Foxlow Clerkenwell

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Farringdon
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In a cosily masculine room, magically transformed by the duo behind Hawksmoor, a compact menu offers food that will comfort and soothe (and fantastic service).

It takes special magic to lift a curse. One held over a restaurant site, doubly so. The previous time we dined at this address, the (Nordic) cooking was excellent, but the atmosphere dreary. The building was – and has always been – a doomed sow’s ear of a site, a corridor-with-annexes. It would, we thought, take a sorcerer of Potter-like talents to turn it into a silk purse.

But Hawksmoor founders Will Beckett and Huw Gott have reversed the hex. Having sold a majority steak (sorry, stake) in their four-strong restaurant chain, they’ve opted not to go shopping for a a superyacht or the penthouses at One Hyde Park, but to create this new enterprise. Removing internal walls with ‘DIY SOS’-like enthusiasm, they then gave it a cosily masculine (though not blokey) vibe: all warm woods, low lighting and comfy retro-themed furniture. Finally, in went a small cocktail bar and a deliciously posh salad bar (it’s not self-service, more’s the pity, but they’ll let you hover and gawp).

The cooking, on the whole, is terrific. There’s a daily specials board of impeccably-sourced steaks – but unlike Hawksmoor, Foxlow is not a steakhouse. Instead, a compact menu offers food that will comfort and soothe: the sort that you want to eat after a break-up, or after watching too many episodes of ‘Homeland’. A dish of ‘smokehouse rillettes’ saw a smoky mound of beef, turkey, pork and pig fat (lardo) knocked into shape by a tart jumble of cucumber, pickles and capers. A slab of bacon, around eight rashers thick, had been basted in maple and chilli and roasted for eight hours. As if the sweet, smoky, spicy meat with its strata of juicy fat wasn’t succulent enough, it came with a dinky jug of fiery, sweet and smoky barbecue sauce. From the salad bar, our two-cabbage slaw sported whole fennel seeds and a delicate vinaigrette. An individual sour cherry pie had a soft, almost cakey pastry lid, and a side of soft, sweet ice cream.

There were blemishes: the bacon salt added to our fries made them taste like novelty popcorn. Sauces cost extra, yet the thoughtful wine list is fairly priced (from £16).

But what makes Foxlow special is the service. On our visit, not only did the youthful staff know their menu better than their phone numbers, but they threw in bags of personality, beaming smiles and a nothing-too-much-trouble attitude. They could have made a cheese toastie in a grubby caff seem like fun. Alakazam! At 69-73 St John Street, the evil enchantment has been broken.

NOTE: Since this review was published, Foxlow has modified its opening hours to serve brunch at the weekends. They will be serving brunch from Saturday December 6.

 

Venue name: Foxlow Clerkenwell
Contact:
Address: 69-73 St John Street
London
EC1M 4AN
Opening hours: Mon-Fri noon-3pm, 5.30-10.30pm; Sat 11am-3.30pm, 5.30-10.30pm; Sun 11am-5.30pm
Transport: Tube: Farringdon
Price: Meal for two with drinks and service: around £90.

Average User Rating

5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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LiveReviews|5
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Jenny

Came here for Valentine's day and had the perfect evening. The food was delicious, the staff were very knowledgeable and friendly. The waiter recommended us a delicious wine and made many recommendations on our orders but then left us alone to enjoy our evening. Even though it was a busy night, we didn't feel rushed at all and actually ended up staying there for 3 hours chatting over our bottle of wine. Definitely worth the money for a special occasion.

Mike

Spent a wonderful evening here and I thoroughly recommend. Had the squid starter, lovely bottle of Burgundy, Beef Rib with Kimchi, monkfish and salad bar selection. Staff were all excellent hosts and the atmosphere was perfect mix of formal and chilled out... Try the smoked paprika bloody mary...

Stefan Cook

A wonderful evening, great staff, great food: recommend the crab to start and the steaks were easily on par with Hawksmoor. Salad bar is a good addition with lots of interesting combinations. Foxlow is a more chilled out, more reasonable version of Hawksmoor.

Cassius

Great food about 5 mins walk from Farringdon station. Really chilled and friendly staff and great food. Try the devilled crab or the short-ribs - spot on.