So much so that once I established there was at least one vegetarian option on the menu at Headrow House’s new restaurant, Ox Club, I had no reservations about making my herbivorous boyfriend watch me devour a steak in the name of journalism.
I am no stranger to the wares of its chef, Ben Davy, whose delicacies I have stuffed my face with at Belgrave Music Hall, where he has carved out a reputation as the culinary spark behind resident eateries, Patti Smith’s Burger Co and Dough Boys Pizza.
So I was expecting good things from his latest venture, a collaboration with Headrow House owners Ash Kollakowski and Simon Stevens, to bring what they claim will be an “adventurous” new dining concept to the Leeds foodie scene.
A tall order, you might say, but one with legs as it turns out.
We started with a plate of ham hock rillettes and burratina with smoked mozzarella – dishes which were neither too over-facing or stingy in their portion sizes.
The former managed to avoid the mistake often made with terrines and pates of over-seasoning and rather danced a fine line between ‘just enough salt’ and ‘wait, could it do with a pinch more? No, I’m mistaken,’ while the latter comprised a silky blob of Buffalo milk mousse whose delicate smoky flavour nodded to time spent canoodling the charcoals.
Next up was Ox Club’s party piece – hanger steak from the wood grill complete with dollops of salsa verde and béarnaise sauce. The use of a knife was practically redundant as the tender meat fell apart on the plate and, having being cooked to a blushing pink and with a depth of flavour one expects from a cut of this kind, it’s probably the best steak I’ve ever eaten – so much so that I was left lifting the watercress in the hope there was more hiding on my plate.
It seems unfair not to mention the inventive range of side-dishes which included kale that tasted more like cake than a bitter green leaf through some sort of cider-based sorcery, and an earthy, blackened cauliflower which came with a chunky romesco sauce – highly recommended, both of them.
The only fault I could pick would be with the dessert, a pumpkin pie which tasted strangely of very little other than ginger and felt like an afterthought in a restaurant specialising in grilled goods.
But if you’re going to Ox Club it’s unlikely you’re going to appease your sweet tooth – stick to the obvious and you’ll leave a happy diner.