Over the long weekend (woo right?!) we decided to pop over and try the somewhat newly opened Ivy and the Fox, situated in the extremely beautiful and picturesque Old Canberra House in the ANU. Ivy and the Fox is the newest cafe from the brains behind the absolutely delicious (and my current favourite cafe in Canberra) Fox and Bow down in Farrer. So when I heard that this was opening up I actually got more excited than I normally do when I hear about a new place opening.
The first thing that struck me about Ivy and the Fox was its amazing location. Maybe it’s the emergence of spring but the place surrounding Ivy and the Fox is just so great to look at. Tall leafy trees overlooking the lake in the distance with beautiful grass and shrubs everywhere. It makes you forget for just a moment that you’re literally a 5 minute drive from Canberra’s CBD. It’s one of the perks of this place that’s easy to overlook, the ability to get so close to a really natural setting whilst still being essentially ‘in the city’ is something I’m starting to appreciate more and more as I spend more time in Canberra.
Ivy and the Fox seems to understand how beautiful its surrounding is, with huge open windows and copious amounts of outdoor seating to let you soak it all in. In addition, I was shown this little crate full of picnic rugs that were available for use as well, so you can sit outside and soak in the sun while dining on delicious goodness from Ivy and the Fox.
The menu here at Ivy and the Fox is quite similar to that at Fox and Bow though with a few key differences to cater for the slight differences in expected clientele. Where Fox and Bow is bombastic and creative, Ivy and the Fox takes a more subtle, nuanced approach, taking much loved classics and giving them a slight twist, which I felt fit perfectly with the surrounds.
As always, enough about things that aren’t food, time for some food talk!
I was exceptionally hungry that morning, having breakfast at roughly 1pm so I opted for the big boy, the king of the hill, the…well you know. Anyway, this is the Mr. Fox ($19.9), eggs (mine were fried), chorizo, bacon, tomato, avocado, hash brown, toast and morcilla. I’ve mentioned countless times in the past about my love of morcilla and/or black pudding, so it must be no surprise to anyone that as soon as I saw morcilla as part of this dish, everything else just fell away, and I couldn’t have been happier with my choice.
This is essentially the big breakfast here at Ivy and the Fox and it definitely lives up to it! This was a mountain of food and me, in my hungry 1pm state was eager to devour the whole thing. The best part about this dish was simply the fact that it was simple and a classic. I know, weird thing to appreciate but there’s just something comforting about seeing great ingredients being cooked up and just having the quality of the produce do most of the talking. The bacon in particular was incredibly smokey and quite thick cut, so you could tell it wasn’t just the same bacon you get at the supermarket. Another thing I want to draw attention to was the delightful hash brown, which was shredded strands of potato, jammed together and deep fried. The contrast in texture between the crunchy heavily fried edges and the soft inners was just awesome.
All in all, this was essentially a big breakfast, so it’s pretty hard for me not to love something like this, it’s classic and simple, with each piece coming together on the plate bringing its own strong flavour to compliment each other. Did I also mention that morcilla was here? Because morcilla is freaking delicious, especially this one at Ivy and the Fox.
Here’s our second meal from Ivy and the Fox, the Senorita Fox ($19.9). This is (at least from the name) the sister dish to the above Mr. Fox and shares some similarities, but where Mr. Fox is classic and simple, the Senorita Fox is presented quite artfully and definitely has a lot more creativity around its ingredient choices and plating. When this dish came out, what hit me first was the fantastic presentation. I know how easy it is to get sauce swirls and all that but still!
This comes with two poached eggs, ocean trout, avocado and grilled haloumi, all served on top of a thick piece of toast. This was much lighter and dare I say, more health conscious than the Mr. Fox, with a lot of the flavour coming from a lovely earthy pesto spread around the dish. Something I particularly enjoyed was the addition of the grilled haloumi. I love cheese, pretty much all cheeses, so if you can figure out a way to add cheese to a dish, and keep it classy, then I’m all over it.
Who am I kidding, I don’t really need things to be kept classy, we just need more cheese on everything.
As always, whenever we order a serve of poached eggs, we play poached or pwned! As you can see in the picture above, (apologies in advance for how destroyed it looks) these came out poached! There was a thin layer of overcookedness to it, but overall a pass with flying colours and one of the better ones I’ve had here in Canberra. Plus, I prefer it like this than outright uncooked. So I’m not complaining.
Overall I enjoyed this dish and it was a great little counter to the heaviness of the Mr. Fox, and it was far better looking too! Which of course is all that matters, right?
We also needed something tropical to usher in Spring and ended up with the El Macho ($7), which had pineapple, pear among other things (sadly I can’t find the menu online and I’m terrible with these things, so the price might also be wrong). I usually don’t expect much from juices, which is honestly a bit strange since I’ve had so many good ones since I started dining at cafes in Canberra, but this one was, again, a pleasant surprise.
One thing I loved was the presentation, a fantastic juice is one thing, but to give me a cute little umbrella to go with it? That’s impressive! Seriously though, I really liked this. As soon as I ordered it, I already had a few regrets despite the waitress calling this the ‘best juice in the world’ because I thought that perhaps the pineapple was going to be a bit too sour for me. I am happy to report that I was wrong on this, and that this juice was a fantastic way to feel summery even though we’re only in Spring. It was light, refreshing and definitely tropical. I recommend this.
In what was an extremely pleasant surprise, we were also given complimentary Babycinos to finish off our meals. Earlier in the meal, the owner Alex came by and mentioned that he remembered us from when we had brunch over at his first place, Fox and Bow down in Farrer. At the end of our meal we were told this was to thank us for the continued support which was a fantastic gesture, since who’s going to turn down a free coffee!
First of all, I should mention that I don’t really know coffee, so my take on the quality of this coffee should be taken with a grain of salt, but I thought this was about as good as any coffee I’ve ever had, and I’ve had them from perennial fan favourites like The Cupping Room, Penny University, Lonsdale Street Roasters and many more. One thing that I can comment on is the fantastic little smiley ginger cookie that was included with the babycino! The ginger cookies were fantastic, we ended up chucking ours into the coffee and letting it soak up all that coffee goodness before munching into it. Not sure if that’s the way to do it, but well, we liked it.
So that’s everything we had here at Ivy and the Fox. I must say, Fox and Bow did something fairly spectacular when it crept up on me and became my favourite cafe in Canberra. With that said, I expected pretty big things when Ivy and the Fox was announced and I’m pleased to say it fully lived up to those expectations. I had a great time here, the food is delicious, the location is beautiful and the service, charming. This is a place that I’d love to go back to, and since I was told they have live music on Sundays, I might have to make that the day for my next journey down here!
Ivy and the Fox
Old Canberra House, Acton
Monday to Thursday
8:00am to 4:30pm
8:00am to 7:00pm
Saturday to Sunday
8:30am to 4:00pm