There quite possibly isn’t a person in London that hasn’t heard of or tried a bottomless brunch. It’s a trend that’s been gaining ground for at least the past four years, with more fizz being poured on a weekend mid-morning than at any other time of the week. Endless croissants, more eggs and avocado than you could possibly stomach and an ongoing soundtrack of corks popping, are all underlined by Groupon deals and Living Social tickets to the next big thing in bottomless dining.
Just when I thought that this trend was at risk of petering out (those bubbles won’t stay fresh forever), another twist on the bottomless movement crept onto my radar and has been on my to-do list ever since. With my birthday and Mother’s Day falling on the same Sunday it seemed serendipitous to book something jazzy for the occasion, so off we went to Bankside with our tummies rumbling and ready to bring on the fizz.
And what was this twist? It was only a bottomless Sunday roast!
Who doesn’t love a Sunday roast? Well actually, I know a few people who don’t, but let’s not worry about them. Let’s worry about me who is way more into a hearty pub roast than an achingly hip brunch any day of the week. Give me yorkies, give me parsnips and give me crispy roast potatoes and if I can have something soaked in custard for dessert, all the better. Roasts are such a staple dish in British life, and they are seeing a resurgence in popularity which means the stakes have been raised somewhat.
Which is how we came to find ourselves at OXBO in Bankside, a gorgeously turned out restaurant and bar at the base of the Hilton Hotel helpfully located just a stones throw from Southwark Station (and the Thames, which will prove helpful when you need to walk it all off later in the day).
How it works
The clarity of the offer at OXBO is one of its key selling points. There is no coyness here, no hoping you’ll forget it is bottomless or be shy to ask for a refill. The staff know you are there to quite literally fill your boots so everything has been arranged to make it as easy and as seamless as possible for you to do so.
Upon arrival we were led to our table which just sop happened to be the closest table to the food. WINNER. Laid out like a posh buffet, the starters and desserts can be found on what they call the chefs traders tables (but I called it a posh buffet, so there we are) and we were told that we could help ourlselves whenever we were ready, and we could have as much as we wanted. What this meant in practice is that we went up a couple of times for each course until we were ready to move on to the next one.
At this point, they took our order for main (the roast), which is served to you. When we were finished with the starter, we’d give the secret signal to our waiting staff to say we were ready for our main course, and they would tell the kitchen to finish preparing it. It’s clever, because it means that you don’t have to wait too long between courses, but also you are in total control of the pace of your food. We had a little breather after the starter, realising that if we didn’t slow down we’d never survive the whole meal.
Finally, the bubbles. And this is what I absolutely loved about OXBO and the staff there. It was made really clear to us, upfront what the deal was. We were told that as soon as the first glass is poured, we had two hours for our bottomless fizz experience. It was incredibly clear then what we were getting, and I’ll let you in to a little secret – we had to stop drinking long before the two hours were up otherwise I would have had to have a little nap under the table.If you're searching for the perfect Sunday Roast, you can stop looking. The Bottomless Sunday Roast at @OXBOBankside in London is the most incredible way to spend a lunchtime, with endless bubbles and gorgeous food!Click To Tweet
So on to the posh buffet then. I think there can be a certain snobbery to buffets, and whilst in many circumstances this is well placed (for example Pizza Hut lunchtime buffets and my local Chinese all you can eat restaurant won’t be winning any awards for high class dining any time soon), when done well it can be a great way to try a selection of different foods and liven up the eating arrangements somewhat.
In this case, the starter buffet was about as far from the “every man for themselves” affair I’ve seen at other restaurants, and as we tentatively circled the table to see what was on offer we were pleasantly surprised. There was a huge amount of choice, and none of it included limp salads – and better than this it was constantly replenished which meant even if you arrived later in the day you’d still get a brilliant experience.
So what was on the menu? Beautiful sashimi of tuna and salmon, alongside other fish such as smoked mackerel and prawns and if fish is not your thing, there was also a selection of charcuterie and cold meats. Bowls of individual swordfish and red onion ceviches lined the table, alongside pots of aromatic chicken mayonnaise, coconut and mango.
There was also a range of salads of every kind (I really loved the tomato and red onion salad and the butternut squash), and I’m not ashamed to say that I had a few rounds of flatbreads and hummus dip because it was so tasty. I’d say there was a good selection for vegetarians and vegans on the starter table, so don’t be put off trying it.
The Roast Dinner
And for the main event? Well it was definitely up there with one of the best roast dinners I’ve had in London. The roast menu largely consists of chicken or beef, and we all selected the beef. We got two thick slices of roast sirloin which was incredibly generous, alongside a huge yorkshire pudding and unusually one huge roast potato which I loved (but the boys were less enthused by). We were also given serving bowls of veggies to share, and extra gravy and sauces were available on request.
I’m pleased to confirm that they did not skimp on the gravy.
If you still want to come along and you don’t like a roast dinner or are vegetarian they do offer other main course dishes. Roasted cod with curly kale and parmentier potatoes or cauliflower, broccoli and lentil dhal with sweet potato and garlic flat bread. I saw both of these come out of the kitchen and they looked amazing, and I’ll be honest and say that if I were to go back I would definitely try the dhal as it smelt delicious as the waiting staff wafted by with it!
By this point I was regretting my flatbread related greed earlier on in the meal, because I was very full. But there is also room for a dessert or two, right? And if you left OXBO without trying the dessert table it would be absolutely criminal, because the range of sweet things was completely phenomenal.
First up, it’s worth saying they also have a small cheeseboard which when I went up had some goats cheese, brie and Cornish yarg with really nice fresh bread including a sour dough and the most delicious chutney. I wish I’d asked them what it was because it was really yummy. You’ll also have spied an amazing penny sweet bar which I loaded up on during every visit – including when getting starters!!! The gummy giant strawberries were amazing, and even thought they were meant for the kids I went all the way in.
How could anyone resist a penny sweet?
So the desserts then. All were in mini variety which I loved because it meant you didn’t have to feel awkward about trying a bit of everything. Sadly I didn’t quite manage to try everything (the OMG-I’m-So-Full palpitations put paid to any of those plans), but I did manage to tuck into a fair few and they were really delicious.
My favourites were the perfectly prepared vanilla creme brûlée and the mini coffee tarts, but there was everything from gooey chocolate brownies, carrot cake, sumptuous jellies, banana cakes and profiteroles. Honestly my eyes were bulging out on stalks as I tried to select a few items for my dessert plate – and sadly I had no room to try either the cookies or the panna cotta, but I have it on good authority that these choices were spectacular!
It’s not often that I say this about a meal in London, but at £42 a head including two hours of bottomless prosecco it really was excellent value. I was completely and utterly stuffed (it’s no exaggeration to say I had to be practically rolled out of there and straight into a taxi home) and they were not stingy on the prosecco. We never had to ask for a top up, the waiting staff always being one step ahead of anticipating our need for more bubbles.
Similarly, the service was completely exceptional. Perhaps I’m a snob, but I love really great service in restaurants. For me it is all part of the experience and makes the difference between going out to eat or ordering a Deliveroo. It was a very busy Sunday, being Mother’s Day and yet the service didn’t once falter. It was friendly, fun and really made the day completely special (as I sobbed into my final prosecco when I suddenly remember that I had indeed just turned 35).
OXBO offer a similar deal for Saturday Brunch, but I have to say the Roast Dinner experience will be hard to beat. Make sure you book in advance on their website, and I’d suggest booking for their opening slot with an empty stomach. You’ve got to make the most of it, right?
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