Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Review - Oxford's Grill

I'm going to attempt to generate some hype about this place because I really think you should all go there. I was walking up Cowley Road at the beginning of this academic year and noticed that a restaurant which used to be called RJ@21 had been replaced with a tacky looking italicised (mistake) white-on-red sign reading 'Turkish Restaurant'. It called itself 'Oxford Grill. I will not lie: my first reaction was to think 'I'm never going to eat there even if it is £5.95 for two courses at lunch time because I WILL get food poisoning'. Keen not to judge a book by its cover/to look at more of its cover before I pre-judge, I had a peer inside and saw that it was fit almost exactly like RJ@21 and looked quite calm, relaxed and classy. So, when my parents came to bring me my backgammon board and suede wedges this weekend, I suggested that we go to Oxford's Grill. My suggestion came because when they'd dropped me off with all my things, we'd gone to a cafe and ordered coffee and then my dad was very disappointed at what he'd ordered when he realised he could order Turkish coffee instead. I'm gonna try to be clever and now set up a comparison between the improvement on RJ@21 that is Oxford's Grill with the improvement in how well I get on with my parents from my first day at university and now. They took me to RJ@21 for lunch after they dropped all my stuff off for the first time. I had the burger then went to the loos to throw up. Not because I'm bulimic or because the food made me ill but because I have a tendency when very, very stressed to throw up and my parents were very, very stressful people. Actually, they still are because when we sat down at Oxford's Grill they started their  usual 'are you going to be sick? don't stress out order whatever stop stressing out just calm down' from the moment we sat down. It is this that stresses me out. Anyway, they began their usual routine but when I said 'can you just stfu please, I'm not at all stressed but this is stressing me out', unlike all the other times, they actually did. We ordered two mains and three meze to share: lamb shish, lamb kofte, soup, the meze sharing platter and deep fried potato balls. And then an extra treat arrived: free bread and olives at the beginning. The bread got me so excited for the rest of the meal. It was soft and warm and light and so delicious I had to actively stop myself filling up on that and the creamy (but not too creamy) hummus that it had come with. Then came everything else. The meze platter included little sticky aubergines, kisir, imam bayildi and more hummus. The soup was a lightly spiced lentil treat which had alongside some more of that delicious bread but this time fried in olive oil. OH BABY. The two types of lamb came with rice and salad.
Everything was so, so, so good that I don't know where to begin. The lamb was succulent and tender, as well marinated lamb should be. And you could taste a slight smokiness from the grill. All the grains (kisir, imam bayildi, rice) were packed full of flavour but with no one too overpowering. And it all tasted so fresh! Especially the salad (as you'd expect). That was offset nicely with the more heavy elements of hummus and the little breadcrumbed potato fritters. But they were in no way too heavy, they were almost Aero-like light. If we had to choose a star of the show (I'm going to), the aubergine would win. It had a glaze on it reminiscent of Szechuan-style aubergines except much less heady and the sweetness on them was perfect. Basically, this place is amazing and definitely ranks as one of the best meals I've had in Oxford and I would hate for its bad sign to dissuade people from trying it. Oh, and to wrap off the parent-restaurant analogy: in a moment of unprecedented honesty, I revealed to my father that I was still worried I'd given myself sinus problems 4 lyf (see previous post) because I had been sporadically smoking over the past few months. He laughed, said me he wouldn't pay for my teeth to be whitened and told me to stop being a hypochondriac. Progress! Oh and then said 'don't breathe word of this to your mother.' Some things will never change.

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