A long overdue Happy New Year to you all. I decided to take a break from blogging over the Christmas period to stop and recharge the batteries a little. Amongst all the Christmas chaos and being back at work, I haven’t forgot to tell you all about my latest B&B adventure at The Fat Fox Inn, located at the centre of the small market town of Watlington on the edge of the Chiltern Hills. This trip came at the perfect time at the end of 2016. A quaint little retreat, delicious homemade grub and wine. What more could you ask for?
I was aware that my blogging pal Eat with Ellen had previously stayed at the same B&B and wrote a really loved review, so I wanted excited to experience it for myself. The drive to Watlington took around 1 hour 20 to get there, mainly a motorway drive but we arrived just on time late Saturday afternoon. The car park was relatively small and empty when we arrived. When driving into the property, to the rear there is a converted coaching barn which I found out houses seven of nine letting en-suite bedrooms. I ran into the pub to grab the keys and we were shown to our room for the night.
It was a freezing cold night so we were exciting to get into the warm. The room was a bit drafty, but expected for a brick building not connected to the main pub. The room was located around 30 steps from the main building so it was easy to grab your coat and walk over for food and drinks. Inside the room is amenities for tea and coffee and bottles of water were left next to the bed. The Fat Fox pub has a rustic, wooden vibe and the rooms are decorated in the same simple, neutral colours and of white and brown. It felt as though we were sleeping inside a Laura Ashley styled bed and it was a very comfy night’s sleep.
Anyone who knows me will appreciate the fact I judge hotels and B&Bs a lot by their bathrooms. The room was clean, but perhaps a little bit outdated. The room was spacious and we were provided with clean white towns and shower essentials which was a lovely touch. Before we went out for a walk, I slumped into a bubble bath and pushed the week’s stress out of my mind. It was the first chance I had got that week to stop and do something for me. Afterwards, Josh and I stopped looking at our phones and went out for a walk.
We booked a table for food at 7:30pm and headed back to the main building. The Fat Fox Inn is a cosy pub, divided into several rooms. Most of the tables were full with families and couples when we walked in which is always a positive sign. I was served at the bar quickly before being shown to the restaurant by the manager. We walked past a roaring fireplace decorated with fairy lights and Christmas decorations, it was so relaxing in there. We were handed a short, but satisfying menu which actually took us a bit of time to decide from as all of the dishes sounded great. The menu has an interesting mix of both classics and more modern dishes.
I would say the menu is a touch on the pricey side, but as this was for reviewing purposes, we made the most of our options. I wanted to try the Country Pate with spiced chutney on toast (£7) and Josh asked for the Fat Fox Scotch Egg (£8). Other starter to choose from range from Scotch broth, to Smoked mackerel pate, to goats cheese and salmon. It’s clear to see the menu certainly has a ‘country’ feel to it and the ingredients are locally sourced. The scotch egg was more enjoyable that mine, with a runny yolk, encased in crunchy breadcrumbs. The salad and sauce accompaniment completed the starter, it was delicious.
The main courses range of various dishes, Hare ragu, to beef burgers, fish and chips to the varied dishes like Pan roast Gurnard and Gnudi. I wanted to try something other than the standard steak dish, so the Gnudi with sprouting broccoli, braised chard and parmesan with sage (£13) was a winner for me. It was exceptionally different to anything else on the menu and had a combination of interesting textures and flavours. Josh on the other hand opted for the Battered Haddock which was tantalisingly crispy.
For dessert and what room we had left, we decided to share a dark chocolate mousse and Baileys Ice cream. Josh also ordered a coffee and I longed for a sweet dish. The mousse was dark and bitter, and the smooth creamy Baileys ice cream just melted in the mouth. It was the best way to end a satisfying meal.
The service at the Fat Fox was great, we had one server who looked after us for the whole night. I am not sure if he knew we were there for review purposes but he asked us if we wanted more drinks and if there was anything we needed. The wait between courses allowed enough time for the last dish to slide down and we could see other diners relaxed whilst eating their meals. Shortly after we finished, we trotted back off to our room for a decent sleep. Once the blinds were put down in our room and the lights were switched off, the room was completely blacked out and silent, absolute bliss. The only thing bugging me was the WIFI flashing in the dark, so I unplugged it to prevent further disruption.
Breakfast the next morning was in the same room we had dinner the night before. Seeing the pub in daylight meant noticing the pub features a bit more. We sat in the main room this time, opposite the table full of breakfast cereals and juices. We could help ourselves to newspapers and anything we wanted from the breakfast menu. Inevitbly, we both asked for a full English breakfast (£8) which had the perfect portion sizes. A small plate of bacon, Britwell Farm Black pudding, sausages, mushrooms, tomato, eggs and toast.
Once fed and watered, we headed back to our room to pack our bags. We had such a wonderful stay at The Fat Fox, and it’s a little out of the ordinary as I’m used to reviewing chain hotels over independent ones. I hope this gets to change this year. On the Fat Fox website, there is a small list of things to do situated around the B&B. As we had to head home that day, we didn’t get to explore as much as we should have, but take a look on there to give you some ideas. If you’re ever passing that way I would highly suggest popping, if not only to sit next to the roaring log fire and a drink while you read the newspaper.
I was treated to a complimentary 1 night stay and dinner with a plus +1. We paid for our own drinks.
The Fat Fox Inn, 13 Shirburn Street, Watlington, Oxfordshire, OX495BU