39 Magdalen Road has been many things over the eight years that I’ve lived in East Oxford, but we don’t need to go back through the list again, apart from to say that the background decor hasn’t changed since the short-lived days of GAF.
Spurtle & Spoon is run by Lindsey Carlon, who trained as a chocolatier at Gorvett and Stone in Henley after studying drama. Deciding to start her own business, Lindsey joined Barefoot Oxford while launching a breakfast bar pop-up in their cafe, which ran last Spring.
Skip forward to today and Lindsey’s freshly opened East Oxford healthy brunch pop-up is set to last for three months over the summer, from 9am – 2.30pm Monday – Friday, with Taco Bandits opening in the evenings – separate review on that to follow!
The menu is short and simple, a good thing for a pop-up, making it more manageable without impacting on quality. Don’t expect dirty brunch choices though – overnight oats, chia pots, granola, sourdough toast with various toppings, plus oat and cinnamon pancakes all feature, alongside coffee from Jericho Coffee Traders and bread from Degustibus, which also supplies Silvie around the corner.
Two of us ordered three dishes to share between us – Blueberry, Almond Butter and Honey Overnight Oats (£5); Smoked Salmon, Pea Puree, Lemon and Pepper Creme Fraiche on Sourdough Toast (£8); and Oat and Cinnamon Pancakes with Maple Greek Yoghurt, Toasted Pecans and Pumpkin Seeds (£6.50).
The food all arrived attractively presented – a drizzle here, a sprinkle there – with portion sizes that filled but didn’t bloat. My first choice of smoked salmon twisted on top of a lemon pepper creme fraiche with pea puree smeared underneath worked well against the backdrop of decent, toasted sourdough. I’m not prone to a desire of sweet breakfast options typically but was very pleased with the light and earthy pancakes, the ratio of toppings to pancakes well-judged. Overnight oats worked well, but then almond butter with blueberries and flaked almonds were always going to be a winning combination for me.
The menu will no doubt continue to evolve, as Lindsey gains confidence in running the kitchen by herself and the pop-up gains momentum. It’s pleasing to see something more healthy for dining out, food that makes you feel good for the longer term, as it isn’t something restaurants are typically renowned for. And if you don’t feel the need to be virtuous all day you could always pop back later for tequila and tacos!
Let us know what you think if you visit.