Relaxed fine dining with a little foraging thrown in.
Go there for: A special occasion, a great lunch or a mid-week treat.
Avoid: Being unadventurous: sea asters might be your favourite food ever.
Is it worth the calories?: No need to worry: we’re talking complex tastes, not hefty portions.
Tips: Remember to book, especially at the weekends.
Fox Dining opened with a bit of a splash in June 2013 and is still finding its feet, but already it’s essential to book to be sure of a table at weekends. Why the success? Well, manager Ian and business partners Georgina and Adrian have experience, investment, and an ambitious and talented young chef behind them. Ian tells me they don’t pretend to be anything but a pub where you can come for a drink and some really good food. He’s dissembling a little: the atmosphere is relaxed but they’re aiming for a Michelin star and the food is intricate and polished, with an emphasis on balanced flavours and interesting textures.
Head Chef Shane trained with Eddy Stuart and Raymond Blanc and reflects their tutelage by emphasising season and local food, with a dedication to attention to detail (he has A.T.D tattooed on his hand as a little reminder). He likes modern-dressed, busy plates that ‘blow people’s minds’. He’s still refining his list of suppliers but already has fish from the day boats in Cornwall Ian says it’s so fresh the next of kin have yet to be informed), meat from Mark Turner, local cheeses, veggies from Secretts, foraged foods from Wild Harvest and gooseberries from the village. Armed with the best ingredients and dehydrators, steamers and indoor barbecues Shane is ready to ‘let his dreams wander’ as he put it.
So, my companion and I arrived on a lovely sunny lunchtime, and ambled around choosing the seat we thought offered the best combination of privacy and sunshine. We shared a starter from the set menu (2 courses £18.90, 3 courses £22.50). The pan-seared calf’s liver came pink and plump on a little bed of nettles and dressed with a creamy buttermilk sauce and a rich sherry jus. Chubby golden raisins and tiny cauliflower florets added crunch and a little sweetness. My companion had the watercress risotto with grelot onion, parmesan and spring herbs. It looked pretty, a rich green garnished with chervil and sea astor, but the real delight was the intense flavour. My pan-fried Cornish sea-bream with confit potato, samphire and beurre blanc was equally good. Here the sea astor, sea rosemary and the intensely flavoured rock samphire added layers of flavours that complemented the sweet fish and lemony sauce. And hidden under the fish were nuggets of confit potato, succulent as could be. As light and satisfying a dish as any.
Did we need dessert? Well, probably not. I however couldn’t resist cherries, almond cake and coconut sorbet. A beautiful dish, it again shows Shane’s determination to please with different textures and flavours. The almond cake was indeed moist but the star of the show was the delectable coconut ice-cream – its melting memory of beaches and palms accompanied by a crunch of salty honeycomb. And then deep cherries. My companion’s dessert tasted delightfully, fulsomely, just of strawberries. We had to ask about the sauce – Shaun simmered more strawberries and strained them to produce a concentrated sauce. Served with vanilla cream, this fresh-faced dessert was just as winning.
When we chatted after the meal, Shane said we should eat à la carte to appreciate his skill fully. That we most certainly do (but we will have to remember to book).
Tel 01483 236984