A household name in Canberra, Fox and Bow is well known for a great breakfast and the colourful outdoor space with its graffitied walls and laneway that have become iconic to diners. The cafe is responsible for enlivening the strip of shops at Farrer which it calls home.
But Fox and Bow is more than a suburban café slinging coffee, it is a community, a local place for locals. The spirit of community they built up over six years has never been felt more than during COVID-19.
“COVID was awful,” owner Alex Piris told Region Media.
“The most stressful scenario you could ever imagine for hospitality. Every day we were faced with the prospect of shutting down.
“After one particularly long day, I was in my car, going through emails on my phone and a message came through. It was from a Farrer local with an image of his credit card. He told me he had instructed his staff to come through every morning to grab their coffee and breakfast and to charge it to his card.
“I get emotional even recalling it. The kindness from our community that we felt, I have never experienced that sort of thing before. I hope we never have to go through this sort of thing again, but I’ll always remember how lucky we are to be where we live.”
Now as restrictions ease, people are wanting the comfort of eating out and reconnecting. In addition to being open for dine-in and takeaway Monday through Sunday for breakfast and lunch, the doors of the beloved eatery will be flung open for Friday and Saturday night with their new dinner offering bringing the nostalgia and flavours of Spanish home cooking to the Fox and Bow table.
“Growing up in a Spanish household, food played a hugely important part of my upbringing. Walking home from school, I could always smell what my mother was preparing for dinner long before I walked through the front door. Now, it is those same aromas and the sense of family that I realise is so important to our customers.
“Last year, my own family visited Spain together for the first time. We had such an amazing holiday. The city of Cadiz really reminded me of my roots. The most perfect crispy thin churros with chocolate for breakfast. Simply prepared but deliciously fresh seafood. Olives like you have never tasted, along with anchovies, chorizo, jamon, cheeses and sherry.
“We visited the most incredible open-air markets filled with the sound of chatter of Spanish women all with my mother’s familiar Andalusian accent. It was time to bring some of that nostalgia back home to Canberra.”
The Spanish-influenced menu starts with tapas. Just reading the offering is whetting my appetite. Highlights include Croquettes with Manchego and Jamon, Patatas Bravas, Fried Eggplant with Pistachio and Sherry Caramel, Chorizo in Cider and Sage, and Grilled King Prawns in Garlic and Chilli.
Main offerings include seafood and chicken Paella, Beef Fillet served with Truffle Mash, and Bearnaise Sauce, along with a showstopping whole Flounder with Apples, Sage, Jamon and Caper Burnt Butter.
“We plan to run dinner in July for now with the intention of something similar through the warmer months.,” Alex says.
“Our cafe is also looking beautiful with a fresh lick of paint, some new furniture, and Spanish-themed tiling. We are really excited about bringing some of our trip to Spain back to Farrer and sharing it with our community.”