Over the years there have been a great number of memorable foxes. Whether it be in literature where you will find the Fantastic Mr. Fox or Seuss' Fox in Socks. There is the hit singer Sam Fox (ask your Dad, I had to!) and the computer game legends Tails and Fox McCloud. On the screen there was, Fox Mulder, Megan Fox and one of my all time faves, Michael J. But I can't recall having ever eaten in a fox, but that all changed when we got to experience Edinburgh's fabulous Urban Fox.
Down on the Southside, just at the back of the Meadows the location is perfect for the Uni, a short walk away from both the Festival and King's Theatres and a slightly longer walk from the Castle and the Royal Mile. The atmosphere is quirky, fun and relaxed. The staff are friendly and super enthusiastic, quite happy to play around with flavours and ingredients both in the kitchen and in the bar. Whilst we contemplated a "Flower Power" cocktail, a blending of homemade floral syrups and elderflower gin, we instead went with some of the other homebrews. The Lemonade was the perfect balance of sweet and citrus, and the ginger beer was firey, with a great kick, even before you got to the Kraken rum which tempestuous pairing created the Dark & Stormy cocktail.
Our drinks kept us entertained as we considered the menu. Luckily there is a way to try as many of the delicious sounding choices as possible, the trusty sharing platter, with three or five options. We chose three, between the two of us, not wanting to spoil our appetites, and possibly more importantly leave room for pudding! We were not kept waiting long before our starters arrived and what a great way to start.
Three portions on one plate, but sized perfectly to share. Each one was skillfully prepared and tasted fantastic. The Salt & Pepper squid was facing me so I started with that, and it was so good I almost forgot to share! The batter was crispy and the squid succulent and chewy, but definitely not into rubbery territory. But it was the sriracha mayo that made it, just when you thought all the flavour from the salt and pepper was finished, along comes a sneaky bit of heat from the sauce. The Falafel had a gentle flavour, with a slight sweetness from the beetroot, but the creamy taste of the clearly fresh tzatziki was the stand out, with perfectly balanced flavours and not a hint of wateriness. Then there was the middle of the three, the Halloumi. Oh, if only all food was as musical as a squeaky piece of cheese, these ones had some added crunch from the crispy exterior and again the accompaniment, this time salsa Verde, was on point. In fact we must admit to dipping a finger in the sauces after we'd run out of everything else!
The starter plates were cleared away and we discussed how the portion sizes were spot on. We also admired some of the unique features that were dotted around the restaurant. Little touches like the funky cruets, stained glass panels and coloured water bottles. It is these little touches of originality that appear everywhere at the Urban Fox, it's in the decor, the drinks list and the menu. So while the interior is the en vogue shades of grey and wooden floors,the seats are retro school chairs and the tables an eclectic mix of chunky timber and farmyard kitchen. Just as interesting was the clientele, and just as eclectic. Some young studenty type couples happily rubbed shoulders with diners at least two generations older. I think as I am approaching the end of my third,ok fourth, decade on the planet I was probably bang on the average age.
But before I could spend too long on the mathematics our amazing waitress staggered towards us,struggling under the weight of two very full plates! Maybe an exaggeration, but boy do you get value for money. Let's start with the burger, I mean for Fox sake, you need an empty stomach, we probably should have skipped the starters all together. This tower of bread, beef and haggis was then extended upwards with cheese, bacon and a couple of onions rings. And this wasn't just about quantity. The ingredients were all top notch, great quality haggis, homemade onion rings and a Beef burger that was clearly freshly made in the kitchen. If that wasn't enough there was a proper portion of real chips, a dressed salad and a huge dollop of crispy crunchy slaw. You really don't need to worry about ordering any sides! My partner in dine said as he finished, it was a long time since he could say he had genuinely enjoyed a salad, as he cleared the last leaf from his plate!
As the plates arrived I must admit to a fleeting second of dinner envy. Then I saw my Belly Pork and realised I had nothing to be jealous of. A beautiful cut of meat that had been expertly twice cooked leaving a crunchy crackling on top of melt in mouth flakes of pork. The meat was so tender it was almost creamy and it needed a rich sauce to balance the flavours. The apple cider jus was just the ticket, this was a chef who knew what went well together. The black pudding laden mash was a nice touch, a subtle smack of pepper in the creamy mash paired with the sweetness of the baby leeks. There were so many complementary flavours going on in every combination no two fork fulls were the same. Which was handy, because with another generous portion size, there were a good many fork fulls available!
We almost passed on desserts, but the choice of the sharing starter and use of the dedicated pudding stomach, meant we were able to pause for a minute and then delve into the menu. It was a menu full of all our favourites, a crumble, a sticky toffee pudding, a chocolate terrine and a cheesecake of the day, amongst others. So many excellent choices, but the STP and the terrine won out in the end. They certainly didn't disappoint. The white chocolate terrine was nicely balanced, rather than the unbearably sweet slice it could have been, it was also nice and light, but still I couldn't finish it. Defeated by dessert, a rare occurrence. The sticky toffee likewise was an almost rubik sized cube of sponge smothered in sauce and topped of with a scroll of delicious ice cream. If I had to be critical, and occasionally I do, a smidge more sauce was needed just to moisten the whole depth of the pudding. But when that is all you can find wrong with an entire meal then you really can't grumble!
Genuinely even if I tried I'd struggle to find fault. The staff were lovely, friendly and knowledgeable. The value for money was amazing, the sharing starter was twelve pounds, and you'll struggle to find a bigger or better burger in the capital for the fourteen pounds price tag, especially with the accompanying chips and salad. The ambiance was something special, eating out is meant to be so much more than just eating, it's supposed to be an experience and the Urban Fox is unique and enjoyable from start to finish.
We were lucky enough to be invited to dine at the Urban Fox, but as always the views in this review are very much our own, and not what the Fox says…