As some of you may know I work in the city centre from Monday to Friday which gives me a great opportunity to keep an eye out for new up and coming restaurants, cafes bars etc. that are opening in Oxford so I can prepare a review and put it up on here to let you know about it.
It’s not often that I venture north of the centre of Oxford, but when I do it is usually to pop into Jericho for a quick coffee. On the off chance, I happened to be walking down St Giles on one of my lunch breaks to get some air when I noticed a nicely refurbished looking hole in the wall type restaurant/food establishment pictured below as, ‘N.J.F’.
I had no idea what type of business this was. At first, I have to admit, I thought it looked like an upmarket hipster type barbershop. Upon closer inspection with a menu in the window and a picture of a beer, it became clear that this was a new restaurant and that N.J.F stood for Not Just Food!
So anyway, I thought I had to come down and try it out and see what they were offering as they were so new and well presented. I spoke to the owner and he told me that he was previously an accountant for around seven years, but his family had always been involved in catering in one way or another which meant that he also had some experience in this industry growing up. This led him to pack in the day job and set up his own restaurant!
NJF or Not Just Food specialise (at the moment) in providing quality hot dogs with sides as well as craft beers but at not so extortionate prices (e.g. hot dogs packed with various toppings from around £6 – £8 to eat in, exact prices at September 2019 pictured below).
Although the restaurant is fairly small in size, what really impressed me was how much thought and effort went into the decoration, I took quite a few pictures which you can see further below. They also have a Sega Mega Drive console with a selection of games to play whilst you wait/eat!
I expect this standard from a big chain with a big budget, so was pleasantly surprised to see a small independent business show up with such presence.
I asked the owner how he chooses what beers to offer, as I have to admit I only recognised one on the menu. He said that he checks beer review sites and tries to keep up to date with the most popular and well-reviewed beers and stocks these – awesome!
Food and Drink
I tried the ‘Guzzla Larger’ pictured above / below which was decent enough.
So in terms of the hot dog, you get a choice of ‘dog’; Vienna Beef, Pork Frankfurter or a Vegan alternative. All the hot dog buns are served in the form of brioche roll’s supplied by an Oxfordshire based bakery, Cornfield Bakery based in Wheatley. They were amazing!
I opted for a ‘Sloppy Joe’ which consisted of homemade beef chilli, cheese sauce and diced onion with a classic pork frankfurter with a side of sweet potato fries (pictured below).
My other half ordered a ‘Mac Daddy’ which comes with NJF’s macaroni cheese and crispy smoked bacon and she went for a Vienna beef sausage as neither of us had tried one of those before. A side of onion rings was the accompaniment for this one.
I’m not sure really where to begin with these but in summary, they were both awesome! The brioche rolls were of top quality and really held the hot dogs together well which is what you want when they are packed with toppings.
Both the pork frankfurter and the Vienna beef sausage were of high quality which was good.
I’ve been asked a few times, “what was the mac and cheese like with a hot dog” well I can confirm this also weirdly worked well. The bread soaked it up nicely and it didn’t fall apart at all. My sloppy joe was great in the sense that it felt like a traditional hot dog full of flavour and it just worked.
Both the onion rings and sweet potato fries were great too. The onion rings were not soggy they were dry and crisp and the same goes for the sweet potato fries.
Conclusions and final thoughts
So in summary, I would go as far as saying that I don’t think there is anything like NJF (Not Just Food) in Oxford. I cannot think of anywhere that offers a high-quality hot dog experience that is as clean and well decorated as this place. If you are hearing about it for the first time I urge you to get down there and give it a go. I’d describe it as the five guys equivalent of hot dogs.
My biggest concern is that this little gem of a restaurant is a little out of the way and people don’t tend to come to this specific part of St Giles for food.
At the time of writing this St Giles fair is on, so I’m hoping that this will help draw some attention to the place as people pass by.