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The Cross Keys, Thame

Park Street
Phone: 01844218202

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Reviews (Current Rating Average: 9 of 10) Add Review see review guidelines

Pub SignMan left this review about The Cross Keys

Reputedly once regarded as the towns ‘fighting-man’s pub’, this place has since developed a reputation as an excellent alehouse and a bit of a destination pub for fans of cask ale. Positioned on a mini-roundabout at one end of the town centre, the pub has a two room layout that has essentially been knocked through into a single space, but with enough of the old partitioning retained to allow you to mentally subdivide the room. You enter to a carpeted seating area, with the partly opened out wall to your left, beyond which the bar can be found. The seating area offers hard backed benches down the right-hand wall, supplemented by a mix of standard and comfy chairs, plus a few more tables and chairs to the left and a bench in a small recess on the back wall. The walls have tongue and groove panels - full height in some places, half height elsewhere – with dark painted uppers, which helps to create a nice, warm and cosy feel. An arch takes you through to the similarly furnished bar area, with a timber fronted bar counter, modern bar back and a canopy with a row of tankards and pint pots suspended from it. Décor throughout includes a pub mirror, some sports themed items, various bits of breweriana, a few spirit bottles attached to one of the walls and a ceiling rather spectacularly covered with years’ worth of pump clips. A few packs of cards and a cribbage board were on a shelf in the middle of the room for customers to make use of and there was a nice post-lunch buzz to the place from a decent sized crowd.
One look at that ceiling would’ve had you excited at the prospects for some good ale at the bar, and there was a decent range available when we arrived, comprising XT 4 and 25, Animal Crow and Hop Kitty, Thame Hoppiness and Flipside Frank N Stein. A board to one side of the bar also listed five real ciders. I opted for a pint of the Crow, which was served to me by a friendly landlady and was in excellent condition. The other customers were a mixed bunch of all ages and the vast majority seemed to be on the cask stuff, which I thought was very encouraging.
I have no idea what Thame’s pub scene is like, but I’d be amazed if there’s another pub in town that can come close to this place, which I thought was an excellent alehouse and well worth our decision to detour here from Oxford, specifically to visit the pub. It’s a tidy, well presented establishment with great beer, friendly service and a good ambiance that would most definitely encourage repeat visits – don’t miss it if you’re in town.

On 8th February 2022 - rating: 8
[User has posted 2813 recommendations about 2813 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Quinno _ left this review about The Cross Keys

A brief revisit the other week - nine pumps, eight on. Sampled the Partners Cascade and home-brew Thame Hoppiness, both were in good nick. The pump clip collection is close to covering every available surface! There aren’t many better town pubs in Oxfordshire than this one.

August 2012
This place is a true example of what can be achieved with hard work, dedication and giving punters what they want. Formerly a run-down boozer, it was taken over around four years ago by a husband and wife team who have turned the place round and it has become a destination brewpub. The pub lies on what was a street corner junction (now a mini roundabout) and was originally two buildings now knocked into one. The exterior has been smartly rendered and decorated with a pair of painted cross keys as well as a 3D cross keys sign. The interior has a traditional feel to it with a mish-mash of old wooden furniture, pews and settles and the floor is carpeted. The ceiling is festooned with ale clips, a testament to the hundreds of different brews that have passed through the pumps. There are a number of discrete drinking areas which add a nice depth of character as well as a teeny but lovely courtyard at the rear smothered in bright floral hanging baskets. This is also the home of the Thame brewery whose ales feature on a number of the ale pumps at the bar alongside some well-chosen guests. The only concession to relative normality were a couple of beers from the Marstons stable. I tried the Thame brewery Hoppiness, XT4 and Durdle Door, served in pint pots. I can certainly vouch for the quality of the Thame brew and the XT4 was fab too. The Durdle was perhaps a little off-key but it was a new brew to me. There were also two ciders and a perry available. Lager drinkers are lucky enough to have both Budvar and Budvar Dark on draught. I was very impressed by the large and encompassing range of bar snacks, from chilli nuts to jelly babies. Clearly a home from home of the local CAMRA mob, judging by the amount of magazines and literature available. And in terms of pub entertainment, there’s the old fashioned upright piano, dominoes and…wi-fi! Winner of the local branch pub of the year for 2012 and with good reason; I’d happily pop back here again. A great pub. Rated 9

On 30th March 2016 - rating: 9
[User has posted 4423 recommendations about 4408 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Pixie Bliss left this review about Cross Keys

Peter & Trudy have really turned around this pub.
Excellent choice of real ales, expertly kept.
Lovely pub cats are friendly when it is quiet.
Cute walled courtyard stuffed full of hops, pleasant foliage and flowers.
Friendly landlord, landlady and bar staff.
A little shabby around the edges, and completely non-pretentious, just the way I like a good pub.

On 3rd September 2010 - rating: 10
[User has posted 2 recommendations about 2 pubs]