Thursday, January 29, 2015

Fox in the Corn, Footscray

The fox is in the corn in Footscray.

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No, that is not some kind of code.  The corn in question is this rather drab building on Droop Street...

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...and the fox in question is this verrrrrry foxy fitout!

Our new vulpine friend is a pasta bar, owned and run by the owners of Millgrove Pasta, who are specialty pasta manufacturers in Williamstown.  Josh Bayne and Josh Murnane met while working at Alligator Pasta, another rather delicious pasta maker in Yarraville, and a few years ago decided to go out on their own and start Millgrove.  Now they are taking their pasta straight to the people by opening Fox in the Corn.

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$16.50

The menu is small and snappy.  Pick your pasta - fettuccine or ravioli - and something from a gorgeous list of sauces.  This is fettuccine with the pancetta, leek and tomato and it was bloody amazing.  Dense yet supple strands of fettuccine with a sticky, totally plate-lickworthy sauce, punctuated with generous chunks of rich pancetta.  Gorgeous and a very generous serving, too.

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$6.50

A nice green salad because I am trying to be healthy (despite keenly coveting the buffalo mozz, rocket and tomato number).  Loved the balsamic dressing.  Feedback:  Don't keep the tommies in the fridge.  They were obviously good ones and would be even better at room temp.

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As I shovelled in the gorgeous noodles, I present to you a texted exchange I had with my friend J.  When I heard that Fox in the Corn was specialising in pasta, I admit I was a bit ho-hum too.  Maybe you, like me, cook pasta for the kids at least a few nights per week and are just not that excited by it.  But like I said to her - trust me.  This is not your average spag.

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I had a nice chat to one of the Joshes.  The ingredients they use are all A-list - Riverina beef, minced in house; Istra bacon; three-hour slow-roasted onions.  No Kardashian-grade tap-washer olives here, folks.  (Those avoiding gluten, there is no gluten-free pasta as yet but hopefully soon. You would have to make do with a salad and maybe an octopus starter.)

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Coming soon is BEEEEER on tap.  The "house beer" will be from Blackman's Brewery in Torquay (a pale ale, a sweet cider and an unfiltered lager).  There will also be a rotating cast of interesting craft beers.  With Littlefoot and the Plough just down the road - I sense a Footscray bar crawl coming on!  (Did you ever thing we'd be able to say that?!?!?!)

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Coffee beans are roasted by Monk Bodhi Dharma in Elsternwick and an espresso was absolutely tip top.  As for the icecream - served in a pot, it's a Dixie Cup flashback, and you can decide if that's a good or bad thing.  (I'd prefer it served in a bowl personally.)  It's from Gundowring, made on the farm in northeastern Victoria.  The banana flavour was divine.

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If it couldn't get any better, Fox in the Corn is open 11am-11pm, meaning we finally have a late-night coffee spot in Footscray!!!  They will also soon be open from 8am, and are in the final stages of nailing down croissants from Sourdough Kitchen in Seddon and pastries from Candied Bakery in Spotswood.

What does the fox say?


Actually, it says - you need to be at Fox in the Corn NOW!

Fox in the Corn (Facebook)
4 Droop St, Footscray

32 comments:

  1. Just more awesomeness in the hood, well done Lauren on being 'in the moment' once again. As a fan of craft beer I cant wait for their licence but as you say there is now a great late venue for coffee and other things. Cant wait to see your imminent M Bar and Kitchen review.

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    1. Yes, yet another newie - I forgot about them when I mentioned Footscray bar crawl! Craziness!

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    2. Not quite the same vibe, but there are other new places too - Mel's Café (just up the road from Fox in the Corn) and Super Asian Foods (near Coles) - it's all happening!

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    3. And Rudimentary would have to be close too.

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    4. Just when I think he's quit reading, here he is again ;-) Thanks for commenting, James! Yes, I have clocked those two newbies too. It really is all happening in Footers. There is also a new cafe business where Scarlet Corner used to be - need to have a closer look as I only noticed it while driving past.

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  2. I hadn't even heard of this place til yesterday (in an over-seen conversation on twitter), but of course you're on the ball! Sounds interesting :)

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    1. Le sigh! The things I am forced to do to stay up with the latest happenings! ;-)

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    2. I tried it on Wednesday - the leek and mushroom creamy sauce - YUM. I was hoping to be able to take-away some of their fresh (plain) pasta but they said they're keeping the businesses separate for now - shame, because I'd probably have stopped off for some fresh cook-at-home pasta much more often than I will for a meal, but it was definitely good stuff.
      Sian

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    3. OMG...... Leek and creamy mushroom sauce! I do not want my gross defrosted lunch now!!!!!!!

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  3. With all this new stuff going in, I would be interested to one day hear your vision for Footscray in say 2 or 5 years Lauren. People are saying it will be the new Brunswick etc. But I totally disagree, Footscray will be its own unique style. If I HAD to choose the most similar suburb I might say it will eventually be something similar to Richmond. Bustling Asian by day, edgy and cool by night.

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    1. Hi Colum - great question! I get the Richmond comparison and I have made it myself, that the suburb has successfully preserved its strong Vietnamese component throughout gentrification. The way Richmond differs is there is a discrete Vietnamese "zone" along Vic St. This has changed very little since I lived there (I was there from about 1995 to 2005), in that there are still very few bars, cafes or non-Asian restaurants in Victoria St itself. The way Footscray differs is that we are seeing a greater diversity of business actually IN the traditionally Vietnamese downtown area. In Richmond, Littlefoot would probably be on Bridge Rd (I remember when The Collection first opened there as the suburb's first trendy bar). The great thing about Footscray is that Guerilla, Fox in the Corn, Littlefoot and other exciting things I will soon share are all right in the guts of it, rubbing shoulders with long-running culturally diverse businesses like Little Saigon market, Cavallaro's, Mesnoy Injera Bakery (which is over 10 years old) etc etc. This ultimately makes for a stronger local community. So basically, Footscray > Richmond!

      The way I think Footscray will resemble is Brunswick is in terms of the type of people who will continue to choose to live here. I'm talking creative types, lefties, eco-warriors and so on. Richmond has become really "nice" and trendy middle class - just look at the queues of beautiful young people outside Friends of Mine of a Sunday morning! Brunswick still has a bit of grit and I hope Footscray has a similar "edge" for a long time. (That said, I do know people who moved away from Brunswick to Coburg as they thought it had lost all its flavour!)

      What I would love next are some nice independent clothing stores, kids' toy stores, bookshops etc etc. I was just in High St, Northcote yesterday and gee, was I jealous of all the awesome stuff - record shops, vintage clothing shops, shops selling lovely handmade ceramics and gorgeous locally screenprinted pillowcases etc etc. I know we have a few goodies like Finch Emporium in Seddon, Sedonia, Post Industrial Design etc but I want moar! I would LOVE somewhere like the Social Studio in Smith Street. It would fit perfectly into Footscray.

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    2. Oh PS, by "downtown Footscray" I mean what is in and around the "circle road" - the loop created by Irving, French and Donald Sts - and also along Barkly Street up to Geelong Road. :-)

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  4. I rarely order pasta in restaurants too for too often being disappointed by it but I totally want to give this place a try :) Looks amazing! I love the photo of the little boab like looking plant in the terrarium too!!

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    1. I haven't ordered pasta out since I had a very disappointing 'lamb ragu' at Stacks cafe in the city a year or so ago - I was all 'eh, I can make better sauces at home' - but I did really enjoy the leek and mushroom sauce and their excellent fettucine at Fox in the Corn!

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    2. I pretty much never order pasta out either, Sian - exception being marinara in a really good place, because I love the seafood more than anything - but at least on my first inspection, Fox in the Corn is going to be an exception to this rule!

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  5. Here's an idea - why does Footscray have to "be" anything? Why does everywhere have to be like Brunswick, Collingwood, or Fitzroy? Footscray already IS something: it is a heavily Vietnamese and African community with businesses and people to match.

    When my partner and I moved here years ago, we didn't demand change. We didn't expect boutique little shops with craft beers (for God's sakes) or even coffee. We tried our best to fit in and nurture what was there. We already spoke Mandarin, and we did our best to learn Vietnamese so that we could make the most of the local shops. We didn't decide that Footscray needed shiny places where we could sit and try to look sophisticated. If anyone wants that in the vicinity, Seddon and Yarraville offer those places.

    Littlefoot, Fox in the Corn and even 8-bit are wildly out of place. They are trying to turn Footscray into another Fitzroy or Collingwood, and it is inappropriate to do so. Those places already exist: why do we need yet another?

    Footscray has a unique sense of community, and yes, it is a gritty place. If you keep introducing shiny, artificial looking places to it (I saw "Super Asian Foods" mentioned here like it was actualy a good thing), all the things that make Footscray good - its delicious, cheap, real food, its sense of community, its absolutely honest and real multicultural mix - will be gone. It will just be another ho-hum Fitzroy or Brunswick. It will be a homogenised suburb without any character: but it seems like that is what you people actually want.

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    1. Hi anon, I admire your passion. I can't speak for others, but I don't want the Footscray "of old" to disappear. This blog is testament to that!

      What I do want is a little variety. It is great to be able to go to Footscray Market and have a really nice coffee at Guerilla after. And I am excited to be able to go somewhere after that amazing Vietnamese dinner for an after-dinner craft beer or coffee, rather than just deciding to go home because there's nothing else open. (Sorry, but I really like craft beer! It tastes a lot better than the big-batch stuff and I like supporting the small businesses that make it.)

      If snazzy new businesses start displacing amazing Vietnamese/African businesses, then yes, there will be cause for concern. I don't think that will happen on the Vietnamese side as the Vietnamese community is very entrenched. Admittedly, I have heard that the African shops in Footscray are at risk of rent hikes which could come if landlords see the potential for new tenants who might be willing and able to pay higher rents. On the other hand, I did hear that many new Australians of African background have long ago been pushed out of the Footscray rental market and now live further west, so one day the African "strip" might gradually pack up and move closer to their main market.

      I think the insertion of Littlefoot etc in the central business district is a great thing. When I moved here, what I saw was a gentrifying "ring" around Footscray (in the Seddon and Yarraville you mention). People would often say that they were "scared" to go into the downtown area. In 2005, I lived in a place in Washington DC called Columbia Heights which was a poor, racially diverse area that was also essentially a dormitory suburb for rich people. They bought houses in the area (it was close to the city) but drove out of it for everything - to eat out, shop, socialise etc. I did not want that to happen in Footscray. I am really happy that these new businesses are bringing more people into Footscray CBD. Today, they may try 8-Bit. Tomorrow, Tra Vinh!

      Maybe I am being naive. If in 10 years Footscray is wall-to-wall cafes, I will sadly eat my hat. But I truly believe the downtown will still have the multicultural mix that makes it amazing - minus a hairdresser or two.

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    2. James In FootscrayFebruary 2, 2015 at 7:14 AM

      Hi anonymous, fair enough you don't like fashionable cafes, or vulgar takeaways.

      How should Footscray retain its character? What sorts of changes would be OK? Or should it not change at all?

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  6. Interesting discussion ... who knows where Footscray central will be in a decade? I do know that, having been an observer for more than decade, the rate of change in the area being discussed is very slow when compared, say, to Seddon,Yarraville or the other newly "trendy" or "hip" suburbs mentioned above. And I like that ...

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  7. As someone who was born and bred in Footscray, and did not 'move' here, all I can say is that Footscray has always been changing. The mall used to be made up of a little Italian fruit shop, Angus and Robertson, Target, Movieland, Speeds, along with little diner cafes. It was not always cheap $2 shops, or African cafes. It wasn't always as gritty either. No one demands change but I think it is healthy and I personally love the changes that are happening here. I would like to think that we can maintain a little bit of everything to showcase the changes that it has gone through over the generations, including introducing new businesses and getting back some of the respect that it deserves.

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    1. Well said, anon! Great to have your perspective. Target in Nicholson St Mall! That is crazy!! And I just got a total 80s kid flashback about Speeds Shoes. Didn't they used to be everywhere, have TV ads, the whole nine?

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    2. Anonymous, this was never an argument about priority of claim. I understand that you were born here, and that you've seen the area change, and I certainly respect your observations as superior to mine in duration and in viewpoint. My point was that, in moving here, my partner and I have never tried to force change upon anyone, but we have walked softly and respectfully. In speaking first of change and grit: I don't think anyone is really enthusiastic about the proliferation of $2 shops, or the signs of decay evident in the failed Nicholson Street Mall and pocket park, for example.

      I fully acknowledge that Footscray has long been a "disrespected" area, and unfairly so. I also accept, realistically, that change is inevitable and constant. Nonetheless, the current change is not like any former change, in that its effects will be a lot more permanent and far reaching.

      There are two main possibilities, or fates, facing Footscray. Footscray could become another Docklands (if Franco Cozzo's dreams came true: see http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/grand-sale-grand-sale-franco-cozzos-footscray-building-on-the-market-20140724-zwdsy.html (and I thought he was a friend of Footscray!)), and that would be a sad and irreversible reality of poor quality apartment towers and barren concrete. That is one possible fate, and it is a fate that developers and investors would love to see.

      The other possible fate is for Footscray to morph into the "strip malls with overpriced restaurants and coffee shops" model of Richmond, Brunswick, Collingwood, Fitzroy or anywhere else like those areas. The occasional little gem or diamond in the rough is of course a welcome addition, especially in a place that could do with some brightening up. A thoughtless slathering of "seen it before" establishments would also be a very sad fate for Footscray. This is the fate that the "bland and the beautiful" would love to see. As nice as it would be to have the original character tempered by a few nice new establishments, I doubt that that is the real intention behind all of this.

      In speaking of respect: Footscray is one of the last havens near to the CBD for people of certain means. Due to this, the people of Footscray have long been treated with contempt not only by other Victorians but by government: the acquisition of houses without consultation or fair compensation for the re-development of the train station is but one example.

      Since you are a Footscrayan by birth, surely you too are concerned as to the impact these developments can have in the long term.

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    3. Hi anon. Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I can't agree with your "strip mall" impression of Brunswick, Collingwood and Fitzroy. I do agree that there are probably too many cafes along those strips (and in Seddon too, mind you) but I love the small business culture in those areas. For example, along Gertrude and "lower" Smith Street you have:

      * Obus and Leonard Street - independently owned (by female designers), beautifully cut womenswear. Obus I believe is made in Melbourne. You can read more about Leonard St manufacturing here - http://www.leonardstreet.com.au/fair-trade/ - pretty much best practice if you are going to manufacture offshore.

      * Vegan Wares - even if you are not vegan, these are gorgeous shoes made by traditional techniques by Vegan Wares - in Melbourne. I have had the same pair of black boots since 1999 and still going strong. That's how long shoes SHOULD last!

      * Victoria Mason - female silversmith - stunning and unique jewellery, also made locally.

      * The Social Studio - to quote from the site "Shop for Change" - "The Social Studio is a non-profit social enterprise and our sole purpose is to create meaningful and long term social change for young people who face barriers to employment and education. The Social Studio is a dynamic space where clothing is created from recycled and excess manufacturing materials. The Social Studio empowers young people from the refugee community in Melbourne to achieve their dreams through work experience and training in clothing design, production, retail and hospitality."

      Now you might be rolling your eyes but even if you are not interested in fashion in the slightest, I am delighted to live in a city where independent stores like these flourish, where things are still actually made here rather than in terrible overseas sweatshops, and where people can have a dream to be a clothing designer, shoemaker or own their own small bookshop and actually be able to achieve that dream. It makes for a far richer city.

      Admittedly I am not such a huge fan of Bridge Rd and Swan St in Richmond. I find them really quite bland. But - and I'm allowed to say this, as I lived there for 10+ years! - they were never particularly amazing streets to begin with.

      Overdevelopment and shitty apartment blocks are a different kettle of fish to a well-thought out cafe, bar or restaurant. I am dead against them.

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    4. Hi Lauren - I hate to be the person that expresses opposition to your view but there's a lot that's wrong with your vision for Footscray. I live here because I cannot afford to live anywhere else: it's cheap and it's close to the medical facilities I need as a disabled person. The kind of stuff you desire would be complicit in turning Footscray into a place I (and countless others) can't afford. Obus and Leonard Street - sure, looks great, but a t-shirt from there is my monthly grocery budget. Vegan Wares - their riding boots are nice, but at half of my fortnightly income, I'm going to opt for a pair from Kmart or Savers instead. Couldn't give two hoots about Victoria Mason because, guess what... do you see what I'm getting at?

      Even the Social Studio holds a great deal of irrelevance for me, and I'm a refugee and appreciate the cause. I'm not rolling my eyes because I don't appreciate fashion - I'm rolling my eyes because all of this symbolises a consumption-driven, middle-class culture dominating what is essentially a safe space for marginalised and disenfranchised people. It's great that you feel so strongly about sweatshops but overpriced local goods aren't exactly the antidote - you're conflating two different issues.

      We already have shoemakers like the great guy at Forges; clothes and books don't matter when your card gets rejected while putting $5 on a Myki. I don't mean to sound aggressive or anything and I quite enjoy your blog (even though I can't afford to visit any restaurants - living vicariously I guess) but saying this kind of stuff is really poisonous and ignores the lived experiences of those who live in Footscray. It's an ever-changing suburb, I know, but it provides a place of solace for those of use who don't feel welcome in other parts of the city. I hope this provides some insight into my experience (and those of some others) so you can consider your own views in light of this. Thanks for hearing me out.

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    5. Thanks for your very thoughtful and well-written reply, anon. You can go ahead and oppose my views anytime! ;-) Just to be clear, in the discussion about Obus/Leonard St/Vegan Wares etc, I was less saying I wanted those exact shops for Footscray but rather was rebutting the previous commenter's assessment of Collingwood etc being a "strip mall" for the "bland and the beautiful" (which I find somewhat of a lazy assessment - it is trendy, ergo, I don't like it). In saying I want more of those kind of shops (not necessarily in the west, but citywide), in actual fact, given that only a small percentage of Melburnians can afford to shop there I am probably trying to close the door waaaaaaaay after the horse has bolted. Yes, I want to live in a city where independent stores flourish, but if the majority of people in the city have no hope of purchasing from those stores, the whole system is broken. Great points from you; thank you.

      The written word - particularly in comments sections! - is really hard to get nuance across but I genuinely apologise if my views seem "poisonous". I really mean that. You come across as a genuine and thoughtful person and I really appreciate you sharing your opinion and experience. Thanks for popping (or at least letting a bit of air out of) my bar-and-bookshop bubble and giving me some insight into, as you said, your experience and those of many others in the area.

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  8. I think we would all agree that none of us want to see a concrete jungle with franchises everywhere. I think things are ticking along OK, Littlefoot, Fox in the Corn, Mbar and 8 Bit are all one off businesses (so far). And thus, for me, they are truly welcome.

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  9. I remember having a whinge on here back when Guerilla first opened about gentrification and realising after a bit that I was being idiotic. It's great to see a diversity of businesses. There's room for Konjo and Guerilla and Saigon Pho and Ming Mings and Littlefoot (though I'm sad to hear Scarlet Corner has gone). But I did used to hate living in Yarraville because everything was always, financially, out of my reach. The lovely, fancy supermarkets charged more than I could afford. I couldn't buy the gorgeous clothes in the boutiques or eat out at many of the cafes. It was nice to move to Footscray and feel like it was OK not to be wealthy, that there were things for the less-loaded to do and buy and eat as well. I would hate it if that changed.

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    1. Good point, Jane, and definitely one to keep in mind as things progress...

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  10. Scarlet Corner gone? I walk past it at least twice a day and it's still there. Am I missing something? Cheryl

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    1. I think Jane means they have new owners now? Jane?

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