It's always wonderful to find gems where you least expect them, especially gems as wonderful as Fox in the Corn. The bare facts don't initially get the crafty juices flowing: it's a pasta restaurant in Footscray. But check it out and you'll discover it's much, much more.
The first inkling we had that it was something more was when the owners sent us their beer list, ostensibly to entice us to visit. The first page featured sours, the second more sours, the third fruit sours. Then on it went through styles, with each page filled with interesting representations of the styles too rather than the standards you might expect to find in a restaurant attempting to offer a craft beer selection.
The deal was sealed when we ventured into Footscray. Co-owner Josh Murnane – sporting a Two Metre Tall t-shirt – launched into an explanation of the ethos behind the restaurant, his passion for beer and desire to spread that passion to others, his vision for Fox in the Corn and, ultimately, future similar venues.
It turns out that the pasta they serve is – or at least, was – their own (the other person in the "they" being Josh Bayne), handcrafted in Williamstown under the Millgrove Pasta banner from the best, most authentic local ingredients they can source and served in many restaurants across Melbourne as well as further afield. Fox in the Corn was the first outlet of their own with which to showcase their pasta direct and, with Josh M being a hugely passionate beer lover, is also an outlet to showcase great beer in partnership with food. We say "was" as a fire destroyed the Millgrove business so Josh now makes the pasta fresh on site each day.
On the food front, the pasta can be paired with a wide selection of sauces; the menu is augmented by cheese and charcuterie platters and other small sharing dishes plus pizzas. As for the beer, we've said elsewhere on this site that the approach at Fox in the Corn could be the gold standard for other Aussie restaurants serious about beer to follow.
There are eight taps, four of which form the more "standard" offerings: a lager, a pale, an IPA and a dark ale. The other four always pour a cider, a sour, a fruit sour and a "wild" beer. All eight rotate. On top of that is an ever-growing bottle list of the sort that will have even the most ardent beer geek dreaming of being locked in the cool room overnight. If that all sounds a little pointy end and liable to put off newcomers to craft beer, fret not. Josh is only too eager to leave his post behind the taps to chat to diners about what they usually drink, what they may like to try instead and where they might like to go after that.
The small wine list is similarly curated while the soft drinks are in keeping with the ethos of all natural and authentic too; Josh even rustles up homemade shrubs each week too. Since October 2015, the venue has acted as a bottleshop too, while you'll also find the Honeycomb Hideout – a can bar hidden down an alley at the rear.
It's a great example of a small group of people with strong beliefs following through on them and one that deserves to thrive.