Lunch at The Ox in Belfast goes down as the best meal I’ve had this year.On Oxford Street opposite the Lagan, The Ox restaurant is a real gem. The décor is simple without being sterile and the service as warm as I’ve found in a Michelin-starred establishment – no snobbery or judgement here.
The lunch menu is an absolute steal and the steady trade all Friday afternoon was testament to it. I do mean really good value, two courses for £20 or three for £25.
For that modest price you get a choice of three dishes per course. Raw scallop, cockles, buttermilk and wood sorrel was a pretty, delicate and deliciously light starter.
The pumpkin soup was just as light but packed with flavour, elegantly creamy and deftly seasoned with a touch of toasted cumin; perfect autumnal eating.
We both went for duck because we were afraid of having to share. It was probably for the best because I wouldn’t have wanted to sacrifice a bite.
It was quite simple. Good quality, Skeaghanore duck with lovingly-prepared seasonal veg and sweetness from some quince. I see why the almonds were there but, honestly, I don’t think they were necessary.
Only one of us has a sweet tooth, no prizes for guessing who. I enthusiastically tucked into a dainty dessert of caramelised apple, treacle, oats and fig leaf. It was a very grown up pud. About as far removed as you can get from apple crumble but still brought back comforting memories. The treacle wasn’t cloying or bitter which was a nice surprise. My only criticism, I would have loved more custard.
Petit four to finish – who doesn’t love a freebie. The jellies were packed with passion fruit to knock your socks off. Conversely, the lavender macaroons were fortuitously lacking in lavender and all the better for it. And lastly, rosemary chocolate. The less said the better.