Jacqui – Nov 2013
Ok, so the Rusty Bicycle in Oxford is literally 10 minutes’ walk max from my house, I’ve visited before and was very happy with the food. For some unknown reason though, MrF got it into his head that he wasn’t overly impressed with them, which meant I couldn’t persuade him to revisit for ages – that and the fact they don’t take reservations (I hate not knowing if I’ll get a table).
When my parents popped over for the day recently, I decided I’d waited long enough and leapt at the chance to drag them, kicking and screaming (note the sarcasm), for lunch on me.
Now, I won’t lie, I’d snuck in a couple of weeks earlier with another mummy friend, tucking into a wonderful lunch of Slow Braised Sticky Ribs (£12). With four kids between us though, and at least one demanding attention/food/a nappy change/water/etc. at any one time, it was somewhat frantic and rushed – I didn’t feel it appropriate to review. What it did though, was help me decide what to eat…. I needed those ribs again!
As you may have gathered, I have a fairly healthy appetite – I like big hunks of meat and creamy dauphinoise – I’m often put off though at the thought of ordering ribs. Images of full racks of ribs turning up in front of me are simply intimidating. The fact I’m a very slow eater also doesn’t help, I’d be there for bloody hours! No seriously… ask MrF about the ploughman’s incident, he recants it to this day with hints of despair still lingering in his voice.
What I love about the ribs at Rusty Bike are the size, second only to the satisfaction they bring. Glistening, reddish-brown, treacly looking ribs, served on a paper lined tray, with the most delicious chips (some of the best I’ve tasted in Oxford), alongside some tasty ‘slaw and a small pot of sweet, sticky chilli jam. Heavenly, no… devilish!
The ribs alone were delicious, ample meat with no hint of fat or gristle, basted (not smothered) in a piquant bbq sauce. The fries reached a whole new level when dunked into the chilli jam – I barely looked up from my plate!
Upon remembering I had companions, I asked Mum & Dad if they were enjoying their food. Dad, who’d ordered the same as me, seemed to be equally preoccupied, while Mum was happily tucking into a Chicken & Leek Pie (£10) – though it didn’t look a patch on the ribs!
On this occasion, we didn’t have room, or time, for more than one course. Had we been lingering for longer, I would have certainly been tempted to indulge. The menu is small but perfectly formed, with around nine small plates/starters ranging from £4-6 per person, eight larger plates/mains costing £9-13 each, plus a selection of delectable sounding ice creams to choose from at £1.25 per scoop.
Starters included Crispy Cornish Whitebait, Soup Du Jour, Baked Camembert, or a Veggie Mezze sharing board – which sounded appealing even to this little carnivore. Mains included a ‘Rusty’ Beef Burger, Veggie Burger (portobello mushroom & halloumi – again, tempting), Fennel Seed & Ale Battered Fish & Chips, the amazing Slow Braised Ribs, plus a Pie of the Day. If you still have room, you can choose from salted caramel, vanilla, double choc, ginger, rhubarb fool, honeycomb or blood orange ice cream, with a chocolate brownie (an additional £2) on top.
All in all, a damn good meal… twice! I really like the Rusty Bike, in fact I’d be happy to call it my local – if only they took blooming table bookings. Oh well, in the meantime I’ll just have to pop in when I’m certain it’ll be quiet.
If you’re looking for a warm, cosy pub serving up proper lush food (as Tom Kerridge, my latest chef crush, would say), then you won’t fail to be impressed with this modern take on a friendly local. If you also happen to have a penchant for great typography, then you will love it.