I popped in, entirely unannounced, to give the place a fresh look. It is worth noting that although there had been some problems on my previous visit, I’d rather enjoyed the food. What’s more it had been a very popular review with readers, placing in the top ten most read posts of 2013.The interior is much the same as before with the bar as you enter, then a mezzanine floor to the upper left, which is used as the primary dining area. It has a smart, bright and contemporary feel.
The menu covers snacks, starters, sharing platters and main dishes. Again, the feeling is of smart assurance. I was immediately hooked in by talk of an onion and ale soup. To follow, I thought seafood sounded like a good plan, so ordered their grilled hake with chickpea cassoulet.The soup took a little longer to arrive than seemed strictly necessary, but it was entirely worth the wait. Topped with a delicious rarebit crouton, this was onion soup of profoundly deep flavour with the bitter ale expertly balancing the sweetness of the onion. I was very pleased with it.
The main course was of a similarly pleasing quality. A nicely cooked piece of fish topped a simple array of chickpeas, chorizo and spinach brought together in a light tomato sauce. The chorizo was towards to subtle end of the scale and didn’t overpower the fish at all. It was an accomplished piece of cooking.
So overall, The Ox is doing very good work in its new incarnation. The dishes I sampled today had great balance and a good deal of panache. I’d be happy to visit again, particularly to give their burger a go. I hear they do a fine Sunday roast, too.
Blythe scores The Ox
4/5 for food
3.5/5 for presentation
4/5 for setting
3.5/5 for service
giving an overall 15/20
I ate: onion and ale soup; hake, chorizo, tomato, spinach and chickpea cassoulet
I drank: water
I wore: mixed linens
Total bill: £15