Why Skinny Fox? Why not. What an enterprise. It has taken two months to get a table. Located in the gastronomic centre of our metropolis, The Fox is not shy, it presents a bold front with a wide expanse of glass; highly visible dining.
It’s early Wednesday night, the interior is interesting: Dr. Johnson meets the twenty-first century. The tables are well spaced and arranged to accommodate a party of ten or an intimate venue for two. We are offered a table with a good view of all arrivals. There is some social action around the bar, with some jolly fellows enjoying a post-office drink. Vasar, our charming waitress, provides the menus and enquires whether we want water. At this stage the staff outnumber the customers, which is a good thing, we receive lots of attention. Antonis delivers a platter containing a dish of olive oil infused with ginger and some thin slices of warm bread made by our chef; if the bread is a measure of his culinary skills we are in for a rare treat; and so it proves to be.
The wine list is international and comprehensive, but not overloaded. Wishing to support our native wineries, we choose the Zambartas Xinisteri, which is the only Cypriot white wine on offer.
The menu is simple: five salads, eight starters and nine main courses. The companion fancies the Beet and Goat Cheese salad; it contains mixed leaves, large soft pieces of cheese, baked red and gold beetroots, roasted almonds, fennel, sesame, basil and a sherry vinaigrette. Apart from a plain green salad, there is also Crab Bowl with apples, fennel, quinoa, radish and candied lemon.
The starters are even more adventurous. There is a Seabass in a spicy sauce; Beef Carpaccio; Octopus and Hummus cooked over charcoal; Beef Tartare – very rare, in both senses – served with wasabi, and pickled mustard; a Crispy Tuna; Flaked Cod and Tarama; Prawn Dumplings; and Duck in Steamed Buns served with coriander, crispy peanuts, chili jam and hoi sin sauce. What a choice. The companion enquires whether the salads are on the large side; ‘not really’, she is assured. I select the Flaked Cod and she has the Goats Cheese salad. Both dishes would feed the five thousand with some left over. The salad is excellent, but my dish disappoints, the flakes have lost their integrity, they wilt under the fork but the supporting contents are crisp and even.
For the main course I ignore the Chicken Harissa along with the Pulled Pork Terrine, the Rib-Eye Steak, The Beef Fillet Robata, the Seabass, Cod, and Mushroom Risotto, and settle on the Lobster Risotto cooked with lemon zest, parsely oil – quite unusual – and samphire, which grows locally, but is rarely seen in our restaurants. Madam, the knowing companion, orders the oven glazed Cod with red quinoa, carrot and ginger puree, sesame and a crab croquette. Both dishes were superb; beyond fault. The Cod was just as imagined, easily separated flakes, perfectly cooked, with a taste of the mighty ocean.
The chef has a masterly touch over the oven but is outstanding when it involves the sweets. He only offers three, one is sorbet and ice cream, the other two involve Strawberries and Lavender cream; never previously encountered, and Chocolate ganache and Mulberries, my favourite fruit. I used to raid the vicarage tree when young and unruly. The sweets were absolutely first-rate.
It’s not surprising this establishment is the latest haunt of the great and not so good, and hugely difficult to gain entry if you don’t own a newspaper or a political party, but if you have only one chance to visit, don’t miss it. It is definitely something else. When we left there were four women to every man and the place was packed. Ourania, the very helpful MD, states ‘It is always thus’.
WHERE Menandrou 14A, Nicosia off Themosticles Dervis
CONTACT 22-256070 Booking essential
PRICE Not cheap