Restaurant review | The Ox – "outstanding steak"

BPL438 31 October 2019

Meaty goodness at The Ox on Corn Street

Having been voted as serving the best steak in the Bristol Good Food awards two years running, and voted the 47th best restaurant in the UK at the 2015 National Restaurant Awards, The Ox has a pretty good reputation to uphold, so one Friday night I went to check it out.

Only on arrival do I realise The Ox is installed in the basement of the Commercial Rooms, meaning all this time I’ve been popping into ‘Spoons for £1.69 pints of Ruddles without knowing about the decadent steak den that lies beneath.

The people behind The Ox sure know how to create an atmosphere – despite us being deep into the evening by this point, it seems to get even darker as we step down to the bar area where the lights are turned down low and dark wood flanks the restaurant walls.

The waiters are genial and warm, and take our coats before seating us at one of the many little tables for two.  I half expect to be given a game of backgammon or some cards to play under the yellow light of our fringed table lamp. 

Instead we skim the menu while a bottle of La Gerbaude Côtes du Rhône is opened for us. Taking the bull by its horns as it were, we go for bone marrow to start, and steaks, skin-on fries and mac ’n’ cheese for our mains.

The wine tastes relatively dry for a fruity red and curiously had a hint of pear, however, as soon as I began alternating sips with helpings of marrow on toast, those red fruit notes come to the fore and the taste is transformed.

To my joy, high expectations for the starter are more than met – juicy, fatty marrow has been roasted with sweet caramelised onions and is served with toasted sourdough to spread it on. I wouldn’t usually favour such a shattery form of toast, but it’s perfect in context as anything softer would become pulpy with all this oil.

Waiting excitedly for the main event feels like sitting in the theatre willing the curtain to lift, what with all the velvet and dimmed lights, and sure enough, these steaks are the showstoppers I’d been hoping for. My 6oz medium-rare fillet is succulent with a slightly crunchy grilled exterior and the béarnaise sauce is just perfect. My dining companion went for a rare rib-eye, also divine, with hot green peppercorn sauce. All steaks are local, hailing from Winterbourne, and are dry-aged for about a month then cooked on a charcoal-fired Josper oven, giving them a unique flavour.

Our mac ’n’ cheese is rich and creamy, the skin-on fries lightly salted and crispy without being overdone.

Satiated by steak and wine, we didn’t quite make it to the cocktails but I rounded things off with a scoop of chocolate honeycomb ice cream and my dining companion plumped for the Remy XO Cognac ritual, served on a little platform with chocolate truffles; a final fantastic flourish to a glorious meal. 

Christmas bookings are now open at The Ox – visit the website to make your booking. 

Caitlin Bowring

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The Basement, 43 Corn Street, Bristol BS1 1HT / 0117 922 1001 / info@theoxbristol.com

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