Close your eyes and tell me what’s the first word that comes to your mind when I say Foxlow. Chances are 9 out of 10 times it would be ‘meat’ or ‘steak’. But did you know that Foxlow do a killer vegan and vegetarian menu too?
As an avid meat eater, I am personally challenging myself to cut down on meat and adopt a healthier diet. Especially as I eat a lot! So when Foxlow mentioned that they have vegan and vegetarian dishes on their menu, I was intrigued. How could a restaurant, renowned for its meat-based dishes pull off a vegan menu? There was only one way to find out!
We visited Foxlow’s newest branch in Soho. Opened in May 2017 and designed by Macaulay Sinclair, the interiors are casual and contemporary, with lots of natural light streaming in through the windows. The showstopper, of course, is the backlit bar with their witty, often sarcastic quotes that make for fun reading.
We kicked off with some of their Happy Hour cocktails. I tried the Foxy Lady (gin, Aperol, manzanilla, lemon and bitters) and Kris ordered the Dark & Stormy. Kris’s drink had the punchy flavours from the ginger, zest of lime in the background and the taste of rum at the end. My cocktail was quite dry, nice and refreshing with the citrusy notes coming through. The Aperol cut the citrus nicely, making it a well-balanced cocktail. It was a decent aperitif.
From the starters: Kale, Avocado & Herb Salad (ve) with Roast Carrots, Toasted Seeds set the benchmark for clean eating. In terms of presentation, it looked vibrant against the white plate, the colours popping right out. The crisp leaves had a herby, lemony zing to them. The quality of the avocado was spot on; no dark, mushy bits. There were also some soft baby carrots and almonds for depth. Extra crunch came from the toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds. It was a nutritious, crunchy salad perfect for summer.
From the mains, we sampled the very interesting sounding Anglum Fattoush (v) – London ‘halloumi’, Spelt, Parsley and Mint. The Anglum was like a halloumi clone but this one felt a lot less ‘stretchy’. The Levantine inspiration were evident from the Middle-eastern spicing, fried bread, cooling cucumber and mint.
The Spice-Roasted Cauliflower (ve) with Chickpeas, Wilted Spinach, Curried Aubergine Sauce was the unanimous favourite on the table. Presentation was pretty pleasing; small sized florets, deliciously charred and flecked with herbs and chickpeas. It was one of those OMG dishes that you fall in love with at the first mouthful. I highly recommend this one, even for voracious carnivores.
We ordered a simple side of Heritage Tomato Salad (ve). The success of this dish relied heavily on the quality of its ingredients and Foxlow got it spot on. It was full of tasty tomatoes, bursting with colour and freshness. If simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, then this dish epitomised that.
We paused for a second round of cocktails. This time, Kris tried the White Negroni (gin, white vermouth, Suze) whilst I tried the Alsatian Whip (poblano tequila, ginger beer, lime & bitters). The White Negroni was understated and light. It was quite different from a normal negroni, although you do get a bit of the bitterness coming though. There were lot of layers to this drink; the more sips you took, more was revealed. My drink, on the other hand, had a potent kick to it. Out of the two cocktails I tried, this was my favourite.
To balance our healthy meal, we included some naughty indulgence. Enter Chilli Mac’n’cheese (v). It delivered on the promise of warm, cheesy and gooey, but the threat of heat was missing. It tasted more like normal mac’n’cheese then chilli. It is good for people who can’t handle heat but may let down those who like it hot!
For dessert, we dived into the Toffee, Apple Sundae with Caramel Vanilla and Pecans. Being a hot day, it was a delicious way to cool off.
Overall, the vegan and vegetarian dishes at Foxlow were strong. Service was swift and smooth. We had a much better experience compared to my last time at the Balham branch. Special shout out to Marius and Julia who were very sweet and patiently answered all our questions.
In the past, countless restaurants have treated vegetarian dishes as afterthoughts whilst vegan was practically non-existent. But in 2018, the tide has changed. Vegans and vegetarians can now boldly dine out, have a splendid time and not be treated like second-class citizens.
As for me, I may not completely give up meat or eat vegan food everyday. But trying a three course vegan and vegetarian menu and feeling satisfied was a first for me. It shows that whilst I love my meat, I can equally enjoy a meal without it. That’s a step forward towards a change in mindset and a healthier, more sustainable approach to eating. Of course, it helped that the food was delicious.
Bottomline, food has to be tasty whether its chock-full of meat or vegan essentials. Foxlow’s menu oscillates from veg-heavy to meaty indulgence effortlessly and pulls it off with flying colours.
Location : 8-10 Lower James Street, London , W1F 9EL
More information can be found here.
N.B. I was invited to review but all photos and opinions are mine.