Dec 02 2021. views 179
After 2 years of entertaining ourselves in the comfort of our homes; painstakingly scouring for recipes of dishes we once enjoyed from our favourite restaurants and amping up our Bluetooth speakers for a watered-down rendition of the live music we would dance to, Colombo is slowly and cautiously venturing outdoors again with a ‘new normal’ standard for dining out – closely following all safety precautions and exercising every hygiene protocol necessary to have a fun but safe time.
Making the transition from our living room couch to dining out as smooth and as effortless as possible is The Fox Den Colombo, a new addition to the city dining and pub scene that’s ticking off all the right boxes from the get-go; good food, good vibes, spaciously distant seating and friendly staff. Occupying the space of the previous De Vos Café, The Fox Den is located on De Vos Road, Bambalapitiya with the top floor operating as a restaurant and bar and the ground floor being converted into a family-friendly café to be opened in the near future.
The best thing about The Fox Den that we love as a post-pandemic spot is that it emulates the similar comforts of home and mirrors itself as an extension of your own living room. “I think with lockdown, how we approach nightlife in Colombo has completely changed. We have got so used to all the comforts of our home, relaxing and enjoying ourselves from our own living room that we now want that same familiar vibe when we go out. In the new normal, people just want to have a good time and get value for their money. The Fox Den offers all of that with an ambience where you are as comfortable here as you are at home” shares the management of The Fox Den when asked about their vision for the place. As promised, the dark-toned interior coupled together with spacious, lush seating alternating between high top tables and barstools to plush sofas, embodied the comforting and casual nature of entertaining at home and allowed us to relax and enjoy the food and drinks without any stiff formalities.
For a resto-bar that officially opened to the public a mere month ago, The Fox Den is quite popular among the Colombo crowds and has already seen several full-house nights in just a few weeks. On Fridays and the weekends, The Fox Den draws in guests with their live music lineup, jovial ambience and drinks that won’t break your bank. While the bar menu offers a variety of cocktails, mocktails, juices and soft drinks; their signature cocktail, a popcorn-infused concoction, comes highly recommended by the staff and is rumoured to be a favourite among regulars for its nuanced combination of sweet and sour tones.
As we dropped by The Fox Den during their lunch hour rush, we opted to focus on their food. Before officially opening in late October, The Fox Den had a soft launch of its brand in early August this year, a week before the fourth lockdown, and built a steady clientele just through takeaway and deliveries during the imposed travel restrictions. As a result, ever since opening the restaurant for dine-in, The Fox Den has been happy to see many of their repeat customers become regular faces.
“Comfort food with a touch of elegance” is what we were told when asked about the menu. Their Fox’in Bites bar menu includes all the favourite local food and drink combos; devilled chicken, crispy calamari, polos cutlets, onion rings and much more. Their restaurant menu on the other hand is slightly more refined and focuses on dishes that combine Asian inspired flavours with western cuisine. We tried several dishes from their bar and restaurant menus and here’s what we thought.
Fire Wings - This is one for those who love their spicy food and those who can’t handle their heat – approach with caution! These deep-fried chicken wings coated with kochchimiris paste were absolutely divine and fiery and we simply couldn’t get enough of it. This was one of our favourite items off their Fox’in Bites bar menu and we recommend that it is best paired off with a cool drink.
Den mains are large portions (ticking off our value for money criteria!) and this dish was no exception. We’d say you could easily share this dish among two people. Served with steamed white rice, the Thai Red Curry was decadently rich and creamy, full of bold Thai flavours and packs a bit of heat to go.
Beer Battered Onion Rings - These golden-brown beauties are a Fox Den speciality and were an easy treat with their crispy beer batter and thick slices of onion. The carbonation of the beer lent the onion rings the lightest and crunchiest layer of the batter while the onion was soft and sweet on the inside.
Fried Camembert with Garden Salad and Cranberry Sauce - This was such a delightfully well-thought-out dish full of flavours that played with our palate. Camembert cheese, breaded and deep-fried, is paired with a fresh garden salad, cranberry sauce and apple caramel. Because the camembert cheese has a strong savouriness, it needs a touch of sweetness to balance the flavours and the sugary cranberry sauce and the tangy apple caramel were the perfect accompaniments to do the dish justice.
Grilled Modha - this is served with a creamy mash, steamed vegetables and a miso sauce. Our fish was grilled perfectly with a crispy top layer and firm, white flesh preserved in the middle. Because of the gentle, mild flavour of the modha fish, the miso sauce gave it a savoury- sweet flavour.
Hot Toddy Chicken - the staff informed us that this was a popular item on the menu. The spice marinated chicken is lightly char-grilled and served on a bed of soft pumpkin mash, veggies and a butter sauce. The chicken was spiced just right and we were big fans of the creamy pumpkin mash.
Overall, we enjoyed a very satisfying lunch at The Fox Den that lasted several hours – aided by the friendliest staff at The Fox Den. Service has always been one of our major boxes to tick in judging how well we enjoyed a place and it was refreshing to have staff that treated you more like friends than strangers; making small conversations, giving recommendations, checking in and catching up – all of which allowed us to relax, unwind and focus on the good food and vibes.
photos Damith Wickramasinghe