The Fox & Fiddle brings modern pub feel to Rancho Mirage
A man and his wife, used to dining at the finest establishments their jetsetter lives expose them to, walk into The Fox & Fiddle in Rancho Mirage looking for a change of scenery.
What the couple found was just what they wanted — and what the restaurant was striving for.
The pair sits at the bar, orders a Scotch egg, a lamb burger and a couple of cocktails and enjoys a long conversation with the bartender. In between quips, they watch the BNP Paribas Open match being shown on a flat screen atop the bar.
At the end of the night, owner and president of Fox and Fiddle California Kurt Gardner checks in on the couple. That conversation reminds Gardner why he started this endeavor in the first place.
'My alarm bells started going off'
“They said, ‘We’re in that casual, fun bar feel but we’re getting that dedication to the culinary aspect,’ and my alarm bells started going off because that is exactly what I want guests to be perceiving,” Gardner said. “I’m using that conversation … as the basis for building our brand.”
The Fox & Fiddle is an English-style gastropub that opened in late February at The River and aims to offer guests a traditional pub environment with high-quality food offerings.
Gardner, along with business partner Danny Chen, led the way to bring the Fox & Fiddle brand to the U.S.
When it came time to decide where the first location should be, Gardner looked no further than the place he had been visiting regularly for over 10 years, the Coachella Valley.
“We felt like a gastropub was a good fit for the market,” Gardner said. “There’s a lot of great fine dining and lots of super uber casual places, lots of great dive bars that are a great experience, but this type of elevated pub food was really unique and that’s why we chose Rancho Mirage.”
While the original Fox & Fiddle pubs in Canada focus on the English-style pub, Gardner said the unique demands of a California clientele motivated the team to pay closer attention to the high-end quality of the food, which is why he describes The Fox & Fiddle as a gastropub.
A Scotch Egg is one of the bar food menu items at The Fox and Fiddle in Rancho Mirage, Calif., Tuesday, March 14, 2017. (Photo: Zoe Meyers/The Desert Sun)
According to the restaurant’s creative director, Carmen Shaw, the menu is full of items made in-house, which makes the experience more rewarding than at an ordinary pub.
“We want to offer the comfort pub food, but in a way that is made so well that you don’t walk away with a sore tummy because you had a flash fried or a frozen meal that was deep fried,” Shaw said. “And it does take a little time, so we see some people that think that since we are a pub it’ll just take five minutes, and that’s probably a little bit of the community having to learn that we are actually making your dish for you.”
What's on the menu
The Fox & Fiddle offers a wide variety of bar food and entrees:
- Shaw said the Scotch egg is a favorite menu item among patrons, along with their version of the fish and chips.
- The roasted beets salad comes with goat cheese, pistachios and a marjoram sherry dressing.
- The bacon cheeseburger comes with American cheddar cheese, tomatoes, pickles, lettuce, barbecue sauce and mayo.
- Shaw also highlighted their Cubano sandwich, which consists of ham, roasted pork shoulder, Gruyere, jalapeño and mustard mayonnaise.
But The Fox & Fiddle's cocktails, Shaw said, are the eatery's main attraction.
The restaurant offers many traditional handcrafted cocktails, as well as original recipes that will definitely leave patrons wanting more and, according to Shaw, it’s all due to the bar staff’s dedication.
“Every morning that our bartenders and our bar-backs come in they fresh-squeeze our juices, so it’s no lemon juice from concentrate in your drink. And our margarita mix does not come from a bottle; we actually make it,” Shaw said. “Our drinks have great flavor profiles.”
Shaw said her favorite drink is the cucumber chai lemonade, a refreshing cocktail consisting of citrus vodka, cracked cucumber, in-jar-made lemonade, cane syrup and garnish made with Tazo chai tea.
'A place for locals'
“We’re trying to really develop the true heritage of a pub,” Gardner said. “You walk in and you know that you’re going to get awesome food. … Really, we’re selling an experience, so they’re coming in and really getting that customized guest service, rather than walking into a branded restaurant and me just having to follow a manual about how to serve a guest.”
Patrons can choose different dining experiences at the restaurant. They can choose to sit at the elongated bar, where they can enjoy anything on the menu while in a communal setting that encourages conversation.
Customers can also sit at the tables in the main dining area, with leather couches that add extra comfort or, if they want to have a more traditional dining experience, there's the private dining room.
“We really want it to be a place for locals. And obviously we’ll always give the best customer service to anybody that comes through the door, but our locals are the most important to us,” Shaw said. “It’s about treating them right and getting to know them. Having them come in and understanding that they like a certain bar seat or a certain drink. Recognizing the locals so that we support them and they support us in the off-season.”