After a day of parading through Montreal with a lust for culture and history, my mother and I had established quite the appetite. Seeking refuge from the torturous slush and the barrage of landmine-esque puddles scattering the sidewalk, we waddled into Foxy (http://foxy.restaurant) like a pair of ducks. Opened by the culinary visionaries behind Olive + Gourmando, Foxy Restaurant in Montreal flaunts rustic comfort food with a new age bend.
Contrasting the frigid climate of Montreal in mid-winter, the interior of Foxy was warm and inviting. All aspects of the restaurant’s ambience functioned in direct balance with each other. The low light of the space allowed the patrons to relax, while the bustling crowds instilled energy and excitement within the confines of the restaurant. While the dark furniture and earthy brick walls of Foxy ingrained a sense of comfort in the mind of the consumer, the robust, full-bodied aromas emerging from the kitchen aroused all palatable sensations. Both the mind and body operated in perfect equilibrium.
After being seated at the counter overlooking the roaring brick oven, we settled in for dinner and a show. As we melted away into the sights and smells of the space, we took a moment to appreciate our surroundings. Directly beside us, a hearth-like oven, well-equipped with a tool belt of monstrous fire prodding instruments, blazed in a neat orb. Above our heads, a vertical stripe of amber lights hung delicately from the ceiling in a snaking line. While we were mesmerized by the beautiful atmosphere of Foxy, we were approached by a waiter who broke our trance and deposited us back into reality. He provided us with a succinct explanation of the night’s specials and issued us menus.
Following our reception of the menus, we generated our culinary blueprint. To start, we ordered Feta Maison Marine + Pita, Wood Oven Baked Clams, and an Apple + Bacon Flatbread. For our entrees we ordered Mt. Laurier Hanger Steak and Polenta with Mushroom Stew.
The Feta Maison Marine + Pita was a wonderfully fresh and pleasant start to the meal. The dish was created with hefty chunks of firm, supple feta cheese, a loose tangle of pliable baby carrots, and a generous sprinkle of crunchy pine nuts (for texture). The plate was finished with a neat dash of honey and was served in a pool of warm, melted brown butter. These finishing touches provided a hint of sweetness to counteract the tart flavor of the feta cheese. Additionally, the dish was served with a bulbous pita balloon, for the purpose of soping up excess liquid.
I am not a huge clam-lover in general, but I give respect when they are done right. As a result of this, I need to give major kudos to Foxy for nailing the Wood Oven Baked Clams. The Wood Oven Baked Clams proved to be the ideal dish to warm up every nook and cranny of our bodies. The clams were boiled until they were tender and juicy in consistency, then they were tossed in a steaming pan of vegetable sauce, and served atop a mountain of al dente farro piccolo (a small rustic grain). The clams were finished off with julienned slivers of crispy almonds, to balance the otherwise soft, one-noted texture of the clams.
The Apple + Bacon Flatbread proved to be the winner of the appetizers at Foxy. Resting like a blanket atop the perfectly charred flatbread crust, lay an oozing puddle of hot gruyere cheese. Above this foundation resided several unctuous, salty slices of thick-cut bacon, thin spirals of sauteed onions, and glassy, silver-dollar sized apple shavings. The flatbread was finished off a silky dollop of creme fraiche and a sticky drizzle of tart cider gastrique. While many view the flatbread as a “discount” pizza, Foxy’s rendition proved this notion wrong.
After it received impressive recognition in the internet world, we had high expectations for the Mt. Laurier Hanger Steak. Unfortunately, those expectations didn’t quite pan out. While the steak was incredibly moist and tender, it’s succulence came at a cost. Per the recommendation of the kitchen, the steak was to served medium rare (though it was more rare than medium rare). The centers of the medallions were a little undercooked for my liking, and I thus had a hard time enjoying the dish to its full potential. On a higher note, the steak was crusted in a fine dusting of herbs and salts, leaving the outer bark of the meat crusty and flavorful. The melt-away meat was served with a thick slice of acidic, anchovy infused butter and a nest of bitter rapini (broccoli rabe), with the intention of cutting through the rich, decadent flavors of the steak.
Lastly, my Mother dined on the Polenta with Mushroom Stew. The mushroom stew was hearty and earthy in taste, and thick and dense in texture. The stew was accompanied by a monumental mound of creamy polenta, to act as a sponge for the mushroom stew. The dish was finished off with oaky shavings of gouda cheese and a scattering of peppery arugula. The stew was comfort food in its most basic form.
We ended the meal with Apple Crumble A La Mode. The crumble was encased by a thick coating of sugary crumbs and almonds, and was erupting with apple segments submerged in a viscous, cinnamon syrup. The skillet of apple crumble was served with a velvety ice cream sidekick, to catapult the dessert to the next level. The crumble was the crescendo to a fantastic meal.
Overall, our experience at Foxy was delightful, aside from the underdone steak. I would recommend the trip to anyone considering Montreal as their next culinary destination. I would give it ZZZZ – 4 Z’s – Well Worth It!