One of the most commonly asked questions in my DMs on Instagram is ‘where is the best vegan roast dinner in Oxford?’. Despite over 100 reviews on this blog, I’m yet to find a decent one! So when I saw the Oxford Factory in Cowley business park launch a new Sunday roast offering, complete with vegan starter, main, and dessert, I knew I had to check it out on their opening weekend.
The Oxford Factory is a canteen-style affair, so you order and pay at the till then move around to collect your food. With this in mind, my first impression was that the prices were a little higher than I would expect for a meal without table service, knowing I had to take my food to a table on a tray and scrape my leftovers into a food bin at the end – though kudos for their well segregated waste! To begin with, I ordered the mushroom soup and my vegan roast dinner, a kale and mushroom wellington. The vegan meal was exactly the same as the vegetarian version, minus the yorkshire pudding (I would’ve appreciated them knocking off a quid for that, or perhaps putting another potato on my plate instead, but sadly not).
The benefit of the canteen is that you don’t have to wait long at all to tuck into your food. The small bowl of mushroom soup was piping hot and served with a large soft white roll on the side. The chef was a bit heavy handed with the black pepper for my tastes but my partner pointed out it tasted exactly like the inside of a Ginster’s peppered steak slice, and he was spot on. Despite the small bowl it was a very filling starter, thick and with deep mushroom flavour.
On to the roast dinner itself, which was already now lukewarm having been served up five minutes earlier, and sadly giving me slight school dinner vibes. The large roast potatoes were lovely and crisp, though they could’ve done with a touch more seasoning for me. I’d have liked a bit more gravy to smother them in, as the gravy served was really thick and therefore sadly left some of the big chunks of potato a bit dry. Half a roasted garlic filled the space on my plate where the yorkshire would’ve been, which was tasty eaten with the potato.
The Chantenay carrots on the side were just cooked, so still quite firm. I know it saves a tiny bit on food waste, but for the slightly fussy like me I would’ve liked to have seen them topped and tailed. Surprisingly my favourite part of the whole meal was a charred cabbage quarter, which was cooked perfectly and melted in the mouth. I could’ve happily eaten a whole plate of that alone, especially covered in more gravy.
What you would suppose should be the star of the show, the mushroom and kale wellington, was almost like a big slice of a giant veggie sausage roll. The filling was very moist so no dry nut roast here, and the pastry was crisp and golden. The overwhelming flavour wasn’t actually of mushroom or kale, though it was quite earthy. Whatever nuts were used, combined with the herbs and seasoning, made it unlike any wellington I’ve tasted before and I couldn’t quite put my finger on the flavour. Not the best I’ve ever eaten, though not the worst. It was a decent sized portion, but the plate as a whole sadly was not quite as satisfying as something I would’ve made at home.
Spotting a vegan fruit crumble on the menu, of course I still managed to find room for dessert. This was brought over to our table by the chef, so was at least finished off fresh to order rather than having sat under a heat lamp for an unknown amount of time, unlike the main course. Filled with apples and summer fruits, it was served with a small scoop of plant-based vanilla ice cream on the side. Both myself and Jamie felt weirdly uncomfortable about the fact that the ice cream was placed on top of a corner of napkin (why?) and the white dish the crumble was served in could’ve been wiped clean before it came out, but otherwise it looked like a decent pudding. The crumble and fruit mixture had the perfect balance of sweetness for me, and it was nicely flavoured with a hint of warming spices running through. I prefer my apple a bit more stewed, but at least the chunks made me feel like I was getting another of my five a day!
All in all, I don’t think my quest for Oxford’s best vegan roast dinner has been completed just yet. Using my student card for a 10% discount, the meal certainly didn’t break the bank, but I felt the quality of the food was a bit ‘Toby Carvery’ at a higher price, without the benefit of being able to go up for seconds. However I really want to give kudos to the Oxford Factory for offering a decent vegan option for all three courses, when nearly every other restaurant in the city hasn’t yet bothered! Serving 12-6pm every Sunday, perhaps we will yet see different starters, mains and desserts on offer, and I might give it a try again. Certainly if you’re looking for a place to enjoy a roast dinner with family who aren’t all vegan, this could be a good option.
If you’ve had a great vegan Sunday roast dinner in Oxford, I’m looking for suggestions! Please let me know here in the comments or send me a message on Instagram for where I should try out next.