I’ve been for a quick drink at Oxwell & Co many a time, but what I didn’t realise until now is that there is a lot more to this place than meets the eye. Venture beyond the bar and upstairs you will find a large dining room on the 2nd floor, plus a private dining room on the 3rd floor.
Up on the rooftop you’ll currently find a herb garden where the chef uses fresh herbs for his dishes, that will shortly be transformed into an additional drinking terrace.
Oxwell & Co is quintessentially British and the private dining room or, ‘The Oxwell Study’ (if we’re going to be formal about this) is filled with British eccentricities. Wall mounted stag heads, taxidermy squirrels scampering across the walls, antler chandeliers, this is a brilliantly bonkers room that is perfect for a party. It’s cool, it’s cosy and most of all – it’s fun.
A room such as this is only suitable for one thing – a feast, and that is exactly what we indulged in during our recent visit for a joyous x’mas dinner.
The ‘Fabulous Feast’ sharing menu ($110 per person) is an ideal way to get in to the festive spirit with friends. Here’s an insight into what you can expect.
We began our feast with two ‘sharing snacks’. The first of which was a ginormous bowl of light, airy and crisp pork scratchings. Dusted with a coating of chilli flakes, salt and pepper these were completely addictive. A sophisticated version of the most humble bar snack – delicious.
Our second snack was a bowl of spiced crispy corn. The spicing was a delicate blend of Indian inspired flavours which didn’t overpower the corn, the sweetness of which still came through. This was like eating a grown up version of popping candy, each kernel exploded with flavour on your tongue.
Salmon Gravlax with Creme Fraiche, Pumpernickel, Dill & Oxalis
Our first starter was a light and fresh gravlax. The salmon was sliced thickly and when unraveled was such a beautifully dark shade of pink it could almost have been mistaken for bacon. It was fatty, oily and soft. The match sticks of crisp green apple provided contrast to the salmon both in terms of texture and flavour. The dill and creme fraiche lifted the flavours of each element and brought everything together.
Roasted Beetroot, Broccolini & Stilton with walnut and lemon
Who knew that a plate of vegetables could be so darn tasty! I really enjoyed the variety of textures on this plate, the broccolini brought crunch, the delicate slithers of beetroot were soft but had a bite, and the puree hidden beneath was smooth and creamy. The diced carrot was pickled and baby onions added a sweet tang to round things off. For me this was a bit of a revelation, never again will I scoff at a vegetarian starter for being bland and boring.
Spiced Duck Rillette with with fermented carrot, cassis jelly and sourdough
Yet another example of beautifully balanced spicing can be found in this, our final starter of the night. This time drawing upon Asian influences, the meat had been cooked in what tasted like five spice, with star anise being the dominant flavour. Again, the carrots and onions cut through the richness of the meat with their distinct pickled tang. The accompanying fried egg was a surprising yet welcome addition to the plate.
Crispy Rolled Kurobota Pork Belly
Undeniably my favourite dish of the night, this pork belly was incredible. The meat was juicy and soft and the crackling, oh my goodness the crackling, words fail me. So crisp, so porky, so sticky and crunchy – this dish was just out and out delicious. Everything from the puy lentils to the cubes of cotechino to the jus, I’m going to put it out there – for me, this dish was perfect. Bold statement but I stand by it.
Whole Roasted Challand Duck
Do not be put off by the blackened skin on this duck – it’s supposed to be like that! The meat was plump and juicy and the fat had rendered away beautifully leaving a nice crisp skin on the breast meat. Served with duck fat bread sauce that balanced out the sweetness of the meat, this was an indulgent dish most definitely suitable for a feast.
Oven Roasted Side of Irish Salmon
This colourful salmon dish was cooked beautifully. The soft pink flesh flaked into large chunks and the skin was deliciously crisp and salty. Served with a creamy hollandaise and seaweed crisps, this was another masterclass in textures.
This plate had everything; soft meat, silky sauce, crisp skin, crunchy leaves and a pop of the sea came courtesy of salmon roe sprinkled on top. I really enjoyed this dish.
Whole Oven-Roasted Serama Chicken
The final main course we tried was an entire Serama chicken. It came served with chestnut stuffing and a port jus as well as large chunks of bacon, prunes and huge crispy croutons. This dish is not for the faint of heart, it’s a dish that wouldn’t look out of place at the dining table of Henry VIII. It was rich, sweet, sticky, salty and I could have eaten the entire plateful.
The chicken meat was tender and held up against the sweetness brought by the other ingredients and, amazingly, it wasn’t overpowered. The flavour of the meat was still distinct in it’s own right. A squeeze of lemon over the top lifted the entire dish and gave it a nice zing.
Orange & Ginger Cake
To round off this epic dining feast, we were presented with not one but two desserts. The first of which was this mound of ginger and orange cake topped with cream, crushed summer berries, pistachio nuts and mint leaves. The cake was light and soft, whilst the tart berries ensured it wasn’t an overly sweet way to wrap things up.
Our final dish was a sophisticated take on a British classic – the trifle. Layers of cream, sponge, custard and jam were expertly put together creating a trifle cake that was sweet, fruity and a great dessert to share with friends.
Oxwell & Co is more than just your average pub, if you’re not yet feeling the Christmas spirit yet, go and round up a few friends and indulge in this festive feast for the end of 2015. You’ll be glad you did, it’s a real treat.
Damage: $110++ per person