Express & Star

Food review: My meal at this affordable Shropshire pub ticked all the boxes

The roads were blocked. Well, they weren’t exactly blocked, though there were fluro-jacked stewards lining the streets, making sure vehicles stayed in their lanes. A road race was taking place, as those wise enough to look after their health by lacing up their trainers and pushing themselves physically streamed past.

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A delicious crispy beef salad

From the windows of The Fox, a train of bobbing heads weaved its way along the undulating, rural roads in this quiet corner near the Staffordshire and Shropshire border. Runners dressed in bright vests got into a rhythm as they pushed their way back into nearby Newport, in search of a personal best. And shortly after their exertions, a number made their way to The Fox, where celebratory gin‘n’tonics were downed.

They weren’t the only ones in The Fox, of course. When I called to see if any tables were available for a midweek supper, the guy on the end of the phone indicated that there weren’t. I could take a table in the bar, he said, but the restaurant was full. And that’s testament to the enduring popularity of a venue that’s been well-managed, and well-staffed over a long period of years.

The Fox on a warm spring evening

Part of the Brunning and Price stable, it’s part of a successful business group that provides aspirational pub dining for a mainstream crowd.

The chain’s venues – and The Fox is included in them – are habitually large, tastefully decorated, and welcoming. They are mostly well organised, staff are habitually friendly and well trained, while there’s an impressive array of ales and spirits, not to mention a customer-friendly menu.

The menu, in this reviewer’s case, is the principle attraction. Featuring dishes that people like to eat, rather than food that seeks to impress, it’s a collection of classics, comforting plates, and one or two elements that allow the chef to shine. Mostly though, it’s recognisable stuff that people love – soup, prawns, curry, cottage pie, char-grilled fish, steaks and burgers, or towering salads – that the chefs serve with aplomb.

A delightful interior with nooks and crannies