Muddy eats: The Fox and Hounds (Christmas Common)
It’s been a couple of years, a change of hands and a refurb since I last ate at The Fox & Hounds in Christmas Common, so I was curious about its reincarnation. You never know which way these things will go, but I ate up here with my family a few weekends ago and the news is good – you can definitely add it to your ‘Sunday lunch in idyllic surroundings’ list.
If you don’t already know Christmas Common, it’s a stunning spot high in the Chilterns above Watlington, with a National Trust walk nearby though frankly you’re spoilt for choice up there, with Cowleaze Woods nearby and a whole raft of beautiful woods to explore. And bang in the middle of it all, set slightly back from the main road (if you can call it that) is The Fox and Hounds, a pretty pub that’s been given its mojo back with a much-improved dining area, open plan kitchen and a re-energised menu.
The outside is just as pretty as it ever was though.
There are two distinct sides to The Fox and Hounds – the small snug/bar with a very strong sense of ‘local’ to it, that curves through to an attractive second room, all cushions, settels and games to play.
The other side of the pub is very restauranty – in fact there’s a reception desk (slightly offputting) and a long corridor that leads you to a bright, high-ceilinged space with decor that’s rustically approachable and not overly trendy, with some stylistic flourishes, like the cool hanging lampshades and the mismatched painted furniture.
Yeah yeah, but what about the food? Well I’d say it’s very good pub fare. Nothing to reinvent the wheel, but the classics done well. The kids thought it was the best place they’d ever been to, and insisted we come back again (which we’ve done in fact, though we missed service at 3.15pm, so had to make do with crisps and beer).
I had the roast (below) – no skimping on the portion sizes as you can see! – with tender beef and a veggies done as I like them, on the crisp side.
Could I fit in dessert? Of course I flippin could, what kind of question is that? How else do you think I’ve been able to nurture this double chin? Mr Muddy and I went for our default piggy option of a cheeseboard. I find pub cheeseboards generally very hit and miss but this one was beautifully presented and the cheeses all vanished.
The kids went for full sugar-and-cream with some waffle and trifle action.
… and out onto this view. I think that says it all, don’t you?
To top it off, the Muddy bratlets managed to be pleasant – charming, even – through the whole meal and walk, and I can only put such a jaw-dropping event down to how pleasurable the whole day was.
THE MUDDY VERDICT:
Good for: Families, countryside lovers, walkers, doggy types (dogs can go into the snug bar on the left and there are dog biscuits and bowls etc), Sunday lunchers, large groups of friends. There’s a good range of sandwiches and snacky foods if you’re just after some quick sustenance rather than a slap up meal.
Not for: Superfoodies. It’s a discerning local pub at heart, with good food and a great location. I’d probably choose elsewhere for a romantic evening dinner, unless I was very local to the venue, although for 2 courses for £12 or 3 courses for £16 every Monday and Tuesday I might be tempted!
£££: Reasonable. £16.95 for an 8oz rump steak and chips, £11 for pub staples like sausage and mash and beef burger and chips.
The Fox & Hounds, Christmas Common, Watlington, Oxfordshire, OX49 5HL. Tel: 01491 612599. topfoxpub.co.uk