Review: The Fox at Bulmer Tye - 'A buzzing, vibrant gastropub with a warm welcome awaiting you'
PUBLISHED: 11:31 08 October 2019 | UPDATED: 11:31 08 October 2019
Mark Heath and his wife Liz visited the recently-re-opened Fox at Bulmer Tye for a late Saturday lunch. Here's what they made of it.
When The Fox closed suddenly at the start of the year, the future looked bleak for the historic pub on the Suffolk/Essex border.
Enter Roxanne and David Marjoram, the couple behind the Gusto Pronto group, who duly added the Fox to their impressive portfolio which already includes the Brewshed Brewery and pubs including The Crown at Hartest, The One Bull in Bury and the Cadogan Arms in Ingham.
The Fox only re-opened its doors three weeks ago, so we weren't entirely sure what we'd find when we visited for the latest lunch sitting on offer at 2.15pm on a Saturday.
Well, what we found was a packed and buzzing pub, positively humming with the noise of guests eating, drinking and making merry. A very good sign.
The interior looks good, comfy and welcoming, and we were quickly seated, furnished with menus and offered drinks. My better half went for the Stella Artois 4%, while I opted for a pint of Lowenbrau.
Given that we were in a pub boasting a fine range of ales from the aforementioned Brewshed, I should probably hang my head in shame!
Anyway, enough of my numerous faults, let's talk food.
For starters, I was torn between the smoked potted mackerel - I swear I could eat my own weight in mackerel pate - and the very enticing Blythburgh pork scotch egg.
In the end I went for the former, while Mrs Heath ordered the chargrilled chicken salad.
When mine arrived, in what looked like a frosted glass Kilner on a wooden board with two slices of sourdough toast, it looked nice enough. On closer inspection though, I realised it was actually smoke inside the Kilner!
What a great touch of theatre to the dish. As I cracked open the jar, two things happened - smoke gently trickled out into the ether, and I smiled broadly.
As a dish, it ate as pleasingly as it looked - lovely rich smoky pate, topped with a few pickled vegetables, which I slathered all over the toast. Absolutely cracking, what a start to a meal.
Across the table, Mrs H was tucking into her salad. On arrival the dish looked appetising, and included a variety of colourful salad leaves, accompanied by red and yellow pepper, carrot and cucumber, tossed in a light dressing and topped with two nicely-cooked pieces of chicken, complete with griddle lines for extra flavour.
The dish was simple but tasty, and exactly what Liz was looking for.
A good start then. Next up, the main event. Now, some of the feedback I've received from penning these reviews has suggested that I don't do enough to consider the many vegetarian diners out there. Guilty as charged. Again, I hang my head.
With this in mind, dear vegetarian readers, I decided to do something I've never done before - order a plant-based main course.
In this case, it was The Fox's mushroom and quinoa burger, served with tzatziki and skinny fries. It looked great on delivery, exactly like a 'normal' burger and with that in my head it was only when I bit into it that I realised I was indeed dining meat-free.
The texture, of course, was different to a burger - rather falling apart when pressure was applied to the patty. But the taste was nice enough, with the tzatziki mixing with the 'burger' to evoke lamb kofta vibes.
For my first vegetarian main meal, it was a pleasant surprise - certainly a good alternative to a meaty main.
A big fan of fish and chips, Liz chose the Brewshed beer battered haddock, crushed peas and home cut chips for her main. The portion which arrived was so generous that it defeated her, even with help from our trusty hound and pub veteran Benson.
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The chips were not at all greasy which is a major plus, but overall the dish was a tad dry. In our view the chips could probably have benefitted from a little less time in the fryer, while serving the fish with mushy peas, rather than crushed, would have added a little more moisture.
By now, we were well-fed and the usual debate ensued - could we cram in a dessert for the good of the readers? Sadly, in this case, we decided not - but the puddings which came out around us certainly looked good, the likes of chocolate brownie and sticky toffee pud. Next time.
As ever, a vital part of any eatery worth its salt. I'm pleased to say our welcome at The Fox was friendly and helpful, while the food all came out quickly, perhaps surprising given how busy the pub was during our visit.
The Fox is on the main road out of Sudbury, so there's a fair amount of traffic out front, but I can't say that I noticed the noise at all - the pub was really buzzing with diners when we visited.
What we did notice though, was the heat in the dining area. We both had to take quick wanders outside to cool down, while we saw other guests trying - and failing - to open windows while we were there. One for management to keep an eye on.
Because of its location, most visitors to The Fox will be arriving by car, so a large and well-kept car park is important here.
And that's exactly what you get - even at a very busy time, there were plenty of spaces left.
Our starters were both £7, with the mains both £13 - entirely reasonable for the food and the setting.
My potted mackerel was brilliant - both in the eating and the smoky theatre which accompanied the dish. Liz would say her salad was her highlight, a simple but very tasty dish.
A buzzing, vibrant gastropub with a warm welcome awaiting you.