29 October 2020

The Fox and Hounds Caversham – New Menu

Is there anyone out there who doesn’t love pub food? Because I am yet to meet someone who dislikes it. Whether it’s a classic pie, fish and chips or hot pot, I am there, or more modern pub food which tends to be pizzas and wings – sign me up. If you also love pub food then I’ve got to tell you about the new chef and his new menu over at The Fox and Hounds, Caversham.

Caversham is blessed with lovely cafes, independent shops and some really lovely pubs which serve some pretty good food, some of which I’ve written about before (see my reviews of Vegivores and The Last Crumb). And I am about to tell you about one more – The Fox and Hounds. It’s a well-known Caversham pub on Gosbrook Road, best known for its great beer selection – I haven’t stumbled upon anywhere new in this post really. But the pub just used to serve a simple selection of Barrel&Stone pizzas that I didn’t feel the need to write about. The new menu I need to write about. 

Covid-creativity in Caversham

The Fox and Hounds, Caversham can be found on Gosbrook Road and looks very cosy at night.
The Fox and Hounds looks very cosy and inviting at night.

The whole hospitality sector has had to get really creative in 2020 and The Fox and Hounds is no different. What is noticeable though is how much they seem to have taken things to the next level. They’ve expanded their outdoor area, added a new light-bulb edged tent and got a whole new chef and specials menu. 

During lockdown, The Fox and Hounds were simply fortunate to have a park in front of the pub; but they were clever to really take advantage of it. The Summer of 2020 was the Summer of The Fox and Hounds – the park opposite was packed with people drinking their beer. People were dying to drink in a field with their friends and the Fox supplied it. I took a trip down there a few times and it was like the closest thing we would see to Reading Festival in 2020. It looked like The Fox and Hounds were just making hay while the sun shone, but it looks like they were busy squirreling away for when the sun had gone too. One of the things they were clearly thinking about was reopening and revamping their food.

I suspect a lot of places are increasing and improving their food offering now. They need to bring more customers through the door and when I went to the Fox recently, they clearly were. The pub was full to Covid-capacity and I was really relieved that we had pre-booked our table. 

Insta-Influenced

It’s the food posts on Instagram that really drew me in to be honest; the power of social media is undeniable. I was 100% influenced. The Fox posted their fish tacos, Moroccan flatbreads, mac ‘n’ cheese, hot dogs, and mussels and even tapas at one point. The menu seemed as though it was ever-changing and exciting, and a change from what I’d seen before. I was intrigued. Their posts even featured some local produce, so it didn’t take me long to find friends to drag down to try it one Saturday night. 

The Fox and Hounds has a great beer garden out back which, in the winter, is normally covered with a huge tent. The tent and surrounding fence is always beautifully lit up with fairy lights and gives a really cosy feel. This is a top selling point in the year of the virus when we all need a bit of sparkle. 

The seating has had a bit of a facelift too. While they spent the summer selling takeaway park beer, The Fox and Hounds also spent it painting furniture and expanding their outdoor area. This expansion was some great foresight on their part. They’ve invested in another tent and more lights for the patio at the side of the Fox and Hounds pub too. This, with an additional partitioned outdoor area in the back, means they may have doubled their outdoor space.  This doesn’t necessarily mean they can seat double the capacity as before though – stupid Covid. I just hope it means that they are losing less trade than if they hadn’t done this. 

Sticky BBQ chicken wings.

Book in advance 

I would advise booking ahead as when we arrived at 6pm it was already pretty busy. From what I could see, all of the tables were reserved. We were asked to sign in to Track and Trace at the door and shown to our seats. In the back tent area there are picnic tables and a few sofas with low tables so if you are eating and really don’t want to be sat low down then request a picnic table when you book. The tables are well-spaced and the staff were all wearing masks so it felt really lovely and safe. You don’t need to leave your table for anything other than to pop to the loo which was also full of cleaning sprays, soaps and paper towels. You can disinfect as much as you like. 

I was really excited to try the food at the Fox and Hounds. The menu had recently changed so we had no tacos but there were loads of other really tasty sounding things. The specials menu changes every week, but the pizzas stay the same. The website only has a sample menu so it doesn’t always show what you might be able to get that day. And because everything is made fresh there isn’t a limitless supply of dishes. This meant that they had run out of the mac ‘n’ cheese. I didn’t mind –  it is really nice to know that it’s made on site and is fresh. I’ll just have to be quicker next time when I spot a dish I really want to try. It was too difficult to choose a single dish and so we ordered a load of dishes to share. We went for the Jaipur fish and sriracha chips, BBQ chicken wings, crispy buffalo cauliflower wings, parmesan and oregano fries and onion rings. Then we settled down with a beer. 

Beer Enthusiasts Rejoice

I’m no beer expert, and I won’t pretend to be, but there is quite a large beer selection in the Fox and Hounds. They stock kegs, cans and bottles from local breweries and anyone I know who likes beer really loves it there. I’m a big fan of Double-Barrelled and they often stock those which is great. They often do beer events and tap takeovers so if you know your stuff you’ll love it. I don’t so that’s where my knowledge ends. Sorry!

There even a tv screen in the back beer garden which shows the beers on offer, so you don’t have to touch a menu if you don’t want to. The beer list on the screen is long though and when it flips to the next page can be annoying. If you struggle to read it fast enough then ask the ladies for a paper copy. The Fox has something for everyone, whether you’re ticking beers off your beer app (that’s a thing for the big fans) or want a simple pilsner.

There’s something for everyone

A feast for three (minus parmesan fries and onion rings).

When the food arrived I was surprised. I guess I had expected standard pub grub which is delicious but not always pretty. The Fox and Hounds’ dishes looked amazing and I was very excited to try it. Every dish was beautifully presented, just as I had seen on their social media. This isn’t typical pub food. Yes, they have classics like fish and chips and a hotpot on the menu (which I love), but this is slightly fancier pub food served in a classic local setting.

I dived into the Jaipur fish and chips first. The fish had light and crispy batter which was dusted underneath with Indian spices from the Indian spices. This gave it a subtle spicy flavour, but nothing too spicy, and the fish inside was soft and perfectly flaky. The fries were sprinkled with powdered sriracha seasoning. A lot of people are against skinny fries with fish (I’m not) so chunky chips as an option might be a good idea but don’t feature yet. I was pretty happy with the spicy fries.

The BBQ chicken wings were tender, sticky and sweet – a good choice for those of you who don’t like spice. My favourite dish was the buffalo cauliflower.

Sophisticated Pub Grub

Have you ever left after a meal and thought about a dish for days after? Well, the cauliflower was this. Housemate isn’t even a cauliflower fan but even he has raved about it since. The cauliflower was perfectly coated in a crispy batter and lathered in buffalo sauce. I really hope that this doesn’t come off the menu because I really want to have it again. I also suspect it will become a favourite with the veggie customers.

The portions felt generous; three of us ordered the equivalent of three meals to share but we didn’t manage to finish it all. It’s pretty good value. They also do a chicken and chips for £7.50 at the bottom of the menu – great for kids or smaller eaters. Although there are set times when children are allowed in so be sure to check this if you visit. I haven’t tried it yet, but they also do a roast on a Sunday for £15!

It is pretty good value anyway but currently the Fox and Hounds is offering 15% off their menu on Monday – Wednesday. Even better!

I’ll be honest and say that before now The Fox and Hounds wasn’t a pub I went to often. I had tried the pizza and thought it was fine, but it was never enough to keep me going back or make me write about it. When I go out for drinks I tend to want food too, so I used to choose elsewhere. I am so happy to say that this has now changed and I’ll definitely be back. This new menu is fantastic and it now serve some of the best pub food in Reading. But it’s not just the food that gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling.

Jaipur fish with mushy peas.

The Fox and Hounds, Caversham – A pub with a heart

The Fox and Hounds has recently won me over on another level. They have backed Marcus Rashford’s campaign to end child food poverty. They are offering struggling families free pizza for their children over October half term. All you have to do is order a “holiday pizza” and you will get a free 8″ rustic classic pizza. If you aren’t comfortable eating in the pub they’ll also make you one to go. I love this and The Fox and Hounds are one of a number of places offering similar deals in Reading which is so lovely. They are all legends.

Lockdown hasn’t been easy for pubs but they’ve been creative and innovative. They’ve had to; to stay afloat. Now they’re digging even deeper to help local families – hats off to all hospitality businesses who are doing this. It’s the kind of offering that makes me want to support this business more.

I’m converted…

The night at the Fox and Hounds was delightful with good food and beer. At 9.30pm we were politely asked to order our last drinks and reminded of the 10pm Covid-curfew. The Fox and Hounds enforce the curfew strictly, as they should. If you haven’t finished your drink they will let you pour your drink into a plastic cup. I left with my beer in a cup and thought that was nice of them to let us do. Although, living in a world where this is now a thing is still strange.

My favourite dish of the night, the buffalo cauliflower wings.

The new chef at this place has made such a difference. The Fox and Hounds pub in Caversham has always been popular for its drinks but I think the food is now a huge draw too. The pub is sure to attract new customers and new regulars. Maybe even stealing them from places nearby? The new, expanded outdoor area was a stroke of genius and will make people feel more comfortable here in the Winter months.

Go to Caversham and go to the Fox and Hounds, I really think you’ll enjoy it.

Laura

2 responses to “The Fox and Hounds Caversham – New Menu”

  1. fcy says:

    3 stars
    Spot on with this write-up, I actually think this website needs much more attention. I’ll probably be back again to read through more, thanks for the advice!

    • BerkandBite says:

      Thank you very much! You can subscribe if you would like to be emailed with the latest posts on the blog, just scroll to the bottom of the home page 🙂

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