A night out to see a show at Brisbane’s Queensland Performing Arts Centre (more commonly referred to as QPAC) was something my partner and I had been looking forward to for a while. One of us is a BIG fan of Stephen Fry and one of us appreciates good humour and is happy just to tag along. If you’re interested, we had tickets to QI Live (there will be another post about this soon). But before we could settle into our seats, we were in need of some food to calm our excitement.
A short walk from the ‘cultural hub’ of South Bank is The Fox Hotel. I must admit that it has been some years since I last dined here, and it is very clear on arrival that much has changed. My first visit (let’s say it was in 2007) featured many of the things I associate with fine dining – crisp white tablecloths, polished wine glasses, knives and forks elegantly placed upon the table and attentive service. Now forget I mentioned all of that, because you’ll get none of it at The Fox BBQ and Smokehouse. In fact, now you don’t even get your food on a plate!
The Fox BBQ and Smokehouse pitches itself as an authentic American restaurant specialising in the flavours of the Deep South. We have arrived on ‘All You Can Eat Ribs and Pizza’ night and are confronted with tables of people up to their elbows in charcoaled baby back ribs, cheesy pizzas and thick chips. This is not quite what I was hoping for, but we are already on our way to being seated.
Vintage movie posters in gaudy silver frames adorn the exposed red brick walls on one side, while an oversized black and white print of New York (I think…) takes centre stage on the opposing white wall. I was fortunate to have the booth-style seating at our red timber table (no tablecloth), while my partner sat uncomfortably in his wooden chair across from me. I couldn’t tell if the tears welling in his eyes were a look of love for me or a result of losing feeling in his legs.
Naturally the menu, specially-designed by the restaurant’s American chef, features a lot of meat – buffalo wings, charcoal roasted chicken, and steak – as well as other southern comforts such as tacos, corn bread and coleslaw. When our host presents an American accent, I give two thumbs up for the authenticity of the place and order the 400g grain fed Rangers Valley rump, the chilli dusted baby squid and a side of onion rings. There is no way either one of us is tackling Bourbon or smokey BBQ sauce while we are wearing white!
There was some excitement watching tray after tray of ribs and chips piled high pass by us, and the smoky odours did wonders to tantalise the tastebuds. So when our meals arrive – impressive in size – on wooden cutting boards of their own, it is almost a case of “2, 4, 6, 8…” The rump was juicy and tender (which is lucky because we were not offered a steak knife at any stage), served with a bulb of roasted garlic, fries and a train of bernaise sauce, while the baby squid is succulent and fresh, and the onion rings are dark golden and crisp. There is just one issue I have with the meals – half of them are cold.
The bulb of garlic, although beautifully presented is a complete shock to the system. I can only assume that the unexpected temperature is a means of quelling what would have otherwise been an overpowering smell later in the evening. Could that be the reason behind our cold onion rings too? What about the bernaise sauce that was so thick in consistency we could have turned our train upside down without a spill?
I would have brought these things to our host’s attention, except that she nor any of the other attendants, could be found.
Considering the number of eateries in the South Bank-South Brisbane area, The Fox BBQ and Smokehouse is up against some stiff competition when it comes to offering quality pre-show meals. While I support it as a casual eatery offering an American take on the more traditional pub fare, this restaurant will need to lift its game before I dine here more formally again.
Overall rating: 2 out of 5
The Fox BBQ & Smokehouse details:
Address – Cnr Hope and Melbourne Streets, South Brisbane
Food – Authentic American ‘Deep South’
Drink – Licensed
Prices – Entrees start at $14, Salads start at $15, Steaks are from $28, Ribs start at $25 for a half rack, Mains are from $23 and Desserts are $10
Find out more about The Fox BBQ & Smokehouse Restaurant on their website, www.thefox.com.au/index2.html or telephone 07 3844 2883. Bookings can be made online.