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“Great British pub” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of Fox & Barrel at Cotebrook

Fox & Barrel at Cotebrook
Ranked #5 of 36 Restaurants in Tarporley
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $55 - $55
Cuisines: Bar, British, Pub, International
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Local cuisine, Kids, Families with children, Business meetings, Bar scene, Special occasions, Large groups
Dining options: Lunch, Late Night, Brunch, Dinner, Free Wifi, Full Bar, Highchairs Available, Outdoor Seating, Parking Available, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible
Newbury, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
26 reviews
10 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“Great British pub”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 1, 2013

We were delighted to find this pub. The landlord was welcoming friendly and the food fab, tasty and excellent quality and great value. I wish there were pubs like this in the south of England!

  • Visited April 2013
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
Thank DeniseElliott
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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485 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    269
    123
    46
    32
    15
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Any
English first
Chester, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
247 reviews
234 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 280 helpful votes
“Dining pub of the year?!”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 1, 2013

We have visited this restaurant twice previously & vowed never to return due to the lack of table service for the price. This is pretty basic stuff i would have thought for an award winning establishment.

On arrival it's very confusing as to what to do as there is no specific place or indeed anyone to approach for a table. After a few minutes wait we were "pointed" to a table whilst i ordered drinks at the bar. I ordered rump steak, partner fish & chips. A few minutes later a waitress brought condiments to the table. This is where i started to get a bad vibe as they consisted of a jar of "communal" sauces & "Heinz tomato ketchup covered in bits of food. For an award winning eatery i find this totally unacceptable & too prove my point we witnessed a large elderly man who quite clearly looked educated , plunge his knife in the mustard sauce , then into his gaping mouth, back to the jar & then back in again for second helping. Nice. This is how & why bacteria can spread very quickly in the food sector. We weren't sure but the bland smelling other unsealed container was my partner's tartars sauce for her £12.75 main.

The food arrived & looked great to the eye. However, my rump steak reminded of my infant days trying to chew a golf ball my dad left lying around, chips strangely dark on the outside but hard & soggy to taste & devoid of flavour. The English mustard was required to perk up my main which i struggled down as was ravenous. Partners fish had no flavour & looked very dry. She is a big fan of tartars sauce but suspected this came from the familiar supermarket jar. What was the biggest give away was the mushy peas which most definitely were from tin to microwave & illuminous green. No check back on how our meals were was a further disappointment.

What i couldn't help but notice was the way the management/waitresses dress for service. No neutral colours or a nice shirt to distinguish themselves apart from paying customers. In fact, a waitress removed the condiments as we were finishing drinks & at first i thought it was a customer after some vinegar to flavour her soggy chips as I'd not noticed her serving previously.

I won't totally rip this award winner to shreds as the shared bread & butter pudding was pure indulgence even though the school girl gave us a "saucer" each for the dessert.

Many reviews have commented on the attire of the manager/owner in a negative manner & i totally agree. It's not the most pleasant of sites having to endure looking at a guy in shorts with legs covered in varicose veins whilst eating.

It seemed obvious soon that you not only place your order yourself but you also have to go to the bar ask them for your hefty bill. The bar girl did ask how the meal was to which i replied the chips were poor as i couldn't be bothered going into detail as didn't have enough time! The reply to the Chips was "oh"! Terrific customer service.

I feel the philosophy at this place is get em in, take their cash & get em out. The service level is absolutely appalling & it has the feel of "resting on it's laurels". Yes the food may have been deserving of an award last yr but clearly it's based only on the food & not the entire dining out package. I returned for the great food we previously enjoyed here but i will most definitely not be returning

  • Visited March 2013
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
5 Thank Thelobsterman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cheshire
Level Contributor
64 reviews
31 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 46 helpful votes
“Sunday lunch experience.”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 28, 2013

Situated on a main road with a relatively small car park. Pleasant interior, quite an extensive menu, but expensive for what was on offer. Overpriced wines. Food not bad but expected better for the price. Service provided by school girls who didn't really know how to serve meals. Had to ask a number of times for condiments missing from the table. Wont go back.

Visited October 2012
Helpful?
1 Thank Ballcock
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cheshire, UK
Level Contributor
45 reviews
34 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“Excellent dining experience !”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 25, 2013

We ate here for the first time recently for a Sunday lunch with some friends who had eaten here before and recommended it to us. We were not disappointed. There was a marvellous open fire visible as soon as we walked in from cold snowy conditions outside. We had an excellent dining experience - great food and the portions were good - interesting and varied menu and good service. The manager appeared reassuringly in control and was pleasant and professional. The staff were also pleasant and efficient. Nice place, pleasing decor and very clean. Fresh flowers in the ladies toilets - always a good sign ! Overall we enjoyed it very much and will certainly return and will recommend it to others.

  • Visited March 2013
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
Thank 320Lynne
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Crewe
Level Contributor
109 reviews
66 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 115 helpful votes
“Justifiably Cheshire Life's Dinning Pub of 2012.”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 18, 2013

I've been eating here for 5/6 years. Not every week, but 3 - 4 times a year. There are other dining pubs, scattered throughout Cheshire, of equal worth that I also visit. Variety is after all the "spice of life".

I wasn't surprised to read, in Cheshire Life, that the F&B had been awarded the accolade of dining pub of the year 2012.

When I visited, a few days ago, the menu had a good selection of starters, mains and desserts. In fact I could have happily eaten all the desserts, (which weren't heavily reliant on chocolate, as happens in many other places). I settled on the syrup sponge pudding and custard - delicious. For starter I had pea, mint and ham risotto with an egg, which turned out to be an interesting and tasty spin on what often turns out to be a stereotyped dish, in other pub/restaurants. Initially it looked like a mound of thinly sliced ham with a rim of green jus around its perimeter, like a green moat around a hill of ham. The chef had completely covered the risotto with a thin layer of ham. I must say that it didn't look the part initially. Undeterred I dissected it and the risotto was perfectly cooked. The whole egg in the middle was beautifully runny when cut in two - perfect. My main course was a fantastic lemon sole, the accompanying vegetables, served on a side dish, were perfectly cooked. My starter & main were well seasoned, and tasty.

Why does a perfectly good eating establishment get such varied reviews from different customers, well I have my own theories about this.

Firstly, we are all indoctrinated, by a plethora of cookery programmes, on the TV, to expect fine dining, quality food whenever we go out to eat. More chefs, than ever before, present their food in ways that are pleasing to the eye and try to recreate a fine dinning experience. As a result our expectations have changed and vary more than ever before. The food at the F&B looks good and is very good.

No matter how well the food is presented it has to excite the taste buds, and seasoning is all important. The food at the F&B tastes good and is well seasoned. However, equally important is the choice of courses.

I've sat in restaurants and witnessed customers choose the most unbelievable selection of courses that were never going to sit comfortably together. Individually fine, together never. This is my first point - chose carefully. I always spend time carefully deciding which 2 or 3 courses will compliment one another and provide a meal that will work, for me. When I am careless in my choices I cannot then blame the restaurant for the poor meal I have selected. The F&B do not have a set menu/tasting menu. The construction of the courses is entirely down to me.

Secondly the ambience, or feel, of the place must make the diner feel at ease.

There must be a relaxed atmosphere, the staff should be professional and friendly, there shouldn't be a unexpected cacophony of unwanted noise or intrusive background music. The whole establishment should be clean, spotlessly clean.

The worst people for making restaurants dirty are the customers themselves. The staff must be trained up to clean and prepare the dining area for each set of customers, irrespective of how busy they are. A quick whip round with a dirty cloth won't do, neither will food on the floor. When I've have eaten at the F&B the place has been spotlessly clean.

On Sunday a thoughtless male member of staff obviously decided to take aim with a wine bottle and demonstrate his ability to hit the bin from distance. The resultant noise was deafening and not clever. It did not put me at ease. What a stupid thing to do!

Finally, the staff must look as though they care! What do I mean by that? Well the way they dress, behave and speak to clients must make us feel as though they are pleased that we have come. This is where, according to some reviews on TA, the F&B has fallen short in the past. Some of the reviews have been critical of the attitude of the staff. I have yet to experience this at the F&B. for me, the staff have been friendly, helpful and accommodating.

I have travelled, overseas, a lot, therefore it doesn't bother me that members of staff wear shorts. I don't mind what they wear as long as it doesn't offend, is clean, doesn't look as though it's next port of call should be the rag bag, and it shouldn't suggest that there is more on offer than the food!

I have no problem with the owner wearing shorts. Reading some of the F&B reviews on TA, some reviewers obviously do.

Perhaps what the owner is subliminally stating, is: "I will wear what I want, you can eat where you want". Whether it's intentional or not I cannot say. He is, incidentally, not the only restaurant owner, I've met, who wears shorts at work. He must know that as a result of him wearing shorts some narrow minded customers may go elsewhere.

I like the F&B. the food is very good and, for me, of a consistently high standard for a pub that does grub. The friends I've advised to go and give it a try have liked it too.

It deserves it's Cheshire Life award.

I will continue to dine at the F&B regularly, and in the summer will be wearing shorts.

My award of 5/5 is based on multiple visits over then past 5/6 years.

  • Visited March 2013
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
1 Thank John F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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