I launched I Love Foodies just under three years ago (eeek, time really flies). Needless to say, I’ve eaten out a lot. Like, A LOT. And in this time I’ve found myself becoming ever more critical – critical of presentation, service, texture, and, most importantly, what the food I’m served tastes like. I think when you start out doing what I do, there are a lot of firsts, but as time passes you become accustomed to good food, completely critical of bad food, and it takes a lot more to impress you.
That said, I do always look for the best in places – what do they do well? What are they trying to be? I’d never take my standard of a spot like The Shortmarket Club and use that to judge a pub restaurant like the Slug & Lettuce. They’re not trying to be the same thing, and I need to judge them for what they are trying to be and how well they do that.
That said, in this world I live in where literally all I do is eat and crit in an effort to make things better, there are those moments where I’m still absolutely blown away by the food I’m eating. Those moments that literally blow my socks off (or my flip flops, coz that’s my go-to). I like to think of these as my perfect foodie moments, and these are the restaurants that usually end up in my Top Three or Top Five Lists of the Year. One of the restaurants this year – thus far – that has left me with that perfect foodie moment is Foxcroft in Constantia.
Getting To Foxcroft
Yoh, I think that was the longest introduction I’ve ever written to get to the point of which restaurant this review is about. Well, ok, you probably read the heading, so there’s that … Back to Foxcroft. This is certainly a spot with a name, and it’s come up in my feeds and my conversations for probably about a year now. I knew it was ‘somewhere that side of the mountain’ and that apparently their cakes were really good, but beyond that I didn’t know much.
So I ventured out to Foxcroft with my sister Sabine on one gorgeous Sunday afternoon, and was delighted to find it right near Groot Constantia (one of my favourite wine estates to visit) in Constantia. It’s an unassuming spot – obviously, coz I’ve driven past dozens of times to get to Groot Constantia and never seen it. But I’d assume that’s part of what they’re trying to do – great food, fine dining, without the pretentious thereof. And it works beautifully.
Where Good Service Is Born
We sat outside in the courtyard overlooking the Cape Town mountains, and got started with a glass of bubbly – our hostess made the suggestion before we even had the chance to sit down, and we were immediately overwhelmed by the hospitality. Yes, I often have people ask me whether or not I get better service because I’m coming for a review, but that’s not the case. Sometimes I get to try things that aren’t on the menu or not usually included in a dish, but I’ve had good service, mediocre service, and bad service equally. The standard of the restaurant tends to change very little, and it is the quality of the staff that makes all the difference.
On that note – and I’m jumping waaaaay ahead of myself here – our waiter at Foxcroft was a Zimbabwean gentleman by the name of Mike. And he was, without a doubt, the best waiter I have ever had the pleasure of dining with. His attention to detail was impeccable, his friendliness incomparable – if there were a Best Waiter Award, he’d get that. And considering I generally eat out everyday, multiplied by three years of doing this work, that’s saying a lot. I can’t say whether it’s Foxcroft’s training or Mike’s nature, but he was wonderful and I can only recommend you ask for him when you get there.
Now back to the beginning of my time at Foxcroft. Gosh, I can tell this is gonna be a long article. Apologies, I can’t not say everything I have to say. Foxcroft basically runs on a set menu structure. The lunch menu is set at R435 per person. This includes any two tapas, one main course, and one dessert – in addition to a pre-starter bread as well as a post-dessert treat. The dinner menu is the same, but is priced at R495 a person. They’re also currently running a Winter Special. This is priced at R195 – R295 per person for your choice of two to four plates; weekdays only.
Considering the price, this may not be your every day lunch spot. But it is a wonderfully special experience, and the amount of food you get will definitely ensure satiety. Generally I’ve found that one tends to underestimate how filling smaller portions / small plates menus can be, and some restaurants do get it wrong and you’re left feeling hungry and cheated, but Foxcroft is certainly not one of these.
Pre-Starter Goodness: Bread & Oysters
We started off with a slice of potato and rosemary sourdough bread, served with chicken and mushroom butter and mushroom dust. When your pre-starter bread comes out like this and tastes as good as this did, then you know you’d better fasten your seatbelts (or, well, in this context, loosen your belt, I guess), coz you’re about to jump on to a culinary train ride of note.
Our bread was followed by a portion of Foxcroft Oysters (R90). These are topped with a sweet and spicy Asian dressing, compressed cucumber, and light potato crispies. I generally prefer my oysters ‘pure’ with lemon, but surprisingly I really enjoyed these gourmet oysters. They had a subtly spicy aftertaste, but were full of flavour, refreshing, and absolutely delicious.
Exploring The Foxcroft Tapas
There were six tapas portions available (and there are seasonal changes), and this is one of the times were coming for a review gave me special privilege as we got to try three each, instead of the standard two. Sabine had ordered the Turnip Gratin, served with roasted onion, capers, parmesan, and lemon thyme, as well as the Honey-Glazed Fig, served with goat’s milk labneh and beetroot lavash. I had ordered the Seared Tuna Tataki, served with chipotle, avocado, cucumber, and rice puff, as well as the Venison Tartare, served with fermented radish, tomato, and dill crème fraiche. After that, we shared the Cured Yellow-Tail, served with mango atchar, buttermilk, and ‘slangetjies’, and the Free-Range Quail, a confit leg with rhubarb, pecan, and liver jus.
The tapas portions were all delicate, fine works of art created with love and passion and the utmost attention to detail. The presentation was suburb, and the flavours and textures worked together beautifully. I honestly couldn’t choose a favourite. I’d suggest just going with what you’d most like to try – you’re pretty much guaranteed to fall in love.
Venturing On To Mains
For mains, Sabine went with the Free-Range Pork dish, served with gem squash, charred cabbage, and fermented plum. I opted for the Pan-Roasted Game, served with broccoli, confit onion, and smoked cherry jus. I don’t think I need to add in any descriptions outlining the yumminess of both dishes – by now you’ll know that both were divine.
That said, I think that if you read the ingredients of the dishes as they’re presented on the menu (as I’m listing for each dish), you’ll probably be a little taken aback when the dish actually arrives. The ‘ingredients’ are indications of flavours, but you won’t necessarily get the vegetable or whatever it is in its pure form. More likely, it’ll be in a mousse or cream or reduction or sprinkle of some sort. You’ll get all over the flavour, with the added benefit of the finesse that’s birthed with the creation of different textures. I’ve found this to be the case in most finer restaurants.
The Sweet Side Of Life
From mains we moved on to dessert. The sweet things generally don’t excite me much, but at Foxcroft I was excited. We couldn’t quite decide what to go with. I had my eyes on the Stonefruit dish, but Mike highly recommended the Compressed Strawberry. So Sabine went for that, while I stuck to the former.
The Compressed Strawberry dish comes with lemon curd, geranium, sour cream, and matcha. Through reading that you probably have as little clue as to what the hell this is as I had. I think I still don’t really know what this dish is all about. But it combines flavours and textures (again, I think I’m spotting a theme here) that bring out the best in every single ingredient. This dish also contained, without doubt, the best strawberry ice cream I’ve ever had, a flavour I usually shy away from due to its general artificialness. But I’m afraid to say I finished it all (and suddenly I can’t remember if I even left some for Sabine even though it was her dish – ooops).
My Stonefruit dish was equally divine. The ingredients listed include black tea, verbena, vanilla, and sauvignon blanc. But I’d like to say it included a whole lot of awesome and a whole lot of delicious wrapped together by a whole lot of heaven.
Wrapping Up (Finally) …
After dessert we were pretty full, heavenly so, relaxing back in our chairs and enjoying the splendid views. It was time for coffee. And with that came our post-dessert treat of macarons and little jelly-mallow things. Sometimes I eat out and I have no idea what I’m eating. But that’s half the fun, isn’t it? I love cooking but I’m not a chef, and being delighted by things where you go ‘I have no idea what this is but I like it’ generally makes me happy.
Ok, I’ve now written three pages and 1618 words on Foxcroft. That’s almost a first year literature assignment. So I’ll have to end this, though I could go on for days uhhing and ahhing about this spot.
Foxcroft, thank you – I’m thoroughly impressed. And, Mike, that I Love Foodies Best Waiter award is yours!
Experience It Yourself
You’ll need to go visit Foxcroft. You’ll find them at Shop 8/9 at the High Constantia Centre on Groot Constantia Road. They’re open Monday through Sunday for lunch (12:00 – 14:00) and dinner (18:00 – 20:30). You can obviously eat and be merry for longer than those times, but will need to arrive in that time period. Reservations are a must (though they do try to accommodate walk-ins). Call them on +27 21 202 3304 to make yours. For more information, queries, and menus, please visit their official website here.
Side note: Foxcroft will be closed from the 15th of July till the 5th of August for their winter break.
Article Date: April 2018
MISSED OUR LAST ARTICLE? IT’S ON FIVE GREAT SA RESTAURANTS.