The Fox and The Crow is one of Aesop’s Fables… The flatterer lives at the expense of those who will listen to him.
The fact that I’m about to write a raving review, and the nature of my work as a critic – the irony is not lost on me when it comes to the lesson in this fable. There are a multitude of ways to interpret the moral – don’t trust people who flatter you because they usually have ill intentions, don’t cheat others or you could be cheated, flattery will make one foolish… It’s interesting how many different perceptions can come from one story.
For me in my world of food and writing reviews, I see the parable as a lesson to not let flattery go to your head or you’ll lose sight of your goals. It’s easy to get comfortable when people are flooding Yelp and Facebook (and blogs) with raving 5-star reviews. When business owners and chefs let this go to their head, that’s the minute innovation becomes stagnant, dishes become boring, and people stop trying. Virtue is forgotten in the pursuit of ambition.
The cheese is dropped.
This is partly why I try to focus on writing balanced reviews, no matter the star rating – there’s good and “needs improvement” in all things, and it’s easier to find that balance when a restaurant is heavier on the “needs improvement” side of the scale. But when a place seems to be perfect, it’s difficult to not lay on the flattery and call it good.
However, it is not the responsibility of the fox to change his tune, but rather the responsibility of the crow to moderate her response.
I think this is why the fable is an excellent name for the boutique cheese shop and bistro tucked into the Scotch Pines Village on Drake and Lemay. It’s an assurance through allegory reference that owners Tina and Allan Mooney are focusing on not dropping the cheese.
The Fox and The Crow opened on November 20, 2014, inspired by New York delis and Old Town Fort Collins’ Welsh Rabbit Cheese Shop. I love that they’re in midtown, expanding our culinary boundaries outside of Old Town where everyone seems to be focused when it comes to boutique food experiences. They have a unique selection of meats and cheeses, and a small but impressive menu of small plates for “lunch and light supper.”
I’ve been to The Fox and The Crow a handful of times for business meetings, cures for hangry attitude adjustments, a delicious wifi spot to finish up marketing proposals, and a gathering spot to chat with friends over wine and charcuterie. Full disclosure – there’s no way of me going in here anonymously as Tina knows exactly who I am and what’s going on, but that hasn’t impacted service or experience. But make of it what you will in Fox and Crow fable fashion.
I’ve enjoyed their Mac and Cheese with aged cheddar and Wisconsin’s Carr Valley Fontina, topped with house made crackers and cheese. Of course I opted to get it with bacon, but it’s also available without.
As a baked dish the cheese is thicker rather than a creamy sauce, which is my mac and cheese preference. It is downright decadent, and with the bacon mixed in, a guilty pleasure that may inspire you to hit the gym the next day. I love that just about everything is made from scratch here, down the the crackers that top this dish. I think it would be improved if the crackers were crumbled into a thinner consistency, like panko, which would enhance the cheese and baked texture, but honestly, I’m just splitting hairs at this point. It’s awesome either way.
I’ve had their cannoli made with a traditional blend of ricotta cheese, chocolate, and almonds with a twist of orange zest. They’re hand-filled to order in a crispy shell that’s shipped in from New York City.
It’s not overly sweet, and the orange zest is a lovely flavor enhancer for the delicate ricotta.
Each month they have a creative grilled cheese special that highlights their focus on innovation. In October they featured an Apple Pie Grilled Cheese with house made apple pie filling using organic honey crisp apples, Tillamook extra sharp cheddar, and bacon on house baked bread. I had an apricot cider to drink with it.
There’s no way in hell I was going to skip out on this one. I was not disappointed in the least. It was extra gooey, with tender slices of apples coated in melted Tillamook, with crispy bacon mixed in each bite. You’re not going to find anything like it in town. Too bad it was only a monthly special, but every month they have had enticing grilled cheese creations to indulge in. The only thing I’d suggest is that there be different side options other than a bag of Boulder chips for their sandwiches.
I’ve also enjoyed their meat and cheese boards. You have the option of choosing which meats and cheeses go onto your board, but I found that to be a bit daunting and left that up to them to “surprise me,” which is easy when you’re down for an eating adventure and not particularly picky.
On the meat board they selected Pate de Campagne, Rosette de Lyon, and Coppa. It included toasted slices of baguette, cornichons, and nuts.
On the cheese board they selected French Cherry Chevre with dried apple slices and figs, Taleggio, and Mycella Blue Cheese. This board included olives, nuts, candied walnuts, and two dollops of honey, including a hot honey (that was incredible). I enjoyed a couple of glasses of pinot noir to go with this.
I love that the selection process is approachable, and that you can also lean on their expertise to put something spectacular together. The French Cherry Chevre was my absolute favorite, and something I wouldn’t have chosen for myself as I tend to avoid a lot of cherry dishes because they tend to be cloying. Not this. It was fabulous!
Now, prepare for the flattery… I absolutely love The Fox and The Crow. It has become one of my favorite Fort Collins eateries. It’s an adorable, comfortable, cozy space with culinary treasures that will tantalize your tastebuds. It’s a place that adds to our unique flavor in Fort Collins. I don’t think this flattery is deceptive, but you can go in for yourself to decide.
The Fox and The Crow
2601 South Lemay, Unit 21
Kid-Friendly? There’s nothing kid-unfriendly about it, and there have been families dining when I’ve been there, but don’t go in expecting to see a kids’ menu.
Parking Lot: Shared shopping center parking lot
Healthy options: They have gluten-free selections upon request, but since they bake in-house, there’s no guarantee against cross contamination
Budget-Friendly? Absolutely. Just about everything is under $10
Recent Health Inspection: Excellent