THE FOX REFURBISHED
I rather liked The Fox. A decent standby for a local supper. Excellent ingredients, not fannied around with and at a reasonable price. Everything the gastropub is meant to be.
Then, one day, DH sauntered past to find the place being “refurbished” always a bad sign, right?
Well, I am pleased to say, wrong. The Fox in its latest incarnation is very agreeable indeed. It has now been brought into the same stable as The Lansdown in Primrose Hill and I am pleased to say that the new owners have not tried anything too drastic but kept the good qualities of a welcome neighbourhood joint.
The downstairs bar was pretty empty when we arrived at 8pm which reflects both the time of year and the time of day for a pub which gets most of its clientele from the fringes of The City. It did not seem a lot different from before, but as ever, we did not tarry but went right up to the dining room.
That too was little changed. A few more sturdy tables and chairs and some 100w light bulbs in the lamps that used to have 40w which meant you could actually see your dining companion. Now in my case, the person across the table was HP, so that is not necessarily a good thing. However, should I ever go there with someone of the opposite genital grouping, Bonus, for me at least. They may wish it were as it was. I look better by 40w lighting I am told.
The menu, while being much more conventional than when Trish was cooking here, is still appealingly hearty and it didn’t take us long to make a selection, particularly as there were only four choices per course.
To begin, HP had duck liver pate. Very well made, amply seasoned and actually tasting livery. An odd thing to say, but you would be amazed how often that is not the case. You would also be amazed how often this is served fridge fresh. Here it was not being perfectly at room temperature.
For me eggs bourguignon which is simple but impressive with the egg being poached in red wine and then served in the sauce ( with a hint of stock, I think ) and some lardons on top of a slice of fried bread. A good, chunky winter dish.
For main courses, we both plumped for Suckling pig. Well of course we did. Other options included steak, a baked salmon and some gnocchi for the simple of stomach. Two slices of braised pig came with an unannounced stuffing of black pudding. I almost did a little dance. It could have done with a little bit more crispy skin, but the meat had terrific flavour and the sauce was perfect not overpowering it. Some wilted greens were suitably crunchy and some “mac & cheese” was entirely horrid. I really do think this is one of the nastiest things ever invented. This was not, necessarily a bad example of the type. It is just, by its very nature, well, disgusting. I should have asked them to sub it, but I keep hoping I will find out why people like it. So far, no joy.
We split a pudding of tangerine sherbet with fennel shortbread which was both seasonal and refreshing. The biscuits in particular were a hit with HP.
The wine list is much better than before the change of ownership. Then, quite frankly it was rubbish. Now, there is a wider selection of decent wines. That being said, we chose a rather poor bottle of NZ Pinot which, at £30 should have been a whole lot better. Insipid and blah.
With a 12.5% charge for service which was amiable and efficient the bill for two came to £82. The wine was a good chunk of that but it is still a hike on the set menu days of previous times when the same would have been around the £65 mark for two.
Still, this is solid cooking and I suspect will get better as they bed in and find their audience of which I am sure DH will be regulars