06 May 2014

Meat and Maps: Foxlow Review

At Foxlow, the six-month-old restaurant from the team behind the Hawksmoor group, it's actually possible to have bacon for all three courses. I didn't think I'd have room for a starter, but two out of three ain't bad. Although Clerkenwell can be a little quieter out of office hours, a sunny bank holiday Monday lunchtime was the perfect time to enjoy Foxlow's laid-back but still buzzy atmosphere.

Foxlow is a shrine to two of my favourite things: bacon and maps. The decor is beautiful: as well as the cartography- and typography-themed art, there is plenty of stylish mid-century Scandi furniture and a gorgeous colour scheme of deep teal with red and cream accents.

At Hawksmoor, the cow is king, whereas at Foxlow the focus is on pork and bacon. While I perused the brief but enticing menu, I sipped on a Rockefeller Fizz (£5) — a refreshing cocktail with ginger ale, bourbon and vermouth. I skipped the first course to save room for a pudding, but I did try some of my dad's Brixham crab with sriracha sauce (£9), which were served like tacos inside perfectly curved lettuce leaves.

Although I was tempted by the deckle steak recommended by our waiter, I couldn't not order the eight-hour bacon rib with maple and chilli (£16). The waiter warned me that it was quite a fatty cut, and normally this would have put me off as I prefer my meat to be on the leaner side, I figured that after eight hours of slow cooking, the fat would probably be very flavoursome and indeed it was. The meat was tender, juicy and flavoursome, and the maple and chilli sauce was rich and spicy. The rib even came with a big slice of grilled pineapple, but it was a far cry from the gammon 'n' chips you often see on the menu of non-gastropubs.

We also shared a few side dishes between us: the beef-dripping potatoes and rapini with butter beans were pretty good, but of course my favourite was the skin-on fries with — you guessed it — more meat, in the form of chicken salt.

Most of the puddings involved at least one of my favourite ingredients: salted caramel, chocolate, popcorn, and so on. I was intrigued by the Elvis Presley sandwich with (or without) candied bacon (£5.25). The waitress explained that it was an ice cream sandwich on toasted brioche with peanut butter, salted caramel, 'Mr Whippy style' ice cream and bananas. Given that it involved both peanut butter and salted caramel, I was glad I could order it without the bananas, and it proved to be delicious: the perfect mix of sweet and salty. And I'm not sure there would have been room in the sandwich for anything else! Très beau, n'est-ce pas?

Overall, my first experience of Foxlow was as good as I was expecting. It definitely has more of a neighbourhood restaurant feel than the dark, sleek steakhouses of the Hawksmoor group, but would be as lovely a place for a hearty weeknight dinner as sunny bank-holiday lunch.

After lunch, in a somewhat vain effort to work off our lunch, we wandered down to the British Museum. We had tickets for the Vikings exhibition, which proved to be both incredibly busy and quite dull, but we had a look around some of the free galleries too and took some silly photos. A very pleasant way to spend the rest of the afternoon.

Foxlow. 69–73 St John Street, London, EC1M 4AN (Tube: Farringdon). Website. Twitter.

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