So, I previewed it, others reviewed it, but I always think it is worth letting the dust settle before test driving a new feeding venue in Oxford. I won’t waste your time telling you about the decor and the look because I covered that in my preview. My main objective was to uncover if the J&F crew could translate their recipe for success that worked so well in Headington into a larger venue that has 70 covers.
Upon arrival we waited for the rest of our party to turn up and we had some drinks in the garden to get a feel for how Jacobs Inn is functioning. It’s important to remember that this was formerly a pub and we were glad to see this spirit is very much alive with people down there enjoying a Friday night drink in the garden.
After enjoying a drink and surveying the vibe, we walked through to the dining room – a sell out capacity crowd, a good sign in anyone’s books. Given that I had given Jacobs Inn two weeks’ worth of dust settling the post-opening spike doesn’t appear to have dropped.
Recently I’ve been eating a lot of steak. Sometimes the small things make the most difference, and I wanted to see how the staff talked us through the accompanying sauces and also how our steaks were served according to our preferences. General Manager, Luke, was our server and talked us through the sauces (Béarnaise/Cafe de Paris butter/Romesco) with aplomb – so much so that we decided to order all three to accompany the rib eye. The Béarnaise (Luke’s recommendation) was the winner, hands-down, steaks-down, beers-down, everything-down. I asked for the steak rare, and low and behold that’s how it came out. It might sound like basics but the amount of times I have asked for rare steak, not just in Oxford, and got a medium rare/medium makes me dubious purely for the amount of miss-steaks. Marbled steak that melts in your mouth, with simple veg and chips cooked well, served well and enjoyed immensely was the result, and it was devoured with ease (and probably a new personal best time). Aside from this, there is plenty of variety on the menu, and aside from steak you can also order burgers, fish, pork and there are also changing daily specials.
Speaking of beers-down, we asked Luke to talk us through the beers on offer and again his expertise came up trumps but in a understated class kind of way. I like to be coaxed into decisions, with just enough knowledge and direction from the venue’s staff to make me feel informed but also keep me comfortable in the knowledge that I’ve made a good decision. We were sold on the Shipyard pale ale (below) so we tried one, then two then three, a good choice and enjoyed by all three of us drinking it.
Finally, to finish with a flurry we decided to sample some of the puddings on offer. I tried the Lemon Tart (below) . I am but a simple Ox, so I won’t tell you there was a symphony of flavours marauding through my mouth (I will never tell you this) but what I will tell you is this; This was a tasty desert that hit the spot, because surely that’s all that counts right?
So, mission over and stomach full I was a happy Ox. I am a champion of local, independent business in Oxford and to see it doing well gives me pleasure. I love Oxford and having been born, schooled and lived here it gives me pride to see our food venues growing, prospering and doing well and this it what is on display here.
The co-owners, Johnny and Damion, have laid the foundations for another successful venture on the other side of town, in a suburb of Oxford that for too long has relied on a certain pub by the river to put it on the map. Jacobs Inn should be where you go for your next meal out as the newest feeding venue on the scene.
Food Of The Ox rating: 9/10