The Fox Hotel is an old-school boozer which outwardly looks more ‘pub’ than ‘gastro-pub’. The venue is an eclectic conglomeration of sticky-carpet-esque spaces, including the high-stooled front bar, the dimly lit dining area, squishy couches, a small outdoor space and a separate pool room. There’s even a rooftop deck which I didn’t have a chance to explore.

However, what attracted me to the Fox Hotel was its reputation for food. Specifically, I’d read on Where’s the Beef that they had an extensive vegetarian menu, quite unusual for a pub. So it was a great destination for (vegetarian) Miss Kish and I to catch up.

As we sat down in the front bar to inspect the menu, Kish remarked “Wow, normally I have no trouble choosing something because there’s only ever two token vegetarian options. This is great!” And if you flip over the page, there’s a whole page for non-vegetarians as well. Very impressive.

We started out with five homemade mushroom and tofu gyozas with dipping sauce ($10). On its arrival I had my doubts – the gyozas looked a little emaciated. Well, looks can be deceiving, as these dumplings were juicy and wrapped in skins of good consistency. In fact I think if they’ve been plumped up with more filling the whole thing could have been too soggy, what with mushrooms generally sweating water when cooked.

For our mains we shared two generous plates – whole field mushroom lasagne with three cheeses and spinach served with chips and salad ($17) and marinated tofu steak with wasabi mayo and a black sesame crust with asian greens, sticky rice and a ginger soy sauce ($17).

I think of the two dishes the lasagne was more successful. It was a cheesy, oozy slab of mushroom, spinach and pasta sheets, an excellent retort to people who insist that they just can’t get full on vegetables. The accompanying salad was crisp and fresh and the chips were great for mopping up the cheese.

There was no hint of wasabi mayo in our tofu steak and the black sesame crust was more of a garnish than a crust. I also didn’t particularly like the sticky rice – it felt more like glugginess of overcooked rice than the elasticity of glutinous rice. Not a bad dish overall, but really outshone by the lasagne.

Though only a weeknight, the pub was full of diners and drinkers and a seemingly popular hangout with locals. Even if you’re not a local, I think that the Fox Hotel is well worth a special trip.

For a pub meal at the other end of the spectrum, check out my review of the meat-tastic Napier Hotel.

  • Fox Hotel, 351 Wellington St, Collingwood +61 3 9416 4957

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