A brush with excellence at The Fox
It was Great British Game Week last week, so it would have been remiss of me to ignore it.
The only issue was where to go to partake - and a glance at some mouth-watering dishes on a number of local independent restaurant menus confirmed there were plenty of options.
In the end I went with The Fox at Folksworth; firstly because I was taken with their particular offering (more of that later) and the fact that it was the only one on the list I hadn’t previously eaten in.
For those that don’t know, The Fox only opened in May but has already made the pages of the 2018 edition of the Michelin restaurant guide. A great achievement, but not entirely surprising given that it is pretty much a reincarnation of the city centre fine dining venue Clarkes, which upped sticks at the turn of the year - but is still offering modern British cuisine, but this time in a traditional pub setting.
The outside says traditional country pub and so does the inside, but with a modern twist, not unlike the food in fact.
The refurbishment inside is stunning - classy, stylish and modern while still keeping that country pub look in the main restaurant area - wooden floor, wood panelling on the wall and smart wooden chairs and tables with a tasteful, neutral decor.
It is very bright with sunken lighting and about a dozen sparkling, hanging lights not to mention windows galore allowing natural light to pour in.
The massively revamped bar area has some very cosy seating as well as plenty more practical furniture for those who choose to eat less formally there. And it all opens up onto a paved terrace.
To the food. Modern British throughout, but I was a man visiting with a purpose: game.
The bar menu had game casserole with mash and seasonal vegetables, but my heart was set on what the the restaurant menu had to offer. On this occasion a ham hock and game terrine starter followed by textures of venison with puy lentils and liquorice lost out. I opened with the pan fried pigeon with Jerusalem artichoke (£7) which was a real winner.
It looked wonderful when it arrived, and the execution in the kitchen lived up to the presentation.
The pigeon had that wonderful, unmistakeable gamey taste and smooth texture I was looking for. I loved the earthy taste of the artichokes and beetroots which had plenty of bite. There was crunch from the delicate parsnip crisps and the jus was fruity with sharp raspberry on the side.
Knocking the venision into second place on the day was the pheasant with marmalade bread and butter pudding (a new one on me)and swede (£16.50), another great looking dish.
The pheasant was beautifully cooked with a little crispness to the skin and more of that gorgeous, almost livery game taste to the soft flesh.
I loved the sweetness from the al dente swede and the puree. There was a little saltiness from the crispy kale and the sauce was just fantastic - thick, dark and so, so rich. But not to be overlooked, the marmalade bread and buter pudding was sensational; Soft and buttery with a lovely citrus aftertaste which went well with more soft, sharp raspberries.
How I found room for the delightfully stodgy quince and ginger sponge with cinnamon ice cream (£6.50) I will never know.
But I am glad I did.
Brad Barnes lunches at The Fox, Manor Road, Folksworth. Visit www.foxatfolksworth.co.uk or call 01733 242867.
Brad’s rating: 10