Café review: Fox in the Snow Café makes fantastic breakfast sandwiches, pastries and coffee

G.A. Benton, Columbus Alive

It's curious how Fox in the Snow Café - a wonderful new coffee shop and bakery that makes spectacular breakfast sandwiches - chose its name. The place's title is inspired by a so-pretty-it-hurts Belle and Sebastian song that explores the mystery, isolation and ephemeral nature of life. But that quiet and melancholy tune is at odds with how this cafe makes me feel: happy enough to shout.

Fox is part of the Italian Village renaissance, and it looks like the tastefully reimagined garage it is. Understated as an artist's loft, its semi-industrial but inviting space has bare walls, a few plants and utilitarian seating - some of it facing the windowed-off theater of a sparkling clean open kitchen.

Coffee is SERIOUS here. At other such establishments, that can come off as prissy and effete. But Fox's staff is so personable, it just seems like they're damn determined to serve you their best.

Using beans from Tandem Coffee Roasters of Portland (Maine!), that's what they do. So every cup is made to order, and what the menu lists as just "coffee" ($3) is actually a labor-intensive cup of (fruitier and more nuanced) pour-over coffee. And Fox's dairy-splashed, espresso-based drinks are not only delicious; their heart-shaped milky flourishes are uncommonly lovely.

Since they enjoy a much larger "canvas," latte ($4) designs are especially amazing to gaze at. Flavor-wise, though, I prefer the less milky cortado ($3.25; like a foam-restrained cappuccino), but I'm also partial to the macchiato (a shortie "stained" with milk).

As for that spectacular handheld breakfast (Egg Sandwich, served all day) - it's the best $6 you'll spend this week. Made with outstanding bread (crackly crusted, but not stiff), its rich, zesty, sweet, salty and bitter notes come from crisp candied bacon, "souffléd eggs" (mine resembled soft and creamy scramblers), a Dijon mustard-mayo "sauce," arugula and melted gruyere cheese. This thing's a powerhouse.

I also tried a stellar little dinner roll-shaped doughnut with a vanilla custard filling ($3) and a fantastic hand pie ($3.50; think phenomenal Pop-Tart). Between the beautiful pie's multiple layers of flaky pastry was blueberry jam.

While leaving - but plotting returns to sample more - I realized I didn't care what this place was called. I'll just call it "terrific."

Fox in the Snow Cafe

1031 N. Fourth St., Italian Village