Friday, 21 March 2014

Casual Dining - The Fox Hotel

**Please note, the all you can eat mussels offer has now finished - sorry

I'm not really a pub kind of guy and I'm definitely not going to head over to a public bar and sit down to have a few beers.  I get the concept of a pub/bar/hotel, it's a place where you go and hang out with mates, sink a few beers and quite often, get on the punt. Yeah, there is a list of things that just does not excite me.

That doesn't mean that I don't love having pubs around, I think they are essential to the vibe and the life blood of a city.  Architecturally they can be amazing and given that many hotels and pubs around have been built in the 1800's they often have a long and interesting history.

The Fox Hotel is one of the original pubs to be built in Queensland and was constructed in the late 1800's and was originally known at the Terminus Hotel, ostensibly as the end of a tram route.  Like many old buildings in Brisbane, the old Terminus Hotel has had its fair share of good and bad fortune, including almost burning to the ground during the 1920's.  Over the years, it's also had many facades and taken on many different forms, including a stint as a backpackers hostel.  Not too many of the ventures have lasted too long and as a consequence, the Fox Hotel has been through renovation after renovation, trying to hit the right market.

I'd been to the Fox Hotel to check out one of it's more recent ventures, the Meatball Company (see post here) and thought it was not too bad, but as fortune would have it, the Meatball Co has made way for a new restaurant - Fish Lane Bistro.  But this post is not about a pretty cool looking new bistro - it's about quite possibly the most amazing food offer in Brisbane, the all-you-can-eat Mussels deal.

Yeah, I was a bit sceptical about this wild claim too, all-you-can-eat deals usually have a catch but I was also a little bit excited....  If this deal was on the money, then I was going to be in mussel heaven.  I'd originally arranged to check out the Fox's mussel deal with SC but at the last minute she piked out, so I had to give my buddy CI a call to see if he'd take her place.  Being an absolute mussels fiend, I suspected I'd have no trouble enticing him along and the minute I'd mentioned the words "all-you-can-eat" and "mussels", I'd locked him in.

We met outside the Fox Hotel's Long Bar, where every Thursday night the hotel puts on the special mussels deal in it's iconic Long Bar - so called because it's a really, really long bar.  Once we were seated at our table, our waiter-come-bartender for the night explained the deal, simply order a drink and pay $25 bucks and you could just keep the mussel orders flowing.  So we ordered a couple of apple ciders and settled in for our mussels to arrive.

There were four varieties of mussel on the menu but we decided to kick off with the white wine with cream and garlic, as well as the chorizo with tomato and chilli.  Now, if you're a fan of mussels, you know when the black shell of the mussel opens up and the plump flesh inside is exposed, it's a beautiful thing.  We were confronted by two massive black pots with the lids on, hiding the goodies within but once we 'lifted the lid', we were hit with a sweet aroma that set the taste buds alight.  The pots were filled to the brim with mussels that had been cooked to perfection.  Of the two mussel pots we started with, we both agreed that the white wine with cream and garlic was the pick, but only just!

We stormed through the massive pots and set our sights on the next two flavour combinations which included beer steamed and lemon grass with ginger.  The ritual was repeated, with two more massive pots reverently carried over to our table.  Lid's lifted, a beautiful haze of steam from the mussel pots delivered a stunning aroma and we again set about demolishing the prized black mussels.  This time the beer steamed mussels were the pick with a lovely sweet broth.  The lemon grass with ginger was a little bit harsh for our palates, so we didn't enjoy that one quite so much.

After tasting all four flavour combinations, it was hard to decide which was the best of the flavours, it was a tough call between the white wine and the beer steamed.  I preferred the beer steamed and CI was firmly in the belief that the white wine with cream and garlic was the best.  I though there was only one way to settle the debate, which was to order both flavours for a third round of mussels, but unbelievably CI was almost completely full and didn't want to order two more pots.  After a little debate we decided to get one final pot to share with the white wine flavour our shared final choice.

The Long Bar had been practically empty when we first arrived at The Fox but had been steadily been growing a crowd of patrons who were all enjoying the massive pots of mussels.  It seemed as if there were quite a few mussel lovers out there who were all too happy to come along and test out the all-you-can-eat mussels claim. I'd been a little sceptical at the beginning, but the Fox's offer is the real deal, a constant stream of mussels delivered until you simply can't eat another bite.  We'd reached out limit after five large pots of mussels, but I'd actually thought we could have eaten more but the pots come with a serve of tasty hot chips as well and we had eaten our fair share of chips too.

If you're a fan of mussels then there is something you need to do next Thursday night!  Get on down to the Fox Hotel and see how many pots you can get through - I'm sure you can do better than our effort.  I had such a great time at the Fox's mussel night that I think I could overcome my aversion to hanging out in pubs, at least on Thursday nights!


**I was a guest of the Fox Hotel for this all-you-can-eat meal

It starts with a couple of drinks
Then the big pots of mussels start 
And then keep on coming
They come with some pretty decent hot chips
There are comfy booths at the back of the bar
It's a Long Bar!
And around the back of the bar is a really cool outside inside space
The Fox Hotel on UrbanspoonFox Hotel

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