It has been three years since my first and only visit to Foxley. I've tried to go again a couple of times since then - the most recent attempt being a few months ago in June. I remember the visit clearly too. It was a Saturday evening around 7pm and the neighbourhood was bustling. A beautiful summer night, one would be crazy to stay indoors. Anyway, the moment I stepped inside Foxley I knew I was in trouble... the restaurant was jam packed. There wasn't a single empty seat in sight, not even at the bar. There was absolutely no way I'll get a table any time soon. My suspicion was promptly confirmed - I had to wait two hours for a table of four (as you may have guessed Foxley does not take reservations.) I was outta there in a flash; I cannot justify waiting that long for food. Ever. We ended up going to Café Boulud and as always, they never disappoint.
So, lesson learned and I was smarter this time around. Instead of going on a Saturday I went to Foxley on a Wednesday evening at 7pm, and oh my, the difference was astounding. I also thank the crazy downpour and thunderstorm that started at 6:30pm :)
Chef Tom Thai is still busting out some really great food in his small kitchen. The bistro's South Asian inspired menu has been updated from my last visit but a lot has stayed the same (especially his signature dishes.) I should mention that some things never change at Foxley. First, its food menu is still presented on plain white paper. Also, there remains to be a staggering 30+ dishes but no desserts. Secondly, decor hasn't changed one bit either.
Finally, after seven years in business Foxley still doesn't have a website, Facebook page or Twitter account. I guess their mantra is: "Why change something that works?"
SEA BREAM CEVICHE WITH YUZU AND SHISO ($16)
KALE SALAD WITH PECORINO TOSCANO AND LEMON DRESSING ($10)
ARCTIC CHAR CEVICHE WITH GREEN APPLE AND GINGER ($16)
TEMPURA PACIFIC OYSTERS HAND ROLL MAKI ($10)
GRILLED BEEF HEART WITH CHILI LIME SALSA ($9)
GINGER-GARLIC MARINATED FRIED ORGANIC FREE-RANGE CHICKEN ($10)
GRILLED PORK SIDE RIBS WITH CARAMELIZED SHALLOT GLAZE ($9)
Bold, daring flavours and never bland, that's what I love most about Foxley. Almost every dish there will make your tastebuds dance like they've never danced before (you know, if taste buds could dance.) Thai's menu does not pay attention to trends (okay maybe with the exception of the kale salad and fried chicken) but rather, it's a list of what Thai likes to cook and what he does best, which are original, inauthentic, one-of-a-kind dishes that stand the test of time. Best example? Foxley's Arctic Char Ceviche, which also happens to be my favourite ceviche dish. This plate brings thick and tender slices of char which are coated and balanced by tart lemon juice, lime and olive oil, and finally topped with a generous amount of scallions and spicy chili slices. Sweet, salty, spicy and sour, it's a party in your mouth. If I ever find out that you went to Foxley but did not order the Arctic Char Ceviche, I will have to kill you. Seriously.
Aside from the ceviches the next best dishes that evening were the Tempura Pacific Oyster Hand Rolls and the Grilled Beef Heart. The fried oysters were hot, plump, juicy and crunchy, and the sliced mangos were refreshing and sweet. Paired together with kewpie mayo and rice all wrapped in nori, you have something extraordinary (there was perhaps a bit too much rice because I suddenly felt really full after finishing the hand roll.) As for the Grilled Beef Heart skewers, I think I enjoyed that sharp and flavourful salsa just as much, if not more, than the beef hearts themselves, which had a slightly rubbery yet surprisingly appetizing texture. The Grilled Pork Side Ribs were delicious and soft, but could be a lot juicier (if my memory serves me correctly I enjoyed them a lot more three years ago.) The fried chicken isn't something I would order again. Not that it wasn't good but a part of me was bitter that Foxley gave into the "what's hot right now" trend, you know? As for the chicken itself, it was awfully juicy and tender, absolutely no complaints there. The chili sauce was also tasty. What was lacking was actually the batter; it was too light. Weird, I know, because nobody ever complains about batter being too light, but it was just too thin and flaky here. It didn't have enough of that satisfying crunch I look for when I take my first bite of fried chicken. I also realized that I prefer my fried chicken with bones in it. There's something so rewarding about holding onto a big piece of fried chicken with your fingers, tearing away all the meat from the bone, and hearing that crunchy bite of skin echoing in your ears as you chew. Yeh, all those factors are essential to my ideal fried chicken experience. Otherwise, I'm just having good fried chicken nuggets.
Pro Tip: It seems that chef Thai really likes to use a lot of crispy shallots and scallions in his dishes. Not a complaint really - since both ingredients give a lot of flavour and texture to any dish - but just remember to bring mints.