The layout feels as though it would be more at home in a casual restaurant/bistro in Albert Park or South Melbourne. There are a number of smaller tables, but the space is dominated by a long high marble table with comfortable chairs overlooking the open kitchen. This would be the sort of space which would work well for breakfast, coffee, or a person eating alone. Certainly it was great fun being at the bench with fellow diners sharing dishes, chatting about the food and watching the chefs in action.
The restaurant describes itself as modern Australian. To me the term can often cover up a level of ordinariness, but for Henry and the Fox it means Spanish, Italian and French influences with a great focus on freshness and presentation.
There were only 2 vegetarian options on the entrée menu. The lightly fried zucchini flowers were filled with ricotta, mint and peas. These were a refreshing and delicious start to the meal.
The entrees were served with a gently oaked pinot gris from Alsace. The slightly buttery and fruit driven wine worked as a good balance to the mint and pea filled zucchini flowers.
The other vegetarian option was goats cheese and roasted baby beets. The dish was complemented by pickled shallots, shiso, and raspberry vinegar. This combination worked very well and was a step up from the typical beets and goats’ cheese which has become a standard offering at a lot of restaurants. As with all their dishes a lot of attention is given to presentation. The flavours of the dish brought the pinot gris to life.
The vegetarian options on the mains menu were limited: there were only two – both pasta dishes. However, the accompaniments to the other mains were all indicators that the chef is capable in the vegetarian area. But you have to ask the question: why not offer a couple of vegetarian mains other than pastas?
The two salads were excellent: buffalo mozzarella, orange and bitter lettuce; and rocket, pear and roasted walnuts. The ingredients were exceptionally fresh and the textures and flavours created an enjoyable eating experience. The other vegetable dishes served with the mains were a spiced carrot (good flavours, but not the sort of dish which you want to fill up on; and brussel sprouts, chestnut and (oh dear!) smoked bacon. The chestnuts and sprouts was another inspired texture/flavour contrast type of dish, but was a bit generously salted.
The red wine that was provided was a Grenache from…. The meat eaters were enjoying it: it was a wine which would have gone well with one of the fuller flavoured pizza from the restaurants pizzeria, but I continued with the pinot gris which provided a superior balance to the vegetarian dishes.
A lot of food was served in a relatively short time. Did any of us need dessert? Most of us agreed dessert was an excessive indulgence. But when attractively presented desserts (4 in total) are put in front of a food lover, is it a virtue to resist temptation? Well, I dived in. The serves were generous so the virtue was in not licking the bowl clean. The passionfruit cheesecake was the standout. It was more a mousse than a cake – light and full of flavour – served with jelly, granita and a yoghurt sorbet. It was a real palate cleanser after a big meal.
The other desserts served were: doughnuts coated with sugar and with a chocolate dipping sauce (I’ll come back another day for a coffee and these doughnuts); chocolate pannacotta (fairly dense but balanced with strawberry cream and sorbet); quince, pear, and custard coconut crumble with coconut ice-cream (large serving and a good combination of flavours, but could only manage a spoonful after a large amount of food).
This was a great night out. The restaurant needs a crowd to create the ambience. Hopefully Henry and the Fox will start to attract the crowd the food deserves.
About the Author
Michael is a food and wine connoisseur and has recently started writing for Nouveau Potato. He also makes a delicious chocolate cake.
Henry and the Fox525 Little Collins St
03 9614 3277