At the beautiful grounds of Old Canberra House in Acton, you will find the newly opened Ivy and the Fox. This is the sister restaurant to the highly popular suburban cafe, Fox and Bow, in Farrer. Owner Alex Piris invited me to check out the launch a few months back. The name Ivy and the Fox came to fruition from keeping the former cafe’s name The Ivy, (which also happens to be Alex’s daughter’s name), and adding a reference to the Fox and Bow. Before the launch, I’d never been to Old Canberra House. Nestled at the end of the Australian National University (ANU) campus, the grounds are just gorgeous. Walk through the old gates and up the winding walkway to the entrance of the old building. You’ll see several people outside enjoying the Spring sunshine on the lush green lawns.
The menu is similar to the Fox and Bow with staples such as the Senorita Fox, Mr Fox and the Rocket Man. There’s a selection of smoothies, shakes, juices and coffee of course. After the launch, I returned to Ivy and the Fox for brunch bumping into The Food Avenue while I was there. My friend and I couldn’t resist the drinks on offer. She ordered the Oh Darla of berries, pear, apple and sorbet ($7.90) while I thought the nopal cactus in the El Macho was worth trying ($7.90). I have no idea what nopal cactus is meant to taste like, so to me, this drink was all pineapple, pear, cinnamon and vanilla. The cute little umbrellas made these drinks more cheerful and tropical as if we were on holidays. Who doesn’t like an toy umbrella in their drink?
The Farrer’O ($7.90) was also hard to go past so I ordered that as well. This chocolate thickshake consisted of chocolate fudge, ferrero rocher gelato covered in chopped peanuts and topped with a real ferrero rocher chocolate. It is subtly decadent but not over the top like the freakshake phenomenon. The trend of serving shakes in a mason jar and topping it high with gelato means sticky fingers as it melts over the side. Tip: Always put the jar on a napkin and even wrap one around the jar or have spares at the ready (after taking your food photo of course).
I tried the Bob Marley of pulled jerk chicken, herbed waffles, sour cream, lime and coriander ($17.50). I loved the colour on this plate. The savoury waffle was topped high with rocket, capsicum and corn. The pulled jerk chicken was wonderfully flavoursome with plenty of spices rubbed into it and really made this dish worthwhile. I must admit there was a small portion of chicken compared to the amount of veggies but I still enjoyed it. The rocket together with the capsicum added a natural peppery flavour to the dish. The waffle itself is freshly made, light and fluffy. Highly enjoyable if you’re after a savoury, no-egg, light meat option.
My dining companion had the Crepes Baby Yeah served with blood orange gelato, chocolate sauce and peanut brittle ($15.90). Those with a sweet tooth will be happy to hear that you get 4 folded crepes with this dish! My friend couldn’t finish it all (she also had a house made hash brown on the side as her savoury hit).
I went back again a few weeks later for more brunch. For my drink, I ordered the This is a banana smoothie ($7.90) made with toasted muesli, coconut gelato and manuka honey, while my dining companion picked the Oh Darla. I was happy to find that it wasn’t too sweet and backed up with luscious coconut gelato. Yum! I also loved the texture of the toasted coconut muesli which I found throughout the smoothie. It is sort of similar to bubble tea where you drink from the straw, stop to chew, and repeat. As the muesli is mixed throughout the smoothie, it might be weird to find these pieces everywhere but I thought it just enhanced the flavour of the coconut.
Food-wise, I chose The Rocket Man of chilli crab and pea croquettes, fried egg, chipotle sauce, peas and greens ($16). Two fat fried croquettes arrive on the plate which I thought was impressive portion size wise. However, I found the croquettes rather dense and pastey rather than airy. I honestly couldn’t tell if there was crab in the croquette which was disappointing. There wasn’t much texture apart from the paste and the crunchy fried bread crumbed exterior. The side salad served with the croquettes was really fresh with just a light drizzle of balsamic which I much prefer to the creamier sauces out there. Not my favourite dish here but I’m glad I tried it.
And another musician playing outside at one of the Sunday brunch sessions (I didn’t catch his name). The music filters inside too so don’t worry about sitting indoor vs outdoor. I don’t know about you, but gentle live music just makes the atmosphere so much more enjoyable. It makes me want to stay there all day!
Table service is provided at Ivy and the Fox. Staff are amicable and I found it was easier to get their attention sitting inside than when sitting outside. I think this is more due to the fact that the cafe is still relatively new and busy outside that morning. The drinks came out quickly on both occasions but staff had difficulty finding which table the drinks belonged to. A teething issue that I’m sure will be worked out soon. The food came out about 20 minutes after the drinks.
Ivy and the Fox is located at Old Canberra House, next to the Crawford School of Public Policy, on Lennox Crossing in Acton. Just type ‘Old Canberra House’ into Googlemaps and park in the small carpark across the road. There’s enough signage from the main road to direct you to the entrance.
Value for money 8/10
FPJ score 22.5/30
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