Brisbane has a lot to offer the local diner. Food festivals, new openings every week, a climate suited to footpath dining, hidden gems and elegant salons. The one thing it really doesn’t have is laneways. Oh sure, there are a couple of re-purposed loading docks and some ‘fake’ laneways that have been architected into new precincts but in general, laneways are not a Brisbane thing. So when you have a real laneway, you need to make the most of it. The Fox Hotel in South Brisbane backs onto one of Brisbane oldest lanes, dating from the 1870’s, Fish Lane. Mr Tiffin and I were invited* to try The Fox’s Fish Lane Bistro spring menu.
We’ve all seen menus where you’ve wanted to try every dish. This was one of them. So many of my favourite ingredients vying for my attention. As it was, I opted for two entrees instead of an entrée and main as I just couldn’t choose. Mr Tiffin had a generous portion of the smooth and airy Duck Liver Parfait. The apple chutney it was partnered with was too vinegary and overwhelmed the mild flavour of the parfait. Some additional cooking and time in the jar would have mellowed the chutney considerably but the parfait was enjoyable enough on its own. What did pair incredibly well with the parfait was the smoked butter that came with the starter of fresh sourdough. I suggest ordering the sourdough so you can try the smoky butter/parfait combo as well as having some additional bread to enjoy with the parfait. When it arrived at the table in its cast iron frying pan, the Blue Cheese Souffle w Walnut & Fig was enormous and made me glad I had gone the two entrée route. Double baking prevents the souffle from collapsing and the use of mild Gorgonzola meant that even non blue cheese lovers such as Mr Tiffin could enjoy it. This was my favourite dish of the evening and definitely worth returning for.
My second meal was the classic pairing of Scallops w Chorizo and Peas. When scallops are on the menu, I find them hard to resist so I rarely do. Each mouthful of spicy chorizo, creamy pea puree and plump, sweet and perfectly cooked scallop was a delight. Mr Tiffin’s Apple Glazed Pork Belly w Farro and Pickled Cabbage were what I would consider to be autumnal rather than spring flavours but you couldn’t fault the dish. The classic melting Pork Belly with sharp cabbage was served atop farro that had been cooked as a risotto. Creamy without the use of cream, it served as an alternative to mash. The serving was again generous. Despite the fact that we had enjoyed far too much food already, in the interests of research we shared a pair of desserts. The Chocolate Fondant was baked when ordered and oozed when cut, something many other restaurants fail to achieve despite their claims. Special mention to the Passionfruit Brulee on two fronts. The passionfruit cream was heady and fragrant and tangy enough to cut through the richness of the custard. More importantly, the burnt sugar top of the brulee had the requisite Crack! when hit with the back of a spoon. They demonstrated that the pastry chef is well and truly across the essentials of classical French desserts.
Good Meal, Great Service
I have told my friends many times that it is difficult to have a bad meal in Australia so it is therefore the service that makes or breaks a restaurant experience. From the moment we were seated, the service was attentive. Yes, this could have been because I was a guest but I noted that other tables were receiving a similar level of service. Friendly without being overly so; an excellent knowledge of the menu, ingredients and how dishes were cooked; a willingness to make suggestions and offer wine pairings – all hallmarks of good service. We were eating mid-week and quite early in the evening so only a few tables were seated but as the evening unwound, the dining room filled. Service didn’t skip a beat, with only two staff covering the whole floor.
All up, this was a hugely enjoyable night with a tempting menu, great atmosphere and wonderful service. When you visit The Fox Hotel, make sure you allow time to check out the other bars and spaces in the building. It has been very sympathetically restored and is a pleasure to wander through and appreciate. I venture that it has quite possibly the most attractive public bar in Brisbane.
Visited: Thursday 10th September – Dinner Service
*TIFFIN was invited to sample the laneway delights of Fish Lane Bistro as a guest of Liquidity Marketing and The Fox Hotel.
The Fox Hotel
71-73 Melbourne St
South Brisbane Qld 4101