The duo behind Ox met in France while working at the country’s top restaurants. What Alain Kerloc’h and Stephen Toman have created in Northern Ireland’s capital is a little more accessible than some of the places that appear on their CVs – which collectively include the globally renowned Mirazur and L’Arpège – but the riverside restaurant still provides its guests with a finely tuned and memorable experience.
Born in Belfast, chef owner Toman is well-travelled, having earned his stripes in both the US and France (his CV includes a spell at L’Astrance in Paris, which has graced the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list). But since Ox launched in 2013 he’s been rediscovering his homeland’s often under appreciated produce. More recently, he has strived to put fruit and vegetables centre stage, although top quality meat and sustainably-sourced fish also gets a look in.
Dishes on Toman’s surprisingly affordable tasting menu include scallop, dashi, pea, verbena and mussels; lobster, courgette, shiso beurre blanc; and côte de boeuf with black garlic, girolles, artichoke. The Brittany-born Kerloc’h is a sommelier by trade and has created a diverse list to match Toman’s creative food that showcases local microbreweries as well as exciting winemakers. With restaurants like Ox in play, the future looks bright for Northern Ireland’s dining scene.