UPDATE (April 2017): Unfortunately, Joseph Perks & Co has now closed.
Last summer, while riding into Oxford on the bus, I spotted a promising-looking venue on St Clement's, which turned out to be a soon-to-open coffee-and-cocktail bar called Joseph Perks & Co. I've been back to Oxford a couple of times since then, but only got the chance to visit J. Perks Esq. on Saturday.
St Clement's is a 15-minute walk from Oxford's historic city centre, but is quite close to the lovely South Park and to the city's main alternative drag, the Cowley Road. It was a gorgeous sunny day on Saturday and I arrived just in time for brunch. A series of brunch-themed cocktails including a 'Bloody Good Bloody Mary' and a bacon-and-egg martini were on offer, but I decided to get stuck into the coffee.
The Perks crew don't currently serve hand-brewed filter coffee, but their espresso-based drinks — made with coffee from Oxfordshire-based roastery Ue — are pretty darn fine. I ordered a macchiato (£2) made with the current Yirghacheffe variety (always a favourite of mine) and took a seat at one of the tables near the very cool day-to-night bar.
The macchiato was very good with a pleasant fruity acidity and just a dash of foam. While I waited for my food to arrive, I chatted to the friendly staff, who told me their bar is named for a famous 1970s bartender who went missing and whose whereabouts is unknown. Joseph Perks & Co is the bar they like to think he would have opened. And with great coffee, brunch, BBQ food and cocktails, what's not to like?
As for brunch, I stuck to fried eggs on toast (£4), which was good. I would have liked to try to the pulled pork sandwich, but I was going out for dinner and didn't want to ruin my appetite. Another time, perhaps.
Meanwhile, when I was asked if I knew about the current coffee special — a corretto, which is an espresso shot with sambuca — and although I haven't tried it, I did mention a coffee soft drink I tried at Saint Frank in San Francisco in February: the Kaffe Tonic, which involves Fever Tree tonic with an espresso shot poured over the top. It sounds wrong, but is really good and very refreshing.
The game Joseph Perks staff decided to give it a go and although initially dubious, I think they were impressed, so maybe it will join the menu soon. I hope it does!
Joseph Perks & Co. 76 St Clement's, Oxford, OX4 1AH. Website. Twitter.