Magdalen Arms Oxford – Jacqui – Dec 2013
Yes, I know. It’s been reviewed to within an inch of its life, by both local and national media. I reviewed it myself previously. But bear with me. While Jay Rayner clearly had a very enjoyable meal, he might just kick himself when he realises he missed out on their best, most EPIC dish.
As an East Oxford local, I’ve been to Magdalen Arms Oxford many times – for lunch, dinner, drinks and cake. I’ve sampled a wide variety of their dishes, each well-made and delicious. But they all pale by comparison.
So here’s my tip folks, in all its meltingly soft, rich, meaty glory… the Slow Roast Lamb Shoulder! Served up with seasonal sides (luxurious dauphinoise spiced red cabbage on this occasion), this is serious, serious food porn.
The large version of the dish serves five people comfortably (trust me, we’ve shared it between four a few times and always taken a doggy bag home) and isn’t always on the menu. On our last visit this was the case, but on asking it was available as a special. And mighty special it is too.
Glistening lamb, slowly cooked with carrots, celery and onion. So tender it yields without fight to a spoon. Sitting regally in a moat of cooking juices. No need for gravy or condiment, nor a glance in the direction of salt & pepper.
The dauphinoise are a glorious addition – creamy, buttery, well-seasoned, comfort food at its best. You know it’s naughty but, go on then, just one more spoonful. I’ll be a good girl tomorrow. The greens or cabbage are a welcome addition, simply to break up the richness elsewhere. But you don’t need much – you’ll be too consumed by lust for the lamb.
If you decide to try the lamb yourself, be aware it takes around 40 minutes to reach your table. So order early, and make do with complimentary bread and butter (first portion is free, extra portions are £3.50) till the main event is brought out, rather ceremoniously, by a small convoy of waiters.
Service often comes into question here, for being far too casual. On this particular occasion though, we found the service to be perfectly attentive and helpful. It’s a casual atmosphere anyway, so don’t expect front of house staff in crisp matching outfits. It was almost a breakthrough to be asked if we’d like further drinks during our meal.
Family friendly and relaxed, Magdalen Arms Oxford also serve some good vegetarian options – but portions can run out fast.
Becca – Nov 2013
I’m a bit miffed about writing this review as I went to the Magdalen Arms Oxford for dinner last week and planned on reviewing it straight away but ended up getting a stupid coughy, spluttery, sneezy cold which made me all feeble and pathetic and utterly incapable of doing something as strenuous as hitting a few keys.
Then bloody Jay Rayner went and reviewed it at the weekend and was all orgasmic about pie. So now it feels like I’m jumping on his coattails to post anything. Sigh.
Anyway, there was me, hubs and assorted colleagues out on a miserable Wednesday evening for a nice dinner. And it was a corker! There’s never a menu online so I had no idea what to expect – which is a good question, I know their menu is dictated by what is available that day but surely by now they could have an actual website?!
Starters that evening included a Spanish tapas plate, pumpkin soup with rarebit toast, goat’s cheese soufflé with pear and walnut salad, home cured bresaola with rocket and shaved parmesan, purple sprouting broccoli and ricotta salata on garlic toast, mussels mariner or Dexter rump of beef on dripping toast and horseradish cream.
Beef was always going to be a winner for me and oh my gosh, what a winner! Rare silky beef on crispy flavoured bread and a heat of horseradish. I could have eaten this all over again for my main course. The mussels got rave reviews too, as did the soup and the soufflé.
Main courses: caramelised chicory tart with cep ragu and parmesan, roast cod with swiss chard, mashed potato and parsley sauce, pot roast partridge with choucroute and smoked sausage, braised Dexter short rib of beef with beetroot puree, cassoulet and greens, rare roast hare saddle with faggots, celeriac mash and quince, seven hour lamb shoulder with potato gratin and pickled red cabbage. No pie.
I made a grave error here and went with the partridge so I didn’t overdo it on the beef. It was okay, a little dry. Matt had the beef and I had major plate envy…
Of course, everyone declared themselves too full for pudding. Except me who had noticed pecan pie on the menu. Suddenly everyone found room and we ordered pie, cheesecake with boozy cherries, flourless chocolate cake or winter fruits crumble. All disappeared in seconds!
I have absolutely no idea how much it cost as it was a business dinner 😉 but it was well worth it just for that Dexter beef though which can be bought from Pegtop Farm just outside Islip!