It took a night out in Jericho, my old hunting ground, to make me finally realise how much things had changed.
No quick popping into Branca for a raspberry cosmo while we killed time before dinner. Did we have a table? No? Sorry.
Instead we found ourselves wandering the streets in masks like something from Shaun Of The Dead, killing time, as popular as Gavin Williamson at Freshers Week.
Luckily we had a table booked at The Jericho Cafe thanks to their new weekend pop up club where Oxford’s best new food start up companies take it in turns to serve dinner, including Nood Ltd, Gravy & Custard and vegan burger afficianados V-Stack. READ ABOUT IT HERE: https://www.oxinabox.co.uk/gravy-and-custard-kick-off-new-pop-up-supper-club-to-celebrate-survival-of-jericho-cafe/
Having written about Nood Ltd, and devoured their cakes and cookies already, we knew we were in for a treat, so eagerly descended to the basement floor to see what was in store.
Set up by Heather Candlish who works as a pastry chef at Le Manoir, and her partner chef Jack Thomson Anderson, we knew we were in good hands.
Met with a gin fizz aperetif, we were led downstairs which was full of well organised, socially distanced tables all adhering to current safety requirements.
NOT ONLY ARE YOU HELPING SOME REALLY YOUNG, INTREPID, CULINARY CHEFS TO SPREAD THEIR WINGS, BUT YOU GET A REALLY TOPNOTCH SLAP UP MEAL IN A LOVELY SETTING FOR £39 A HEAD
There was a bit of a buzz about the place while we waited to see what the couple had in store.
The rosemary focaccia and sun-dried tomato butter with braised pig cheek croquettes confused us initially. Not because it wasn’t delicious – it was – but because it wasn’t on the menu.
When we realised it was under the initial ‘bread’ section, the excitement expanded. This was certainly going to be a feast of epic proportions (and portions)!
The starter of parmesan arancini with Isle of Wight heritage tomato salad, micro basil and aged balsamic was another perfectly executed dish, the risotto balls gently flavoured, crunchy at first but soft on the inside, the parmesan contrasting with the wonderfully sweet tomatoes.
Veggies were in for a treat with the yeast roasted cauliflower (a terribly trendy vegetable at the moment weirdly) served with a cauliflower couscous, golden raisins and capers, which was sweet and sour at the same time.
The carnivores really enjoyed their beautifully cooked sirloin pave of shorthorn beef, glazed short rib, brassicas and pomp mouselline (posh mash) as evidenced in the main pic.
You could order wine by the glass, or the bottle, and we imbibed far too much of the lovely Pinot Noir before attempting dessert. Knowing Heather’s pedigree in Le Manoir’s kitchen I knew the innocent sounding ‘peaches and cream’ description would disguise a far more ambitious dish.
But the white chocolate panna cotta and peach jelly still took us by surprise, festooned with caramelised white chocolate macaroons, caramelised peaches, caramelised white chocolate and peach sorbet was the piece de resistance of an already fantastic meal.
It was a fun, novel and delicious evening and Heather and Jack emerged from the kitchens looking delighted, if knackered, as we all headed off into the night before our curfew ran out.
Those wanting to try out Nood’s next pop-up dinner for themselves are in for a treat because they are planning another one at Jericho Cafe at the beginning of November and are talking about a Christmas tasting menu there in early December too.
This weekend however Gravy & Custard will be in situ on Saturday night (Oct 3) while V-Stack return on October 31. (Read about them here) https://www.oxinabox.co.uk/its-gone-vegan-burger-crazy-in-oxfordshire-this-week-with-v-stack-now-delivering-delicious-homemade-plant-based-burgers-to-your-home/
Either way, not only are you supporting some really young, intrepid, culinary chefs to spread their wings and dip their toes in the restaurant trade, but you get a really topnotch slap up meal in a lovely setting for £39 a head. What’s not to like?
For details on Jericho Cafe go to: http://www.thejerichocafe.co.uk
Gravy & Custard can be booked here: https://www.gravyandcustard.co.uk/supper-club
Nood Ltd can be found on Instagram at @nood_ltd