The Ox Clifton lives up to its famed reputation, writes Sammy Milton
Steak is my idea of a proper indulgence – a real slap-up, treat-yourself meal. Luckily in Bristol we have a variety of options available to us, but perhaps the most famous is The Ox. Their first restaurant opened in the heart of the city centre on Corn Street quite some time ago, and they opened their second restaurant on Whiteladies Road soon after. As it’s slightly more high-end dining, I’ve only been the once, and was therefore delighted when we were offered a chance to come in again.
So, we headed up to their Clifton restaurant on a sunny Thursday evening, starving hungry and full of anticipation for what was to come. Upon entering the restaurant, you can see just how much time and effort has gone into designing the space – dark wood panels and botanical paintings feature highly, but in a most glamorous way, alongside animal skulls, a long bar, diner-style lights and comfy booths. If this sounds gothic and somewhat overwhelming, it isn’t – having returned from New York recently, I can confirm that this is exactly how the very best steakhouses are decked out.
Once seated by our immensely friendly and humorous waiter, Stephan, we ordered a couple of cocktails to get things started and pored over the menu. There’s a very decent selection of starters, with vegetarian options, hearty meat and fish main dishes, steaks and desserts.
I’m not ashamed to say we literally went all out – roast bone marrow with Parmesan, caramelised onions and sourdough toast for me and smoked mackerel pate for my partner to start.
Bone marrow is a tricky one for some – the idea of eating it can easily put people off – but for me, it’s the ultimate decadence. This was a particularly good portion, scraped out and spread liberally on the toast, the fatty, meaty substance mingled beautifully with the Parmesan, whilst the onions added much-welcomed sweetness against the immensely savoury flavours. The pate was wonderfully light and fresh. The accompanying horseradish packed a real punch, and it was, all in all, an excellent start to the meal.
For our mains, we mixed things up a little. I opted for a medium-rare rib-eye steak with garlic butter, whilst my partner ordered the much-talked-about double cheeseburger. On the side, we selected skin-on fries, mac ‘n’ cheese and iceberg lettuce with Caesar dressing, Parmesan and breadcrumbs.
The steak was every bit as good as I’d hoped. Incredibly tender and deeply flavoursome, the quality of the meat was immediately evident. This isn’t your average steak – this is truly something special. I have to say, the burger rivals those I’ve tasted in Bristol (a bold claim, I know), and I would even go as far as saying that it is the best burger I’ve eaten in a restaurant ever. Really, you have to try it. The sides were little plates of joy. The skin-on fries were plentiful, piping hot and just perfect for dipping in my remaining garlic butter, and the mac ‘n’ cheese was sumptuous and gooey. The Caesar salad was a real winner too – the rich dressing perfectly balanced alongside the Parmesan with the breadcrumbs adding welcome bite.
We were far too full to go all out on dessert, but opted to share a huge scoop of malt ice cream covered in white chocolate crumbs. This was the best ice cream I’ve ever had. There, I’ve said it.
We had a great experience at The Ox. Sure, someone might have mistaken me for a waitress at one point in the evening (at least we know I was dressed nicely), but the incredible service, welcoming atmosphere and outstanding food really does mark this restaurant as one of my favourites in Bristol.
The Ox Clifton
96A Whiteladies Road, Clifton, Bristol
0117 973 0005