Perhaps 100 years down the line, a thoughtful pair of ambitious food professionals will name their first venture ‘Farah & Pugsley’ in honour of the two gentleman who are fast creating an established brand of different food venues across the city that will undoubtedly be their legacy.
On Friday night, I took the soon-to-be Mrs Ox to the opening of their latest venture, Jacobs Chop House. Quite remarkable that in less than a year they have tripled the size of their portfolio, firmly building on their Headington roots and following the success of Jacobs Inn in Wolvercote.
The Chop House takes the place of the tired Cafe Noir and this project has injected some welcome life into this part of Headington, and offers the diner a fine array of cuts of different meats, along with some fish and veggie options. Those amongst you who know me will know I am partial to ribs and I was more than happy to see the beef version on the menu. However, before I could tuck into my favourite dish, we ordered some drinks (Cotswold Ale) and a starter of chipolatas in mustard. These were spot on and set the tone for the venue, evening and other food.
Regulars at any of the trio of Jacobs’ venues will know that beautiful simplicity is a constant theme throughout. Nothing ever feels like it’s been done by trying too hard. The guys have maximised the cover space on offer and incorporated a bar dining area (where we ate) as well as revamping the downstairs of the restaurant to incorporate an open kitchen to delight viewers who dine downstairs.
However, my Friday was only going to be complete once I got my hands on those ribs (below). I don’t think there is anything wrong with celebrating great cuts of meat (I wouldn’t….!) but this is indulgence on another level. The ribs were an absolute feast on the eyes, the mouth and the taste buds.
Usually, after taking on a meal like this, accompanied by mash and greens, I might be defeated. Not to be beaten I decided there was room for more pudding in the form of the sticky toffee pudding. Again, this was done with a touch of understated class. Ultimately this is good, honest food at its best.
Bearing in mind this was opening night, service was faultless and the team were relaxed which in turn made for a relaxing evening. If you have never had the pleasure of dining in any of what I now call the Jacobs Holy Trinity then I would urge you to. Whatever ‘it’ is, I believe the guys have it. Ambition and success should be celebrated when done on this level and it’s testament to the owners’ vision and hard work that they haven’t stood still and have expanded their empire twice in under a year.
It’s also worth noting that sometimes people can take their eyes of the ball with their other restaurants when they open a new one, but given that I regularly sample the fare at Jacobs & Field, their original project, it’s fair to say that it continues to perform to its always high standards, as evidenced by a constant stream of customers.
All that remains for me to say is well done Jacobs Chop House and to the owners, and good luck. Fortune favours the brave and all that.
Food of the Ox rating: 9/10