The Fox Hotel's been on our radar for a little while - it's a favourite of my coeliac pub clubbing mate, Emily's a fan, and for a few months they've been running a rather neat feminist salon. They also have a well-designed and informative website with a full and current menu; just what bloggers and folks with dietary requirements love!
We finally made our way there on a Sunday evening with our friends Mike and Jo. There was a band on and the place was packed so it took a little while to secure a table, but having previewed the menu at home I trusted it would be worth the wait. Roughly one third of the mains are vegetarian and have their own dedicated section; gluten-free, vegan and adaptable items are clearly marked throughout. With chips and dips and mushroom and tofu gyozas on the snacks menu I was tempted to graze on smaller stuff, but I had to admit the mains were unusually varied and attractive too - as well as veg pub regulars like a vege stack, burger and lasagne, there was also a red curry pie with Thai salad, a burrito and marinated tofu on wild rice.
Michael was keen for that red curry pie but was later notified that they were all out of tofu - boo. But our waiter was as friendly and helpful as he was apologetic, advising Michael his favourite dish across the entire menu is the roast mini pumpkin filled with pumpkin and blue cheese risotto and served with a pear, walnut and rocket salad ($17). Restaurant risottos have us pretty jaded but this one was truly impressive in both flavour and presentation (see pic up top). Win!
Having pored over the menu earlier I swiftly ordered the vegetarian moussaka with haloumi, chips and salad ($17). I must admit that the side of chips (you know I love chips!) was one of the attractions but they're actually *gasp* a little unnecessary here. The moussaka was topped with a layer of cheesy mashed potato, more than enough starchy winter comfort in itself. I dare say I might not even have missed the haloumi chunks topping the moussaka if they hadn't been promised. It was a pretty special mash, clearly. Underneath that golden top was a tomato-sauced stew of tender vege chunks, mostly zucchini. It's not the kind of meal that would usually excite me at all but the Fox kitchen totally pulled it off - I loved it.
Now suitably convinced of the Fox's culinary chops, we shared the dessert special ($8) amongst the four of us. Dessert gyoza could go very, very wrong - it's not difficult to imagine thick, sloppy, chewy or floury dumpling skins and a poorly matched filling - but here they were so very, very right. The gyoza skins were substantial and crisp and coated in cinnamon sugar. Stuffed with apples, they were like apple pie bites, perfect for dragging through the caramel sauce and gobbling down with an icecream chaser.
Though the Fox Hotel is clearly in high demand, we were satisfied with the quality of service and very impressed with the quality of food (well worth the gastro-pub price tag). After just one visit, we're tempted to declare the Fox Hotel's offerings our favourite veg pub food anywhere... but we'll probably make a few more visits just to check.
Address: 351 Wellington St, Collingwood
Ph: 9416 4957
Price: veg mains $16-17