Interview & Review: Speaking with Sam Fox, Fox Restaurant Visionary, On All Things Epicurean

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Sam Fox, the creative visionary behind Fox Restaurant Concepts (FRC) and owner of Scottsdale's successful Olive & Ivy and The Henry (which are both reviewed), continues making strides in the national marketplace while creating a niche all his own.

 

Although headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, the numbers are proof positive of Fox's impact across the nation. His company operates nearly fifty locations and thirteen unique concepts in six states throughout the country, boasting a team of over 4,000 employees—with no end in sight.

In fact, Fox is reportedly throttling forward for substantial, near-term growth with eighteen planned openings heavily focused on Southern California, Washington D.C. and Texas. Amid such sustained expansion, it's easy to see why, even after twenty years in business, FRC is more relevant and on top of its game than ever, maintaining a stronghold as one of the fastest growing hospitality groups in America.


North Italia Santa Monica Review - Fabulous; Health Driven Farm to Table Fare Impresses


I've had the good fortune of dining at numerous FRC eateries throughout the country, including North Italia and The Arrogant Butcher, and most recently Olive & Ivy and The Henry. Each of those experiences left me in awe of the extent to which this hospitality group not only truly "gets it," but also "nails it" with consistency.

Fox's company has managed to combine hugely compelling restaurant concepts that resonate with modern consumers with an impeccable attention to detail across the board—from menu creation, ingredient sourcing, and food execution to open kitchen architecture, interior design elements, and tableware styling to creating just the right vibe with music, lighting and stylish staffers with swag. No detail is overlooked.

So adept is Fox at this holistic approach to restaurant service, he's amassed numerous awards and distinctions throughout his career, during which he's opened more than 80 restaurants. In addition to being an 11-time James Beard Award semifinalist for Outstanding Restaurateur, Fox is also a New York Times best-selling cookbook author and was named one of the 50 most influential people in the restaurant industry by Nation's Restaurant News for the fifth consecutive year.

Impressive for this college dropout who took money earmarked for his tuition to instead open his first eatery at the ripe age of 20. A decision that's clearly panned out as, today, two decades later, FRC is one of the country's most esteemed culinary concept powerhouses.


Having most recently dined at Olive & Ivy for dinner service and The Henry for brunch, both in Scottsdale, I was keen to connect with a spokesperson at FRC for a deeper dive into these particular locales—one quite different from the other but both adeptly over-achieving and cultivating a beholden fan base. Here's a bit of that conversation.

MK: How would you sum up Olive & Ivy's approach to hospitality?

FRC: Time slows down as soon as you step into Olive & Ivy. Inspired by the French Riviera, the approach to dining allows guests to enjoy a few stolen moments with those who matter most. Start the day with a cup of coffee and freshly baked Cinnamon Rolls at the marketplace or share a plate of Bacon-Wrapped Dates, and entrees like the Bone-In Ribeye and Wild Mushroom Pappardelle pasta in the evening. Bringing people together over food comes naturally in this little slice of the Mediterranean. Everything is slow-cooked and prepared carefully so guests can savor all the appetizing flavors in every bite. Settle into the comfort of the fire pit lounges on the outdoor, tree-shaded patio and sip a Blood Orange Paloma.

MK: How about The Henry, what is the vision for that brand?

FRC: The basis for The Henry was to create a versatile, all-day restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. It's the neighborhood go-to gathering spot for any occasion, whether to work, hold a meeting, celebrate a special occasion, or grab a casual drink. The Henry showcases made-from-scratch American fare that is both comfortable and refined. The restaurant features a warm interior adorned with rich evergreen banquettes, navy and gold-studded walls, and a mix of modern and industrial décor that will make guests feel like they have a place in the neighborhood that immediately feels like home. Take the things you love most about your favorite neighborhood café and your beloved bar and restaurant around the corner, and you've got The Henry. This is what's made celebrities like Cindy Crawford, Adrienne Bailon and Chuck Liddell all fans of The Henry.


MK: As a high end eatery, does Olive & Ivy have a "signature dish?"

FRC: At Olive & Ivy, menu highlights include Bacon-Wrapped Dates with Italian sausage and piquillo pepper; Beet Salad with arugula, goat cheese and pistachio; and Veal and Spinach Ravioli with parmesan and mizuna.

[MK Edit: My own experience at Olive & Ivy was overwhelmingly impressive, starting with the Lamb Meatballs—five aromatic morsels of meat served atop a rich and creamy tzatziki and feta mixture punctuated with fresh herbs. The flavor profile of the Pesto Chicken Flatbread was equally on-point, with generously pesto-dressed chicken intertwined with caramelized onion, tomato and pine nuts atop a beautifully-crisped golden-brown dough.

 

 


The entrée course was truly to-die-for, most certainly including the Wild Mushroom Pappardelle. Even without a protein, this earthy dish is hugely satisfying courtesy of the large ribbons of hearty pasta with just the right amount of firmness. Meaty foraged mushrooms crown this bed of noodles along with large shavings of sharp parmesan—all ensconced in just the right note of truffle and topped with fresh-cut herbs. It's a must-try menu item.

Another standout during my visit was the Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin—three thick-cut medallions served with smoked onion all moistened by a sherry jus, accompanied by fingerling potato and Swiss chard. Appropriately cooked so its slightly pink at the center, this lean cut of meat was full of moisture and flavor-rich—albeit due in large part to the bacon around the perimeter. For its part, the Filet of Beef was truly exceptional primarily for the cut, itself. Lean, tender, and expertly seasoned and seared, this steak nary needed a sauce although the red wine shallot accompaniment still managed to elevate—as did the horseradish dauphinoise potatoes—sliced potatoes baked in milk, hailing from south-east France's Dauphiné region.

Dessert here also delivered in droves. A large-sectioned Frozen Chocolate Bar with marinated cherry garnish, pistachio cake and cherry chip ice cream was decadence at its finest, while the light and airy Strawberry Shortcake with almond, white chocolate and a scoop of refreshing strawberry sorbet was a lovely counterpoint.

I would also be remiss to not give a shout out to the on-site DJ spinning at Olive & Ivy, helping create a truly electric and exciting atmosphere. Here, wining, dining and craft cocktailing "is" the night out and the copious tables of large parties—interspersed with those clearly out for a fun-filled "date night"—was a testament that this is a weekend night destination—not just a starting point.]

FRC: At The Henry, menu standouts include the Quinoa Breakfast Burrito, Little Gem & Asparagus Caesar, Korean Style Skirt Steak, Skuna Bay Salmon, Short Rib Pot Stickers and Salted Caramel Rolls. The extensive coffee menu showcases the restaurant's signature Forster & Burnett Coffee blend, with featured coffee drinks including the Go North and their famous Cold Brew.

[MK Edit: My brunch service at The Henry also exceeded expectations. Despite the fact that the space is large, it's uniquely styled to have a residential feel—as if you've entered someone's personal home. The effect is quite powerful and unexpected in the best possible way. Charming old-fashioned touches are weaved all throughout, so do take the time to take a visual tour of the entire space for which it's clear much time and effort was spent.



Be sure to start with a Custom Bloody Mary from the cart wheeling to-and-fro. Pick your vodka iteration (horseradish and dill my choice) and your accoutrement (pickles, peppers, bacon, and celery, among others)—it's created and tendered tableside.

Also, don't let the fact that this is a "casual" eatery fool you, as the fare is primed to impress. Unique among their offerings is the Smoked Norwegian Salmon with the lox-esque salmon, itself, used as a wrap around a crisped potato hash brown. Fairly rich, the dollop of crème fraîche is an apt foil as are the sprigs of fresh arugula sprinkled atop. I also adored the Short Rib Potstickers and appreciated the traditional pan-fried preparation versus deep fried as well as the clever use of well-rendered short rib instead of ground pork. Served with toasted white and black sesame seeds, Mizuna Japanese mustard greens, and ponzu, this is a worthy appy.



For a sweet and sassy side, I highly recommend the Brûléed Pink Grapefruit—a simple yet ever-tasty approach to "a side of fruit" that I have sworn to replicate at home. If dessert is indelibly in your sights, I recommend the Warm Croissant Bread Pudding. Arriving in a mini All-Clad cast iron skillet, the warm and dutifully moist bread pudding with toasted pecans is topped with a full layer of golden, whiskey-soaked raisins and a dollop of dense caramel ice cream. It's a filling finish, so save room for it!]

MK: What are some of the imminent goals for these two restaurants?

FRC: For the near future, a top priority will be introducing The Henry to Dallas diners and making sure the winter opening goes smoothly. Also, in the near-term at Olive & Ivy, the team is working on a seasonal menu change for fall, in addition to elevating the wine program even further. Expect in-house sommeliers and a Wine of the Month program similar to the popular #RyansWines at The Henry (a wine from the reserve list is featured each month by the glass).

MK: Having realized so much success already, how will these eateries elevate their image even further?

FRC: Every restaurant should tell a story. Our vision for Olive & Ivy is to be more than just a Mediterranean bistro—it's more about creating a place where friends can share a few stolen moments together while sipping on sangria and enjoying Mediterranean fare. Olive & Ivy is a living example of our goal with each concept: to deliver a sense of culture through food, setting, and service to provide guests with extraordinary dining experiences.

We also know that, to be successful, restaurants should have a personality and tell a story. If guests at The Henry experience this, then the value the team provides during their time dining is so much greater. The Henry was designed to be a community space used for much more than a typical restaurant—to feel warm and welcoming from every ingredient on the menu to the fabric on the curtains to the bookshelf display to all the natural lighting. The Henry is billed as "The Best Neighborhood Restaurant," so it better feel like that to guests when they walk through the doors.

MK: What might people NOT know about the restaurant but should?

FRC: Olive & Ivy is a Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winner for ten consecutive years. The large cellar room holds more than 2,000 bottles of wine. And, to ensure the best quality, reds are stored at 58 degrees while whites are stored at 48.


Arrogant Butcher Review - Fabulous Fare, Lite Bites, Trendy and Delicious


Also, guests can win a gift card to The Henry by posting a picture in front of the arrow (which hangs directly on the restaurant's exterior pointing toward the front door) on social media with the hashtag #FollowTheArrow. The Henry will also send a matching donation to a local charity in the neighborhood. One winner is chosen every Monday.

Eating at these and certainly other FRC locales is far more than just grabbing a bite to eat. It's a truly immersive experience where patrons come to linger, decompress, indulge and delight in a warm hug of hospitality that's remarkably all-encompassing.

~~~

As the Executive Editor and Producer of "The Luxe List," Merilee Kern is an internationally-regarded consumer product trends expert and hospitality industry voice of authority—a travel, dining, leisure and lifestyle expert who spotlights noteworthy marketplace innovations, change makers, movers and shakers.

She reports on exemplary travel destinations and experiences, extraordinary events and newsworthy products and services across all categories. Reach her online at www.TheLuxeList.com, on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/LuxeListEditor, on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/TheLuxeList and on Instagram at www.Instagram.com/LuxeListReviews.


***Some or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s), item(s) and/or service(s) detailed above may have been provided or arranged at no cost to accommodate this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any way.***

Republished by permission of and provided to Haute-Lifestyle.com by author. 


Source: https://www.restaurant.org/News-Research/Research/soi

Haute Tease

  • Money News: DOW Suffers Major Loss; London, Canada Down; Germany, France, Asian Markets Up

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The DOW Jones Industrial Average, unable to shake the Bear chase, suffered massive triple digit losses, losing in one week an entire years gain, closed down as the top three world market indicators took a hit signaling a down turn.

     
  • Beltway Insider: Obama, Pope Differ on Syrian Exodus; EU Overburdened; Child Drowns; ISIS and Assad

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    President Obama, after years of tough talk and defiant rhetoric, has grown increasingly silent on the deposition of Syria's Basher al-Assad even as the mass exodus has done little to remind the President of his former attempts to depose the despot.

     
  • God Help The Girl Review – A Beautiful Modern Euro Musical

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    "God Help The Girl," from Amplify and Barry Mendel Productions, presents a message of hope as the ravages of anorexia, and destruction of lies are told in musical form through the eyes of a contemporary Euro underground rave band.

     
  • Beltway Insider: Trump/UK; Russian Meddling Confirmed; SCOTUS; WH 2020; Stanford Rape Judge Ousted; Trapped Soccer Team; LeBron James

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    President Trump and First Lady Melania, are scheduled to travel to London, for a bi-lateral meeting with Prime Minster Theresa May and is expected to meet Queen Elizabeth II, a privilege usually extended and reciprocated immediately after inauguration.

     
  • Beltway Insider: Obama Gives PT Speech, Media Outrage; San Bernardino; 2016 Race; Scott Weiland OD

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    President Obama presented a rare prime-time speech to address the nation on the San Bernardino Terrorist attack that killed 14 in an ISIS style mass shooting and the plan that he and coalition members have to address this new wave of terrorist attacks.

     
  • Beltway Insider: Trump/Saudi Sanctions; Khashoggi Ambushed; Brexit Redux; China Builds A Bridge; Crimea Erupts; Paul Allen

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    President Donald Trump, since the news Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had Washington Post journalist Jamel Khashoggi murdered, has skirted a hardline position reserving his usual assertive and uncompromising stance for mild rebukes while the world demands justice.

     
  • London Underground Music Scene Brings Bluepint Blue to SXSW; New Releases From Phil Odgers and DocFell & Co (Links)

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Following recent airplay on BBC Radio 2 and BBC 6 Music along with extensive online coverage, Blueprint Blue release another slice of their Americana inspired songwriting in the form of their stunning new single 'Bad Dreams'.  

  • Maestro Victor Vener And His California Philharmonic Return To Walt Disney Concert Hall For An Awe-Inspiring 11th Season

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Los Angeles  - This is the time of year when the heart of downtown Los Angeles beats a little faster with anticipation of another unforgettable summer season with Maestro Victor Vener and his California Philharmonic at Walt Disney Concert Hall. 

     
  • Beltway Insider: Obama Deliver State of the Union; Rubio Deliver GOP Rebuttal; Brennan, Hagel Confirmations stalled

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    President Barack Obama delivered the first State of the Union address of his second term, this week, directly calling congress into bi-partisan support of his agenda to move forward much needed reforms.

     
  • Pantai Inn Review - An Enchanting Oceanside Escape

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Pantai Inn, a boutique hotel uniquely offering a Balinese-inspired experience, offers guests a culturally-oriented escapism with refined distinct interior and outdoor décor, a garden oasis, and a communal fire pit, all accompany breathtaking Pacific views.

     
  • And the Oscar for Best Documentary Short Film Goes To . . .

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Documentary films bring the world into our living rooms, we are treated to lands, times, events that we would never see, astonished at stories of overcoming obstacles and provide clarity into our own situations, they provide a looking glass into another's life, dreams, survival, hope and heart.

     
  • Ensenada’s Hotel Coral & Marina Review - A Heavenly Escape

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Hotel Coral & Marina, a luxury Mexican resort that truly has it all for families, couples, groups or any well-heeled traveler seeking an easily accessible, all-encompassing South of the Border escape with endless Pacific Ocean views, all within a two hour drive from San Diego.

     
  • Updated:William, Kate Welcome Baby Number Two, Charlotte Elizabeth Diana; Obama Congratulates Family, Queen, Nation

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Prince William and Catherine, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, welcomed baby number two, a girl, into their growing family, on Saturday, May 2, following a week delay and short two hour labor.

     
  • Celebrity Interview: Oakes Fegley and Jaden Michael Talk on Wonderstruck, Casting, and Acting Advice

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Oakes Fegley and Jaden Michael, the two teen stars of the magical film Wonderstruck, released from Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions, recently participated in the media day and agreed to meet at the Four Seasons for an interview. 

     
  • Celebrity Interview: John David Ware Talks on Making Unbridled, Eric Roberts, Human Trafficking and Equine Therapy

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Director John David Ware's unforgettable and captivating feature, Unbridled,  chronicles the journey of an abused girl who teams up with an abused horse and their journey to healing, and is inspired by a healing ranch in North Carolina.