On saturday night, we found ourselves so close to Fox and Obels, we HAD to drop in. It's been several months since my last visit. There's been a few mentions of F&O on the board lately, but no real reviews. Here's my updated impressions:
I believe I will always have mixed feelings towards Fox and Obels. There is something about the heavily capitalized, publicity driven annoitment of the place that just irks me. Some how, I want (or crave) my gourmet stores to be Zabaresque. A small place driven by a maniacal shopkeeper, who rises to the top with passion and grit, extra helpings of chutzpah and holiday price wars for cavier. Think also Sam's Wine. Then my opinion is always tied to my initial visit, with the broken bread machine, the malfunctioning cash registers and the unstocked shelves. Each new visit, however converts me a bit more. As I have said before, I long for Chicago to have a true food emporium ala Harrods Food Hall and all those places in New York. In that sense, Fox and Obels scratches my itch.
A huge quibble I had with Fox and Obel in the past was the produce section. It just seemed too ordinary. This, I am glad to report, is no more. Want to play Charlie Trotter, here is your chance. Teensy-tiny swiss chard so precious they seem a shame to eat. Fiddlehead ferns and other rareities abound for you new new thing menu's. Pricey but unique.
My favorite section at Fox and Obels remains the bakery. Gosh, is the bread good. I spent all morning yesterday lecturing my kids about real bread, what bread should be, the crusty, fragrant food that this was. Only Red Hen bakes bread close to this, but Fox and Obels is as European as possible. We also had a big slice of coconut layer cake that tasted amazingly homemade, yet had the perfection of a professional baker. A cheese danish was equally good.
I did not buy anything else but longed for the gorgeous 21 day aged, prime porterhouses. On the drive home, I tried to calculate in my mind which would be cheaper, a dinner at Morton's or preparing a F&O steak. The deli section also abounds with great looking stuff, have you ever seen mortadella that looked this good?
I'm curiuous what others think of Fox and Obels.