When my family and I first moved to Canberra’s 2607 postcode seventeen years ago (side note: ten-year-old me would be devastated to know that 27-year-old me still doesn’t have a fluffy puppy or squillion-dollar book deal, but I’d like to think she’d be pleased she moved to Canada for two years and frequently eats cheesecake for breakfast), there was a dearth of spectacular dining options in the area.
For a short and glorious period, the Isaacs shops were home to Megabite, where I’d always order the same thing: a white baguette with salami, roasted capsicum, and marinated artichokes, followed by the greatest chocolate caramel slice that has ever existed. RIP Megabite and the greatest chocolate caramel slice that has ever existed.
The Mawson shops had a few lacklustre Italian joints and a Domino’s Pizza, and Farrer had… nothing that I can remember. Nothing of note. Nothing to make the heart skip and the smiles soar and the soul dance.
Flash forward to late 2014, and Alex Piris opened up Fox and Bow, a charming seven-day-a-week-all-day-brunch-and-lunch-menu-hyphenated-live-music-colourful-mural-ever-bustling-joyful-café-restaurant that my parents and I (and my Melbourne-based brother) have fallen head over heels for.
It must be said I’m keeping some of my love in reserve until Alex puts waffles on the menu, but it’s always good to have something to hope for, right? Right.
Fox and Bow’s modus operandi is freshness and deliciousness (and friendliness) in equal measure. In fact, they only have one teensy tiny fridge in the back, so almost everything is brought in and made on the spot daily.
Further testament to how dedicated the place is to listening and adapting to local tastes is the fact the menu has changed three times since opening, finally settling into a cohesive selection that mixes the tried-and-true with by-golly-whizz-bang-that’s-exciting! flair. Take the French Toast (called “Passion Pop”) which comes with passionfruit gelato and popping candy, for example, or the “James Bond”, described as “marinated octopussy, cucumber, mint and roasted capsicum salad with toasted baguette”.
Sometimes I want to order items for their names alone.
But that’s enough of an introduction (I haven’t written here in almost a year; did you really expect me to be succinct?) – let’s take a peek at the epically magical menu items my family has tested out.
The dish you see immediately above is the new “Flapjack: bean and ham hock ragout, corn and herb flapjack, two fried free range eggs”, and what an innovative take on the Melbournian corn fritters epidemic it is. The photo preceding that is the pulled pork tacos that are no longer on the menu, and the photo at the top of the post showcases the “One for the Lads” burger with a beef shin patty and crispy-crunchy thick-cut chips as well as the “Mr Fox”, a take on the big breakfast concept packed with bacon, hash, chorizo, morcilla, mushrooms, eggs, and sourdough toast.
My mother often gets the “My Sweet Little Pecan”, which tosses together honey-roasted sweet potato, avocado, grilled haloumi, barbecued corn, toasted pecans, and lime, but this weekend opted for the new “Senorita Fox” of poached eggs, avocado, Tasmanian smoked salmon, asparagus, lemon, parsley, and grilled haloumi. She rhapsodised over it, and I found myself staring longingly (and somewhat forlornly) throughout our meal.
I’m getting it next time.
As for me, I tend towards the “Plain Jane”, though I’m considering asking for its name to be changed to the “Frizzy Hannah” on account of how often I order it. It’s eggs how you like them (poached, always and forever) on buttery sourdough with bacon and, because I simply can’t love bacon no matter how good it is (for the record, my parents adore Fox and Bow’s bacon), I always add an order of morcilla to my plate.
Alex sources award-winning chorizo, bacon, and morcilla from nearby food magicians (I might have forgotten the producers’ names and which awards they won), and it shows. The morcilla is intensely umami-y without having any metallic or bitter twinge, and it’s cooked to perfection, crispy and moist and crumbly.
The coffees at Fox and Bow never fail to impress, the juices have names like Mike Wazoski and Oh Darla!, and there’s a new espresso and date smoothie named after George Clooney (personally, I think they should’ve gone with Amal Alamuddin). The treats cabinet is a mix of house-made desserts and locally-made cronuts, and so far none have failed to impress.
Is this entire review effusively glowing? Yes, it is rather. The only thing that makes me pout even a little bit is the aforementioned lack of waffles, but you know what? The menu in December had thick pancakes topped with berries, maple syrup and caramel popcorn, so I can survive.
I can survive.
P.S. Please excuse the inconsistent photo sizing. I’ll find my rhythm again eventually.