The Fox pub in Ilkley is my local. I can practically see it from my front door, but, I’ll be honest, until its recent takeover and refurbishment, I had a bit of a love/hate relationship with the watering hole that is located in the salubrious West Yorkshire village of Menston – six miles outside the Yorkshire Dales town of Ilkley.
I like the fact that I have a rather upmarket watering hole on my doorstep. One of those posh places where one can get a decent glass on New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc served in an elegant wine glass. Rather than one of those thick-glass-short-stemmed-six-for-a-fiver monstrosities that so many public houses serve their shocking white-wine-by-the-glass in. Where the clientele are less beer-guzzling blokes propping up a Weatherspoons bar and more lunching yummy-mummies and well-healed retired folk sipping on a good Chardonnay.
I’ve always been ok with The Fox’s decor – modern, refined and inviting. Personally I loved the sliced-tree-trunk feature wall. Many would disagree. Never enough seating if you were just there to enjoy drinks, but plenty of tables for those who came to dine.
On sunny weekends, my children always get a lot of enjoyment out of darting back and forth across the cricket pitch (much to the distress of the cricketers). Menston Cricket pitch sits directly next to the pub, with direct access onto the pitch from the car-park as well as a small outdoor seating area. Further more, this might be a posh public house in the middle of middle-class West Yorkshire, but a stone’s throw away from The Fox is Menston station with direct links into Leeds, Ilkley and Bradford, making the place a great little find for anyone who wants a great country pub venue and a few glasses of plonk without an extortionate taxi fare at the end of the night.
I’ll be honest, I’ve had some pretty shambolic dining experiences at The Fox – the service was never its strong point. So I was rather excited to hear, along with probably the rest of the village of Menston, that the establishment was to be taken over by new management and would undergo a full refurb.
On 20th October my local opened its brand new shiny doors to a revamped, rather plush bar and restaurant and hats off to the interior designers. Whilst they haven’t ripped everything out and completely re-modelled the place – it didn’t need it – they have cleverly shifted a few important elements around for better use of space, added more much-needed seating in the bar area, and updated the soft furnishings and wall coverings to create warm and inviting spaces with their own identities.
Warm gold and red tones work wonderfully with the soft hues of the wallpaper in the bar areas with plenty of nooks for those who want somewhere to sit that’s a little more private. And the restaurant certainly falls into the category of ‘special occasion dining’.
Enter the Fox and turn left to drink and right to dine.
Our first dining experience in the new and improved restaurant and bar took place on a Friday night a week after The Fox opened its brand new shiny doors to a revamped interior.
The place was rammed. Every table was taken and the atmosphere was quite electric – ladies in posh frocks and sparkles, men in shirts and blazers and waiters and waitresses scurrying across the restaurant floor and.. wait for it… a huge selfie mirror at the entrance, which of course is a prerequisite for any establishment in this day and age ;-). The loos have had a good makeover too.
The Fox is part of the Mitchells and Butlers’ flagship line of “premium country pubs”, and they share an identical menu, although I was assured by the management that everything is cooked fresh, and from scratch on the premises.
I opted for a starter and main from The Daily Specials menu which changes nightly. Specials at The Fox are featured on a separate menu and apparently differ from pub to pub.
My Scallops of the Day served with Cauliflower Pakoras and a tangy salsa were… quite frankly… exquisite!
I’m not one for substituting my carbs with cauliflower, but this little plate of heaven was an absolute winner. The scallops were cooked to perfection and the pakoras were light with just the right amount of Indian spice, complementing the fish perfectly.
The hubby, who is never one to venture beyond his culinary comfort zone when we dine out, ordered the salt and pepper calamari from the main menu. It was well presented, well seasoned, piping hot and well cooked with a delicious side of mayo.
For main I ordered Sirloin Steak (medium rare) with Boulangere Potatoes, Green Beans and a Mustard Jus. The steak was tender and cooked to my liking, the greens made the dish fresh and light and the mustard Jus added a wonderful flavour to it all. The potatoes came as a side dish as to not overload the plate and were delicious.
Iain ordered a great big plateful of seafood pasta from the main a la carte menu.
We were both more than satisfied with our own choices.
We finished off with the chocolate and raspberry pudding with a small side of ice cream. A little dry if I’m honest, and not enough ice cream, but the presentation was fun.
The service was a world away from my previous experiences, if not a little overly attentive at times. But hey, I’d rather have to ask, again, for another five minutes to peruse the menu than stomp out because I was ready to order 45 minutes ago.
I sincerely hope that The Fox can continue to keep their standards this high. All in all we had a wonderful evening – I’m delighted that the establishment has really up’d its game on the service and food front.
Find out more here: https://www.thefoxmenston.co.uk/
I would like to thank The Fox in Menston for inviting me and Mr T to dine on a complimentary basis. My review is completely honest and is in no way steered by any ‘freebies’.