At long last I had my first visit to Ox and Finch.
It is a fantastic spot for food that has remained at the top of its game.
And it seems the concept behind the name fits perfectly: the tiny finch is the small plates, and the large ox the big flavours.
The restaurant is contemporary yet balanced with rustic décor.
It has an industrial modern aesthetic with stripped back wood and interesting tiles. Ox and Finch is bright, open and relaxed.
First up, lime leaf and lemongrass fish cakes with green nam jim (£4.50).
Wow do these little guys have a kick. Bitesize pieces of golden fish cake, deliciously fresh and soft inside with a nice dark colour on the outside. Served with a spicy zingy dressing, crispy shallots and fresh coriander.
The next dish was the salt and pink pepper squid, orange, chilli and saffron aioli (£9.50).
Beautiful tender squid simply seasoned with a light dusting of salt and pepper.
The flavours were intriguing and yet they totally worked. Every element on the plate was balanced perfectly and so vibrant in colour, an eye-catching plate.
Okay, so the next one had to be up there with a favourite, venison, juniper and peppercorn carpaccio, hazelnuts and crowdie (£9.00).
I wasn’t expecting to love the venison as much as I did. Turns out I could have easily had seconds and even thirds.
The venison was thinly sliced and so delicate and delicious in flavour. The crunchy toasted hazelnuts added such a great texture, complemented with pink onions, soft and sweet.
The crowdie was a good choice of cheese with a mild flavour that melted in the mouth which fit in to complete the whole dish.
To follow, Seared salmon, chana dal, hibiscus yogurt and cucumber (£8.50).
The salmon was a winner, with its vibrant orange skin and the salmon meat so tender and juicy. The lentil curry married with the salmon worked so well, it had a wonderfully spiced which was so rich in flavour. The lilac yogurt and cucumber lifted the dish and added a natural freshness, like a reinvented tzatziki.
I remember hearing from a few people about Ox and Finch’s duck curry that always appears on the menu as a crowd favourite so it was a must to try. I give you confit duck leg, yellow curry, thai basil and crispy rice (£9.00).
Confit simply means slow cooked, gently cooked in its own fat so the meat keeps its moisture and flavour.
The duck was meltingly tender with a subtle saltiness. The curry sauce was a fantastic blend of sweet and aromatic flavours with a hint of coconut, the thai basil brought all the Asian flavours together.
I was so interested in ‘crispy rice’. It was a deep fat fried golden rectangle of rice, similar in texture to a hash brown of some sort. Crispy and sweet and totally unexpected. I had never had anything like it and it worked a treat.
The dessert to end the meal was an absolute triumph. Dark chocolate crémeux, coconut frangipane and coconut ice cream (£6.00).
The coconut from the previous duck curry followed on nicely to this dessert of rich dark chocolate mousse sitting on top a crumble base of coconut which created a fantastic texture.
The chocolate was topped with rock salt ever so slightly which made a contrast of bittersweet and salty. It visually looked beautiful, topped with honeycomb like lattice work that had an almost burnt caramel flavour which added a nice crunch to the other soft items on the plate.
The coconut ice cream was wonderfully refreshing and lifted the whole dish and made it not heavy. I could quite happily have that dessert every day.
Ox and Finch was incredibly exciting and I loved the elements of surprise in their food and being able to taste many different dishes and share everything.
Every plate was delicious and I would definitely order again.
I’m already thinking of all the other plates there are to try.
As Arnold Schwarzenegger famously said ‘I’ll be back.”