Dinner at The Fox & Hounds
A sumptuous trade-off between the traditional and the contemporary, Suzanne Oswald found plenty to rave about at this multi-faceted Houston establishment.
Walking into this idyllic country pub is like visiting an old friend; there’s a warmth and familiarity to its traditional decor that is immediately comforting, particularly when seeking refuge from the wet and windy Scottish summer.
Nestled in the heart of leafy Houston, The Fox and Hounds is one of the most historic pubs situated on this side of the M8. Dating back to 1779, this listed-building houses three beautifully crafted areas, each with their own unique character and dining experience. Our entry point is The Vixen Bar – an old-timey casual village pub, brimming with charm and a bustling Friday night atmosphere. Deep red carpets, dark wooden beams, quirky wall art and bare stone walls set the scene; very much in keeping with its storied history.
When it comes to the drinks menu, whisky lovers will find themselves at home with an eye-popping 128 to choose from while there is also an enormous gin, ale, rum and wine selection. It’s the impressive cocktail list that immediately seizes the eye of this diner though. With a menu that would rival those of city centre bars, it offers a delectable array of signature drinks, martinis, daiquiris, classic and mojitos. The Garden Collins (£5 Mon-Fri) provides the perfect palette cleanser with its refreshing balance of Blackwoods, Edinburgh Rhubarb Gin, lemon, elderflower, apple and soda.
We retreat to the elegant Stables restaurant for our meal. With its dark wooden beams decked in the warm glow of fairy lights, the restaurant offers a refined dining experience thats retains the cosy ambience of next door; a feeling that is enhanced by the welcoming and attentive staff.
At first glance, the menu has an array of tantalising options. The restaurant is all about traditional pub food with a sophisticated twist, touching down on everything from fish and chips to Spanish paella, curry, enchiladas and carnivorous delights. In addition, there’s a plentiful selection for vegans and vegetarians when it comes to mains – proof that the Fox and Hounds are striving to align the traditional dining experience with the 21st century.
The starter of seared west coast scallops (£8.95) proves too good to resist. Lightly browned, they are beautifully presented with moreish haggis bon-bons, pickled peppers, onion and nutty cauliflower. Served with a velvety curried cauliflower puree, the colourful plate is beautifully presented and tastes as good as it looks. My dining partner opts for the homely classic leek and potato soup (£4.95), which I’m told is the best he’s ever tasted.
Prompt service ensures that there’s not much time to wait for the Balmoral chicken (£15.95). A Scottish classic, the succulent chicken breast arrives stuffed with haggis and swimming in a delicious whisky sauce. Spring beans and honey roast carrots bring a crunch while the mash is fluffy and creamy, acting as a perfect accompaniment to the generous serving of sauce. The tofu burger (£10.95) proves the most appealing option on the vegetarian menu, and comes served with beetroot chutney, grilled pepper, vegan cheese and skinny fries.
Dessert proves one course too many for these satisfied stomachs but there’s always next time. Whether stopping off for a quick lunch or settling in for a night out, The Fox and Hounds offers familiar yet polished dishes to an exceedingly high standard, and at a reasonable price to boot.
The Fox & Hounds, South Street, Houston, PA6 7EN, 01505 808604.