Disclaimer: We ate at The Oxford Factory towards the end of 2020, before the most recent lockdown. They are back open and I wanted to share my review but please note the odd thing may have changed since then!
I used to work in an office on the business park in East Oxford, and although we had an on-site canteen, the vegan option was basically soup or salad, and it felt like there was a definite lack of good food options in the vicinity for the hundreds of office workers in the area on a weekday. Enter The Oxford Factory, which opened a handful of months after I left said job for another in the city centre. I still only live a relatively short distance away, so I decided to try it out on a weekday when I had family coming to Oxford, as it’s particularly convenient with its outdoor seating and car park.
We visited in the week before Christmas and the place was winding down to close, so I think they had less of a selection on offer than they usually would – although there were still plenty of options for vegans. The hot menu seems to change more or less daily (I’ve been keeping an eye on their Instagram) and they also make fresh sandwiches, with grab and go snacks available too. We sat on a bench in the sun outside which was rather pleasant, for a business park anyway, and I was surprised at just how many people popped in for lunch despite most of us still being told to work from home – it’s obviously a popular little spot.
I ordered the lentil and roasted aubergine vegan lasagne, served with a side salad, which sounded like a steal for £6. The rest of my group turned their noses up at it because they don’t like aubergine, but when I put my meal down on the table they all conceded it ‘looks quite nice actually’ and definitely had a little bit of food envy. I was really impressed with how it was cooked, with the creamy sauce melting into the tomato one, filled with soft and flavourful veggies. The portion size was perfect for a lunch, and although a lasagne is fairly decadent, there were still a good few of your five a day on the plate. I really enjoyed it, and if I still worked on the business park I know I’d be going back to my desk feeling very satisfied.
My sister opted for a couple of the vegan sausage rolls and a brownie for her lunch. The snacks and drinks were comparatively expensive, with one little sausage roll being £2, and definitely not enough to fill an adult up. The pastry was lovely and flaky though, with the warm lentil based sausage filling being tasty. The brownie was fairly cake-like, and again not the best value in terms of size, for £2.50. Regardless, I was pleased to see that the majority of sweet treats the Oxford Factory had on the counter were vegan-friendly, and with some more baking experiments I’m sure they will nail the fudgy vegan brownie we were craving.
The Oxford Factory is a canteen-style affair, and there seemed to be one poor lady who was running the whole thing on the lunchtime that we came. With ordering five peoples’ food, we did spend a fair bit of time at the counter while she plated everything up, including making a sandwich from scratch as well as our various hot drinks. She gave us a really friendly welcome and I thought she did a good job of keeping her cool while the queue started to build up. Hopefully when it’s not Christmas-time she would have had a colleague or two to support her! I’m keen to go back on another weekday lunch and see what else they have on offer. Have you been? Let me know if you’ve tried any of their other vegan dishes!