What has changed since the pandemic hit us? On the Thames Path it is mainly the pubs which have been most affected.
A good stop just before reaching Oxford Station and crowded tourist eateries is now The Punter pub on Osney Island.
You pass the door shortly after walking through Osney Lock and over its weir bridges.
The Punter is the end house in a lovely terrace of waterside cottages. It dates from 1871 and for most of the time has been The Waterman’s Arms. There is still a Morland of Abingdon brewery tile in the brickwork.
The change of name came recently and since the lockdown the quiet pub has adopted a vegetarian and vegan menu with an emphasis on local seasonal ingredients.
The star must be the very filling mushroom & lentil burger with beef tomato, red onion marmalade and stout mayonnaise served with fries (£14). The bun includes charcoal.
For pudding there is the intriguing parsnip, macadamia and olive oil cake with duck egg & bay leaf custard (£7).
There are lots of tables, art and flowers inside and an outdoor area at the side.
This is a rare case of a pub improving despite a change of name and management. It is pleasure to visit and not just a refuelling stop.
The Punter, 7 South Street, Osney Island OX2 0BE. Open weekdays noon to 11pm. Food: until 2.30pm & 5pm – 9pm; weekends noon to 9pm.