Foxy • Montreal, QC
1638 rue Notre-Dame W. 514-925-7007 foxy.restaurant
An effortless glamour underpins every detail at Foxy, from the grey-felted walls to the flatware dipped to the handle in gold. This nighttime spot by Dyan Solomon and Éric Girard, owners since 1998 of Old Montreal bakery and lunchtime institution Olive + Gourmando, luxuriates in dishes that comfort delicately rather than decadently. Chef Leigh Roper came up through the Joe Beef ranks and honed her light touch at Vin Papillon down the street. While I watch her working at the pass, her strawberry blonde hair tied back in a red bandana, my date gets busy with a strip of warm pita, lifting the last cube of feta from our cocotte of briny housemade cheese with peaches and honey.
Blistered flatbread from the wood-fired oven forms a heavenly base for grilled oyster mushrooms and thin shavings of truffle pecorino. The Greentouch cocktail epitomizes freshness and simplicity: Green Chartreuse, lime, ice, fresh cilantro. “That’s all that’s in there?” I quiz our server in the flowing cotton blouse. “It’s about balance,” she replies before dropping off a plate of perfectly charred cod over smashed cucumbers and smoked crème fraîche.
There are no gas or electric burners in this kitchen; cooking happens using hardwood that’s been split and stacked in the Griffintown alley out back. A whole deboned sea bass arrives crisped and smoky from its turn over the coals. Served with fried capers, dill aioli and a simple salad of fennel and cucumber, it’s an elemental stunner that Roper may well have had kicking around in her notebook since her stage at Chez Panisse under the legendary Alice Waters.
Jay Z bumps on the stereo as four men in four arrays of plaid sip rosé at the next table over. Dessert is a simple rhubarb tartlet with sliced almonds and buttermilk ice cream, not too sweet and not too tart, and not too hot so that the ice cream melts slowly. More like a Goldilocks dish: just right.