Sometime La Presse food critic Ariane Krol writes up Foxy today, the new Griffintown restaurant from Olive et Gourmando, whose fire pit cuisine takes influence from the likes of Brooklyn's Joe Carroll, and Argentina's Francis Mallman. "Chaleureux," Krol remarks. That's what comes to mind when you enter Dyan Solomon and Éric Girard's restaurant, in every sense of the word. The muted lighting, superb soundtrack, and cushy décor, not to mention the faint hint of wood smoke, puts Foxy halfway between hunting lodge and speakeasy. It's an atmosphere that completely envelops diners.
Not to say that food is secondary at Foxy, cautions Krol. The critic starts with grilled Gaspé smelts. Delicious, but simply served with roe, a dollop of whipped cheese, and onion rings, the smelts are "ridiculously alone." Somewhat harshly, Krol can "hear the entire Gaspé Peninsula laugh at the plate." A winter slaw with cauliflower, celeriac, celery leaves, and duck, is a lot more satisfying, and manages to surprise with every bite. The next dish is a dud, unfortunately. Krol calls grilled avocado, buffalo mozzarella, pumpkin seeds, and pea shoots a haphazard assemblage that you'd expect from a hippie café. Foxy's flatbread on the other hand, adorned with oyster mushrooms and truffled Pecorino, is a must-try.
Mains fare much better, on the whole. A perfectly cooked and crusted hanger steak is pronounced the best ever by one of Krol's dining companions. Roasted Cornish hen is juicy and tender, and served with two delicious sauces; a spicy jus, and smoked crème fraiche. Desserts at Foxy are worth saving room for; not a surprise coming from the owners of a standout bakery like Olive et Gourmando. Krol tries a chocolate-banana pie, and a citrus salad. The former includes salted caramel, dark chocolate ganache, and banana slices coated in brown sugar. With a scoop of peanut brittle and praline ice cream, the dessert is so delicious, it's stupid. The much lighter citrus salad, served with clementine and grapefruit granita, and supremes of clementine and blood orange, all bathed in red vermouth syrup, is "joli comme un coucher de soleil, est une belle façon de clore un repas."
Foxy is one of those anticipated restaurant where expectations are so high, diners expect, and desire, perfection. It's not a perfect restaurant, Krol concludes. Nevertheless, one can eat very good things here, and in an exceptional atmosphere to boot. The critic will "probably" return.