Monday, 17 February 2014

Restaurant Review - The Rickety Press

Location: 67 Cranham Street, Oxford, Oxfordshire OX2 6DE, UK

Last year I published a list of all the places I wanted to try and review the year ahead. The Rickety Press was in that list. For one reason or another, it's taken me almost a whole year to get there. Yes they were shut for a little while as they extended the restaurant. Yes I'd heard a couple of disappointing recounts of the food. And yes I'm often put off by the painful parking in Jericho. But ultimately, I'd say it was a fear that it wouldn't live up to my expectations - and those are the reviews I hate to write.

Oh well, here goes.

Based on a side road off Walton Street in Jericho, chalk-blue gastro pub The Rickety Press is half sister to The Rusty Bicycle in East Oxford. Rickety has the same mismatched wooden tables you'll find in any pub of this ilk, with the same love of great typography as seen at it's sibling. The décor and styling is warm and inviting, seemingly designed to make you feel at home in some kind of family room or snug, with old leather-bound books adorning the bar and bookcases.

Bread and olives with balsamic and olive oil dip

I was a little early, and had to inform the waiting staff we had gained an unexpected guest, so required a larger table - which they handled incredibly well, showing us to a table at the rear of the newly extended dining room.

Having decided in advance I was having the roast beef, I was thrown by the lure of Foie Gras and Chicken Liver Parfait (£8.50). Could I manage a starter and a roast dinner? Stupid question, bring on the parfait! And maybe some bread and olives too (£3.50), just to keep MiniF occupied.

Rickety Press Sunday Lunch Menu

When the bread arrived, there was no way MiniF was going to get much of a look in. Pillowy soft centre with a firm crusty exterior, the bread was delicious on it's own, though the addition of balsamic with olive oil for dipping never disappoints. I had to reign myself it so as to not fill up prior to the meal.

MrF had selected the Salt Beef Salad (£6.50), which would have been my second choice. Served shredded and tousled with salad leaves, Lancashire cheese, quails eggs and green beans, it looked appealing, though it didn't sit well with MrF. I'd love to tell you how it tasted, but he'd polished it off before I'd even looked up from my foie gras - hopefully MrF's description of 'meh' will suffice(?!).

Salt Beef Salad

Our +1 had chosen Potted Smoked Cornish Mackerel (£7), which is delivered in a neat little kilner jar (maybe they could buy in bulk with The Punter), alongside pickles and toast. With horseradish and capers mixed in, there was a delightful sharpness cutting through the rich, smooth pate.

Potted Smoked Cornish Mackerel

The parfait? Well, I'm always a fan. Buttery, rich, creamy, almost fruity. I know it's often served with toasted brioche, which it was here, but I find that far too rich and crumbly, so dived into the remaining bread from the start of the meal - which was perfect. I didn't manage to finish the plate, but a certain husband of mine was on hand to lend a hand.

Foie Gras and Chicken Liver Parfait

God knows why, but MrF had ordered the Roast Chicken for main (£15). I do love a bit of roast chicken, but we eat it often enough at home to never bother ordering it in a restaurant - I don't really see chicken as a restaurant meal anyway, there are far more interesting meats to eat. Anyway, the chicken. It turned out to be a nightmare. I'll elaborate... While our +1 and I were happily tucking into our beef, MrF had to send his chicken back not once, but twice, because it was unacceptably pink at the bone. By this point, at least 25 minutes had passed and everyone else had almost finished their meals, so MrF passed on his main and I passed him mine to finish.

Roast Chicken

The handling of 'chicken-gate' was initially a little blasé, with the waiter taking the dish away and not returning to offer any word of a returning dish until it arrived 20 minutes later, though after the second complaint the waitress on hand was more attentive and apologetic, explaining that the meat had reached the perfect temperature. Unfortunately on this occasion, and for the diners on our neighbouring table, their meat thermometer must have been faulty that day as three chickens on two tables were returned within the space of an hour - seems they weren't learning any lessons fast.

With chicken in particular, MrF is a big fan of cooking it until just enough, I'm usually the one wanting it cooked a tiny bit longer, but this was pushing the limit even for him.

Slow Roast Sirloin of Beef

It was a tale of two halves with the meat though, as my Slow Roast Sirloin of Beef (£16.50) was spot on - perfectly pink and tantalisingly tasty, with a jug of extra gravy (winning!), a nice big yorkie, parsnips, decent roasties and silky celeriac puree. Delicious.

On requesting the bill, the waitress advised the two roast beefs had been taken off the total, as a gesture of goodwill. I'd expected them to offer a complimentary pudding or such, so was impressed that they'd ultimately exceeded expectations, though MrF's rumbling tummy may not have agreed.

In the end, it was the chicken and initially casual complaint handling that let them down. 

Overall score: 6.5 due to the issues, though I'd score the Roast Beef alone 8

The Rickety Press
67 Cranham Street
Twitter: @RicketyPress
Facebook: @TheRicketyPress
Phone: 01865 424 581

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