Belfast restaurant OX fends off London's Michelin starred to win top award
One of Belfast's top restaurants has won a UK-wide industry gong, fending off some of London's best Michelin-starred eateries.
OX was awarded Menu of the Year at the Cateys in London, adding to the burgeoning number of accolades its received in the two years it has been open.
OX is the brainchild of chef Stephen Toman and Alain Kerloc'h. It joined Belfast's growing restaurant landscape in March 2013 when it opened at Oxford Street.
Mr Kerloc'h said it was an "amazing" achievement for the restaurant, and proof Belfast was able to compete against bigger cities such as London in gastronomic terms.
"It was amazing and it's a great reward for Stephen. I think it is because we use great local produce - that's one of the main things," he said.
The award was based on its a la carte menu, which changes with the seasons and features a raft of local ingredients.
The menu includes quirky dishes including a starter of girolle mushrooms, spelt, chicken skin, and summer truffle, with main courses such as Mourne mountain lamb, black olive, basil gnocchi and samphire.
One fan of the eatery is Belfast Telegraph restaurant critic Joris Minne. "OX keeps winning awards because it keeps surprising," he said.
"Keeping the diners happy and coming back for more requires commercial brilliance and judgment, as well as good food and service and the Toman-Kerloc'h team is unbeatable."
Earlier this year OX received the accolade of Best Wine Experience in Ireland at the Restaurant Association of Ireland Awards in Dublin.
It also earned plaudits from Observer critic Jay Rayner.
He said "OX simply wants to be best in class and then some" and it "wants to celebrate the best ingredients on its doorstep, and do it with unstudied professionalism".
OX was also named the best restaurant in Ulster, while Stephen received the award for Best Chef in Ulster.
A sample from menu
Cauliflower, foie gras, fresh almond, nasturtium, maple £9.50
Pea, milk curd, red pepper caramel, radish, verbena, (right) £8.00 Broad bean, radish leaf soup £4.50
Chateaubriand of beef, aubergine, garlic scape, salsify, parsley £22.00
Courgette flowers, tomato, artichoke, truffled galette £15.50
Baked passionfruit curd, viola, coconut, bee pollen £7.00