Ox and Origin

Ox & Origin, Zero Waste Week, 1000 Trades, Jewellery Quarter

I first found out about Zero Waste Week when my girlfriend told me I owed her sixty quid for the two dinners she had booked us in for at 1000 Trades. That’s how all good relationships work, isn’t it? With her charging me to fulfil her inner eco warrior needs on the two nights the diary said we’re free. I’m fine with it; I really like 1000 Trades and it’s for a great cause. We’re conscious about waste in our home. We recycle cardboard, tins, restaurant reviews, and socks. We never buy processed foods and try to ensure it never gets wasted. Stale bread gets blitzed up with garlic and stored in the freezer to top pasta dishes; chicken carcasses and vegetable offcuts boiled down and stored for soup bases. Without ever realising it, we’re already giving this Zero Waste lark our best efforts.

We do a Thursday evening dinner that is nice, if unspectacular, followed by a cocktail zero waste three course menu at 18/81 which has two superb drinks sandwiching a zombie which is merely good in comparison. Friday sees us back at 1000 Trades for the meal with Ox & Origin which is brilliant from start to finish.

It is not a meal for the faint hearted. This is a tour of the discarded bits of animal holding hands with company that can be plucked from a tree or hedgerow. A starter of pork jowl is subsidised with a little cheek meat. Both need love and hours of cooking to turn a working muscle into something special. The jowl is the star, all wobbly fat and layers of sweet meat, offset by lightly pickled plums and a burnt onion puree. It is brilliant.

A veal Chou Farci sees cabbage leaves stuffed with various organs of child cow. The dominant flavour is that of liver mixed with fattier cuts, a little pig’s brain used as an unctuous filler. A veal heart ragu is a little funky in flavour for my taste though I give it a go. The use of the calf meat is an important one; veal is no longer as controversial as it once was, though the lean nature of the meat means often a high proportion of the meat and all organs, bar the valued sweetbreads, are discarded. Beetroot both as salty crisps and wedges roasted in beef fat (I think) pins the plate down in earthy territory. A sauce made with elderberries and oxidised wine lifts it all whilst providing the acidity to cut through the dish.

Dessert shows serious technical skill. A buxom pannacotta has the teeter of a drunk lady in heels, made with the spent grounds from 200 Degrees coffee. With this is a sorbet of milk waste from the same coffee shop, and a bread tuile containing a cherry mousse. It is balanced and by far the evening’s most approachable dish. We demolish both plates in record time. It is at this point that Tommy from The Edgbaston turns up and quickly knocks out a zero waste cocktail using single estate rum, discarded bits of watermelon and some other stuff (I was eating; my ears were closed). I happen to love that man almost as much as his drinks. It’s delicious. More so when they refuse payment for it.

The above three courses were pre-paid to the sum of £25 each, and I drink a good amount of the beaujolais-style natural red that they sell too cheaply for £14 a carafe. It all made for a rather good night and we head back home to rave about it to anybody in ear shot. Zero waste is an important issue that needs to be addressed; whether it be food or usables, we bin far too much because of the entitled lives we lead. Good on everybody who pitched in across the city to show that we do care. For Ox & Origin it was also the chance to show themselves as a major talent. Rumour has it they are looking at a restaurant in Moseley. Let’s hope there is some truth in that.

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Ox and Origin at 1000 Trades

This potentially could have been even more pointless than my usual crap.  A piece on a two week residency which I eat and subsequently post just as they finish, and no place I can direct you to in which to eat the food you are about to view.  It’s the ultimate middle finger; here, look at this wonderful food.  Too bad you can’t eat it.  I almost never bothered because of that very reason.  Except you can.  Well, kind of.  Stick with me on this and like all of my personal misdemeanours, it will slowly come out in the wash.  

I am sent here by The Pope.  No, not the Nazi in Rome, but one far wiser, richer, and  more sadistic from Sutton Coldfield.  When he says something is good, it’s good.  And the food served by Ox and Origin here isn’t just good, it’s argubly the most accomplished residency to have come to 1000 Trades thus far.  

It’s small plates here; a hotchpotch of styles that is somehow glued together by a kitchen that understands how to layer flavour without overcomplicating.  We take a punt on a sweet corn dish because at £3 it’s worth the risk.  It has been roasted on the cob, basted in a little Siracha hot sauce and littered with flecks of toasted coconut.  What I expect to jar and fight for attention, is in reality a simple progression of heat, salt, and sweetness.  It’s a very clever bit of snackery.  


Other dishes are far easier to geographically pinpoint.  A ragu of ox cheek is all northern Italy with classic French technique.  The meat is spoonable, with two pillows of vivid green gnocchi, and a deeply flavoured sauce made from a reduction of the braising liquor.  Salsa verde completes it all.  We both agree it’s the best thing we eat all night.  This is closely followed by rump cap of beef, served rare with smoked walnuts and more of that salsa verde.  Three ingredients that each know their place on the plate.  



My date, whose images I have stolen in case you had noticed the improvement, is less convinced by the composition of the pork dish.  The belly cut is excellent; softly rendered to that gelatanious mix of meat and fat.  It appears with a spring roll of lightly spiced vegetables and a peanut sauce that is a more luxurious relative to satay.  There is saltiness, acidity, and heat in every mouthful.  I love it.  Much simpler is a tomato and burrata dish with tomato consommé and a little basil.  It’s too quaint in the company of its peers.  A dish that’s still wearing it’s bow tie at midnight, whilst the others are unbuttoned to the naval and sharing a toilet cubicle.  


Dessert feels like a bit of an afterthought.  Strawberries in various guises with piped droplets of white chocolate, blobs of pistachio creme, and a yogurt sorbet.  It eats well enough but there’s little excitement to be had here.  

The food hits £38, and we drink a bottle of wine in the mid-twenties, leaving a bill of thirty quid per head, or just over sixty quid if you happen to also live my girlfriend.  My usual advice would be to go immediatley and thank me afterwards, except they are on to Saturday 12th, with Twitter pointing towards an almost fully booked ending to their residency.  But alas, it doesn’t end there.  We get speaking to one of the chefs who tells us that the day time job is one of a private chef, where a similar menu can be had from as little as £30 per head.  They’ll even do the washing up afterwards – it’s almost worth it for that alone in our house.  So there you go; either go the brilliant 1000 Trades for a pint and pray for a table, or treat yourself to a rather wonderful meal in the comfort of your own home.  I think I’ll do both.  Sod it, I’m worth it.  

I have no affiliation at all with them, but they were nice enough to stop and talk to us about the food, so I’ll return the favour with a link.  For affordable private chefs with marigolds go to https://www.ox-and-origin.com/