Sam Fox: Love him or hate him, chances are you have some opinion about this Valley-based restaurateur. Not everyone likes the idea of one guy cranking out 12 (yes, 12!) restaurant concepts in 14 years. But even if not all of them are winners, at the very least Fox is putting up one hell of a fight against the overwhelming number of mega-chain restaurants that line our city's streets. Plus, with 12 concepts to choose from, everyone is bound to like one. After having a couple of enjoyable meals at True Food Kitchen (including a good dessert and a not-as-good dessert), it was time to try one of the Fox restaurants from the other side of the spectrum: The Arrogant Butcher.
The official website describes Fox Restaurants Concepts as "a collection of original, thriving boutique restaurants." While True Food is boutique-y, The Arrogant Butcher is quite the opposite, starting with the name. Right off the bat, the place is trying too hard, so it doesn't achieve the easy elegance that other Fox eateries are known for. The interior has some cool industrial touches, but the act feels incomplete. Look one way to find a beautiful bar with metal workshop stools, but look the other way to see old wooden chairs against a sterile hospital wall, complete with metal strips lining the cheap wall tile.
The menu also sends mixed messages. Sweet Potato Tortellini with mushrooms, spinach, and hazelnuts seems to be priced fairly at $15, but it doesn't seem too "arrogant" or "butcher." Then something that fits the overall theme a little better -- Fish n' Chips -- will set you back $17. So is the menu supposed to be elevated pub food, or updated classics, or . . . what, exactly? Other notable menu options are the Crab Stuffed Chicken with lemons, capers, and spinach for $22 and the Turkey Sloppy Joe at $9. I'm still confused.
For dessert, there are four choices, all priced at $6. The Warm Peanut Butter Cup with chocolate gelato sounds pretty tasty (and safe), but since "Hot Chocolate" Cake appeared to be a twist on a traditional chocolate cake, that's what we tried. While it is a little different than standard chocolate cake, the "twist" is more of a downgrade than anything. The presentation is adorable with the cake baked in a mason jar and topped with Chantilly cream and cocoa powder, but the taste doesn't live up to that eye candy.
The cake does taste remarkably like hot chocolate, but its flavor is reminiscent of the pre-packaged mix, not the kind lovingly made on the stove. Apparently that's because one of the ingredients is hot chocolate mix, along with cocoa powder, buttermilk, extra virgin olive oil, and coffee. The list of ingredients sounds a lot better than the final result, which tastes like a dressed up version of microwave chocolate cake. It is fairly moist and has a fun nature to it, but the texture is nothing special, again being a little too much like the tough microwavable version. It does help that the jar is served warm, but that's not enough to make it fudgy or gooey.
So, skip The Arrogant Butcher for dessert -- and probably for everything else, too. But if you want to whip up an easy chocolate cake in individual serving sizes, give this recipe a go in your home kitchen. It's good for the average home baked good, just not for a "boutique" restaurant with high-priced menu items.
The Arrogant Butcher's "Hot Chocolate" Cake Courtesy of TastingTable.com
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour 2 cups granulated sugar 1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder, plus more for dusting 1/4 cup hot-chocolate mix 2 teaspoons baking soda 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1 cup buttermilk 2 eggs 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil 1 cup coffee, at room temperature 2 cups whipped cream
1. Preheat the oven to 300°. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, hot-chocolate mix, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla extract, olive oil and coffee.
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3. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, a third at a time, whisking to incorporate between each addition.
4. Arrange eight 8-ounce Mason jars on a sheet tray and carefully pour ½ cup batter into each jar. Place the tray in the oven and bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes.
5. Remove from the oven. Top each cake with the whipped cream and dust with cocoa powder. Serve warm.