Set on the ground floor of Leeds’ newest events space, Headrow House, when I first walked through the door of Ox Club, I could have sworn I had just entered one of Copenhagen’s coolest joints.
Wooden floors, Scandi furniture, white metro tiled walls. Even the chefs look uber cool with their beards and hipster hair cuts.
One of the first things I noticed was the huge Grillworks grill imported from Michigan which was on proud display in the open kitchen. This provides an interesting talking point for the restaurant and really sets it apart from others I’ve been to in Leeds.
I hate to start this review with a negative but I have to be honest, after being seated we did have to wait about 15 minutes until we were given our menus. By this point we felt a little “forgotten” and thirsty, which was a shame as I’d been looking forward to this meal so much. Still, after a gentle nudge to one of the waitresses, we placed our orders and looked forward to what was in store.
Our first starter was the cherry wood smoked trout & whisky cured salmon with horseradish, beetroot, apple. The delicate flavours of the fish were offset by the crunchy tang of the apple, whilst the beetroot added a slight sweetness. Jake ordered the ham hock rillettes with pickles and sour rye which was one of the star dishes. Soft and salty, the ham melted in the mouth and balanced beautifully with the sharp, sour pickles.
Like many of the new and trendy restaurants in Leeds, Ox Club is all about the ‘small plates’ way of eating. Having lived in London I’m very familair with this concept of sharing smaller plates of food, with restaurants like Polpo and Spuntino dominating the capital’s dining out scene.
So, we decided to share three main courses and two side dishes – there was barely enough room on the table for all the food! The first dish to arrive was the hake with Jerusalem artichoke and chanterelle mushrooms. The fish was perfectly cooked with the white flesh falling apart at the touch of my fork and I loved the unusual mushroom flavoured sauce. I did feel that the artichoke flavour was somewhat lost among the other flavours, but a good dish overall.
I absolutely loved the slow cooked ox cheek with bacon jam and flageolet beans – the texture of the meat was divine. I did find it quite a rich dish, but I broke this up with regular mouthfuls of the fish and the kale side dish.
I think the best main dish by far was the hanger steak with salsa verde and watercress. The meat was sliced ever so thinly and was perfectly pink and juicy in the middle. Served with chips, this meal was extremely filling and I would have quite happily eaten this on its own!
By this point, our bellies were pretty full but I had my eye firmly on the pumpkin pie (like the rhyme I just did there?) This pumpkin pie was infused with maple syrup which gave it an extremely addictive burnt caramel flavour.
I will be back to Ox Club with (cow) bells on…