A Paradise For Steak Lovers

But Anne Flaherty finds something missing in new restaurant Foxlow


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Filling the space left by a local food legend is a big challenge for any restaurateur. When Sam Harrison decided to move on from his popular brasserie in Barley Mow Passage there were audible sighs from the gourmands of Chiswick. Over the years he earned a loyal following with tasty and reasonably priced dishes, and a Sunday brunch that was a particular joy for this writer.

How do you rise to the challenge of replacing Sam? Certainly not by trying to imitate what has gone before. The owners of Foxlow - which recently took over the space left by Sam’s Brasserie– have come with a very different idea. The emphasis here is on meat – and lots of it. Foxslow is a carnivore’s delight.

The new identity extends beyond the food. The décor is edgier, all exposed brick and pipe work, with discrete banquettes and low lighting. The feel is of New York’s East Village or SoHo. To my immense relief it is also one of the few restaurants I’ve visited in recent times that plays music at a comfortable level. Joy of joys you can actually hear yourself talk and, if you feel generous, listen to your partner.

To the food. The menu features fish, chicken and two vegetarian options (Ricotta dumplings and a Macaroni cheese dish) but, as noted earlier, the focus is firmly on flesh of the hooved and horned kind, provided by The Ginger Pig butchers in Askew Road. Our charming host for the evening was Ronnie from Mauritius who patiently guided us through the merits of different cuts of meat, nudging my steak-loving companion in the direction of a Rib Eye, the apparent favourite of most diners so far. We sipped a Virgin Mary cocktail ( "the best I ever had" said husband) and for me a glass of Prosecco.

And then it was time to make up our minds. We opened with Crispy Five Pepper Squid for him and Burrata with Sorrel Salsa Verde for me.

The squid provided a pleasing crunch to the palate, having been dipped in seasoned flour and then quickly fried. It came served with a slice of lime, a dip and some chilli. Delicious and one of the most popular starters.

Burrata is made from curds and leftover Mozzarella cheese mixed with cream and it was served in a generous portion with the sharpness of the herby salsa cutting through. This comes with sourdough bread to mop up the herby creamy mixture. It was very satisfying but might also go well with some tomato or prosciutto.

I was determined to find out whether there were any real alternatives for non meat-eaters and sacrificing myself for the greater good I opted for a fish dish. The menu main course choice was Brixham Hake with Romesco or House-cured Salmon with Fennel. I opted for the former. The fish was served properly cooked but I didn't relish the heat from the Romesco, a Catalan nut and pepper-based sauce, which I felt overpowered the delicate flavour of the hake.

My fork began to hover in the direction of the tasty-looking rib eye which my husband was about to devour. This steak completely filled a rather small plate (see below), but came beautifuly cooked medium, as ordered, garnished with watercress, and with bone marrow for dipping. There are the usual sauces for the side, and his choice, Bearnaise, came in a little ceramic pot. Chips were the usual stringy kind, served in a little pot.

I drank a glass of a very good white Bordeaux with my fish, and there is an extensive wine and cocktail list. But I did rather wish I had opted for red meat. If I return, that is exactly what I will do.

For dessert, we opted to share a Cochi Torino soft serve, an icecream sundae which came in a glass with a fudgy chocolate sauce and hazelnuts. Other choices are sticky toffee pudding, apple pie, cheesecake or brownie. There are cheeses available from Neal's Yard.

Foxlow is also offering a Sunday roast menu, a weekend brunch, and an Early Bird two and three course menu.

Prices are £18- £23 for steaks, and the hake was a very reasonable £14, with sides of chips or potato extra. I think the prices are very reasonable for Chiswick. Incidentally Tuesday is BYO bottle with no corkage fee! The wine list goes from the cheaper varieties at £17 a bottle up to the Fine Wines range from £45 to £250 !

There is also a Kids Menu at £6 including a drink and pudding.

It's hard to put my finger on what was missing in Foxlow, and I can't fault the service from the friendly staff. I think it's an ideal place to go with a group of friends if you are in the mood for a good steak. I would like to see a 'Catch of the Day' on the board, or maybe some shellfish. Or more vegetarian options. I think maybe as it's a chain, it lacks a bit of soul. Or maybe it just lacks Sam.

Anne Flaherty

November 28, 2015

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