Muddy Eats: The Fox Revived, Norwood Hill
What’s that you say? Sorry I can’t hear you, my ear is still totally to the ground….
For yes, last week your intrepid guzzler sniffed the rumour, made the call and zipped on down to The Fox Revived in Norwood Hill, where the paint is barely dry on it’s newly renovated walls. I’m having a good run of beautifully-attired gastropubs at the mo, and The Fox Revived is another stunner.
You’re going to love what they’ve done with the place. This is a proper country pub, and the interior reflects that. From the entrance, where there’s a bench with cut firewood stored underneath and a rack for stowing wellie boots, to the open fires, book cases and comfy chairs, there’s an instant warm welcome.
The Fox Revived has been closed for almost two years, having fallen into a sad state. If you’re familiar with the old building, you’ll be interested to know that the leaky conservatory has been rebuilt and an oak-beamed garden room added on, which overlooks the garden (including kiddie play area) and stone terrace.
It’s a nice relaxed space, divided loosely into two open plan sections, but each with its own cosy corners and snug nooks and crannies. It’s the kind of place you could get pretty comfy in, and easily outstay your welcome, especially as there’s a trolley with a pretty good choice of board games. That’s my next rainy Sunday afternoon sorted.
The food is presented with more of a flourish than your average pub meal. I went for Friday lunch with Mr Muddy, but didn’t let the fact it was lunchtime curb my greedy appetite, bypassing the light-bites menu and going the full three courses as well as coffee. *snort*
I was tempted by the seared scallops (£10.95) on the starters menu, but won over by the potted smoked trout topped with shrimp butter (£6.95). I wasn’t disappointed, it was a gorgeous mix of light smoked fish and rich shrimp butter which I duly smeared onto the toasted bread.
Mr Muddy ordered the pan-fried tarragon gnocchi with cep mushrooms and Madeira sauce – a choice that gained an appreciative nod from the deputy manager Lucy who was taking our order. It looked amazing and Mr Muds confirmed it’s deliciousness with a completely clean plate.
Moving on to mains, Mr Muddy beat me to the Sicilian fish stew (£15.95), a favourite of mine. But I graciously let him have that and chose instead the pan-fried fillet of cod which came with Provencal vegetables and a gazpacho dressing (£15.95). (We couldn’t possibly order the same thing, however strong the risk of food envy.)
The fish stew didn’t disappoint: a tantalizing mix of red mullet, king prawns, mussels, cod and baby squid Mr Muddy said it was delicious. (In fact, over coffee he declared the meal the best pub lunch he’d ever had!) And I’m pleased to say that my cod was anything but a poor second, coming out perfectly cooked. I wouldn’t normally go for cod because for some reason it does often feel like it’s the cheaper alternative to the other fish on the menu. But I can honestly, hand on heart, say this is the best cod I’ve ever eaten and I it’s totally changed my attitude to this most humble of sea creatures. I shall never think of cod the same way.
And rounding that final bend into pudding, I cranked up the hoggishness and dived straight into the hot waffle with glazed bananas and salted caramel ice cream (£5.95), while Mr Muds went for the crème brûlée (£5.50). There’s very little to be said about these puddings that the pictures won’t tell you. It was a scoff-fest – and I had to be quick because Mr Muddy’s fork has a habit of straying over to my plate when it comes to the sweet stuff. But it’s safe to say I got my fair fill on this occasion. *super snort*
On the booze front, the pub is well stocked with a good wine list and an even better gin list that includes more than 40 different choices. Now that’s impressive. But if mother’s ruin, isn’t your thing… there’s a good selection of ale on tap, as well as all the other good stuff you’ll usually find in a well-stocked bar.
The pub has been on this site since around 1815, and it’s had a bit of a checkered history. The pub burned down and was rebuilt – hence the name The Fox Revived, it was originally the Fox Inn. And before the refurb it was so rundown it had been empty for a couple of years.
We were served by a young and friendly team, and despite the fact it had been open only a couple of weeks everything ran like a well-oiled machine. Now that we’re beginning to see a bit of spring sunshine, I’d say a mid-week lunch or a Sunday roast with the kids would be ideal. So get yourself down here, and tell me what you think.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: foodies who won’t mind making the effort to get here as it’s a little out in the sticks; walkers – you’re surrounded by beautiful countryside and there’s a circular walk from the pub; couples looking for somewhere unpretentious and cosy for date night; families or larger parties who want to spread out a little as it’s nice and spacious. Dog owners – dogs are welcome and there are dog treats at the bar. Kids – I’d be very happy bring the mudlets here as it’s so relaxed and, with an outdoor play area and a games trolley, there’s plenty to keep them amused.
Not for: I’m at a loss to think of anyone who wouldn’t love this pub. Although, it’s out in the countryside and you’ll have to drive here, so if you can’t agree on a designated driver, or it’s too far for a cab, it’s probably not the right venue.
£££: Just edging to the expensive side of average for a pub, but then, the food is blinking good. Starters £5.25 to £10.95; Mains £11.75 to £21.95; Desserts all around £5 to £6.
The Fox Revived. Norwood Hill, Horley, RH6 0ET. 01293 229270. brunningandprice.co.uk/foxrevived