As far as hiding your light under a bushel goes, The Ox takes some beating in the self-effacement stakes. Lurking beneath a Wetherspoons in Bristol’s historically grand Corn St, with only a nameless brass plate above the door, you descend spiralling marble steps to enter a kind of subterranean gloom which makes decent photographs impossible and has you reaching for the rather lovely word crepuscular.
It’s an elegant space, with tiled floors and dark wood under a gently vaulted ceiling. The menu leans heavily toward the carnivorous, even the bits other steak restaurants leave unserved. The example menu online has me hankering after deep-fried pig’s head, but tonight this is not available; pigs’ ears and bone marrow are tempting substitutions and I plump firmly for the latter.
It arrives- three half-bones’ worth- with the savouriness of Parmesan, the sweetness of roasted onions and a doorstep of toast: it’s a glutton’s delight. It’s a shame some find their squeamishness is an obstacle: this is a much-overlooked dish and its unparalleled depth of flavour deserves to be on the menu of any steak house worth its salt.
A chargrilled leek has been stuffed with diced mushrooms, walnuts and blue cheese, with a poached hen’s egg on the side. It’s not much of a looker, this, but it certainly delivers on the taste front, the mixed vegetables and nuts being shot through with the aniseed hit of tarragon.
The steak- a 300g ribeye (£27) -is cooked beautifully, as you’d hope here. Seasoned well and expertly seared and crusted on the outside, perfectly tender and blushing on the inside. Praise be to St Josper, the textures of meat and fat are superbly balanced and a quality piece of beef has been accorded the respect it deserves. The chips are the by-now-standard triple cooked variety and are similarly very good indeed: they tend toward the stubby but are that spot-on mix of crunchy and fluffy which has you dipping them in a faultlessly velvety béarnaise and thanking whatever stars shine down for the simple things in life. The feeling intensified with every sip of Wild Beer’s Wildebeest, though its 11%ABV may have been a contributory factor.
And ultimately, that’s what you take away from a meal.
43 Corn St
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This blog is a very simple thing.
I won’t try to sell you any hand lotion, exercise programmes, coffee syrups or Patagonian nose flutes. You won’t find tips on dating, ‘wellness’ or yoga mats.
I write because I love it (and food, as indicated by my increasing girth). Greed happens to be my Deadly Sin of choice, but at least it is never shy of providing me with subject matter.
A simple thing, then: all you get is me wittering on semi-coherently about places I’ve eaten at; hence a ‘restaurant blog’ rather than a ‘food blog’, although there are a few recipes scattered throughout.
From mezze to Michelin ‘fine dining’ and all points in between.