Paul is a pit of Parisian pretentiousness, of fake French food and overpriced sandwiches. Or at least that’s what we thought before we visited the Oxford branch recently, after Paul contacted us to offer a complimentary lunch in exchange for an honest review. No student can refuse free food, and so we complied.
We had a spot of trouble actually getting the food to review, with the manager spending quite a while on the phone before he reluctantly gave me an array of items to try – but for the good of journalism, and for the good of our own stomachs, we pressed on.
They all sounded like the kind of feat that Bridget Jones’s mother would like to serve
We tried the Christmas sandwiches, albeit tentatively – they all sounded like the kind of feat that Bridget Jones’s mother would like to serve alongside her miniature menagerie of strange culinary exploits to a crabby Mr Darcy as he tries to avoid questions about marriage – but we were pleasantly surprised. The Dinde de Noël sandwich, or Christmas turkey sandwich for us uncultured English speakers, was a perfect mix of a classic Christmas dinner and a delicious bacon sandwich. The horseradish was notably flavourful, but not overpowering, and the cranberry sauce provided the perfect sweet to cool your mouth down from the slight spice. The Cosy Christmas Pig Sandwich was equally well-crafted, with a sublime apricot and sage baguette to hold the meaty contents together. And there’s something for vegans too – the Merry Veggie Sandwich provides a great alternative to a meaty Christmas sandwich, which is chock-full of festive root veggies.
The Cosy Christmas Pig Sandwich was equally well-crafted
For those with a sweet tooth, Paul has a range of gooey macarons, as well as a range of other typically French patisserie items on its usual menu. It turns out that the French décor isn’t just a pretence – Paul follows through on its promise of authentic, quality food.
It turns out that the French décor isn’t just a pretence
Paul also serves a range of caffeine-filled drinks, bold and strong for a great post-lunch buzz. For those less caffeine-inclined, they have a deliciously rich hot chocolate, to which a simple home-made from powder alternative pales in comparison. In terms of ambience (it seems that French words are contagious), the bakery is cosy and classy inside, and looks a lot smaller than it is, with seating upstairs too.
Paul’s bakery is the epitome of a Parisian boulangerie right here in Oxford. The food is delicious and reasonably priced given its quality, and the Christmas menu is perfectly festive.