I have visited Ox Club four times in the past year and I don’t live in Leeds so this number of visits can be ascribed to a successful combination of confident service and skills in the kitchen to match. The restaurant is on the ground floor of Headrow House which is also home to a beer hall and roof bar.
The cooking here centres around the use of a solid fuel grill, so expect blistered skin on your oily fish and fowl, and on darker meats a smoky punch on the outside with a delicate tender centre. Vegetable sides and vegetarian main dishes are not deprived the grill treatment either, as evidenced in the glorious side dish Roast Cauliflower, romesco sauce, almonds and sherry vinegar. The menu here is small but considered and well balanced. On all visits the Specials board has proved to live up to it’s name, this visit with a very successful 8oz Ribeye Steak, White Soy Sauce, La-Yu (a japanese chilli oil using a sesame oil base). Other dishes tasted were the Ox Heart, fried Plantain, chilli vinegar, herb salad and the Roast Aubergine, harissa, saffron yoghurt, seeds. No desserts were sampled this time but previously I’ve had the Honey Panna Cotta, honeycomb, caraway, rye, bee pollen. Fish is not neglected with a Trout Pastrami, rainbow radishes, crème fraîche among the starters and a Wild Halibut, smoked celeriac and brown butter, samphire and malt vinegar jelly option for main course. Flavour combinations are imaginative and the balance of texture in a dish is paid important heed. The odd dish does not sing quite as you would have hoped but what they are trying to do here and in the main have already achieved will keep me coming back to see what they do next. Prices £3-£28
In support of this strong, independently minded message from the kitchen is a front of house team that are welcoming, knowledgeable and informal which is in keeping with the stripped back style and atmosphere of the restaurant: the open kitchen, empty wooden fuel crates, wooden chairs and tables. On arrival we were quickly settled with menus, filtered water, bread with extra virgin olive oil and chicken schmaltz (rendered chicken fat, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it) for dipping - divine! The wine list is very short, just 4 whites,4 reds and 2 sparkling. The list is well chosen in view of the menu but in our opinion could have done with having a little more breadth. 3 of the whites and 3 of the reds are available by the glass. Prices £19-£35/bottle. Bottled craft beers, cask and keg are well catered for due to the restaurant’s location opposite a beer hall.
Open Tuesday to Saturday 5pm-10pm and a fantastic brunch offering on Saturday and Sunday 11am-3pm