Monday, 17 June 2013

The Big Bang - Oxford

42 Oxford Castle Quarter, Oxford, OX1 1AY

Sausage and mash truly is the Great British meal. We may be known as Le Rosbifs on the continent, but while the 18th Century John Bull hoovered up metres of dripping red tenderloin, the plebs on the street would have been content with whatever snout, entrail, and gristle could be ground in to a paste and shoved inside an intestinal casing - a latter-day Findus lasagne.

Of course, peasant food has been hugely fashionable for years and the levy board and independent restaurants alike have pushed the public to return to their roots and eat that which their ancestors did. Now, though, you have quality in your sausages. No longer a cheap, insipid tube of indeterminable substance that couldn't deliver salmonella if it tried for it's lack of meat, sausages ooze quality as they do fat - free range, outdoor bred, organic, black pepper, leak, rare breed. Sainsbury's have 17 Taste-the-Difference options, while The Guardian has a dedicated page under 'Life & Style' - the litmus test for any aspiring middle-class food.

To say The Big Bang serves up sausages of quality and variety would be an understatement. I counted over 15 different options, from Cumberland to lamb and apricot - and a host of others in between. And if each tastes as good as the three I sampled (Cumberland, venison, and boar and pigeon) then you have an excuse to visit 15 times.

The existence of The Big Bang seems the opposite of the sausage. The inside has remained constant, whilst the outside has changed. Founded a few years ago on Walton Street, The Big Bang has shifted across Oxford a couple of times, settled now in Oxford's Castle Quarter. A good move as, if truth be-told - I found the Walton Street venue slightly cramped, slightly twee, and slightly unpolished. The new premises are a far more professional affair, offering sausages without a queue to a seemingly endless number of patrons.

The novelty of the original has been kept, albeit more refined. The menu is a spoof newspaper, whilst their 'house' beer comes complete with it's own shot of ferment, and a piri piri chicken sausage is as novel as they come. I was ever so slightly disappointed by the sharing platter - the onion rings were greasy and heavy - but that is nitpicking. You surely don't come here for anything other than the delicious sausages, accompanied by warm mash (it's very easy to serve cold), and a sweat gravy.

Considering the sheer number of generic chains on offer at the Castle, The Big Bang should sit atop the list and find it's way in to your top 10 venues to visit in Oxford, possibly creeping towards the top 5.

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