Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Fox, Hale Barns

So life has been a bit upside down of late, so I'm playing catch up. While this in itself is a lovely task because I get to look at some mouth watering photos and recall happy memories, it's also meant that I've spent the last few evenings being very hungry indeed.

First, to Fox in Hale Barns. I decided to start with this one because it has to be the best meal I have had in a long time. That's correct, I'm getting it out there, right here, right now. Fox can do no wrong in my eyes; from the location in pretty Hale Barns, the people who work there, the decor, the outstanding food, and the Jo Malone influenced products in the toilets. Everything about this place oozes unctuous luxury, but in a refreshingly relaxed environment. This makes no sense unless you have been.

I felt so strongly about this that I pretty much wrote my conclusion in my introduction. I suppose I had better show you what all the fuss is about with the actual food.

Let me set the scene... The day is cold, bright and sunny, and my dining companion and I are headed on a scenic 'A road' tour through Altrincham, and into the leafy suburb of Hale Barns. They have a Booths... you know where I'm headed. I'm a big fan of a weekend road trip, so this made the excursion doubly exciting. After an initial kerfuffle with finding the car park, getting overly excited about the aforementioned Booths, and cooing over the beautiful exterior, we were greeted, seated and drinks were in our hands in record time. 

Sourdough garlic bread - half cheese, half tomato: I was hungrier than I had ever been in my entire life, and also a tad melodramatic, whilst perusing the menu. Our utterly delightful waitress (whose name escapes me, annoyingly), quickly suggested sourdough garlic bread whilst we decided. Unable to agree on our preferred flavour, half and half was ordered - perfect.
Sourdough garlic bread - half cheese, half tomato
Owner Danny Fox came for a chat whilst we were mid starter based conundrum, so we let him pick his favourites for us. Oh Danny, you picked two little belters.

Prawn pil pil - baked king prawns in olive oil, garlic, chilli, paprika, lemon, chopped parsley, served with crusty sourdough bread: For someone who used to have a pathological fear of eating prawns, I couldn't leave these alone. They weren't even my starter! Beautifully cooked in a rich and spicy sauce, mopped up with crusty bread. Not comfortable yet? You must be crackers. This dish is the equivalent of warm fluffy socks after a soak in a hot bubble bath. 
Prawn pil pil
Duck and pomegranate apple salad - mixed leaves, apple, pomegranate, toasted mixed seeds, balsamic and honey dressing: Forget everything you know about salad, immediately. This was so tasty! Warm duck, a tangy dressing, sweet fruit and those wonderfully nutty seeds. These are my kind of leaves.
Grilled hake - roasted cherry tomato, chorizo, puy lentil ragù, basil and a hint of chilli: Another recommendation from fantastic Mr Fox himself. I wish I could have captured the smell of this for you, and hasten the development of the technology which would allow me to do so. You will just have to trust me that this is Autumnal bliss.
Grilled hake
Roasted succulent sirloin of Red Hereford beef, Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes and steamed vegetables all finished with a rich red wine gravy: Warmed me right through this did. Behold. Already drenched in that glistening gravy, they give you more on the side; Fox and I are going to be friends. Anywhere that serves me parsnips when I'm already a little chilly will be forever in my good books. It even comes with a glass of free prosecco.
Sunday roast
We picked some skinny fries and grilled asparagus to have on the side of our lunches, the star of the show being the addition of sesame seeds to the asparagus.
Sticky toffee pudding with a rich butterscotch sauce and ice cream: There's a nip in the air and wind in my hair; pudding time is upon us. Looks as dense as a house brick with its saturated toffee sponge, but was genuinely as light as a feather.
Sticky toffee pudding
Crème brûlée - oven cooked cream with mixed berries: Good crack on that sugar crust, not too sweet and served with a lovely homemade compote.
Crème brûlée
Drinks: Lovely selection of drinks, ranging from decent beers (can highly recommend Lagunitas Day Time for those not wanting to be hammered at lunchtime), mocktails and cocktails, and an impressive wine list (finishing the bottle is highly recommended for those who do wish to be hammered at lunchtime).
We rounded the meal off with a rather civilized pot of tea, which came served in a very pleasing speckled duck egg blue teapot and cup. Even their tableware makes me smile.
Why am I writing this up whilst on a gym and meal programme? I pretty much summed up Fox at the start of this post, and I'm sure my pictures alone will have left you fancying a trip. Fox is everything I love about dining out; good company, wonderful food, a bit of friendly chat with our servers, comfortable surroundings, and those little extras which make the experience that bit special. Front of house and kitchen teams are together working in perfect harmony, which will make you want to stay all day.

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