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The Oxnoble review

Simon Binns plays the waiting game

Written by . Published on March 21st 2011.


The Oxnoble review

Some things are worth waiting for.

The touch of a man or woman you’ve longed for over weeks, months, years. The birth of a child. A pay rise. Hell, even a holiday to Wales.

So, a mixed bag really. Great atmosphere, below par service (another table’s drinks brought over; long wait on food); great value at one end, not so much at the other; cracking burger, ambitious duck, poor sandwich.

A badly-constructed club sandwich is not, however.

More on the fineries of a proper club sandwich later, because first, let me say this.

The Oxnoble is a good pub. A very good pub. People like it; I like it – this was evident on Friday lunchtime, because it was almost full to bursting.

Maybe this was why it took 45 minutes for our food to arrive, which was frustrating.The food offering was a bit confused, even before it arrived.

Let’s look at the menu. There’s an a la carte of eight ‘favourites’, and four sandwiches. Then a selection of starters, mains and desserts, available on a two courses for £10 deal. Really good value. That would probably be enough.

Fish and chips

Then we got the daily specials menu – featuring 17 dishes. That’s an awful lot, and left me wondering if it might overstretch the kitchen.

From two for £10 to a steak at £23 - it made me question who the target audience was.

The four of us decided to spread ourselves around the menu.

The tomato soup and fish and chips from the two for £10 range were decent enough but the giant potato wedges that came with the fish were a touch undercooked. A nice hearty slab of fish in crisp batter made up for that though.

The undoubted highlight was the Giant Ox Burger (£12.95); cooked and timed just right, rustic-looking and smothered with bacon and cheese. The chips seemed frozen and from a bag, however. If you’re going to make hand-cut wedges for one dish, why not just make proper chips for all?

But the burger was everything good about the Ox, and everything it should aspire to be.

Simple, honest, but really well-executed pub food.

Duo of duck

The Ox burger

At the other end of the menu – let’s call it ‘aspirational gastro-pub’ – was the duo of duck (£18.95). A fantastic idea, and a really well-presented dish – roast breast with a wild berry and mushroom leg charlotte (bread pudding) sat on top of braised red cabbage in a pinot noir jus. But the flavours just didn’t come through as much as they should. The breast could have been pinker too.

But the dish did show great imagination and plenty of ambition, it just seemed out of sync with the rest of the menu.

Then there was the club sandwich (£8.95). All the attributes which make up a club sandwich – three layers, toasted bread, flattened chicken breast, an egg and cocktail sticks with an ironic communist symbol, tomato were all absent and left it just being a chicken and bacon butty on granary. Not a very good one at that. A damp squib of a sandwich.

So, a mixed bag really. Great atmosphere, below par service (another table’s drinks brought over; long wait on food); great value at one end, not so much at the other; cracking burger, ambitious duck, poor sandwich.

It’s a similar situation to the one I faced at another city favourite recently: if you’re a good pub, do good pub food. To go for restaurant dishes at restaurant prices is a dangerous game at the best of times, especially when you’re trying to service the pub crowd as well.

Maybe the fact that we ate from different parts of the menu affected our overall experience. But if it did, then that’s something management needs to address, because customers might wait once but they won’t make a habit of it.

Club sandwich


Rating: 13/20
Breakdown: 6/10 food
3/5 service
4/5 ambience
Address: The Oxnoble
71 Liverpool Road
Castlefield
Manchester
M3 4NQ

Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20: Gordo gets carried away

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15 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Burger KingMarch 21st 2011.

I sure do love the taste of a good burger. A nicely written review.

NorthernQuarterboyMarch 21st 2011.

We had a similar experience two Sundays ago, 2 staff on the bar, one on the restaurant and service was awful.

waited ages for food,which turned up cold as it was sat waiting to be brought out for so long.had to go to the bar to order drinks, then told they would bring them to the table, which took another 20 minute wait - it wasn't even that busy - seems like all the staff are hungover on a sunday - or just useless!

daveMarch 21st 2011.

Now i liked the Ox, it used to be great food! not sure what happened i know they changed chefs about 2 years ago i think & the website boasts a 2 rosette standard chef! but on 2 occasions i have eaten there its been awful!! Go to the chophouses for proper english grub!

John HarrisMarch 21st 2011.

I went to the Ox once, a couple of years ago, and had an atrocious experience. Awful food, appalling service. The highlight was me explaining to the waitress why what she had brought me was neither what I had ordered or what she said it was, and her telling me I was wrong, then going in to the chef and coming back to tell me he agreed I was wrong too.

So I never went back.

angela10751March 22nd 2011.

Sadly I had a similar bad experience at the Ox a few weeks back. We were a table of people who had to wait 45 mins for our starter, then almost an hour after they were cleared away for our roast dinner, only to be presented with over done yorkshire puddings and well done beef.

I'm not sure what has happened at The Ox, but it's not nearly as good as it used to be...

katemc39March 22nd 2011.

Just ate there last night! The food was delicious, loads of appealing specials on--between the four of us we had a steak, lamb, pork belly, and a chicken dish with corn and parmesan souffle. All were winners. The service was also friendly...so it must have been an off day when the reviewer ate there. (Or an off day in a positive way when we ate there!)
The food does take ages though. Best to get a nibble or appetizer to see you through to your main.

Alistair NivenMarch 22nd 2011.

3 of us went on the Sat evening 4 weeks ago. Ate from the a la carte menu and it was all very poor in taste and really bad value as it was high end price low end product. Complained to waitress who was sympathetic but the chef was not. Pub grub may be ok BUT SAY AWAY FROM A LA CARTE. Will loose the good reputation it had years ago very quickly. Will not go back for a long time. The only redeeming feature was that the front of house staff were very good. Chef was lousy.

Nosey ParkerMarch 22nd 2011.

Good for checking out Coronation St totty

Waity MeatyMarch 22nd 2011.

I went there for lunch on Saturday. I have to agree with the reviewer on the waiting side. I had the belly pork, which was adequate, but it didn't knock my socks off. I only went there because I'd had some lovely meals there regularly a few years ago. Had I realised, I would have gone to one of the chophouses.

AnonymousMarch 22nd 2011.

Thank the Lord that someone finally wrote a review about the Ox - now maybe something will change. The service is shocking but the food is excellent value. My friends and I have actually stopped eating at the Ox due to the service - slow, lazy and rude are a few words that spring to mind. Some customer service training would be a good investment!

SnuffyMarch 22nd 2011.

Any pub or restaurant with an over long menu has to be viewed with suspicion. It will either over stretch the kitchen or it will come straight out of the freezer. Neither is a good option.

user15095March 24th 2011.

Been a few times and always enjoyed the food, I highly recommend the Ox Cheek.

Robert the RepMarch 24th 2011.

I have eaten many times at the Ox Noble, i have always found the food to be top drawer. I personally recommend the Ox Cheek, it simply melts in your mouth.In the past my favourite has always been the giant ox burger, now everytime i go i have a hard decision to make cheek or burger, you decide please??????????????? Keep up the good work and standards at the ox

Tyson ThebeerhoundMarch 25th 2011.

The Ox hasn't been at the top of its game for a long time now. I can't think of anyone I know who dines in there anymore. It still tries to sell it itself as a "gastropub" but it can't even be bothered to do real chips? You're better off in Wetherspoons.

Problem is, as long as people still put up with second best, where is their incentive to change?

cheeseMarch 25th 2011.

i love The Ox. The food has always been great every time I have been although the service can be a little slow, the atmosphere is great.

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