Oxford's Cosy Club restaurant opened in the city centre at the end of last year but for various reasons I haven't been able to visit up until now.

My partner and I called in on a Saturday lunchtime, not expecting the place to be too busy but it was packed out with diners enjoying a cocktail or two and a meal from the extensive menu.

Cosy Club is now a well-established chain, with restaurants up and down the country but I have never visited one before so I didn't know what to expect.

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The entrance in Cornmarket is via a lobby and a stairway to the first floor of the stunning building which replaced Northgate House. There is also a lift to the dining area.

Cosy Club has been invited to occupy part of the Cheng Yu Tung development, a £40m student hub for Jesus College, which also features student accommodation and retail units.

Oxford Mail: As we reached the top of the stairs, where we were welcomed by a member of staff, my first thought was that the restaurant was vast, taking up the entire first floor of the building.

Perhaps this wasn't a cosy dining space at all.

But once we had been shown to our table, a window seat overlooking Market Street, I started to reassess.

Yes it was one of the biggest restaurants I have dined in, but the subtle design and decor allowed for comfortable banquettes and cosy alcoves, so it was still possible to feel that you were dining in cosy and intimate surroundings, even though there is ample space for 200 covers.

And they were pretty much all full. Where had all these people come from, and was it like this every day and night of the week?

Let's not be mistaken, this is a huge catering operation and there were about 20 main courses on the menu, so that must have given the chefs in the kitchen some food for thought.

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But there was no indication they were experiencing any particular difficulty.

Our food was served promptly by a friendly waitress who told us she had transferred from another branch, and it was well cooked and well presented - we couldn't fault it.

Oxford Mail: The Butcher's BrunchI've eaten quite a few cooked breakfasts in my time, preparing for long reporting shifts, so I tried the Butcher's Brunch (£15.75). 

It was a significant upgrade on the English breakfasts I used to enjoy in smoke-filled Mick's Cafe on the Botley Road but about three times the price.

Mick would have marvelled at the treacle-cured pork belly chop, two Cumberland sausages smoked back bacon, two fried eggs, house rostis, chorizo beans, and buttered sourdough toast.

The beans weren't to my taste but everything else was delicious and after I had sampled a side order of macaroni cheese (£5.25) I didn't have room for dessert, although I was tempted by the apple tarte with vanilla pod ice cream £8.25).

While I was enjoying the brunch, my partner tried the Barber's Vintage Cheddar, leek and potato bake (£14.25).

Oxford Mail: Cheddar, leek and potato bakeIt featured vintage cheddar, cider and mustard leeks, tenderstem broccoli, butter beans, spinach, and white wine cream topped with creamy mash and herb crumb.

I personally can't eat butter beans - something about the smell and the texture puts me off - but my partner assured me that the entire dish was incredibly moreish.

Other mains included vegan cheeseburger (£14.95), Cosy Club sandwich (£11.75), Spanish chicken (£16.95), pan-fried seabass (£17.50), fish finger sandwich (£11.75) and confit duck leg cassoulet (£18.25),

There is an extensive drinks menu and at the top of the list is the Pink G&T featuring Didsbury Strawberry & Sicilian Lemon Gin, Chambord, and Fever Tree Tonic (£12.25).

Oxford Mail: Quite a few diners appeared to be trying this or something similar and there is plenty of choice too for beers, wines, cocktails, teas and coffees, and whisky.

Diners appeared to be in no hurry to leave and as the afternoon ticked by I could see why the club - although it is by no means exclusive - could be considered a cosy place to while away a few hours or more.

Some of the dishes on the menu were not particularly cheap but I would definitely return to sample some more options on another day.

Cosy Club has brought something new and different to Cornmarket and no doubt taken some trade away from Westgate's rooftop terrace.

My only criticism is that I would have preferred slightly brighter lighting inside - possibly aided by more windows showing shoppers in Cornmarket during the day.

Andy Ffrench

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About the author 

Andy is the Trade and Tourism reporter for the Oxford Mail and you can sign up to his newsletters for free here. 

He joined the team more than 20 years ago and he covers community news across Oxfordshire.

His Trade and Tourism newsletter is released every Saturday morning. 

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