The Fox at Shipley

This was a specials board like few others, writes our undercover food reviewer The Insider. Australian camel meat. South African zebra. Swedish reindeer.

The Fox at Shipley
The Fox at Shipley

This was a specials board like few others, writes our undercover food reviewer The Insider. Australian camel meat. South African zebra. Swedish reindeer.

If you're looking for something a little out of the ordinary, you will love The Fox's Foods of the World menu here, which offers a choice unlike any other I have seen since I started writing this column.

Bison, wildebeest, kudu and impala - I thought that was an American car - are also on offer.

Me? I went for the Black Country special. Well, you've got to learn to walk before you can run.

Yes. If like me, you're a little more conservative in your dining habits, there is still plenty of choice, and nobody should have any problem finding something to eat.

This was my first time at the Fox. It was recommended to me some time ago, by reader Andrew, who said "the food is fantastic", and C Ellis, who described it as "a warm and welcoming pub."

So I guess this review is not before time.

The three-storey building, on the corner of Clive Road, began life as a farmhouse, and records show it dates back to at least 1812 - I reckon that's the real reason Tchaikovsky wrote his overture, nothing to do with all that Napoleonic malarkey.

A few extensions have been added over the years, including a couple of large conservatories.

There is a large car park, although how far you have to walk depends on where you can find a space; I was lucky enough to get quite close to the door.

It appears to be wheelchair friendly, with a large ramp leading up to the front door.

On the whole, the decor strikes a very good balance between the traditional and the modern, bringing the best out of the building's original features with a modern, sophisticated look.

Space was a little tight where we were sat, in the conservatory - I would say too many tables were crammed in - and I wasn't too smitten by the pink carpet, but the soft lighting and clever candle-effect lights gave a classy, relaxed feel.

One thing I really didn't like was the string of LED lights, encased in transparent plastic tubing, wrapped around the picture frames in the conservatory.

I suspect they are intended to be more for the benefit of people looking in from the outside as they drove past, but from the inside it is not a good look at all, and detracts from what is otherwise a cool, stylish environment.

If you like your beer, you should love it here, with Banks's bitter and mild, plus three guest ales on tap, and the staff seemed pretty clued up.

Food has to be ordered at the bar, which is not a problem except it meant I did have to frequently push past the couple on the table in the tight gap behind us.

The customers were predominantly young and affluent-looking, with horses proving to be one of the big topics of conversation.

The amazing menu has more than 40 different main courses on offer, and not just bog-standard fare either, there's real flair and imagination to some of the options.

At first glance it looks a little pricey, but the two-for-one offer means the cheapest main is free, making for pretty decent value.

I'll assume the Foxy Burger does not do exactly what it says on the tin - I'm not sure Basil Brush is my idea of dinner - but I was very tempted by the choice of seven different steaks on offer.

As well as the usual sirloin, T-bone and rump, there is also a sizzler steak, which it sounded like the somebody on the next table was sampling, a Mexican steak and a Wexford steak. Beats the Bergerac steak any day.

But although I was tempted by the choice of beef, I felt that I should try something more adventurous. And although this is not in the Black Country - it's not even particularly near to the Black Country, which ends somewhere around the boundary between Sedgley and Wombourne - I did fancy the sound of the Black Country Magic on the specials menu.

A pork loin filled with sausage meat and stuffing, wrapped in bacon and oven baked, it was an excellent choice, blending an interesting range of different flavours and proved to be very filling.

I would certainly recommend it. It came with generous helpings of chips, carrots and broccoli, but I was unable to clear my plate.

My dining companion enjoyed the chicken balti, singling out the sauce for particular praise.

For afters I had a New York cheesecake while my companion had lemon meringue pie.

The cheesecake was light and creamy, just the job after a filling main course, with a good flavour, and I would probably go for it again.

I am also pleased to report that service with good, all the staff being friendly and helpful.

The orders were taken by a young man styling himself as Dave The Rave - that's what it said on the till - and following the previous week's debacle, it was a big relief that all the food came in good time.

When it was time to settle up, Dave The Rave presented me with a bill for £29.55, for two courses each, two pints of beer and a coffee. Considering the quality of the food, I think this represents superb value.

That is not to say there are not some things I would change.

The pictures on the walls, for instance, depicting the glory days at Molineux - black and white, of course. Then there's the chair in the shape of a Wolves badge.

I like this place a lot. But I do think it would benefit from a claret-and-blue makeover.

ADDRESS

The Fox at Shipley, Bridgnorth Road, Shipley, Wolverhampton WV6 7EH

Phone: 01902 700376

MENU SAMPLE

STARTERS

Chicken liver paté £3.95; Foxy prawn platter £3.95; Whole camembert £4.75

MAIN COURSES (two-for-one offer applies)

Faggots and peas £10.95; Home-made cottage pie £10.95; Nut Roast £10.95; Wholetail scampi £12.50; 16oz T-bone steak £19.95; 8oz sirloin steak £15.95

DESSERTS

Lemon meringue pie £3.95; Belgian waffle and ice cream £3.75; Jam sponge pudding £3.50

For more stories like this, visit our entertainment, lifestyle and events website nativemonster.com