It was Saturday night, and I don’t know if it’s just me, but I’m always surprised with how early the dark nights roll in during the winter months. As we turned off the A1 and headed towards Piercebridge we were enveloped in fog and we were starting to wonder if we were somehow lost, although the directions to The Fox Hole looked pretty straight forward on Google Maps.
Just as I was about to declare we needed the sat-nav, there it was. And, it was incredibly busy! We managed to get a car park space just outside the pub, but saw that there were cars parked on the side of the road and wherever there was space.
We walked inside, and were greeted with a gorgeous interior. Lovely slate coloured walls and brass furnishings made the place look sleek, but also very inviting.
We were shown to our table, and were glad we booked ahead as the place was filled to the rafters. There had been hunting on early in the day, and everyone had come to The Fox Hole for their evening meal. There were families, dinner dates like us, and social gatherings.
A very friendly waitress (let’s just take a moment now to say a big thank you to all the waiting staff, they were incredible) came and gave us our menus, as well as a big jug of water with ice and lemon (always a bonus, you know I love this in restaurants).
Choices. Choices. Choices. I liked that The Fox Hole wasn’t trying to be a ‘I can cook anything’ pub and instead offered a range of British dishes. No fish and chips mixed with a tikka masala here.
As we deliberated over the menu, we were brought complimentary bread to nibble on. Fresh and incredibly moreish with a huge amount of butter – no need to be stingy with the spreading!
For starters, I chose the salt cod fritters and Mr J chose the pigeon. Both arrived in good time and were beautifully presented. It was the first time either of us had tried pigeon, and I must admit, we both liked it! It came with a sweet fennel, honey and ginger dressing and was soft and tender. The salt cod fritters were excellent, and came with a fresh salad and lovely garlic aoili.
Our mains of Mutton Tagine, Cous Cous and Lemon Yoghurt, and Half a Grilled Lobster with Chips were equally as good. Mr J had ordered the lobster, then as the waitress left the table leaned forward and said he was worried about making a mess of cracking the claws and scooping out the flesh. He didn’t need to worry. Half a lobster was literally half a lobster and all the flesh was waiting just to be forked out easily. He was given an options of sauces, and requested mayonnaise for his chips. This was no Hellman’s. It was proper homemade mayonnaise, and it was great!
My Mutton Tagine (which the waitress declared was her favourite dish on the menu at the moment) came steaming hot with huge chunks of mutton in a rich and fragrant tagine. I struggled to eat the whole dish despite it being so heartwarmingly good. The cous cous and lemon yoghurt that accompanied it were equally as delicious and nice complements to the tagine.
One look at the dessert menu, and we knew what we were getting: The Chocolate and Pecan Tart with homemade Banana Ice Cream. However, we were so full that we got it to share. It was rich and chocolatey, and that banana ice cream was something else.
We sat for a while, well, quite a long while, as we were just too full and too cosy to move. The waitresses came and asked us a few times if we wanted a hot drink, but we were just too full. In the end, we realised we had to drive back to Newcastle, so regrettably left The Fox Hole to head back into the fog and cold.
Piercebridge isn’t somewhere we drive to, ever. But we’re glad we made the exception for The Fox Hole. We will definitely be back, there are so many dishes on the menu I want to try. They also change their menus to reflect what’s in season. Hopefully, next time we go the Lemon and Thyme Pannacotta on the dessert menu. Doesn’t it sound amazing?!
The Fox Hole invited us to review their restaurant and subsidised part of our meal. However, as always, our review is 100% honest of the experience we received and based on whether or not we think our readers would enjoy dining at this place. Readers, you will definitely enjoy The Fox Hole!
Also, interior shots are from The Fox Hole’s website, as due to the busy nature of our visit, we didn’t want to infringe on others’ dining experience to take photographs!