Restaurant review, The Fox and Goose, Fressingfield: “Amazing value for money”
PUBLISHED: 19:30 10 September 2020 | UPDATED: 20:16 10 September 2020
Group food and drink editor Charlotte Smith-Jarvis says this rural pub is well worth travelling to.
If you decide to visit The Fox and Goose, in the village of Fressingfield (in Suffolk but hovering near the Norfolk border) don’t be a sheep and follow the satnav blindly as we did.
“Are you sure that’s the way in?” I asked my hubby as we idled in front of a narrow gravel track in our (wide) Volvo.
He replied in the usual ‘confident man driver’ fashion - “Yeah, I can get through there, easy.”
When we arrived in the car park, spotting the road opposite, it was immediately clear we’d made a mistake. You’ll want to enter via the B1116, not Church Street (unless, of course, you’re walking).
First impressions from the outside were that of a proper country pub. The exterior has a kind of rustic charm...and we could smell the tang of freshly turned fields in the air.
Those impressions continued inside where, after a friendly greeting and splash of hand sanitiser, we were led into a dining room from another time. A genteel, unostentatious space of scrubbed wooden tables, church pews, banquettes, and the kind of soft furnishings you might find in a traditional Suffolk thatched cottage with roses round the windows.
Our table was already laid out with a water jug and we were soon greedily clutching the menu in our hands. One side made up of pub classics such as sausage and mash and fish and chips (we spied options for children there too) and the other a table d’hote menu with two courses at £19.50 and three for £24.95.
The menu pleased me on several fronts. Firstly, it’s good to see the pub, with its dual-sided offering, is catering to foodies who love a bit of gastronomy, while also sating traditionalists who want nothing more than a simple plate of food and a pint.
Secondly, both sides were filled with seasonal ingredients. From tomatoes, to courgettes, squash and peaches - there was no doubt we’re in late summer/early autumn.
Fresh, warm bread rolls wafted in as we settled at our table, served with oodles of butter they’d taken the trouble to curl. And starters were swiftly placed in front of us minutes later – they don’t hang around.
While the flaked pieces of Pinneys smoked haddock from the set menu were not what I’d consider a rillette (as per the description) and the Parmesan and mustard mousse was more of a thick crème pat, I cannot fault this dish at all. The names of each element are just semantics. The haddock had that delicate, mouth-wateringly savoury smoke Pinneys is known for. And the umami hit was only enhanced by the bound, creamy cheese and mustard, and sweet pops of confit tomato. I loved the subtle, smaller parts of the dish which elevated its flavour – herbal, crunchy pumpkin crumb, and a dash of citrus from lemon verbena for brightness.
On the other side of the table from the classics menu, was a generous, meaty duck liver pate (£7.50) with a crumbly, delicate texture and real depth – it hadn’t been watered down with cream or fillers. A smooth pear chutney, infused with fresh crushed spices, carried well with the pate when smeared onto the accompanying toasted fruit bread.
Our main courses came out quickly after. In fact, we both noted how slick the operation is at The Fox and Goose – the duo serving our room performing their own kind of culinary ballet. Every table got their starters, main courses and desserts almost in sync, with no lengthy waits or pauses.
Mr J’s mixed grill from the classics (£18.50) was a veritable feast. Fillet steak, served medium and cutting like butter. A gently spiced lamb sausage sourced from a local farm, covered in its sticky cooking juices. Melting, fall-apart belly of pork crowned with a shard of skin rendered crackly. Soft black pudding. A salad of leaves, tomato and onion refreshed the palate between bites. Tender mushrooms. And I can’t leave out an ode to the skin-on hand cut, fluffy centred chips in their crispy, dry jackets. What a dish.
I was stuck between three main courses on the set menu but the garnishes on the sea bream dish ultimately won me over.
Seared golden on the skin, with yielding, flaky flesh on the underside, the bream could not have been cooked better and had been handled by a chef with obvious skill.
It married beautifully with a fragrant puree of coconut, lemongrass and pea, which was plentiful (I hate it when you have to play ‘hunt the sauce’). Pak choi added crunch and was another foil for sopping up the sauce. As were the plump pillows of coriander and spring onion gnocchi which, with a hint of salty Parmesan, balanced the overall sweetness.
Perfection was the final flourish of lime, soy and sesame dressing, nutty sesame seeds and sprinkling of coriander cress.
Pudding (shared – my choice, never his) began with a light-as-air vanilla mousse over white chocolate, with a succulent roasted peach, flaked almonds and peach sorbet – the tartness of the mousse and sorbet cutting through the juicy, drippingly delectable fruit.
My heart was won though by a chocolate fondant that ticked all the boxes. From a centre that collapsed under the touch of a spoon into whirls of rich cocoa goodness, to tart cherry gel and sorbet, and bouncy pieces of toasted marshmallow.
I finished with a pot of fresh mint tea as a palate cleanser - but who was I to argue with the accompanying (and definitely not cleansing) chocolate truffles and honeycomb that came with it?
A total joy from start to finish.
£72 for the set menu, three courses from the classics menu, two pints of coke, a medium glass of wine and a pot of mint tea.
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While Mr J was ‘des’ and plumped for a glass of coke on ice, I chose a Verdejo from the succinct wine list. Juicy and crisp with bright sherbet lemon, hints of stone fruit and a lingering grassiness –the perfect foil for the dishes I’d chosen.
There’s plenty of free parking on site.
There are three tables outside covered by umbrellas if you are not comfortable yet eating indoors.
The room by the bar looked easy to navigate, but there’s a short step down into the next room and steps up to the room beyond. If you had mobility issues I’d recommended being seated by the bar. The toilets are upstairs.
The sea bream. It really packed a punch.
We were both flabbergasted by the quality of the food and by the sheer value. There are some restaurants in East Anglia where the main course will set you back the cost of three dishes here. Not only was the food delicious but there were multiple levels of finesse which really made our visit. The speed of service. Water on the table. Bread on arrival. Hot plates. Petit fours with hot drinks. It was an hour from home but absolutely worth it – and maybe we’ll let the kids come with us next time!
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