My friend and I stumbled upon this delightful eatery by accident. Initially, we had planned to go to the highly recommended Coconut Tree with our 30% discount from The Dealer. When we arrived, it was completely full. We walked back towards Magdalen Bridge with our deal-savvy tails hanging between our legs.
We walked past a tiny place called ‘Rick’s’ and I remembered I could get 20% off courtesy of (you guessed it!) The Dealer. As we crossed the threshold we realised it was deserted – alarm bells were going off. I tried to back out, but the manager (and seemingly the only member of staff) greeted us in such a warm manner that we were guilt tripped into taking the plunge.
The manager, having little else to do, took us through the menu and the history of the restaurant (or is it a café?). It had begun as a vegan specialty restaurant (I was beginning to wish I’d had the courage to walk away at this point), but then, our server informed us it had decided to add meat to the menu. Suddenly, my choice seemed inspired – a nice juicy burger at a vegan restaurant! We were encouraged to get a mezze starter to share, which was extremely reasonable given the generous size of the portion. The manager proudly told us everything was homemade, and it really did taste fresh. Hummus nice and smooth, aubergine dip creamy (though without the cream, of course), filled our plate along with a whole range of other exciting and equally luscious morsels.
My friend, a vegetarian (now with a first-class degree, not that the two are mutually exclusive, clearly), opted for a falafel burger, which I’m told was better even than the produce of legendary student staple Hassan’s. The passion of the manager became clear when he started waxing lyrical about the cows kindly supplying my double cheeseburger.
“Argentinian”, tick. “Relaxed lifestyle”, tick. “Really clean meat” … tick? He kindly informed me this was going to be the “best choice” I’d made that day. He was probably right, but then again, the only other decision I later made was to go to Park-end.
Our orders taken, he then (as the only member of staff) went off to cook my burger. The burger soon appeared in all its glory, proudly carried out by its creator. He passionately implored me to “Enjoy!” and enjoy it I did! Meatier than a Knorr stock pot and tender as you like, the only fault I could find with my meal was in the slightly ‘average’ nature of the bun.
On the whole, I would say it was possibly the best burger I’ve had in Oxford so far.
Our host-cum-new best friend returned to ask the almost disturbing question “is it too juicy for you?”. Before I’d managed to come up with an answer that wasn’t equally as odd, he’d convinced us to try a smoothie he’d created that very day. We had no idea what was in it, but it was delicious.
As we were getting the bill, he brought us a hibiscus-based drink to taste and review (on the house), which was slightly less delicious, though still nice. I alerted him to my 20% off, but was surprised to hear that this discount only applied to Rick’s Café, not the Rick’s Kitchen that we were currently in. Frankly, given the quality of the food, some 13 pounds a head seemed a small price to pay for a thoroughly tasty and quirky meal. My single regret in respect to this outing, was that we never asked the lone chef his name. I would like to think we had the honour of being served by the eponymous ‘Rick’ of Rick’s Kitchen himself, but who knows.