When a new food service comes to town, it is usual for the first few months to see a crowd of locals checking out the venue, menu and service. When a year or so later, the same restaurant is not only thriving but also opening another outlet in the same high street, you know they are doing something right!
In the last few years many of the shops have changed in Oxted, Surrey, with frequent closures and empty plots not filling again. The majority of what remains seems to be dominated by charity shops, hairdressers and over-priced ladies fashion. Yet amongst all the changes, Jason Goddard and his team have fought against the odds to become the ToasT of Oxted.
ToasT serves up a daily dish of wholesome food ideas, with a menu sourced as locally as the ingredients allow (because you are not going to find seafood in the local rivers). Jason makes sure he gets the best produce for his customers, so if that means shopping out a little further to ensure quality, he is not afraid to buck the trend for simply using the nearest food supplier in his quest to offer the best he can find.
The concept behind ToasT is not over complicated. The menu is simple yet full of flavour, the cakes are made in house, the coffee, tea and other drinks are served with a smile, and the freshly delivered dishes are ones we personally enjoy, as often as time allows. The decor is spot on, offering a casual rustic look, and the atmosphere is busy but relaxed. Food takes time to prepare because it is cooked to order, allowing for unwind time where needed. ToasT is not designed for the rushed.
It is not unheard of for items on the menu to sell out, and rather than see that as a disappointment, for us it can only be a good sign that business in booming rather than a lack of foresight on stocking the pantry.
By the time the lunch rush is over, the afternoon is reserved for cakes and drinks only after 3pm. Booking is advisable, even for a walk-in cafe when it becomes this popular.
So, after setting his mark on Oxted with ToasT it is no surprise to hear that Jason has now filled another spot on the high street, following the recent closure of the local butchers. And as sad as it was to see a family business leave the town, it is a delight to see another take its place so quickly. Jason has opened a new deli in town, and we popped along to see how this compares to ToasT. And to be honest, it doesn't - because it is a complete change of direction, with the only thing the same being the quality and attention to detail.
The Deli Oxted offers a selection of artisan produce, sandwiches, meats, cheeses, oils, and more. Everything is sold as a take-away option, with recycling in mind when it comes to the packaging. There is the option to sit at custom-made tables and enjoy your meal if you prefer but it is not a serviced cafe.
The original butcher's tiles still line one wall and the same attention to renovation and decoration that is shown at ToasT, has been applied throughout The Deli. We opted for a salad selection of cold dressed vegetables, a couple of generous slices of homemade quiche, and a cup of hot coffee to wash it all down. Luckily for us it was all ready to take away because the portion sizes were generous (as seems to be the same at ToasT) and we could simply close the box and take what we couldn't eat with us, for later.
A surprise item stocked in The Deli is rice from The Real Basmati Rice Company, who we first met and reviewed back in 2013. As we meet a lot of companies along the way, we see many start-ups that disappear, so it is always good to see one still thriving. We love the olive oil straight from the tin, the fresh breakfast pots for on the go, and what is to be a revolving selection of produce on the shelves. Yes, the prices on some things are higher than you would pay around the corner at Morrisons, with a basic croissant costing around three times the price but you are paying for the convenience, the set up, the option to sit, stay and enjoy, as well as not having to walk around to the other side of town.
Oxted has a growing number of places to eat and we are happy to have The Deli added to our list of places to choose from. If you are looking for good quality, good service, fresh food and have the time to consider what you are eating and where it is coming from then we would recommend checking out both ToasT and The Deli; for different reasons, for different days and for different moods - but always for the same quality of purchase.