Serial-restaurateur Paul Mathis is on a rampage. The man behind Taxi, Soul Mama, and SOS has laid low for a while but now he’s storming the city, building restaurants left and right like a kind of reverse Godzilla.
At mod-European bistro Henry and the Fox it’s all about lunch. The CBD space is bright and breezy, with cute foxy stockinged chairs and an Astroturf terrace primed for illicit midday drinking. They do dinner too, but Little Collins only parties from 9-5 and past sundown, it feels like you’re eating in a restaurant post-apocalypse.
But back to sunnier times, the ale is Hawthorn, the wine list visits France and Spain and lunch represents a significant upgrade from a 7-11 sanga. Croquettes are deep fried missiles concealing an explosive lava of ham flecked molten cheese, and a pretty plate of raw kingfish ‘ceviche’, (our Mexican pals insist on the air quote distinction) is jazzed up with ruby grapefruit and shaved fennel. It’s a win for spice wusses –no kick to the pants of acid lime and chilli here.
Young-gun chef Michael Fox clearly has skills, but he suffers from a touch of fancy-ingredient-syndrome. Squid ink tagliatelle is the trophy wife of the chilli, clam and garlic vongole – all looks and no character, and an almost marzipan-flavoured shellfish mayo sinks a dish of roasted prawns without a trace. Having said that, the whole flash-fried quail’s eggs are all golden crunch and mellow yolky pop.
Bypass anything truffle infused for the traditional gear like a meaty rabbit terrine studded with capers, and you’re sitting pretty.