Aperitifs (and come to that digestifs) are actively encouraged at this stunning building sitting pretty on Stoke Newington Church Street, and on the day we visit a special Nikka Old Fashioned is chalked up on the blackboard – the Japanese whisky is served with bitters and orange zest. To further promote lingering over your pre-meal, mid-meal, and post-meal drink, between 10am-3pm sees the bottomless bloody Mary, so you get a sense of just how important shaken and stirred offerings are to the bartenders here – from classic concoctions (the Foxlow Mimosa) to quirky takes on seasonal favourites (Aperol Spritz Slushy).
Meanwhile, brew enthusiasts can keep things more simple with London craft beer offerings including Five Points, Camden Brewery and Kernel, and then, just like the Farringdon venue (where of course the team are up against Vinoteca in te vinous stakes), a fair few wines are available by the glass or half bottle, making matching tipple to your dishes a doddle.
It seems fitting then that the drinks on the extensive menu should be prepared behind a bar that dominates the ground floor dining space. The area for eating is small and, thanks to the ‘just walked into someone’s front room’ feel and glowing candlelight, incredibly intimate. That doesn’t mean this isn’t the perfect space to get a crowd of people together to work your way through the various size dishes though.
We kick off our self-selected degustation with crispy five-pepper squid (£8), which is indeed just crispy enough on the outside, and beautifully tender on the inside. Scattered with spring onions, coriander and slices of red chilli, its flavours are greatly enhanced by the slightly spicy dip. I would love to talk more about this dunking delight, except when I asked what was in it our server went to the kitchen to check and never returned. My guess is blended coriander roots, lime juice and kewpie mayo.
Next, a fried chicken sandwich with green slaw (£10) kindly cut it half to aid sharing – we’ve all seen how messy the Chick ‘n’ Sours Asian version can get. It was between this and the Foxlow fried chicken with habenero vinegar (the herb-fed free-range chooks in both dishes hail from North Yorkshire – and classy birds they are too) and on reflection I wonder if this would have come through with the much-required kick to elevate this dish from fine to fantastic.
The most anticipated order the night: 10-hour beef shortrib with kimchi (£17). Yes, it had achieved a barbecue-style bark but although the rub had heaps of flavour and managed to coat the meat with an almost crunchy, incredibly textural outer it was a bit too salty for our taste. And that brings us to the real gripe with the dish – we were looking forward to the kimchi offering a tangy, refreshing foil to all that rich, salty, meaty stuff going on. But instead of finding piquant shredded cabbage were faced instead with a red pasty mush that tasted primarily of fish sauce. Not the Korean kind of flavours we were looking for at all.
Instead – relief came in the form of the heritage tomato salad (£3.50) where fresh flavours and a light balsamic dressing turned out to be the lifesaver of the day. Especially when faced with two comfort food sensations that could run the risk of sitting heavy on the stomach – ricotta dumplings, courgettes and broad beans (£12.50) and macaroni cheese (£4.50) that comes in a cute little pot with a crunchy breadcrumb topping.
There are also dry-aged steaks from the Ginger Pig, but it’s tricky when the mains and side are so tempting. Puddings don’t push any boundaries, but they don’t need to they are so satisfying good – white chocolate and strawberry cheesecake, lemon and pistachio polenta cake with sweet labneh, chocolate and salted caramel tart, stocky toffee pudding, crunchy nut popcorn, Neal’s Yard cheeses – as well as three soft serve sundaes.
Brunch is served all week from 10am-3pm and ranges from homemade ricotta and London honey, and granola, Greek yoghurt and seasonal fruit through to fried chicken and egg with a croissant waffle, the all-day breakfast burger and steak, eggs and salsa verde. Oh and there’s coffee from Union Roasters.
A lunch special of flatiron and fries at £15 has the yummy mummies of Stoke Newington flocking in their Bugaboo droves, if the collection of kids’ toys and books stored in one corner are anything to go by. Thankfully, rather than give the dining room a nursery feel, the grown-up colour scheme (an almost Harrods-esque dark green below the dado rail) and vintage postcards and posters save the day – it’s a playground for everyone and has more of a homely appeal than its bistro-esque Farringdon counterpart – although drinks in the upstairs booths a the Spitalfields Market venue is a bit of a must come the cosy winter months in our book. That said, the downstairs space in Stoke Newington easily doubles the amount of covers this place can seat, and we are looking forward to warmer evenings and wrapped-up brunch sessions on the outside tables.
To say some dishes were a little uneven might be fair, but there is lots more good going on here than not – we will be back for more.
Contact: Foxlow, Stoke Newington – 71-73 Stoke Newington Church St, London N16 0AS. Ph. 020 7481 6377. Website. Facebook. Twitter. Instagram.
Trading Hours: Monday-Friday 1am-3pm / 5pm-10:30pm; Saturday 10am-10:30pm; Sunday 10am-10pm.