There’s no two ways about it: Food allergies suck. Nothing’s worse than getting lumped with a lacklustre substitute because your body is a tad more sensitive to particular ingredients than others. Luckily for those of us who suffer from sensitivities, we’ve rediscovered one Melbourne café and restaurant that’s doing allergy-friendly food right, and its head chef is dedicated to designing dishes that burst with flavour. Boring, tasteless stand-ins, be gone!
Meet Fox In The Box, the Brighton venue that’s been serving Melbourne’s celiacs, dairy-free folk, FODMAP aware foodies, and other intolerant eaters for the past four years. The southside gem is run by chef and intolerant eater Tim Byrne, who has dedicated much of his adult life to researching not only the variety of intolerances and issues that arise due to dietary concerns, but also cooking up a storm with flavourful dishes that really do make the most of fresh, wholesome ingredients.
A café by day, restaurant by night, Fox In The Box really does take allergies seriously - they’re not just low-FODMAP, they’re entirely FODMAP safe. This means a brief chat about your concerns before you dine, and a kitchen that’s entirely free from gluten, wheat and onions to ensure that there are no accidental contaminations or mix-ups that will ruin your week. Tim’s intricate knowledge of different dietary issues makes the experience much more like a friendly consultation - rather than blindly choosing something from a menu and hoping for the best. Eating is all about enjoying things that taste good AND make you feel good, and the staff are keen to make sure that this mantra rings true for every customer, even if your list of intolerances is significantly more complicated than the standard, ‘no dairy for me, thanks.’
As a matter of fact, Fox In The Box is Melbourne’s first FODMAP-friendly and allergy aware café to really nail a menu that’s packed full of ‘regular’ food. An advocate for the classics (yup, there’s a breadless burger, and gluten free chicken schnitzel which is available as a vego dish thanks to eggplant), Tim has curated day, night and weekend menus that cover all bases: from to-go wraps and sandwiches to gluten and dairy-free desserts, mouth-watering mains to an epic quinoa pancake stack, there’s something for virtually all occasions, whether you’re brunching with mates or booking a romantic date for your FODMAP lover.
A real stand-out has to be the lemon meringue pie. Dairy and gluten free, its sweet filling and rich pastry are to die for – we savoured every too-good-to-be-true forkful. We also couldn’t get enough of the gluten free vanilla slice, which is available in a lactose free version too. In addition, a collection of allergy-friendly pasta dishes that show a touch of Italian flair (bar the use of garlic, onions, gluten and even tomatoes) is second to none: expect dairy and gluten free lasagne, rich oxtail Pasta Rustica, and even fructose-friendly tomato-free spaghetti bolognese that tastes better than the real thing, all thanks to some kitchen wizardry. We literally could not believe that this epic gluten free pasta dish was void of onions and tomatoes… And yet our bodies told the truth!
While eating as a sufferer of allergies and sensitivities can be a pain, even in the most accommodating of modern eateries, Fox In The Box is a saviour for Melburnians who need to eat right – and those, for that matter, who simply want to learn a little more about what the terms FODMAP, celiac, and intolerant really mean.
Round up your allergy-ridden mates and book in for a meal that, at long last, everyone can relax and enjoy.
Fox In The Box is open for lunch, dinner, Saturday breakfast and for special events. To book at Fox In The Box, call 03 9596 0133.
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Image credit: Sabine Legrand for The Urban List