We've eaten at Mr Fox several times now, so when we heard that the owners had opened a sister restaurant 'Fern' in Croydon it went onto the 'must visit' list. It's taken a couple of months to get there, but we finally visited Saturday evening.
Fern is situated on the ground floor of one the new apartment blocks that have sprung up all over East Croydon in the past couple of years. It was about 50 yards from East Croydon Station and the bus and tram stops, so incredibly easy to get to.
The styling was familiar, un-plastered walls and metal airducts running across the ceiling in contrast with large shimmering chandeliers and plush fern green velvet seating. A style that worked well.
We were seated at a great table which gave us a perfect people watching vantage point of the whole restaurant. The menu was explained to us; it's not supposed to be starters, mains and sides, but instead a selection of dishes to be shared, split into sections of plant, sea and land.
Our charming waiter recommended that we should order 5 dishes, and in addition to the menu ran through the couple of special dishes of the day, and we opted for one of those. Once we'd done that he made a wine recommendation which he claimed would be perfect with the mussel dish of the day.
Fern also has a rather nice walk-in bar and we took advantage of the bar tender's skills with a perfect French 75.
My friend is gluten intolerant, if she eats it her skins breaks out in spots. Once we'd mentioned about the food intolerance, nothing was too much trouble. We queried why some food items weren't shown as gluten free on the menu and the chef checked everything for us; in one dish it was the soy sauce, in another it was the sweet chilli sauce. The very small quantity of gluten present in these is not an issue for her, so we had a much wider choice than we'd anticipated.
Top photo - chargrilled prawns with a Romanesco sauce and a squeeze of lime
Middle left - salt baked beetroot salad with goat's curd, pomegranate, orange and bitter leaves
Middle right - sea bream ceviche with pomegranate, coriander, grapefruit and chilli
Bottom - the unctuous mussels again with a squeeze of lime before and after!
We had what I'd call 'girl food', lots of seafood and salad all accompanied by a better than average bottle of Picpoul de Pinet. There were meat items on the menu and a daily special sharing steak on-the-bone, which another table had and which looked delicious.
All of it was scrumptious, with those mussels being the star dish for both of us. The only thing that wasn't quite right, was that 4 of the 5 dishes arrived simultaneously. This gave us a couple of small issues. The first was that the table wasn't huge so we had a bit of plate manoeuvring to do. The second was that we were recommended to eat the delicate sea bream ceviche and beetroot salad before progressing to the bolder flavoured padron peppers and the mussels - that meant those went cold in the meantime. The mussels were re-heated for us without any hesitation or fuss. It'd have just been better if the food could have been staggered and arrived in the order of delicacy.
The bill was £75 per person, that was with a cocktail, the 5 dishes, a very nice bottle of wine and service.
We thoroughly enjoyed our evening, the playlist was great, the staff knowledgeable and enthusiastic, and the food delicious. Croydon has gained another lovely venue and we will be back.
100a George Street, Croydon, CR0 1GP