Sunday, 20 August 2017

Open-air dining makes the most of the summer

Open-air dining makes the most of the summer

THIS was an evening to remember — al fresco dining at the Fox and Hounds in Christmas Common, writes Karen French.

Nestled in the Chiltern Valley with their beautiful English country gardens, this traditional pub-restaurant has so much to offer.

Reiner and Nicky Hecken acquired the pub in September 2016.

Reiner has many years’ experience, including managing the Bochum Restaurant and Bistro near Dusseldorf, Germany.

Nicky has a musical theatrical background, starring in Starlight Express before changing her career to become a chef and recently passing her qualifications at catering college in London, Victoria.

Head chef Gavin Hill-Smith joined in April 2017 to complete what is proving a winning ensemble. This high energy trio work in harmony — Gavin’s 30 years of experience producing amazing food, Nicky working alongside Gavin bringing a theatrical creative twist to their menu, and Reiner with his charismatic charm is perfectly placed as front of house.

As we walked through the entrance, through a pathway of summer flowers either side with an amazing aroma, the beautiful gardens were full of happy diners enjoying the relaxing atmosphere.

We entered the restaurant, which has a warm and exciting feel, tastefully decorated with spoonfuls of personal touches.

The mouth-watering menu has fabulous dishes on offer.

Starters include smoked duck and sweet chilli tart with roquette accompanied with an orange salad and pan-fried kidneys in a bacon and mushroom sauce on black pudding hash. The main courses are equally as exciting, with the 8oz sirloin steak served with triple-cooked chips, tomatoes, field mushrooms and a choice of sauces. There was also a leek, ricotta and walnut open tart, with Covent Garden salad accompanied by French fries.

All meat is sourced locally from Calnan Brothers and vegetables from Covent Garden.

We shared the summer platter to start, with olives, feta, sun blushed tomatoes, hummus with pitta bread, grilled halloumi and marinated balsamic asparagus.

For my main course I chose crayfish, pineapple, avocado with roquette salad on rustic potato skins accompanied by a Marie Rose sauce — such an explosion of flavours, the fresh crayfish was so delicious.

My dining companion David had the succulent strip loin of lamb served with chestnut mushrooms and fresh vine tomatoes with a balsamic glaze.

The Fox and Hounds not only offers a creative, sophisticated evening and lunchtime menu, but you can also call in for cream teas most afternoons — and that’s not forgetting the traditional family roast served on Sundays.

Wine and Dine

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