-watching, but also not obtrusively noisy, and indeed in true Oxford fashion there were people there studying.
I am unashamedly the kind of millennial who goes to a café and automatically orders the avo toast without sussing the rest of the menu. But for the sake of open-mindedness I decided to fully survey the menu and stray from my comfort order. I had the ‘mighty veggie’ breakfast which was truly mighty in the range of breakfast items it came with. As a vegetarian it is all too common to feel that the veggie options are simply the meat dishes but without the meat, but this felt like it deserved a spot on the menu in its own right. I was especially in awe of the avocado which was perfectly prepared: a touch of lemon and pepper to season but not blended and messed around with to the point that it resembled artificially-flavoured shop-bought guacamole. My meat-eating friend had the ‘boss man’ breakfast, and was equally impressed, praising the crunchy hash browns and amount of bacon it came with. Whilst £10 or £11 for brunch might sound a bit pricey on a student budget, it was actually pretty economically sound given that the generous quantity of food fuelled us for the rest of the day and definitely wasn't the kind of delicate brunch which actually leaves you fancying lunch afterwards. The only tiny nit-picky criticism we had was that the eggs were more hard boiled than soft boiled, but this minute observation did not take away from our enjoyment of the food.
Subtly glancing at neighbouring tables, I noticed pizzas, burgers and veggie bowls too, which all looked tempting, especially with the weekday lunchtime deals. Additionally, as we left we noticed a garden which looked like the perfect escape from the library on a sunny day, and I also saw that they are putting on a special menu for National Doughnut Week which certainly sounds intriguing. So overall I’d highly recommend taking a wander down Cowley Road to check out the scrummy food and chilled but buzzy vibes of the Rusty Bicycle. And one final thing, despite not ordering the classically instagrammable avo toast, the food was still aesthetic enough to make it onto our social media stories, the twenty-first century confirmation of a satisfying brunch experience.