The Sly Fox - 902-F Gervais Street

Posted by The LunchMen Friday, May 28, 2010

The Sly Fox is a relatively new destination in the Vista, appropriately located directly next to The Wild Hare. The Sly Fox roped the Lunchmen in with the promise of immortality in the form of a customized shield on the wall with our name, crest, and motto. The gimmick works on me every time. For instance, as I am striving for that golden plate, I feel guilty about going to drink beer anywhere besides the Flying Saucer, and I never order the same beer twice when I'm there. Sad, I know.

The menu is British-Pub-Meats-Southern-Cooking fusion. What does that mean? It means that you can ordered Scotch Eggs for an appetizer, Shrimp & Grits for an entree, and have an Irish Car Bomb for dessert. That idea seemed right up our ally, and so the Lunchmen rallied a crowd to break in the Sly Fox. The Publican, Rabbit and I were joined on this Friday excursion by Tex, Fabio, The Lawnmower Man, and Bill Brasky. By way of introduction, when Brasky is not bathing in Vodka and digesting turtle shells, he makes time to come from Devine Street to dine with the Lunchmen. The combination of good friends, good weather, and the challenges of the Hunt Club had everyone's expectations for the Sly Fox running pretty high.

The actual food, however, did not quite live up to the level of excitement we brought to this seemingly bold Friday lunch call. Fabio ordered the pulled pork sandwich, which comes topped with a chipotle/blue cheese coleslaw and a barbecue sauce. That sandwich looks good on paper, and Fabio liked it fine, but he was not really blown away by it. Certainly, he conceded that it paled in comparison to a similar barbecue sandwich we had on a work trip in the restaurant at the Hermitage in downtown Nashville a couple of months ago. Carolina restaurants are obligated to do pulled pork better than anywhere else. Its a matter of regional barbecue pride. I did think Fabio's side of mac and cheese looked pretty tasty, but I admit that I have never found a mac and cheese that I don't think looks tasty.

I ordered an open-faced smothered steak sandwich made from NY strip, mushrooms, onions, blue cheese crumbles, and brown gravy. No concern with calories on this trip, my friends, I went all-in on this order. My sandwich was accompanied by some raw fries - too crispy for my liking - and was chased with a tasty, cold Widmer Hefeweizen. Maybe the sandwich would have suited me better on a cold, rainy January lunch. However, on this occasion, the concoction was too heavy, drab, and dense for my liking. The sandwich is the definition of sleepy food, too. Good luck getting work done after taking down the smothered steak.

Although only a couple of us had the wisdom and fortitude to order a beer as we dined at this pub, our group covered the menu pretty well, cheeseburgers, fish po-boys, even the crab cake blt (the CCBLT). Brasky, Rabbit, Tex, the Lawn Mower Man, they all seemed satisfied, but underwhelmed. The Publican defined his meal as "mediocre." The response was a little disappointing. Nevertheless, Rabbit, The Publican, and I each signed up for the Hunt Club on this inaugural trip. However, even that let us down, because the Hunt Club form in the restaurant is different from the one online; the restaurant form requires you to earn 50% more points and cuts the gift certificate in half. That felt like a bait-and-switch, and I hate a bait-and-switch more than almost anything. That's no way to earn our loyalty, Sly Fox.

The Sly Fox adds some different options for the Vista lunch scene, and for that I am glad it is around. Perhaps the real problem is that the Sly Fox is trying to do too much without doing anything very well. If you are in the mood for something different, give the internet menu here a look to see if they've got a new option you would want to try - just don't get too excited by the Hunt Club application, because our waitress said that the reward is not as easy or as great as it seems.

- Tank

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Rabbit, Tank, and The Publican are three dudes just trying to get through the work week here in Columbia. Rabbit is a Columbia native, Tank is from Charleston, and The Publican hails from Greenville. Rabbit's favorite lunch spot is the No Name Deli on Elmwood, where you may find him putting down a grilled chicken salad and a side of vinegar pasta. The Publican usually wants to find food to cure his all-too-common hangovers. Tank claims no favorite lunch spot - he lives for the thrill of the hunt.