New Chef Brings a New Menu to Mad Fox Brew Pub

Sometimes even we need a break from the never-ending carousel of beef that makes up our Burger Days so the opportunity to meet and greet new Mad Fox Brewing Company Executive Chef Andrew Dixon and check out his new menu was more than welcome. Besides we love Mad Fox's boozers. The Falls Church gastropub, fresh off its second anniversary last weekend, hooked up a seven-course tasting menu including both regular menu items and some of Dixon's off-menu specials. Dixon, who joined Mad Fox less than four months ago, was formerly Exec-Chef at a Pacific Northwest resort in Washington state-- and it showed in the night's veggie- and seafood-filled lineup. Being the carnivore that I am, I was definitely missing the meat, but since everything was accompanied by a sampling of Bill Madden's beer, I was more than happy to give it a go. Plus, there was a burger in the mix and that counts for a whole hell of a lot.

Oysters: multiply by 10 and you've got yourself a snack.

The tasting menu kicked off with a run of three consecutive meat-free choices but, as shocking as an unsolicited kick to the teeth, I thought they were the tastiest bites of the night. A single char-grilled oyster with garlic butter and Parmesan picatta kicked off the show and if I wasn't surrounded by a bunch of respectable looking people, I would have done my best to throw down a dozen more-- they were that good. Continuing the tiny tasty trend, the next dish was a thin sliver of Ahi carpaccio served along with some dabs of tasty orange-ginger mayo, crispy shiitake and basil emulsion. It was a spot-on course, but I was still left wanting more. (I would've taken a good 10 slabs of the tuna, a healthy slathering of the mayo and slapped it between two slices of bread. Maybe throw some of those crispy shiitake slices in there too. Charlie ain't got shit on my tuna sandwich.)

Tiny tuna.

The last of our wee-courses was a mushroom strudel which shook me to my meat-loving core. Seriously, how could a straight-up veggie dish be so good? The mushroom-stuffed phyllo cylinders with Saison syrup and chevre cream were ridiculous. I don't even like mushrooms and I'd have no problem knocking back a bowl of these things. Well done, Mr. Dixon. Shocked as I was to love all three of the meatless appetizers, I was just as equally disappointed to find that not one of them is available on the regular menu. If you want to get a taste of the above, you'll have to keep it locked to Mad Fox's Facebook and Twitter feeds as they'll most likely pop up as specials from time to time.

This mushroom strudel made me happy.

Even chickens dig beer.

Next up was cannelloni which was about as exciting as cannelloni can be. The ricotta, spinach and pecorino filled pasta were just fine but they didn't surpass any of the previous courses as my favorite. The same can be said for the next dish, a helping of beer can chicken made with Mad Fox's Kolsch beer served along with some pan jus, pea succotash and a potato puree. The chicken was tender and moist but my favorite things on the plate were the jus and potatoes. It was back to the appetizers with a carryover from Mad Fox's original menu, a deep-fried ball of  bread and beef served with a dollops of mustard and curry mayo called Bitterballen. While the Dutch-style snack is fried, it's not overly heavy or greasy and it's a welcome change from typical bar food.


The next-to-the-last course was pizza billed as sweet & spicy grilled vegetable which, once again, I was surprised to really enjoy. It was topped with grilled pineapple, zucchini, onion, jalapeno, tomato and basil along with a "beer-BQ" sauce, and while I'm not saying a layer or two of pepperoni wouldn't have been welcome, I did have to hold back from going for a second slice. Thankfully, the night capped off with a mini-version of the Bacon Jam burger, letting me once again feel secure in my role as a meat-eater. There wasn't any surprises here-- we went a round with it few months ago and nothing has changed since then. The beef was cooked to a perfect pink through and through, covered in melted blue cheese and plenty juicy. However, once again, the bacon jam fell flat as I was unable to tell the difference between it and a mound of plain chopped up bacon. (But let's be clear, plain bacon is still bacon and therefore awesome-- it's just not the same stuff I used to love at Mad Fox.)
A wee bacon jam burger.

A wee bacon jam burger.

Dixon plans to take advantage of the variety of seasonal ingredients the area has to offer and anticipates changing menus every few months. He also has plans to host one or two food-and-beer pairing dinners each month as well. So what did my greasy, beefy, meat-loving self take away from this latest culinary tour? 1) I'll never be satisfied by tiny-course tasting menus. Ever. 2) Beer makes even vegetables go down easier. 3) I still miss the old Mad Fox bacon jam. 4) But most importantly, Dixon is hooking up some pretty tasty things at Mad Fox and his creativity along with plans for a regularly evolving menu make me excited for future grubbing at the Fox. 5) Still: Meat > Vegetables.  Mad Fox Brewing Company | 444 West Broad Street | Falls Church | | @madfoxbrewing

Throw a couple dozen pepperonis on and I'll feel comfortable ordering this at the bar.


Look-- it's cannelloni.

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