My girlfriend and I finally hit up The Blue Ox last night after hearing many good things about it. We got there around 7 while it was raining and we had to do a couple circles around the block to find parking and the bank parking lot with signs for complimentary parking was completely full. There was quite a crowd already inside, but we were seated very quickly towards the front windows.
I thought the table itself was a little small, but otherwise enjoyed the interior and overall feel of the place. It wasn't too bright and it wasn't too dark, and everything felt clean and new while the building itself I thought did a good job of retaining it's older charm. The loudmouth guy behind me was annoying as hell and it made conversation a little tough at times, but at least he sounded like he was having a good time and wasn't completely obnoxious. :)
Our server came right over and took our drink order and bread soon followed. The bread was warm and tastey with their butter, but the heels of the bread were pretty tough to pull apart without fear of knocking something over on the table. I'd consider skipping serving them and using them for breadcrums or stuffing. My girlfriend had a glass of the Roseta (sp?) wine and it was good not great while I had the pumpkie pie martini (Vanilla Vodka, Irish Creme, Pumpkin Liquor, topped with cinnamon/nutmeg?). I liked my drink very much (had another one too), but it would have been wiser to order it perhaps after dinner with a dessert as it was quite heavy. Regardless I might start making them at home!
We got the appetizer plate made up of prosciutto, fig, blue cheese stuffed olives, and red peppers. While it was no doubt tastey, the prosciutto was a little fatty and for what you get I thought the price was a touch high. You get two medium sized stuff olives, a few slivers of red pepper in a pile, maybe 3 slices of prosciutto, and 4 little slices of fresh fig. If you're looking for a very light and small app this is good, but I was really hungry and was salvating over the french fries at a nearby table. :)
For dinner I had the butternut squash ravioli with brown butter and sage. It was absolutely delicious and I could have eaten another plate full. The brown butter sauce almost had me asking for more bread so I could soak it up. My girlfriend had the herb roasted half chicken, red bliss mashed potato, spinach, white wine butter sauce. The chicken was deboned and served "flat" over the mashed potatos. It was perfectly cooked and quite flavorful especially when you got a bite of the skin.
All throughout dinner the stream of people was very busy coming in and it made me happy to see the business appear to be doing very well. The crowd was made up of all kinds of people in all levels of dress which was nice. The waiter at a nearby table came out singing happy birthday in an opera quality voice to his table which shocked everyone and was rewarded with a round of applause. The single downside on the service all night was leaving the empty bread basket on the table all night even thought it was empty during the appetizer. It wasn't a big deal, but with a table already so small every square inch counted. Otherwise they were very pleasant and attentive without being overly invasive.
We skipped dessert as we were trying to make a movie, but we both came away quite pleased that we finallly got here for dinner and will certainly will be back to try some more items.
191 Oxford Street, Lynn, MA 01901