Cassoulet at The Cosy Club. Spot the ban, sausage or pork. No? Us neither

We try not to review opening nights. Too much pressure, too new, too busy, too many expectations, customers, clamour.

Better to wait until the fuss has died down a bit, the dust has settled and the staff have got learnt the ropes.

‘we had to buy Tesco sandwiches to eat on the bus home’

So when The Cosy Club recently opened its 36th venue above Jesus College on Oxford’s Cornmarket, a vast 7,500ft of bar and restaurant with the capacity for 320 customers, despite a disastrous evening food wise, (our main courses failed to materialise by 10pm even though we were seated at 7.30pm), we didn’t write it off, even if we did have to buy Tesco sandwiches to eat on the bus home.

The Cosy Club bar

Instead we returned that weekend, ready to give it another chance, eager to try the food that hadn’t materialised. READ ABOUT IT HERE


And we waited and waited and waited until we’d nearly lost the will to live, by which time our stomachs were rumbling and all conversation had dried up as we craned our necks towards the kitchens to see if our food was beckoning.

Our fears were not allayed by our waitress returning 45 minutes after our starters had been cleared to check what we had ordered for our mains.

The Cosy Club

We gave it until 9pm – two hours since we’d arrived – the minutes ticking by interminably – despite some good cocktails, and finally there it was being led through the crowd to our table. Food.

By then it was so dark in The Cosy Club it was hard to see our meal at all, but after a few initial mouthfuls realised that it hadn’t been worth the wait.

The starters were disappointing; the Massaman cauliflower with raita, flatbread, pink pickled onions, toasted coconut, chilli, coriander oil (£7.25) was wet and lukewarm, the cauliflower over boiled and smothered in a strange, rather sour, mix of yoghurt and herbs. (Sorry about the pic but it was so dark).

The massaman cauliflower

The tomato arancini with mozzarella and Twineham Grange (£7.50), had been served on a garlic aioli on opening night, which this time was entirely absent, meaning they were rather lacking.

The fried halloumi in a panko crumb with smoked pepper aioli and chilli jam had obviously been on the pass for a while so arrived warm, losing that lovely chewy elasticity, resulting in them being hard and rubbery. Not much then for £7.75.

the halloumi

So perhaps we shouldn’t have expected much from the mains, but watching my friend chew her way through half her 8oz flat iron steak (£20.25) with fries and then give up, after much masticating, was a sad moment.

‘So there we are, two strikes and we were out. Sorry Cosy Club. Not for us’

Because steak needs to be great – it is always a treat, a luxury, something you save up for, and it needs to match your expectations. Just not here.

The flat iron steak

Onto the Dirty chicken burger (£16.50) with a mac & cheese fritter, smoked streaky bacon, lettuce, tomato, cheddar, pickled slaw, roast pepper & garlic aioli, fries and slaw. It was the best dish of the night, except that the enticing sounding mac ‘n’ cheese filling appeared as a rissole that tasted like rubber.

But it was the cassoulet that took the biscuit – it defied belief – the traditional French stew ordinarily made with beans, Toulouse sausage, pork belly and duck, was none of the above. Duck in gravy would have been a more apt description. Not one butter bean could we find in the sauce, nor any sausage or pork belly. Nothing in fact resembling a cassoulet except the duck leg. (see main pic)

Cassoulet at The Cosy Club. Spot the bean, sausage or pork. No? Us neither

The salad of halloumi and roast butternut squash looked good but it was hard to distinguish between the cheese (the same as the starter) and the veg, similar in texture and equally dried out, the dressing eventually reducing the whole plate to a mushy state that was impossible to eat.

We didn’t bother with pudding for obvious reasons – needing to catch the last bus home before midnight and unable to bear anymore disappointment.

So there we are, two strikes and we were out. Sorry Cosy Club. Not for us.

On a positive note – the cocktails were great, it has an extensive GF menu, the place was buzzing and as it’s still early days there is time to improve and settle. Maybe just go for brunch or drinks. I just won’t be eating there again for some time.

COSY CLUB OXFORD, Northgate House Development, Cornmarket St, Oxford OX1 3EZ.