Last night, Richard and I went out with Stella (Food Junkie Chronicles) and Jason (Securityphile) for dinner at Foxley. Foxley is an old favourite of mine and Richard’s and has been since the days when one of the only places to get a drink on Ossington was Sweaty Betty’s. My, how times have changed!
If you’re going on a weekend, be prepared for a line-up. Last night we showed up at 6pm and beat the crowd, but most of the time if you arrive past 7pm you can expect to wait. The good news is that they’ll take your number and call you when your table is ready so that you can wait at one of the many bars on the street. Red Light and Communist’s Daughter on Dundas (west of Ossington) are good, and so are Reposado and The Painted Lady on the west side of Ossington.
The first thing that I always want to order at Foxley is the lamb & duck prosciutto dumplings. They don’t look like much, but they’ll win you over quickly. They’re moist on the inside and they’re so crispy on the outside that I assume they’re deep-fried. The lamb taste shows through without being really overpowering. They come with a nice ginger vinaigrette for dipping.
The grilled venison wrapped in la lot leaf is a take on the Vietnamese dish made the same way, but usually with beef. The la lot leaf doesn’t taste like much, but it creates a perfect little vessel for the grilled venison which is perfectly spiced and very juicy. It comes on a salad that I have a love/hate relationship with. It’s quite spicy and if you don’t get a refreshing cucumber slice in your mouthful it can be a bit overpowering. But when you get the right balance of elements it’s delicious. Regardless of the salad, the venison is definitely worth a try.
The seared water buffalo liver was a new addition to the menu that night and we were the second people to order it! The waitress couldn’t tell us what it tasted like because it was so new that she hadn’t had a chance to try it, but we were all so intrigued by the idea of it that we didn’t need much convincing. It was definitely unique. My first impression the moment that I put it in my mouth was that it tasted… barnyard-y. There doesn’t seem to be any other way to describe it. The taste immediately transported me to the barns where my aunt raised cattle when I was growing up. You can decide for yourself whether or not you think that’s a good or a bad thing. I thought that it was great! It still had some of that typical livery taste, but because of the way that it was cooked it felt less like liver in your mouth and almost more like a rare and slightly tougher filet mignon. After eating this I would be very interested in trying other cuts of water buffalo.
It was fun going out for dinner with another food blogger because I didn’t feel like I was the only one holding up the other diners at the table!
The pork belly in muscatel reduction was another dish that I’ve never had before. I had to look it up, but muscatel is a sweet wine. And that makes sense! The sauce is very sweet, and also has hints of ginger and something else that reminds me of Asian food that I can’t quite put my finger on. The pork belly was perfectly cooked and tender with just the right amount of fat.
The sea bream ceviche with yuzu and shiso leaf was a refreshing change of pace after the richness and sweetness of the pork belly. It was light and clean tasting with the perfect balance of acidity. I’ve also had the scallop and kumquat ceviche here as well. Foxley really gets what it takes to make a killer ceviche. Nothing that I had in Costa Rica (ceviche central) ever came close.
The grilled beef hearts were hard for me to describe, so I asked Richard what he thought of them. He said, “They had a taste like fillet mignon and a texture like a rubber ball… In a good way!” They may not be for everyone, but we enjoyed them.
The grilled side ribs with caramelized shallot glaze may not be much to look at, but don’t hold that against them. I think that these might be the best ribs in the city. They’re probably also some of the least traditional ribs you’ll find. They’re incredibly tender and come off the bone with the slightest tug. The glaze has a similar flavour to the pork belly reduction, but it has something else, too. Molasses, maybe? There’s definitely some ginger in these and the flavours are definitely Asian-inspired. I sometimes dream about these ribs at night, and you will too.
Also, a credit to Foxley’s staff is that fact that they didn’t give us the ribs and the pork belly at the same time. The dishes have similar tastes and if we’d eaten them both at the same time we might not have really appreciated them. Instead, they gave us the ceviche & beef hearts in the middle to space things out.
We thought that we were finished after the ribs, but after sitting for a few minutes we decided to order one last thing: the braised beef cheeks in red curry. Richard and I have both had this before and it’s one of my favourite things on the menu, but last night they fell a bit flat. I don’t know if it was the fact that we had it right after those delicious flavourful ribs or if they were just a bit off, but the red curry was too salty and not as sweet and smooth as it usually is. It was a bit of a disappointment, but I’d be willing to give them another shot next time we’re there. The beef cheeks themselves are so tender that they fall apart on your tongue.
Although Foxley doesn’t claim to be anything, their menu is definitely an Asian fusion menu. Dishes are served with chopsticks, ordered family-style (to be shared amongst the table) and they borrow a lot of their flavours from various Asian cuisines. But they’ve managed to turn typical Asian fusion into something a lot more exciting by using out-of-the-ordinary meats and offal. The wait staff are friendly and laid-back, the music is good and the atmosphere is cozy. If you haven’t been to this little spot on Ossington, you really should give it a try!
207 Ossington Avenue