Restaurant review: Foxlow, Finsbury. EC1

Foxlow's bright and breezy dining room

Foxlow's bright and breezy dining room - Credit: Archant

»A fair old buzz has surrounded the opening of Foxlow, down in Finsbury, which is hardly surprising because it’s the new venture from the team behind the Hawksmoor steak house dynasty.

But that hype could well be a double-edged sword –obviously you want a good dollop of anticipation prior to opening (and by all accounts Foxlow has been rammed since it launched a couple of weeks ago) – but with a restaurant so defined by one dish as Hawksmoor is by steak, you need to make quite a bold point of difference.

And by and large they do – firstly by the decor, which is tiled, bright and relaxed, in contrast to the low lighting, wood-panels and formal atmosphere of their first venture. Secondly, and more importantly, by the menu which is noticeably cheaper and significantly less beef-heavy.

Sure, there are still huge, hulking chunks of meat to be had, but seafood, vegetarian options and even a salad bar are prominent features.

We started with some tender and well-peppered squid pieces with a fiendishly moreish garlic dip and smokehouse rillettes – a tasty, pate-like mound of shredded meat served with zingy capers to cut through the dense flavour.

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Next up was the monkfish – a big succulent portion of ocean-dweller – smothered in chermoula. The Moroccan marinade, lively with paprika, cumin and Arabian promise, was very good, but did overpower the fish somewhat.

Meanwhile the shortrib was an impressive little number. A an awe-inspiring bit of meat, cooked for ten hours so it pretty much fell off the enormous bone it was wrapped around.

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Even more impressive was the Kimchi sauce it came with – vibrant and vigorous with almost tongue numbing spice. Korean-influenced food is set to be everywhere in 2014 and this is why. A lovely, if slightly incongruous, side of beef-dripping roasted spuds with gravy, as well as a slightly over-aniseedy coleslaw rounded the course off.

For dessert, a pleasing if not ground-shaking cheese board, which could, as in many restaurants, have done with being served at room temperature.

But overall Foxlow is a definite success – top class service, a cool venue and a small but well thought out menu offering some of the best aspects of Hawksmoor, whilst remaining distinct and with prices that mean it won’t just be the preserve of expense account holders.

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