Entering through an alley, hidden off the Headrow, you enter one of Leeds’ most historic yards and face the glass doors of Headrow House. On the ground floor lies one of the most incredible restaurants I have ever eaten in.
Cardboard boxes of kindling and brown paper sacks of “British Barbecue Charcoal” are stacked up against the walls and white tiled bar as you enter Ox Club. This former textile mill has clearly had architects and designers all over it but still retains a very rustic, industrial feel. Ox Club was initially inspired by a trip to the US, and it shows. Think cool New York grill house and simplistic Manhattan sophistication.
Despite never dining here before, we were welcomed like old friends and shown to our table. Don’t be fooled by the laid back, casual interiors. The food here is confident, wholesome yet current and they really know what they are doing! The inviting, open kitchen adds to the relaxed atmosphere, giving you the opportunity to see the Grillworks grill in action. The service throughout seemed effortless and the perfect combination of attentiveness and enthusiasm without being overbearing.
The menu is compact and diverse. We ordered barbecue watermelon, n’duja, finger lime with grilled bread, chicken schmaltz as nibbles to start. The juxtaposition of pork on watermelon sums up the delightful spontaneity of the menu here. The combination was unexpected yet pleasingly unfussy. This was followed by smoked baby back ribs with a mouth-watering cherry barbecue sauce. My dining companion, Hollie and I were indecisive, and so as not to succumb to food envy we opted to share our mains too.
The Plancha skate wing, crispy chilli crab oil, Kani Miso was huge and yet the quantity didn’t compromise the quality. The fish slid off the bone perfectly, was tender and filled with flavour. However, when the 400g bone in Sirloin, Bearnaise and chip sticks was placed in front of us, we couldn’t help but be wowed. Cooked medium-rare as requested, this was accompanied by pink fir potatoes, seaweed and parsley. We were told “hardly anyone finishes the potatoes” but we certainly gave it our best shot. Our other side dish was iceberg with pancetta. The ranch dressing cleansed the palate and was refreshing against the stronger flavours in the main dishes. The grill certainly came into its own with the mains. Ambitious comfort food with a twist that was plated up beautifully. We finished with Burnt Alaska, brownie, mint choc chip ice cream. We weren’t disappointed. The imaginative dishes continued through to the sweets too.
The restaurant has been featured both in the Michelin Guide and The Good Food Guide for 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021, which only demonstrates the culinary talents of the brilliant team here.
The menu is priced very reasonably, almost surprisingly so. Would I return? Definitely. If I wanted to wow my husband, this would be the place. An indulgent treat for any meat lover. Just in case...they also offer vegetarian options.
I struggled to put my finger on what makes this place quite so special. I think it’s the combination of the unassuming surroundings and relaxed environment coupled with the sophistication of the food that blew me away. It felt polished and yet comfortable - a combination often hard to find.
19a The Headrow,
Leeds LS1 6PU
Tel. 0113 4871814