I reviewed Joe’s Bar and Grill back in March while there for Brunch, but this time I had my sights set on only one thing, the much talked about Veggie Burger that I was keen to try and compare with the competition in Oxford.
After spending a long day in London and being ravenously hungry I was gutted to see a band setting up in the front of Joe’s Bar and Grill when I first arrived, as I knew they would be busy and I might struggle to find a table, but I was in luck and the member of staff who welcomed me offered a choice of three tables to choose from. I settled myself into a corner and turned my attention to the menu while taking in the atmosphere.
There was a relaxed buzz in the restaurant, helped by the subdued lighting and sufficiently spaced tables that encourage people to speak without feeling they need to whisper so the table next to them can’t hear every word. The toilets are nice as well, always a good indicator of a restaurant I feel and one that I think a lot of people notice. Keeping them clean, fresh looking and with a good supply is something that a lot of places could learn from.
So… the food. From the burger section of the menu you can choose from prime beef, free range chicken, Moroccan spiced lamb, pulled pork (obvs) or the veggie burger. Whatever your option of choice, they come served in a ciabatta bun with salad, mayo and with a chunky dill pickle on the side. If you are coeliac then gluten free buns are available on request but no mention of catering for vegans.
In terms of price, they are on the higher side, but Joe’s Bar and Grill isn’t a cheap burger joint, it is somewhere nicer and more refined – that tends to come at a price. The meaty burgers come in at £9.50 and the veggie burger at £9.00, but that doesn’t include sides, with chunky chips or skinny fries both costing an additional £3.50. You can also choose from onion rings, garlic bread, hash browns, green beans, wilted spinach or the house salad.
A range of toppings are also available to pimp your burger for an extra £1.25 each. You can choose from Swiss, Oxford blue or cheddar cheese, grilled hot red chillies, field mushroom, grilled pepper and aubergine or smoked bacon. Sauces on offer include roast garlic aioli, Joe’s spicy BBQ and a guacamole dip – all for an extra £1.
I opted for the veggie burger with cheddar cheese and the grilled pepper and aubergine with a side of skinny fries together with a sparkling water which came in at £17.00 all in. It wasn’t long before my food arrived and I was pleased to find that the bun was nice and soft, having been gently toasted. When I read it was a ciabatta bun I was concerned it would be a tough thing, but it was delicious and a welcome difference from the ubiquitous brioche bun.
The veggie pattie itself was very good. Too good in fact, to the point that I actually called the waitress over to double-check it wasn’t meat! She assured me with a smile that it was definitely vegetarian and I was able to enjoy the meaty texture and bite, safe in the knowledge no cows were harmed in the making of this burger. Altogether the burger worked really well, the flavours combining nicely in each mouthful. The cheese was strong enough to cut through, the peppers and aubergine were cooked well and I was able to eat it without dislocating my jaw like a python.
The fries were good too, not too skinny and generously salted with decent rock salt rather than table salt, a small touch but one that didn’t go unnoticed. If I am being picky the dill pickle was a bit too cold, obviously straight out of the fridge but I really am picking at straws now. I would add BBQ sauce next time, annoyed with myself for missing it from my order but I blame the fact I was starving!
If you are in North Oxford and fancy going somewhere classy for a really top notch burger you can’t go far wrong with Joe’s Bar and Grill.