Frank Cooper's Old Marmalade was once produced at a factory in Oxford. Situated close to the train station for easy delivery of raw ingredients and onward distribution, it's part of Oxford's heritage. It's not just the dreaming spires you'll find in this university city.
This historic building has been converted and since 2006 has become a restaurant, bar and gallery called The Jam Factory. A quick couple of minutes walk from the bustling city centre shops and close to both the train and bus station, The Jam Factory is a convenient place to pop in for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
There's an outside covered courtyard with comfortable seating and green plants to soften the weathered brick walls of the old factory. Step inside, past the bar and you'll be drawn into a light, bright and airy space to dine in. The atmosphere is laid back with plenty of room around the tables and a comfortable area with squishy leather sofas that I quickly settled into. This also means that they are pram and wheelchair friendly which is not always the case with some of the big city centre chain restaurants who pack the room tight with seating.
I started off with a cup of tea and was quickly relaxed and comfortable so decided to prolong my stay with lunch. I wasn't 100% sure of my choice of halloumi and roast vegetables with a chilli jam when it first arrived, but one bite and I was happy. The roasted vegetables contrasted beautifully with the salty halloumi and the sweet chilli jam brought it all together. The chefs focus on quality ingredients, simple dishes with local produce, executed with excellence. Even the fish comes from day boats and not big trawlers.
Looking around me there were a real mix of characters enjoying The Jam Factory. I noticed a few people tapping away on keyboards, settled in for the day from the looks of things. Mums with babies drank coffee side by side with business meetings and job interviews going on. They have a big display cabinet full of delicious looking "Mum's Cakes and Bakes", and yes, mum really does make them.
The Jam Factory also has an Arts Centre. Not only do they display works from various artists but they host an evening scrabble group, knitters and use the space for theatre rehearsals among many other activities.
If you're in Oxford's city centre, skip the boring chain restaurants and enjoy some laid back character at The Jam Factory.
I like the name of the place, and it has a nice courtyard. That's a whopping slice of halloumi though. I think halloumi needs to be enjoyed in small slices; that chunk is the size of the blocks you buy at the supermarket.