A Birthday Meal – Dinner at The Fox gastropub, Harpenden
Though we live in London most of our friends still live back up in Hertfordshire, so every so often we head back up for birthdays, parties or just a quiet drink with friends. Saturday was a friends birthday and a big group of us were heading out for dinner. It can be difficult accommodation a large group of 14 people for dinner on a Saturday evening, that Harpenden doesn’t have too many larger restaurants makes it harder not to keep going back to the same places again and again. This weekend we went to a gastro pub on the edge of Harpenden called The Fox. I haven’t been there in over a year (of maybe more) so it was a nice chance to revisit an old favourite.
The Fox sits on the edge of Harpenden surrounded by fields and countryside, it’s a nice place to sit outside in the summer months with an expertly mixed cocktail. Inside and out a lot of attention has been made to make it feel like a traditional country pub but with an appropriately modern twist. There is a well stocked dinner menu showcasing classic British pub dishes such as slow cooked pork belly, battered haddock and chips or if you want to push the boat out, try the Chateaubriand for 2 which comes with triple cooked chips (you read that right).
Time to tuck in
For a starter I picked the Artisan Rustic Bread board from the “To Share” menu. The selection of chunky bread was served with olive oil and balsamic vinegar dip, olives and a whole roasted garlic bulb.
I loved the creaminess of the well roasted garlic with the bread and oil. I also thought the presentation was spot on. Whilst it was large enough for one as a starter I did wonder if it would have been large enough if ordered as a sharer; I think you may want to order a second sharer or a starter to go with it.
For my main course I opted to keep it simple again and ordered the Spit Roasted Chicken with lemon and garlic confit, jus and frites topped with aioli.
The chicken was perfectly cooked with a lovely crisp skin covering plump and juicy meat inside. I also really liked the jus it was served with. Again I liked the presentation, serving the jus in a little pan was a nice touch. The frites was okay but looking at my friend next to me who had ordered the triple cooked chips I know I’d recommend going with those next time.
Hana ordered from the specials menu and had a lovely herb stuffed trout with crushed new potatoes which looked really nice.
We didn’t order dessert from the menu, being a friends birthday a chocolate cake had been brought and the pub was nice enough to let us have this for dessert.
My only criticism of The Fox was that it was extremely busy and it did take quite a while for our meals and drinks to come, orders to be taken etc. I think the staff were doing their best, but clearly there just weren’t enough of them working that evening. Having worked in the industry some years ago now, I know what it can be like when you are understaffed. Whilst I’d recommend going there as the food and drink was good maybe don’t go on a busy Saturday evening.
The Fox Harpenden
Text and photos By Russell Bowes