If there was a spiritual centre of Dorset, it would be at the junction of five ancient tracks, called The Dorsetshire Gap. From the middle ages, this was an important junction, joining tracks of the ridgeway, with roads to the North. OK, maybe not truly spiritual, but as you drop down into the gap there is a tangible sense of history and heritage. You think of travellers who have rested there, to enjoy some food and drink, whilst also fending off a few highwaymen. Thankfully for us our food and drink was waiting for us in the kitchens at The Fox Inn, Ansty and we only had to negotiate a flock of sheep on our return journey.
The Fox Inn, Ansty has been a pub since 1777 and was until recently run by one of the large local breweries. In the summer of 2019 it was bought by local farmers, the Wallis family. They also own the Brewery Farm and Shop, along with the camp site, that has luxury cabins, all directly opposite the Fox Inn.
We were greeted by Kyle (General Manager) and we were given a quick guided tour of the recently refurbished Inn. We were very impressed with the decor, which gave a feeling of a country estate hunting lodge. The Fox is certainly ready to greet weddings, parties & functions, intimate private dining and of course cosy winter meals next to a log fire.
The Fox is large and currently has plenty of room for social distancing between tables. They have a snug bar, with comfy chairs for a quick drink, a large dinning room, where they serve Sunday carverys etc. There is a also Garden dinning room with large windows overlooking a glorious landscaped garden, a separate room for weddings plus a smaller ‘Shoot Room’ for private functions. On top of all this they have 12 en-suite bedrooms, perfect for a quiet stay in the middle of Dorset.
We decided to sit outside as it was a gorgeous day, with winter approaching these sort of days will soon be a thing of the past.
The new Autumn menu has all the pub favourites, baguettes and salads, pies, burgers, fish & chips, plus steak of the day. We spoke with Robert Wallis and he is very keen to start adding Game to the menu over the coming months. All their beef and lamb are home reared just over the road at their Brewery Farm. Everything else is sourced locally and if not a local produce, they will source these from local businesses, all to help keep the local economy ticking along.
After 18:00 you can then select from their al la Carte menu. This allows the chefs to fully flex their muscles, producing local lamb, pork belly, hake and cod dishes, plus a host of daily specials.
After a morning hiking across the fields, I was very pleased to see that a large plate was needed to carry my Fox burger and chips, you won’t go hungry at the Fox! It was the full monty, large meat patty, melting cheese, stunning bacon from Somerset and a good tangy tomato relish. This was washed down with a pint of English Lore, a beer brewed by Guy Ritchie, which really got me Into The Groove! (sorry)
Vicky enjoyed a lighter option, of prawns, avocado, with a marie rose sauce, in a warm baguette, with chips and salad. Again a healthy portion, stuffed full of juicy prawns and the marie rose sauce was drippingly yummy.
Both our side salads were coated in a tasty dressing, something that is often overlooked, but adds a lot to a dish and shows a key eye for detail.
Desserts are made by Chef Neil Bainbridge and made in house, Kyle highly recommended that we try one or two.
Desserts have to look pretty first and then taste good. We weren’t disappointed, my roasted pecan & chocolate tart, was dainty, warm, crisp, gooey, nutty, chocolatey, creamy and importantly delish. Vicky’s raspberry & white chocolate cheesecake was equally as pretty and delicious – We didn’t say a word while we devoured them.
The Fox Inn is a certainly a great place to stay, eat and drink – be it for just an hour or for a week. You will find a very warm welcome from Kyle and crew, so please do drop by and sample their hospitality.
If you be a Dorset folk or just a lover of great wholesome food, then take a pilgrimage to the Dorsetshire Gap, but make sure you have a table booked at The Fox, ready for your return.
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