February 09, 2024

Stop 1: The Fox Bar and Cocktail Club
Naturally I ordered the Sunday Gravy ($16), which is not a pot of meat-filled marinara that’s been slowly bubbling on a stove all day but rather a smooth, quiet cocktail made of sun-dried-tomato amontillado sherry and lo-fi gentian that’s been steeped with Parmesan rind. It’s served with a tiny bay leaf in a Nick and Nora glass — not a coupe, Georgian, flip, sling or any of the 11 other kinds of glassware The Fox stocks, which I only know because there’s a sketch of each (and all five shapes of ice) on a menu that could double as wall art.

Why you would sit anywhere other than the bar at The Fox is beyond me. I loved watching the bartender make Dom’s Fox Old Fashioned No. 10 ($22), especially when she stamped The Fox’s logo into the top of the glass-filling ice cube. There’s nothing dramatic or flashy about the bartenders; they work with great focus and precision while answering questions from people like me who have no clue what lo-fi gentian is. It’s fun to have a front-row seat for all the spoons, sprays, garnishes and random splashes from the shaken cocktails.

Learn from our mistake: The Fox takes reservations at 5 p.m. only, so when we arrived at 5:45 on a Friday night, there was a 45-minute wait because everyone who’d thought ahead was enjoying their Concord grape margaritas, Old Bay popcorn and hot chicken hummus (which contains no chicken). It’s a small space with no indoor waiting area, so if you have to wait, the tiny photo booth just outside the door is a fun way to kill time. Dom and I were too wide to sit side by side and too short to be in the frame, but we had a good chuckle taking the world’s worst pictures.

Parking is not what I’d call plentiful — more of a ditch-your-car-in-an-alley-and-hope-for-the-best situation. Instead of signage, there’s a fox mural along the side of East Hill Row, home to Gallatin Pike-facing Nicoletto’s Italian Kitchen. Follow the foxes to the back, and the entrance is underneath the stairs that lead to The Bowery Vault. Don’t mistake the covert location as coy or pretentious. In a high-low town that’s silly with over-the-top douchebag bars and dives, The Fox is Goldilocks.