IT would be difficult to imagine a more quintessentially English setting than that occupied by The Fox Inn.
The traditional 17th century Cotswold pub come bed and breakfast at Great Barrington sits alongside the River Windrush overlooking a meadow in the heart of the Oxfordshire countryside. There were even swans nesting on an island in the pond at the bottom of the garden when we visited. It really is a picture prefect English setting.
And talking of English, step inside the small bar and you are instantly greeted by all that is great about the English pub. It is a place where people have enjoyed a drink and a chat for centuries. There are no airs and graces. This is a real traditional English pub, and with the future of the English pub under increasing threat, a joy to behold. It is something landlord Paul is rightly proud.
Of course many pubs are not just pubs these days. They have to diversify to survive, and the Fox is no exception.
It offers seven rooms – four mews rooms, and three pub rooms. The Windrush mews room were stayed in was comfortable and tastefully decorated with splendid view of the river and the meadow beyond. Everything came on super-sized scale, from bed to shower. While lacking the odd touches – maybe a complimentary bottle of mineral water, wi-fi details – there was certainly no disputing the luxury.
The Fox also offers a diverse menu – a definite step up from the average pub grub. How many pubs offer the option of a dozen fresh Irish oysters?
We started with scallops and Chorizo, and Thai crabcakes – both fresh and perfectly prepared. That was followed by an equally excellent teriyaki salmon with stir fried vegetables, and a lovely rich creamy spinach and Parmesan linguine.
If you have room for desert, then the chocolate creme brulee will please.
The kitchen at the Fox obviously understand spices, hence Freddie’s curry special, which sits alongside a number of clearly well-conceived dishes, together with a range of traditional pub favourites.
The full English breakfast – what else! – offers one of the best sausages I’ve ever tasted, and superb bacon. Paul’s father’s was a butcher for nearly half a century so he knows his meat.
The dog-friendly pub even offers a menu for four-legged guests. Resident hound Chester apparently rarely, if ever, has traditional dog food, instead eating up the the kitchen leftovers. It prompted the Fox to come up with a range of doggy dishes sold under the banner of ‘Dining with your Dog’.
The Fox could not be better located for those looking to explore this corner of England. A short drive to Oxford one way, Cheltenham in the other, with the likes of Cirencester, Bournton-on-the-Water, Stow-on-the-Wold and other picturesque villages all on the doorstep.
All said The Fox offers an increasingly rare slice of real traditional English hospitality. That is something to be treasured.
Visit www.foxinnbarrington.com for details.