Monday, 7 December 2015

Ox Club - Headrow House, Leeds City Centre

The long awaited Ox Club in Headrow House has finally opened and it's everything you wanted it to be. From the guys that brought you the best burgers in town, the finest pizza slices and award winning steamed buns, the team from Belgrave present to Leeds their first restaurant.

Ox Club is a grill restaurant with small plates and big plans. The menu is separated in to your usually starters/nibbles, mains (larger plates from the grill), sides (smaller plates) and desserts. We were advised to order a few things from the grill to share and a couple of small plates too. This combination plus some nibbles and a dessert left us satisfied and not crying out in pain from stomach over-expansion, although this may be something that befalls us in the future now having had our first taste of what is on offer.

Freshly baked bread was brought to the table with pots of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and what we guessed to be oil, salt and garlic. We stared nervously at the bread cautious not to overfill ourselves on the bread, promising each other we wouldn't eat it all. Unfortunately it was just so damn good we finished it all off...

Always partial to an olive we opted to try the Nocellara Olives served on ice to bring out the flavour. They were soft, juicy with a mild buttery flavour. They are probably more suited to a light white Italian wine, however we'd already ordered beers and they went just fine with them also.

On the subject of beer, D ordered a Beavertown Neck Oil IPA. Beavertown is always a photographic beer due to their unique designs, making for a great picture and a good tasting beer. Having not tried this one myself I can offer you no more... 

Whilst in Rome and all that, I ordered the Pilsner Urquell, for those who don't know already Headrow House is the first place in the North of England to have a tank installation and serve fresh unpasteurised Czech beer straight from the tank. I don't know how the beer nerds feel about it but I love it (I suspect they love it too).

Back to the food. from the Wood Grill (the mains/larger plates) we ordered Ox Cheek, Hanger Steak and Chips and the Guinea Fowl. Plates are brought out as they are ready with shouts of "service" being yelled over your head, as soon as you get the taste for one thing another comes along and you're thrilled all over again.

First to reach our table was the Ox Cheek. Served with bacon jam and flageolet beans it just falls apart with a threaten of a fork, the cheek is deliciously salty offset by the creaminess of the beans. It was heartbreaking to share this dish.

Ox Cheek 

To really test the strength of the restaurant we ordered the worlds most hated food. Sprouts. If they could make me like sprouts, an avid hater since I could eat solids, or maybe even before if my mother had tried to puree the little beasts, I would be blown away beyond expectations.

The sprouts were brought to the table alongside the cheek. Topped with bacon and cured egg yolk they weren't the salty soggy sprouts I have been subjected and tormented to at the family Christmas dinner table. They were crunchy, fresh and topped with some magic dust that made me believe I actually like Brussel Sprouts. My only quibble being the difficulty to scoop a sprout, bacon and egg all in one forkful, someone pass my a spoon so I can shovel these bad boys in.

Brussel Sprouts 

The star of the show arrived next, Roast Cauliflower. I know what you're thinking, how can cauliflower be the star of a show in a place that is priding itself on meat and grills and all things smoked or brined. Whatever they did to this cauliflower was a work of gastronomic art. Roasted and served in a romesco sauce, with almonds and sherry vinegar I wished that I had ordered at least three plates of this supernatural cauliflower.

Roast Cauliflower 

Guinea fowl was the next large plate from the grill to reach our table. The guinea fowl is brined overnight in tea and molasses and served on a bed of buttermilk polenta. A mix of white and brown meat with some deliciously indulgent skins still attached it was moist and bursting flavour. If you like chicken this is better, so much better you'll never want to look at roast hen again.

Guinea Fowl 

The final dish to be brought over was what we were expecting to be the 'piece de resistance', the hanger steak served with salsa verde, bernaise sauce, watercress and chips. We'd had a sneak preview of this dish at the Headrow House opening, albeit two pints down, we were singing it's praises and almost rugby tackling the waitresses for more.

For D and I there could have been more seasoning and perhaps a little longer on the grill. The steak was served fairly rare and fairly cold. I guess it's all down to personal preference, but our preference wasn't accounted for.

Hanger Steak and Chips 

Despite feeling content our lovely waitress tempted us to try dessert, I negotiated and we settled on a sharer, much to D's cries of "why do you always make me share dessert!". I guess it's hard being the the chap of a food blogger hey?

Of a choice of two sweets and one savoury we opted for the lemon tart. A nice solid base, with a soft tangy filling balanced by the cream we lapped it up in seconds. Also accompanying the tart were small rosemary meringues, I will often use lemon and rosemary in cooking but never before in sweets, on it's own the rosemary meringue was a bit odd, add a bit of lemon tart in the mix and you can see where they're coming from.

Lemon Tart 

I literally cannot wait to go back, to take friends and to try out their brunch. Pictures have been littering the Internet since they opened on Thursday. They have certainly created something worth talking about. This weekend has been awash with pictures of brunch and I'm hoping to jump on that band wagon before the 50% off introductory discount ends.

One last point, a quibble really, the toilets in Headrow House. They are god damn awful. They look like the toilets I expect to see at a pay-as-you-pee seaside lavatory, those cold basins are not so kind on a lady's bottom and they are so low down hovering is particularly difficult. They have these same loos in Belgrave and with every woman that enters the room I can hear "God, I hate these toilets". Sort it out, please. For all the cold and hovering women's bottoms sake, sort it out.

Drinks were paid for but the food was free, this hasn't stopped me being as honest as always. 

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