Brunch review: Ox Club at Headrow House, Leeds
In Leeds today, there’s brunch and then there’s brunch at the Ox Club.
Situated at Headrow House, which reopened back in 2015 after an almighty transformation, this restaurant has been something of a slow-burner in terms of word of mouth popularity. I began to hear glowing reviews a few months back, and so an invitation to a Saturday morning menu sampling session couldn’t have come at a better time.
Of course, brunch is nothing new, but the concept seemed to really take off in Leeds last year, with dozens of restaurants and bars jumping on the bandwagon, often providing bottomless drinks to tempt in the punters. I’m personally all for this concept, and have enjoyed several of them over the past 18 months.
Ox Club have chosen not to go down that route, instead putting together dishes that are as credible as those found on the evening menu. And, whilst you won’t be able to quaff as much prosecco as humanely possible in 90 minutes, the food offered is incredibly inexpensive given its high standard.
This is a foodie menu, but at the same time it is not pretentious and littered with ridiculous ingredients you’ve never heard of. A little bit hipster perhaps, but if you’re looking for deconstructed sea urchin served with wasabi foam and pigs trotter jelly, then you might be disappointed.
We kicked off with a dish that I had been eyeing up for several weeks, the Flat Iron Steak and Cheddar Eggs. Served with home fries and chipotle tomato jam, the dish exceeded my expectations, which the chef explained was in part due to the sous-vide cooking method employed.
This involves sealing the steak in a water-tight bag, and slow-cooking it in water, before searing it afterwards either in a pan or with a blow-torch. This way you benefit from steak that is perfectly cooked on the outside, with a consistent pink colour throughout. This really works, and tasted just as good as it looks.
I would have been quite happy to enjoy that dish and leave it there, but out the others came, proving this place has got plenty of tricks up its sleeve. Christ, even the token veggie options were tasty as hell – who’d think a Cauliflower Shawarma could be so darn appetising?
But, of all the other dishes there were of course several that really stood out. The Korean Fried Chicken which came with rice and a crispy fried egg was excellent, and comes highly recommended to anyone looking for a spicy hangover cure.
If you have a sweet tooth, then look no further than the Coconut French Toast. Featuring sriracha maple butter and bacon (or bruleed banana), it was another highlight that even a savoury guy like me couldn’t resist. And if you’re a traditionalist, then the Ox Club Breakfast is an excellent take on the hearty full-English and comes with all the trimmings.
As the restaurant was soon filled up to the brim, we were ushered into the downstairs bar of Headrow House for drinks and one last dish from the sweeter side of the menu. Again, am not one for desserts when eating out, but if you are, the Ricotta Pancakes are well worth a look.
Here, blueberries, honey and crème fraiche benefit from their delicious homemade honeycomb, which went down a storm amongst the group. Drinks wise, I kicked things off with two cups of fresh coffee, before enjoying a few glasses of Brooklyn Lager, after all it was almost midday by this point.
Ox Club lived up to the hype, and are well-deserving of the three Olivier awards recently bestowed upon them from the Yorkshire Evening Post. The menu has been carefully put together to have broad appeal, but steers clear of being predictable and boring at the same time. And if this was brunch, I can’t wait to come back for the evening menu.