I’ve heard great things about Oxfork – a new cafe on Magdalen Road in East Oxford – and I knew it was only a matter of time before I tried it myself. It’s been open for about 7 weeks, and it’s already obtained a loyal following. They are often pretty crowded, especially on weekends, so I’m told.
Oxfork is a small, independently owned cafe. It’s ethos is simple – serve fresh, wholesome, homemade, locally sourced food that tastes great and looks beautiful. They care about where their food comes from, so they use fresh produce and locally sourced beverages from UE Coffee Roasters, Jeeves and Jericho and Cotswold Brewing Company. The menu is small and changes daily. They serve all day breakfast, and a handful of specials. They also sell bread and gorgeous cakes, scones, and assorted other tempting yummies.
The lunch specials today were tomato soup with sourdough bread (£4), ham and vegetable broth with sourdough bread (£4), and something called homity pie (£7), which I’ll go into detail about in a bit. My lunch companion and I got all three specials – we each had a soup and we split the homity.
I ordered tap water and was brought a vintage pitcher filled with fresh tasting water. The soups were served in vintage crockery on mismatched plates (which I love). I was amused that my friend’s ham soup was served in a ‘tomato soup’ bowl, while mine was not, but that’s totally unimportant. Both soups were lovely and definitely home made, though my friend did mention his bowl had only one piece of ham in it (albeit a giant one – see the picture).
Homity pie is a traditional British open vegetable pie. The wholemeal pastry case contains a filling of potatoes and an onion and leek mixture, which is then covered with cheese. It was served with three different sides – asian greens, bitter salad leaves, and roasted vegetables, and accompanied with a dollop of what tasted like doctored up cream cheese. This dish was amazing. Beyond amazing. The homity itself was cream and crunchy at the same time (the potato and the crust), and was seasoned perfectly. It wasn’t nearly as rich tasting as it could have been because of the ingredients – in fact, it didn’t taste naughty at all, though I have a feeling it might have been. It was simply lovely. The star of the whole dish though, for me, was the asian greens. They were very crisp and tasted of sesame oil and soy sauce. They were excellent. I’m not really sure what purpose the cream cheese served, and that was the only thing left on the plate in the end.
I was too stuffed to consider the scones they had just put out as we were leaving, but they looked divine. There were plain ones and ones that were overloaded with jam and cream. I will go back and try these soon. I bought a loaf of the sourdough bread before I left, as I really loved what was served with my soup.
If Oxfork is setting a trend for cafes in Oxford, then i’m totally on board and excited. The staff (there were almost one per customer, it seemed – lots of them!) were all incredibly friendly, the place is quirky and interesting and inviting, and the food is fantastic. I love knowing everything is locally sourced and fresh. Oxfork will start opening for dinner two nights a week starting mid November (2011). Keep an eye on their website for details.
Oxfork, 39 Magdalen Road, Oxford, OX4 3DH