Tucked away down a small side street in Oxford lies Sandy’s Piano Bar. Aiming to fill the void that was no late night bars past 1am, the man behind two Oxford Wine Cafe’s came up with this little gem. As so aptly put on their website the whole idea is that people can ‘still enjoy their night without having to go to a nightclub full of jaergerbombs, sticky floors and Justin Bieber’. Given I’m a slight (*cough* huge) fan of the latter, I decided to let it slide.
Prior to descending on Oxford with some girlfriends, I thought back to the only other time I had visited the city before. This was back when I was a student so naturally ensued a messy night. Little did I know it was going to end in two blokes pegging it after Phoebe and I (Yes. Her again) because she thought it was a good idea to take a walking bite out of their kebab. Said kebab hit the deck meaning we had to hit the gas. Never. In. My. Life. Have I had to run so fast in a pair of heels. After losing them amongst a set of wheelie bins I began thinking...
Now I like my food. Like, really like my food, however not to the point I would threaten someone with their life should they accidentally on purpose take it out of my hands. I fear the Mother Hen may disagree with me here, but as I always say, I am not responsible for my actions when hungry. Anyway, safe to say my return visit to Oxford could only be that of a better one.
Upon arriving at Sandy’s you’re warmly welcomed into a rather chic, minimalist bar. It’s dark and slightly surly but in a pleasantly mysterious way. In the way that you can imagine sitting for hours getting lost in conversation over a couple bottles of wine. Also in the way that the neon blue sign at the back of the room saying Sandy’s and pointing down a set of stairs sparks a real sense of naughtiness. Obviously, we obliged.
Locating ourselves at the bar the girls plough into a bottle of lady petrol but I head straight for what I believe to be the ultimate test of both bar and bartender. Simple, not hard to get right but when done poorly, oh so disappointing. The Espresso Martini. Most likely to be my choice of pudding, if you can’t get this one right how the fudgeballs are you even open.
Side Note: A friend of mine recently sent me a link that stated to avoid a hangover, avoid drinking coffee on the day you’re going out. I simply replied…’Um Espresso Martinis’. Safe to say we’re no longer friends.
Well Sandy’s, you passed the test. I had another and another. At this point in the evening, we decided to take our depleting levels of decorum elsewhere. Both bars I can’t remember the names of, however, I do remember chatting absolute shite to perhaps the most prickly bartender I’ve ever met. This wasn’t genuine chit chat but rather a desperate attempt to cover up the drunken fuckwits I had bouldering around behind me. Much to their resentment...that’ll be seven espresso martinis please. Cringe.
After finding somewhere to dance, I apparently hair flicked, hip popped and simultaneously raised my forefinger to a bouncer telling him he was in fact incorrect and couldn’t come into his own bar, we found ourselves heading back to Sandy’s to do exactly what they set out to achieve. While away the early hours of the morning over great wine and even better music.This time situating ourselves at the table that is the piano almost on the pianists lap, we sang, ate chilli puffs like they were going out of fashion and smashed two glasses of wine one after the other. Cue all the bartenders eyes rolling away. At this point, we didn’t really care. We were totally caught up in the raucous atmosphere of the this charming basement bar, tucked away in its own little pocket of live music and revelry, it really was the perfect place for our mates date.
Seriously though...who the fuck doesn’t like Justin Bieber?!