Disclosure: I dined courtesy of Henry and the Fox.
In the kid’s book “Henry and the Fox”, Henry is a cowardly cockerel who can’t even crow properly. For the restaurant in the CBD, one of six (!) restaurants that renowned restauranter Paul Mathis has opened in the past six months or so, Henry is the last name of his PA and Fox refers to Michael Fox, the head chef. Fortunately there’s no cowardly cockerels at this restaurant because there’s plenty to crow about.
I visited Henry and the Fox last week as part of a bloggers’ dinner. The restaurant is located on Little Collins Street, up near the Spencer end of the city (or the New York end… hah). The L shaped room is decorated in a somewhat eclectic fashion – green and white chairs with black feet, a chessboard floor, timber panelled walls and a large white marble table across from an open kitchen. They also have an outdoor area that would be lovely in summer.
The food is “Modern Australia” and priced in that mid range bracket with entrees/small plates about $17-$25 and mains around the $25-$30 mark. They also serve pizzas (which we didn’t sample) which are all priced below $18.
There are a few small items that are priced and ordered individually, such as the jamon and manchego croquettes ($4 each). Phwoar. If you like cheese and you like fried crunchy food, these are a delight. The fried zucchini flowers, also priced individually at $4 each were also good – lightly battered, crispy, and filled with ricotta, mint and peas.
Cured kingfish with coriander and fennel seeds, mandarin and coriander shoots.
The goats cheese with roasted baby beets, pickled shallots, shiso and raspberry vinegar must be one of the most attractive dishes I’ve seen in a while. I’m not a big fan of goats cheese, but I did like the sweet/tart combo of the rest of the dish.
Rabbit terrine, rhubarb compote and salad, with toasted mini brioches.
The confit ocean trout, salted cucumber, radish and horseradish cream was another gorgeously presented dish and was also one of my faves from the night. I really liked the texture of the fish and the mild kick of the horseradish.
Another highlight was the seared scallops. The plump, just cooked, scallops, were served with a tangy, crunchy apple and celeraic remoulade, and caper and raisin puree with toasted pumpernickel.
Roasted Moreton Bay bug tails with cauliflower puree and spiced cauliflower.
Three mains were served from the menu – pork belly, poached chicken and fish. The mains were alternated between us, but one of the good things about dining with other food bloggers is that we’re always happy to share.
Crispy pork belly with fennel, dill and orange.
Poached chicken breast with quinoa, pistachio, fig, and sorrel.
Mulloway, avocado, chickpea, chorizo and red pepper.
The best out of the three mains was the fish – and it’s rare that fish would win over pork belly for me! The pork belly had lovely tender meat, crisp skin, but unfortunately it was too salty. The chicken also would’ve been nice but the quinoa it was served with was also too salty. It was almost like the two dishes had been salted twice by accident. If it wasn’t for this, they would’ve been excellent.
We then sampled several desserts.
Quince, pear, custard with coconut crumble and coconut ice cream.
Doughnuts with chocolate sauce.
Chocolate panna cotta with strawberry cream and strawberry sorbet topped with chocolate pop rocks.
Desserts were excellent. The serves were generous, they looked fantastic, and they weren’t too sweet – perfect for my tastes.
The passionfruit cheesecake in particular was something special – served in a cute jar, it contained passionfruit mousse, jelly, granita and yoghurt sorbet plus biscuit crumbs. I liked all the different textures and the creamy tanginess of the ingredients.
Henry and the Fox sits at that mid-range point in the dining market that is a little underserved in the CBD. The presentation of the food is top notch and the surroundings are stylish. In general, the food was very good – particularly the entrees and desserts. I would have liked the mains more if they hadn’t been marred by a bit too much salt. Assuming the over seasoning of the mains was an error (and it seemed that way considering the entrees and the fish main weren’t overly salty), I think they have great potential.
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Henry and the Fox
525 Little Collins St
Phone: 03 9614 3277
Open: Monday-Friday; 7.30am-late