In a West Riding village whose pub estate has been halved of late, the reopening after a brief hiatus for refurbishment of The Fox, on the edge of Menston, is welcome relief.
But is it a pub at all, or a restaurant? Actually, the remodelling demonstrates that the two are no longer mutually exclusive, if ever they were, and that establishments such as this can flourish quite happily as both.
The Fox, whose letterhead says it is in Ilkley – a reminder of Menston’s old placement within the same urban district – has a more formal feel than before, the bookcases and piles of logs replaced with expensive wallpaper, but the place is cosy and convivial. The second entrance having gone, access is via the car park, which looks on to the village cricket field, and once inside you can turn right for a meal or left for a drink. A modest selection of craft ales accompanies the usual suspects on tap.
Eating at The Fox is something you’d do by design, not on a whim. It is part of Mitchells and Butlers’ flagship line of “premium country pubs”, and they share a common menu. This is a long way from Wetherspoon’s, and indeed from most pubs. The well-spaced tables are waited upon, and with mains ranging from battered halloumi at just under £12 to roast rack of lamb and a range of steaks, at a little over £20, it hardly qualifies as casual dining. Yet popping in for a coffee a few nights after our meal, it was as relaxed as you like. There’s nothing wrong with a split personality, if they’re both this agreeable.
• The Fox, Bradford Road, Menston, Ilkley. LS29 6EB. 01943 873024.
Drinks selection 4/5