Restaurant review: The Fox, Bradford Road, Menston,

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We live in an age where restaurants seemingly come and go in the blink of an eye.

It’s reassuring, then, to come across an eaterie in Leeds that can draw on a proud history stretching back 200 years.

That’s exactly what you get when you venture across the threshold of The Fox.

Over the decades it has wined and dined generations of families from Menston, Otley and Ilkley.

And it is easy to see why it has become such a firm favourite for diners over the years.

The last time Oliver paid a visit to The Fox was a few years ago and, admittedly, he was especially impressed with what was on offer.

At the time he even went so far as to brand it a worthy competitor for Team GB if gastro-pubs could enter the Olympics.

So with the standards already set high Oliver decided to venture back to double check whether it would still maintain its position at the top of the medals table.

My dining partner and I arrived on a Saturday night and we expected the venue to be quiet.

Our theory was that people would have tightened their belts after Christmas so may decide not to venture out in the run up to pay day.

We were so convinced that it would be quiet that we decided not to book a table in advance and just turn up.

What we should have remembered is that The Fox’s popularity means it is a huge hit for birthday parties and celebratory meals.

So to our surprise we arrived to find the car park full and the bar area stuffed with people.

You could almost be forgiven for thinking you were in a city centre eaterie rather than a village gastro-pub on the A65 between Guiseley and Ilkley.

The waiter told us we would have an hour’s wait for a table but we decided to persevere because we knew we would be in for a gastronomic treat - particularly based on previous visits.

The pub, which overlooks Menston’s cricket ground, looks like a traditional country pub from the outside.

But inside there is a mixture of old-fashioned and modern decor teamed with large comfy leather armchairs and small metallic tables.

My dining partner and I managed to battle our way to a small stool and armchair near a fireplace in the middle of the bar area to wait for our coveted table.

And after a 40 minute wait we were quickly ushered to our seats.

Unfortunately for us our table seemed to be located near the edge of the bar so it felt almost like we were in our own special limbo.

We weren’t quite in the heart of the restaurant but then again we weren’t entirely in the bar.

At first this did not bother us in the slightest because we just felt lucky to have clinched a table.

We glanced over the menu which certainly had plenty to offer for even the most picky of taste buds.

The Fox prides itself as specialising in “unpretentious pub-food” on its website and Oliver was particularly impressed with its selection.

My dining partner opted for the slow-cooked belly pork in a sticky ginger beer glaze priced at £6.95.

It came served with the best black pudding my partner claims to have ever tasted as well as a side of Bramley apple and vanilla puree.

It looked divine and was worthy of a place on a menu for a city centre restaurant.

Oliver opted for the sauteed Portobello and oyster mushrooms at £4.95.

The mountain of mushrooms came served with a marsala cream sauce on top of a toasted ciabatta.

On the side of the dish was a serving of rocket salad which ended up turning soggy because of the generous serving of sauce.

We faced a wait between all three courses, but the food was so delicious that Oliver would have been prepared to wait longer.

The gaps gave my dining partner and I chance to soak up the atmosphere without feeling like we had to rush our meals.

Although other diners seemed less patient.

Just as we were tucking into our starter the table behind us decided to complain about the wait they endured for their main course.

My dining partner opted for the slow-braised shoulder of lightly spiced Welsh lamb, priced at £15.50, for his main.

It came served with a carrot, swede and mashed potato, red cabbage and a smokey tomato puree.

The lamb, which had been braised for four hours, just fell off the bone.

Oliver couldn’t help but suffer from dish envy when his main course arrived.

I settled for the honey glazed roasted breast of duck served with dauphinoise potatoes, orange and cardamom infused carrots and savoy cabbage.

The meal, priced at £15.50, came served with a tasty orange and Grand Marnier sauce.

The duck came served pink and was beautifully accompanied by the sauce.

But Oliver couldn’t help but glance over at his partner’s leg of lamb.

For dessert we were simply spoiled for choice and the selection was mouth-watering.

I decided to opt for the salted caramel and chocolate in a pastry pot which was rich and a chocolate fan’s treat.

My dining partner decided to settle for the treacle tart which was delicious.

But as we tucked into our delicious desserts the more our location in the restaurant started to bother us.

The tipping point came when one rather rude gentleman decided to place his glass of whisky on the edge of our table while we were eating.

We decided to promptly ask for the bill which came in at just over £67 including drinks.

Although the food was fantastic we couldn’t help but feel like our rogue table needed to be moved away from the bar.

Factfile

Address: 129 Bradford Road, Menston, LS29 6EB

Opening times: Mon-Sat 11am until 11pm, Sun 11am to 10.30pm.

Tel: 01943 873024

Website: www.thefoxmenston.co.uk.

Star Rating

Food ****

Value ****

Atmosphere ***

Service ***

A tasty treat at any time

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