News that The Medley on Port Meadow had started making their own pizzas was always going to be a big draw.
Having opened last summer on cleared scrubland next to Medley Manor Farm in Binsey, The Medley’s bar was an instant success, immediately becoming the go-to place for young people, city dwellers keen to get out of town and walk down the towpath, cyclists, water enthusiasts, walkers, naturalists, families and more. READ ABOUT IT HERE: https://www.oxinabox.co.uk/exclusive-a-sneak-preview-of-oxfords-new-riverside-bar-the-medley-which-opens-on-may-1/
Everyone in fact wanted a piece of the action. But what to feed them? Food vans were hurriedly brought in featuring all sorts of wonderful bounty but they were sporadic and hard to book, festivals and big parties taking precedence.
So when winter came, and Otto and Charlie, who run The Medley, closed up shop, they had a long hard think about it and decided to not only build their own pizza ovens, but also learn how to make such splendid pizzas they’d would be the talk of the town.
Charlie spent the winter in the kitchens at The Rusty Bicycle (where they also make famously epic pizzas) to learn his craft and when The Medley reopened for another busy summer season they were ready.
It’s a beautiful time of year to visit, come 6pm when the sun loses its heat, and shadows lengthen over the river. On the walk there a Kingfisher darts out with a fish in its beak, ducks fly overhead, cows moo in the fields, fish flip in the River Thames… it’s an incredibly beautiful and peaceful setting, despite being so close to the city centre.
And then you pass through the simple Medley gate by the boatyard into the cleared welcoming atmosphere where tables await – waterside or central, while the bar, kitchens and loos back onto the farm beyond.
The range of local beers and ciders is impressive, Boat Race lager by Chadlington Brewery a firm favourite, the cocktails alluring too – rhubarb mojito anyone?
The pizza menu is simple but exciting, yes there is a Margherita for the traditionalists, and then four others including the BEET THAT with basil, mushrooms, beetroot pate (from the farm), pickled red onions, parmesan and rocket (£10), and the BALLER with a pesto base, yellow tomatoes, pomegranate seeds and burrata (£12)
We settled on the DO YA? with tomato, basil, mozzarella, pepperoni, nduja, and pickled red chilli (£10) one for the carnivores, and the OKIE DOKIE ARTICHOKIE with tomato, basil, mozzarella, pickled red onions, yellow tomatoes and artichoke hearts (£10). And then we sat back and soaked up the atmosphere as people poured in after work.
The pizzas were even better than expected, despite the hype. Quickly served, piping hot, properly crusty on the outside and bowing in the middle, the ingredients top notch, the freshness of the veg urging you on, slice after wonderful slice disappearing in a trice, aided by the free pots of incredibly moreish garlic mayo.
Another drink, The Medley now full, free tables like gold dust as we headed out down the path back to Binsey.
And as we meandered home past the wonderful pastoral scenes I realised that while The Medley itself is its own oasis of calm and fun in the city, its pull is that it remains one of Oxford’s best kept secrets and that it has become a destination, an adventure, a day out in its own right, while sticking to its rural simplicity.
Open until September/October, I can’t wait to return. With pizzas like that there’s no stopping me. I’m a Medley convert through and through. For more info go to