Becca – Mar 2012
One of the perks of my job comes at the end of every term when we all go out for dinner in a local restaurant. It’s not that easy to find somewhere that can cater to a group of between 40 and 55 people so when we find somewhere new, it’s time for a little happy dance.
Recent terms have seen us visit No.1 Folly Bridge, Brasserie Blanc, Lan Kwai Fong and Al-Shami, we’re not fussy about what type of cuisine we have as long as it’s good! Last night we went to The Jam Factory down by the rail station. It has it’s somewhat unusual name as the building’s original purpose was as the factory where Frank Cooper’s Oxford Marmalade was produced when demand got too great for his High Street shop.
The Jam Factory is now a big, open plan space serving local, organic food. It’s home to an ever-changing display of art and many local community groups – photography, book clubs, geek groups etc. etc.
Onto the food. I had ordered the House Terrine with toasted bread and Mum’s chutney. The terrine was fresh and light, the bread worked well but instead of chutney, a small bowl of what I think was either quince or crabapple jelly accompanied it. That worked just as well for me, possibly even better than a chutney. Other starters available for our group were soup (no idea what kind!) and olive and sundried tomato arancini which disappeared very quickly so I assume they were good!
A long wait ensued before our main courses arrived. In fact we had a long wait before each course. Slightly frustrating, but also understandable given they were trying to get out several of the same dishes at once. And they were full on a Wednesday evening which is a good sign!
Main courses were a choice of minute steak with hand cut chips, I never quite understand the need for the ‘hand cut’ description, it doesn’t make them taste any better! Scottish salmon with a hot beet dressing, butternut squash, mascarpone and toasted pecan risotto or Cotswold pork t-bone with mashed potato and a Cotswold cider and porcini mushroom sauce.?The steak arrived and looked fine, overcooked for my bloodthirsty tastes and also far too small for my carnivorous tendencies. I didn’t get to see/try the risotto which I was actually tempted to order or the salmon. My pork was well cooked and flavoursome, couldn’t taste the cider in the sauce and the mushrooms appeared to be more of the button variety than rich, meaty porcini. Mash was cunningly hidden under the pork and had wholegrain mustard stirred through it, without that it would have been somewhat bland, especially considering the lack of salt and pepper on the tables. Had it been a meal I was paying for I would have been slightly disappointed. On the normal menu this would have been £10.50 whereas I would have put it at about £7-8 in a pub. A more positive note, the staff packaged up the meat bones for me to take home for my dog! A literal doggy bag.
Desserts were the imaginatively descriptive chocolate slab with vanilla ice-cream. That turned out to be a warm chocolate brownie and actually a very good brownie. Winter berries with white chocolate ice-cream and Angostura bitters was also successful, the spiced pear with cranberry custard not so much, although that may have been down to it’s appearance more!