When Is A Pub Not A Pub? When it’s a bar. And vice versa. Blurring the lines betwixt the two is a dangerous game and generally ends in tears. All Bar One for instance tries very hard to be a bar and hence ends up a shit pub. Most ghastly East London bars try to recreate the homely armchair ambience of a Home Counties boozer and wind up insufferable. Imagine my surprise, then, that one of my currently favoured pubs in Oxford is walking this tightrope of disaster with some aplomb.

The Brickworks is a pub, alright. But it’s a close thing – even a removal of a definite article could tip the balance – it would be called Brickworks, which is a short step to being a bar, called Brick. Shudder. But no, its The Brickworks, thank goodness. The pub sign plays similar games with pub convention – it’s a section of painted-on wall with the pub name in mock-graffiti. But it has a pub sign, and is therefore a pub. I dwell on these external signifiers cos they mirror what you get inside – a clean, stripped-wood look but a cosy atmosphere, achieved by The Brickworks being the approximate size of a small bus. You have Hoegaarden and Budweiser on draft and a small but nice-looking selection of Belgian bottled beers, and you have newspapers (tabs and broadsheets), and an entertainments room downstairs. It could almost be a bar – almost – but it has a winning modesty about it that keeps it in the land of pub.

Of course, The Brickworks can’t hold a candle to a good London drinker, and it couldn’t win out against good Oxford boozers either, except that those are sadly rarities (all the semi-decent pubs in Oxford are marred by a single tiresome flaw – the draftiness of the Angel And Greyhound, the trashiness of The Crown, the nutter magnetry of The Star). So for now The Brickworks is an effective change of pace. Cheers!