An ambitious plan to transform a traditional village pub is paying off, as KATHERINE MACALISTER happily discovers

It was an exciting journey to Jacobs Inn on Tuesday involving a break-down, a harassed husband, lots of car kicking, a wait for the AA and then finally a meal of kings, but we got there in the end.

You will have read about the trials and tribulations of Jonny and Damian’s efforts to convert the former Red Lion in Wolvercote into a popular, bustling village pub on our food pages, but they needn’t have worried, because they’ve got it absolutely spot on.

Any disgruntled locals, worried about their village pub being tarted up by a couple of lads with a deli, can now relax, because Jacob’s Inn is going to be a massive boost for Wolvercote, even though it’s already knee-deep in pubs.

Undeterred Jonny and Damian set about bringing their vision to life, using local produce, their own animals and fantastic food, wrapped around a sociable bar, cosy dining room and some really decent prices.

Cutting their teeth by setting up Jacobs & Field in Headington, they already had their suppliers sorted, loyal customers ready, knew what food worked and what their style was. Jacob’s Inn is an extension of all of these factors, but what it does give the duo is more space, space to show off what they can do.

The overriding theme however is one of fun. Want all day breakfast? Go for it. Pancakes for dinner? No problem. A New Yorker sandwich for supper? Absolutely. But if you want lunch they do lunch, ditto dinner and Sunday roast.

Serving food until 10pm helps, so that by the time we arrived weary and hungry, there was still plenty of time left for a meal. The menu is fun with a curious twist of British and American – you can see the deli influence in there. Our soup starter, an uninspiring sounding tomato and white bean special (£5) came as a thick mesquite-style, smoky-flavoured and chunky-textured broth, complete with sourdough bread, a blob of sour cream and a dash of rapeseed oil. Delicious.

I pledged not to finish it to leave room for my mains, but couldn’t put my spoon down and it all disappeared. Next we ordered the tantalising sounding ground steak burger (£13). Did we want Swiss cheese and extra bacon with it? No thanks – the tomato, pickle, lettuce, home-made relish and fries sounded ample, and were.

We also ordered the lentil and chickpea salad with feta, tahini and parsley (£5/8.50), accompanied by the Jacob’s Inn slaw (£3.50) and some skinny chips (£3.50), and dived in. Fantastic. The burger was succulent, seasoned, and perfectly cooked, and we were just able to get the whole thing in our mouths once we’d taken out the cocktail stick holding the sum of its parts together. The slaw had a curry tang, the rather vegetarian sounding salad was beautifully dressed and surprisingly zingy, and the chips, which arrived in a paperbag to keep them warm, had a wonderful cajun seasoning on them.

We tested the frozen banana and granola parfait (£5) which was gorgeous and had us vying for the last pieces of thinly sliced caramelised banana and the nougaty parfait. Original, decadent and again a whole load of fun.

As we folded ourselves back into my now mended car, we decided that not only is Jacob’s Inn a welcome addition to Oxford’s reawakening pub scene but the results of all that hard work are not only evident but already paying off.

  • Jacobs Inn is at 130 Godstow Rd, Wolvercote, Oxford OX2 8PG. CALL 01865 514333