It may have felt a little like the end of an era when Oxfork’s owners, Chloe & Jess, recently shut the cafe doors for the very last time. For many, Oxfork has been a shining beacon of breakfasts, coffee and cake; for few, it’s been a little overhyped and overpriced – you can’t please all the people all the time. I imagine though none would argue it’s been a positive influence on Oxford’s often average food and drink scene, it’s especially been a good influence in OX4 – where alongside Magdalen Arms and Rusty Bike it’s brought new foodie focus to the area… with the fabulous Oli’s Thai joining the crew and Missing Bean soon to follow.
Fear not though brave consumer, Oxfork is soon to be reborn, under the very capable hands of Turl Street Kitchen, with a new Head Chef in the form of Ben Gibbins, previously of St Aldates Tavern.
So with the opening imminent, I popped down to chat with Turl Street’s Head Chef, Carl Isham, to get the lowdown on the all important question – will there be changes?
Turl Street was buzzing when I arrived – as ever it is – with elegant looking customers chatting over flat whites and pastries, entrepreneurial sorts working busily on Macs and iPads while sipping on their espressos, all being waltzed around casually by cool looking waiting staff.
Carl was meeting me off the back of lunch service and looked suitably spent, but happily chatted to me with obvious zeal about the upcoming takeover of one of East Oxford’s favourite cafes. So – the burning question – will it change? Well, in short, not really (phew!); they plan to keep the menu, interior, suppliers and staff mostly the same. They will run it as is for several weeks as is, to see how the land lays, then they hope to open evenings serving small dishes for sharing. Locals may benefit from earlier opening hours, at 8am, serving tea and toast. Changes to the menu may happen after the first few weeks, if any dishes are proving unpopular – and yes they do plan to continue serving home made baked beans (love them or hate them).
We can also expect to see lower priced children’s meals, charity events and some yummy fresh bread. All sounds very sensible!