I am not a fan of bright lighting when out for an evening. It might be something to do with the increasing years. Even in summer it’s quite nice sometimes to escape the brightness of the day. Descending stairs to the Stable Bar at the Fox & Hounds in Houston surrounded by twinkly lights and dark wood beams I am instantly relaxed.

Once seated, the waiter immediately hands us glasses of prosecco. So far, so good. With this comes warmed miniature rolls to go with the whipped sea-salted butter that lies on black slate plates. These are light and delicious.

We are here to sample their new Table d’Hote Menu. To start I choose the scallops with caramelized cauliflower and brown butter cappuccino. The scallops are beautifully seared, there’s nuttiness from the cauliflower and the butter cappuccino is frothy and luxurious. It’s stunning. My dining companion’s Marinated Beetroot and Goat’s Cheese is almost as beautiful to look at as it is to eat. Earthy beetroot, punchy goat’s cheese, a pep of horseradish sauce and a crunch of walnuts. Superb.

Main courses arrive promptly. A generous, meaty chunk of roasted monkfish is swimming in oodles of tomato butter sauce. The braised fennel is soft with just a little bite, its mild aniseed notes complimenting the earthy saffron in the crushed potatoes. I love it! My companion plumps for Fillet of Beef (no extra charge). It comes with creamed spinach, caramalized pearl onions and new potatoes. Salty frites are missing from the dish, but that’s a small personal preference. The beef is incredibly tender. There is not one but two sauces on show here. A deep red wine sauce binds everything together, but a splash of green herb pesto-style dressing is minty, fresh and mouth-wateringly yummy. We wash everything down with a very agreeable bottle (or, ahem.. two) of Pinot Grigio. When it came to desserts my Assiette of Chocolate looked almost too good to eat, but eat it I certainly did! The toothshakingly sweet mouse offset by bittersweet candied citrus fruits is a delight for the senses – and utterly addictive. Rice pudding with Mango and Lime is the kind of dessert which would have Masterchef’s Greg Wallace grinning stupidly and trying to hug people. It is very, very good and despite being incredibly full, I can’t stop dipping in for one last spoonful.

To sum up the experience: it is the best food I have had in these parts in a long, long time and I can’t wait to come back!

Fox & Hounds… Reviewed