Run by the same people as the mighty Alpha Bar and The Vaults and Gardens, Oxford's Cooking (formerly the Woodstock Rd Deli) provides the full range of Alpha bar organic salads alongside soups, an extensive array of cheeses from the Oxford Cheese Company and other top quality deli fare.
Opening hours: 10am - 5.30pm. Fairtrade cookies, tea and hot chocolate. Wheelchair friendly.
Fair Trade products Fairtrade cookies, tea and hot chocolate.
Cuisine: Veg/Vegan friendly.
5-11 Woodstock Road
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My friends and I visited Oxford's Cooking after we heard that it had been undergoing a bit of a re-furb and we couldn't resist the temptation of another Vaults/Alpha Bar standard meal. All I can say is we weren't disappointed.
Firstly it does exactly what it says on the tin. It's a place for people in Oxford who cook and are looking for high quality, healthy ingredients, but it's also a place where you can enjoy a delicious homecooked meal or cake made using fresh local ingredients.
The coffee is all fairtrade and they cater for just about every taste in tea imaginable, not to mention providing for people like me who are lactose or gluten intolerant. It's great to find somewhere that believes in its own products so much that they use them in their cooking (or so I was reliably informed by a member of staff).
There are alot of negative comments below but they are all very old and this is definitely one of those places that is worth a second look.
SR (Unverified), 10/04/12
I went to Oxford's Cooking for a quick bite to eat at lunchtime. It was my first visit, as I was just passing and I was drawn in by the use of organic ingredients displayed on the blackboard outside.
Most of the reviews on here are fairly old, but unfortunatley little appears to have changed. Staff were ok, not what I would call friendly, but not unhelpful. However, wow - expensive and mean portions. I enquired how much a salad box cost and was expecting a S, M or large, but was informed it was by weight. I began choosing my salads.
Although it was already 2.15pm you would have thought the server was expecting a coach load to arrive for salads any minute - not even a spoonful of each chosen salad. There was a bowl of tomatoes, cucumber lettuce etc and when I received one very thin slice of tomato from the bowl I asked if I could have some more - the server looked horrified and reluctantly added a tiny morceaux more. You wouldn't have thought I was going to be paying for what I choose so reluctant was my server to put anything much in my box. The good feeling I had on first entering was fast evaporating and I hadn't even reached the till yet!
£6.55. Noting the owners previous comment that organic food is expensive to prepare - we are totally organic at home, but I am also a trained cook and I have never found an organic carrott more expensive to prepare than a non organic carrot. In fact quite the opposite as I don't peel organic carrotts as the goodness lies below the skin, but I would always peel a non organic carrot as that is also where the toxins from spraying build up. I left feeling totally disappointed.
MB (Unverified), 29/02/12
Just went in today to buy a salad. I chose the vegan box for £3.50. I got a couple of lettuce leaves, half a spoon of chick pea, half a spoon of rice and half a spoon of cabbagy salad, with some sunflower seeds spinkled on top. The little box isn't even full. Very small portions for the money. All served without a welcoming face. Such a shame as the food looks nice and tastes good, but at that price and for the amount you get I won't be buying again.
Aps (Unverified), 28/07/11
In response to Bobby Pouget's comment: The last few times I have been into the café my what was known as "main", (e.g. goat's cheese, not necessarily non-vegetarian) was charged at the additional price and added to the box *before* the box was weighed. Hence the total price charged includes the weight of the additional item as well as the additional price for it. If this no longer occurs then indeed my previous statement no longer applies, however the fact that i have been charged for the weight of these additional items in previous visits is not an inaccurate statement.
TV (Unverified), 17/12/08
The previous reviewer is wrong in stating that the non vegetarian mains are charged twice. All salads are sold by weight, but certain items are sold per portion, and are not weighed, their cost is then added to the cost of the weighed salad. As for the expense, it must be emphasised that all ingredients are organic and the salads and produce prepared fresh every day. Quality ingredients are expensive and the preparation of organic produce time consuming and costly.
Bobby Pouget - owner (Unverified), 22/10/08
When I first started going here in in 2006, the small salads were £2.95, this went up to £3.45 shortly after but still was a reasonable price for such good food. Now there has been a drastic pricing change with boxes now being charged by weight. A couple of my colleagues & myself took our normal choices (small salad: 3 fillings, topping and main) which now costs us more than £5. Mains are also charged at an extra cost (£0.50-£1.20), and on top of that you have to pay for their weight since the boxes are weighed after the main has been added.
If they now charge by weight then it might be wise to make it self service so that the customers rather than the staff decide how much of what goes into the box.
Is it still worth it? I personally don't think so. This definitely compromises my ability to afford lunch there, and I suspect price hike will affect their volume of sales but, for the richer amongst you, at least the queues will be shorter!
TV (Unverified), 29/09/08
I have been going to this deli for a long time now and I think the quality of the salads is even better now than it was at first. Fresh ingredients every day and always wholesome. I have never found the staff rude or unpleasant. Love it!
JP (Unverified), 17/05/08
I started going a couple of months ago, but after the service and portion sizes recently I'm never going again! I object to having my box of salad being weighed in front of me - when you are paying £3.45 for a small box of salad you don't expect this. My salad box has recently been half full. It is such a shame because the food is lovely, but with the new (and ridiculous) portion control I feel I am being ripped off!
SC (Unverified), 08/03/08
I feel compelled to write a review on my experience of the deli which I discovered about a month ago. The salads are really tasty and the pesto rosso, the roasted vegetables and the brown rice is delicious. HOWEVER the portions even in the last month have got smaller and smaller since I have been going. I go for a large salad which is almost £5 and every time I go I can see the staff weighing the box and the manager comes over to watch the amount put in the salad box and occasionally berates the staff for going over the portion control limits. Although the salad is nice, for nearly a fiver I expect a large portion not a measly measure. I have really gone off this place and cost cutting has spoilt it: no more custom from me.
RK (Unverified), 08/03/08
I love this place and go here all the time, but a couple of weeks ago my salad was literally less than half full. I couldn't believe how little food I got for £3.45. I few of my friends have had the same thing happen to them over the past couple of weeks. Supposedly the management has come in and starting yelling at the staff to give out smaller portions to cut costs. I am not going back there until I hear that the salads are back to a reasonable portion size.
A (Unverified), 05/03/08
Admittedly not as friendly and smiley staff as sister stand 'The Alpha Bar' but my salad today as always was very full, and topped with an extremely generous portion of goats cheese which makes me feel as though I have received excellent value for money!
ALS (Unverified), 15/01/08
Portions are getting smaller and smaller....
Such a shame as it is an all-round nice place.
now selling the fantastic nibchoc....the most truly amazing raw chocolate experience!!!
RW (Unverified), 23/10/07
It's a bit hit and miss here. I've had some really nice sandwiches which are always huge. However there's the smell of the cheese which always puts me off eating inside so I opt for a takeaway. The people serving can be on the rude side and there is a bit of a smug feeling about the place. I had a mozzarella sandwich with surprise olives with stones in - not a great plan for a sarnie. I also had an inedible sandwich with doorstep stale bread (which I only discovered when I got it back to my work)! A bit offputting.
me (Unverified), 03/10/07
I agree that the service is poor. But the food is worth it!
AL (Unverified), 03/09/07
I'm really quite surprised to read the negative reviews below. I discovered this deli when I moved here two months ago, and although a few of the staff are quite brisk when it's busy, I wouldn't say they were ever downright rude. (But then I never went there before, so have nothing to compare the service with)
As for the salads I've never had any complaints at all: everything has always been extremely fresh and tasty, and my salad box has nearly always been full to the top. Maybe they read some of these reviews and decided to pay attention?
SG (Unverified), 21/06/07
Although promising when it first opened, over the last year I have found the service in this deli to become increasingly poor and impolite. Most of the staff are sour faced and rude. The popularity of this place over lunch time obviously makes them think they can act poorly towards customers.
Moreover I find the quality of the salads has deteriorated. A couple of months ago I found a long hair in my salad putting me off going there for the last months. Giving it another try today I found blue string in my salad, not so off-putting as a hair but bad enough.
If I was the owner of this establishment I would seriously reconsider service and quality and how both of these reflect poorly on the business.
NT (Unverified), 09/05/07
Yeah, good quality, but the staff do seem a bit rude. When I went there about a week ago, I had to wait about 5mins until the girl who was serving had finished her mobile phone conversation! Still probably some of the best cheeses in Oxford are sold here; but those can also be brought from the Cheese stall in the covered market, where the service is much better.
Tom (Unverified), 12/11/06
Rude staff! The young girls turned their backs when I approached and asked for something. Did not want to help at all. When I asked a question they were abrupt and commented on what I had said when I left the shop! I think that this was very rude.
FKW (I visited the deli in late May early June 200 (Unverified), 16/09/06
Really disappointed with today's small salad! I'm usually such a fan and recommend a lunchtime trip to all my friends so they can sample the tasty salads. When I opened my box just now it was only half full - not nearly enough rice, tomato salsa, and coleslaw to complement the goat's cheese main. Is this a new regime to cut costs?
VS (Unverified), 29/08/06
The salads here are really wonderful - try them! I am addicted to roast veg salad/tomato salsa/puy lentils/tofu & black bean sauce all with a copious sprinkly of seeds. They first impression is - 'wow this tastes fantastic', then it's - 'this is really good for me too' - what a bonus!
Trog (Unverified), 12/06/06
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