Last month I went for a birthday meal with @jen.on.tour to The Ox on Whiteladies Road, Bristol. We had previously purchased an incredible voucher – £70 for three courses for two inc a bottle of wine – which was available over Christmas, and as there were no restrictions as to when it could be used (unlike many offers), decided to make the most of it on a Saturday night.
We had wondered whether a Saturday in Jan would be a little quiet, but the restaurant was virtually full when we arrived (at 8.05pm, a little late as we’d tried to park as close as possible due to it lashing down!) It was buzzing, but in the good kind of way – we didn’t have to strain leaning across the table to listen, or yell across to be able to have a conversation. It was filled with quirky decor and a lot of happy people.
Things looked immediately promising when having been led to our table, the member of staff acknowledged we had a voucher and quickly explained how it worked and what the restrictions were – bonus being there there were none! We could order whatever we liked from the menu. Another bonus was that instead of the usual ‘you get a house bottle of white/red/rose, which will be?’, we were asked how we like our red and offered a recommendation on that basis.
For starters, and just because we could, we went for the scallops. Lots of people don’t like scallops over cooked, but being me, my worry is that they would be under cooked, which to me makes them taste fishy. (Yuck!) Thankfully my request didn’t phase the staff and I had delicious well cooked but definitely not over done scallops, accompanied by a butternut squash purée and chorizo crumb. Divine!! Loved the addition of the chorizo crumb, the flavour totally complimented the meatiness of the scallops and the texture made the dish really interesting.
Our main.. Well it just had to be fillet, didn’t it? Or not – some I know don’t rate the cut, but since Jen first convinced me to give it a go in Amsterdam on NYE 2012, I’ve never looked back. A worry when ordering steak can be it won’t be cooked to your liking, but as one would expect in a steak restaurant, this was not an issue here. I asked for medium-well and that is exactly what I got, it was perfectly done and the meat was incredible. Delicious on it’s own (sometimes you just have to appreciate the meat) and with the sauce/sides. It had been about three months since I’d last had a fillet, and this was 100% worth the wait… Although now I’m desperate to go back!!
We both ordered green peppercorn sauce and fat chips to accompany, with a side of mushrooms to share. I’m struggling to find criticisms as it was absolutely bloody delicious (sorry Mother in Law/Husband). If I must find fault, as ridiculous as it sounds, the sauce had too many peppercorns, not enough actual sauce? Although I’d rather this any day than one that’s clearly shop bought and microwaved!!
Also as a personal preference, I don’t think you need fancy mushrooms with steak – I’d have been happy with mushrooms cooked in butter, the large charcoal roasted mushrooms didn’t really add anything besides being fancy for the sake of it. The chips were thick, crispy on the outside, and fluffy on the inside! Yum!! When the portion arrived we were thinking ‘uh oh, we should have shared’ but needless to say, we’re a greedy pair and polished them off (eventually).
To me there is very little point in dessert if it doesn’t feature chocolate (unless of course it’s apple pie – or a crumble!), so naturally I had to go for the chocolate option!! A thin, but very long slice of dark chocolate torte on a delightfully thin base pastry base, served with caramelised popcorn and I’m ashamed to say I’ve a rookie blogging error and can’t tell you what the quenelle is of… Doh!! It’s not ice cream, as Jen would have polished it off and she left some… so I’m thinking possibly some sort of whipped cream or maybe creme fraiche?
But who cares, because the torte was the star of this plate! It was dark, and rich, and dense but smooth…. In other words it was heavenly, although after everything else I’d scoffed it took me a while to get through it because it was rather intense!! Although a little taste of the mystery creamy substance with each mouthful went down very well to break up the flavours.
The popcorn I only tried one piece of and found it sticky in my mouth where I could barely chew – so I left that. I actually ate a chocolate torte at a restaurant the night before (the joys of multiple birthday celebrations), and I think this had the edge as I preferred the base. Possibly need to rethink the accompaniments, but this may just be my personal preference.
Following our meal, it was lovely that we weren’t rushed out. Diners were starting to leave but a couple of tables, ourselves included, were finishing bottles and having a good old catch up and there was no pressure from staff for us to go. They checked whether we needed anything then let us get on with it until last orders! It almost had a bar atmosphere after dining, and they do actually have a rather fabulous bar with stools where you can enjoy a pre dinner cocktail if you wish.
If we hadn’t had the voucher we would have spent £160 – so even with a tip we only paid half the true value of what we ate and drank, for a stunning meal with brilliant service. Think we’re still in shock at what brilliant value this was! Vouchers like this obviously don’t come along that often, but if you follow the guys on social media (I spotted this on their Twitter feed – here) then you’ll be in with a chance of catching one. They also ran a 40% off food promo in Jan – again, this was publicised on their social media channels… One of the many reasons I love a bit of social!
Value: 10 (Based on voucher we used)
Where: 96a Whiteladies Road, Bristol, BS8 2QX
Overall we were both very impressed (can you tell?) with our visit to The Ox, Clifton. I’ve visited their Corn Street restaurant and had nice meals and nice service, but everything seemed a little ‘extra’ here. I would definitely recommend!
Thanks for reading folks – and if you ever spot any fabulous vouchers, please send them my way!