Did you see my brunch post about The Ox Club (read here)? I absolutely loved it so had high expectations for dinner. I actually ended up there on NYE before heading to a party. I was really surprised it wasn’t completely booked out but I guess a lot of people’s perception of restaurants on NYE are ‘special’ menus that cost 3 times the price of their normal menu. I’m happy to report there was no special menu at Ox Club.
Ox Club manages to maintain its chilled out, friendly atmosphere into the evening. No stiff white napkins and arsey wait staff here. We were also seated on the other side of the restaurant this time, right by the kitchen so you can ogle the food as it’s cooking.
To drink we ordered a few bottles of Prosecco (£25 each) which was good taste wise but unfortunately warm, hoping an oversight due to a manic NYE service though as my brunch prosecco was well chilled.
Whilst we were deliberating over the menu we were brought some bread, oil and what I can only describe as chicken dripping; imagine mopping up the tray after a roast chicken and you’re near. A superb start to the meal.
The menu is divided into small & large plates, the idea being you share so for starters we ordered everything between us.
Smoked Burrata with Fennel (£6)
Nocellara Olives (£3)
Smoked Trout & Cured Salmon (£7)
Ham Hock Rillettes (£3.50)
For me the standout was the burrata which is my absolutely favourite cheese; imagine mozzarella with a creamy, gooey centre. I was also surprised I enjoyed the rillettes as much as I did seeing as I’m not a pork terrine fan but it was delicious, well balanced and at that price get two…at least. The fish was delicate and well cured, the crunchy veg added a refreshing taste.
For mains we went our separate ways and ordered our own dishes. The Ox Club’s Hanger Steak with Salsa Verde (£8) and the Ox Cheek with Flageolet Beans (£9). The steak was so beautifully cooked and the sharp salsa verde balanced out the meat. I have to say I preferred the ox cheek though. The meat was so rich and absolutely fell apart at the touch of a fork. Topped with a sticky bacon jam and accompanied by creamy beans I’d say this was probably one of the best dishes I had in 2015.
I’ve talked to quite a few people about The Ox Club and if there’s one thing that consistently gets mentioned, it’s the sides – they’re just as good as the mains. Of course with this in mind we ordered one of everything again.
Kale with Golden Raisins (£3)
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon (£4)
Beetroot with Goat Curd (£4)
Green Beans with Capers & Anchovies (£3)
Cauliflower with Romesco Sauce (£3.50)
All of them were exquisite. If I absolutely had to choose my favourites I’d say the Brussels which will rid you of any soggy, overcooked, stinky childhood sprout memories and the cauliflower. My, the cauliflower. Done on the grill with a romesco sauce it is probably the dish Ox Club will be known for (absolutely every review sings its praise). All of the sides manage to escalate the veg to way beyond most restaurant level “Acceptable because I should eat my veg” to a “Will I look weird if I come in and order just the side veg?”
We were still all full on in Christmas mode so despite ordering nearly everything off the menu we of course said yes to pudding. Again we ordered a variety; Pumpkin Pie (£6), Lemon Meringue Tart (£6) and from the specials an Orange and Olive Oil Cake with Baked Chocolate (I’m gonna guess it was £6). I wasn’t a fan of the pumpkin pie at all. I found the filling bland and pastry a bit under done. A real shame as I didn’t want to finish the meal on a bad note. The lemon tart was good however the meringue was not notable at all, especially as there was such a small amount. The orange and olive oil cake was really tasty though; very moist and light. The baked chocolate was especially delicious, so dense and rich – everyone at the table had pudding envy.
So did my second visit live up to the expectations? Definitely for starters and mains at least. Maybe we caught desserts on a bad night or there’s just still a bit of work to do on them but don’t let that put you off. I’d say Ox Club was one of, if not the best meal I had in Leeds in 2015 despite not being overwhelmed with pudding. I’ll definitely be back again and I bet it’s just as good, if not better than my first two visits.