Atmosphere: Hunt-country style.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Price Range: $3.95 to $8.95 for main course, two vegetables and unlimited salad at a salad bar.
Credit Cards: Major credit cards accepted.
Reservations: A good idea on weekend.
Special Facilities: Valet parking at night only; not accessible to people in wheelchairs.
Summer had been too much with us: ice cream sundaes and shakes, corn on the cob dripping with butter, deep fried seafood platters. Something had to give. No more pizzas and pastas and rich French sauces - at least for a while.
Dieting, however, complicates dinner out. We had to look for something simple but interesting enough to justify spending money on a restaurant meal. We took our diet to Fox's Den, which is located on the second floor of a small building one block north of the massive Metro construction at Western and Wisconsin avenues. With several major department stores nearby, parking near the Fox's Den is at a premium. Fortunately, the restaurant has its own lot and valet parking is available.
The only way to enter the restaurant is by an outdoor staircase on Willard Avenue. Inside, it was clear that Fox's Den took its name seriously: Pictures of foxes - fox faces, fox families, foxes in hunts - adorned the walls. There were needlepoint pictures of foxes, watercolors, pen and ink drawings and three-dimensional foxes, their little pointy faces staring down at the taupe leather banquettes and neatly set tables.
Our party of five - my hasband and I, my mother, my daughter and her friend - were seated at a comfortable and spacious table for six. Although we were the only family with children there at the time, we felt at ease. The maire d' didn't seem to find children a burden either.
Our waitress was with us almost immediately, inquiring about cocktails. We opted for a half liter of wine at $2. How many calories could a glass of wine have?
The menu began with the good news that there was a salad bar. Fox's Salad Nook. A note on the menu said: "Feel free to create your own salad. However, if you prefer to sit and relax, your waiter or waitress will be happy to prepare and serve your salad."
Salad Nook was available as a main course for $3.50 or as a side dish with any main course.The entrees were divided into four sections: From the Deep Sea, From the Broiler, From the Frying Pan, For the Not So Hungry. Could a dieter ask for more?
Prices on full-size entrees ranged from $4.50 for chopped round steak with mushroom sauce or boned breast of capon on ham to $8.95 for lobster tails or New York sirloin, 12 ounces. In between were such enttrees as sauteed calf's liver, steak teriyaki, crab cakes and short ribs of beef. The Not So Hungry entrees were mostly egg dishes - omelettes, eggs benedict, etc. - at $3.95.
My husband and I, who were taking our diets seriously, ordered accordingly. He chose a special of the day, marinate baby rock lobster tails enbrochette, $6.95. I had the broiled filet of fisherman's catch (Boston blue the night we were there) for $5.25. My mother chose breaded veal cutlet parmesan in tomato sauce, $6.25. My daughter, 12, who loves fried shrimp, ordered that dish while her friend, who's thrilled with French I at junior high school ordered shrimp St. Jacques, $5.95, in perfectly accented French.
We also had our choice of two out of five vegetables: braised celery, zucchini creole, lima beans, baked potato and french fried potatoes.
While we waited for our main courses, a busboy brought a hot, crusty loaf of bread and a cup of butter to our table.Fortunately, the loaf was small for five people so we couldn't over indulge. Unfortunately, our busboy was on the ball and refilled the empty bread bowl.
We chose to fill up, instead, on salad nook offerings: iceberg lettuce, shredded red cabbage, shredded carrots, been salad, corn relish, cottage cheese, beets and croutons. Four thick and rich dressings were set out as was a fifth called diet dressing and marked, "six calories per ladle." No one volunteered to try the diet dressing.
Our main courses were attractively served and sizzling hot. The fried shrimp were crisp on the outside, juicy inside, and not overly breaded. The shrimp St. Jacques, in a pretty shell, was creamy, as promised. The lobster brochette was marinated will enough to compensate for the hot butter that traditionally accompanies lobster. My fish was fresh and well seasoned.
My mother, however, was having a good deal of trouble cutting the veal. The waitress, who casually asked if everything was all right, was told the veal was a little tough to handle. No further questions asked, she picked it up and asked my mother what else she'd like. "Another veal or a different dish?" My mother chose fried shrimp; the dish was delivered to the table within five minutes.
We were impressed with the courtesy and customer-is-always-right approach of our waitress. We forgot about the tough veal and came away with kind thoughts about Fox's Den.
Although our waitress tried to tempt us by reciting the desserts available - chocolate pie, cheesecake, ice cream and sundates - we ordered tea, coffee and milk, and nothing more.
The bill for our meal for three adults and two children came to $35.03 including tax.
There is no children's menu or half priced children's entrees at Fox's Den. Parents of young children with small appetites would be best advised to have children share an entree since the portions are of a good size.