You know when you finally get around to trying something and you love it, making you wonder why the heck you didn’t just try it months earlier?
It’s like the time I watched The Shining. I’m not a horror film aficionado. I bypassed it for years, then caved, because it’s Stephen King, and he is king of words, you know?
Why don’t I watch horror movies? I’m affected by atmospheric music on Sherlock Holmes, for gods sake, do you really think I’d last in a 180 minute film? Yes The Shining scared the bejesus out of me. That ‘red rum’ scene still haunts me – I’m with best friend Joey Tribbiani when he said little girl ghosts are petrifying. Still, it’s one of my favourite movies of all time, because the cracking plot and delectably unhinged Jack Nicholson had me mildly frustrated at my cowardy-custard outlook: why hadn’t I enjoyed The Shining earlier?
And that’s how I feel about visiting Fox Hale Barns when I popped in to review – why the heck hadn’t I checked it out sooner?
Fresh from the celebrations of its first birthday, Fox Hale Barns stands majestically on The Square, Hale Road. The brainchild of Danny Fox, whose former life included directorship at Living Ventures, the eatery is a smart restaurant with a focus on wood-fired cooking (see video above including majestic oven).
Floor to ceiling windows letting in tonnes of light, expansive layout with open kitchen towards the back, and a bar so long that you can’t help marvel at it (I have never seen a bar this huge in a restaurant, it is giant, I tell you!) makes this a place you want to loiter with intent.
We were greeted at the entrance by a lovely concierge who looked like she had stepped off the cover of Vogue. We were then shown to our table where we perused menus and had the food explained to us by the lovely Linda.
We kicked off with cheesy garlic bread bigger than my head, filling and beautiful in all its cheesy glory. Bread with a slight chew, topped lovingly with gooey cheese – what’s not to love?
Glistening, gleaming fat olives like plump precious jewels were almost too pretty to eat, but had a deliciously meaty texture with a slight citrus tang.
Pil Pil prawns (baked king prawns, paprika, lemon, parsley) was theatrical, garlicky and a show-stopper of a starter. It arrived like a mini bubbling volcano in a cast iron pan. Punchy tomatoey onion sauce nudging succulent prawns was very good, whilst the crusty chargrilled sourdough was the perfect sponge to soak up the wonderful sauce.
Dining partner had chicken satay (marinated chicken skewers, peanut sauce) which was cooked to perfection, whilst the sauce packed a peppery punch. Sat atop Thai salad laced with a sweet chilli dressing, this was an impressive starter appreciated by those who love bold flavours.
My main of spatchcock chicken (lemon, garlic, thyme) was delicious. Tender bites of oven roasted meat was succulent, moist and highly moreish. Don’t worry if you’re scared of this being a giant bird – it wasn’t. I had a starter and dessert in addition to this, and I got along just fine.
Now, I love my garlic (vampires would hate me), which is why I thought the slivers of garlic nestled in the chicken nooks were just perfect. Come on, the world is better with garlic in it.
I love when restaurants pay attention to every single ingredient (not just the mains), which is why I was so pleased to find the same amount of attention lavished on the side of sweet potato wedges by the chefs. Generous wedges soft and squishy inside, perfectly seasoned, encased in magically melt in your mouth crispy skins were heavenly.
Dining partner indulged in the 6oz steak (medium, peppercorn sauce, broccoli, skinny fries). Black Angus beef is renowned for its delectably marbled meat, meaning there is an even distribution of fat throughout, rendering a highly flavourful cut of meat. Fox Hale Barns locally source their meat and the Black Angus beef has been aged for 35 days. You know that Ronan Keating song, You Say It Best When You Say Nothing At All? Well the way her knife sliced through the meat (it slid right through, as if it were butter), and expression on her face eating the meat, was priceless. She loved it and commented that the steak was soft, beautiful and a winner.
The dessert of Lemon tart was begging to be shared. Crisp pastry, wondrously short and with a buttery crumb was very good. The creamy, dreamy filling was perfect with the quenelle of mascarpone cream, and adding fresh strawberries to the mix made sure this was an excellent ending to a very good meal.
The icing on the cake was twinkle in his eye GM Luigi, whose warm demeanour and infectious laughter, coupled with delicious food, makes Fox Hale Barns a must visit place. And with various diverse menus to choose from (duck confit in red wine and cherry jus sounds delectable from their Christmas menu), there really is something for everyone. A special shout out to Linda, whose attentive nature, warm smile and all round awesomeness made this one memorable visit to Fox Hale Barns. If she’s there as Front of House, rest assured you’ll be in safe hands.
It’s the small touches that puts the diner at the forefront of the Fox Hale Barns’ mind. For example, I love how you get a complimentary glass of Prosecco with every order of Sunday roast (go with a party of four and you’ll be given a bottle to enjoy). It’s an excellent game-plan by Fox Hale Barns, by creating a stellar dining experience packed with good food, heart and soul that will ensure a return. A Fox Reward Card rewarding loyal customers should be an addition to your purse, where you can collect points whilst enjoying birthday treats and special offers too.
Turning one in the restaurant industry is no mean feat, yet Fox Hale Barns has carved out a name for itself by providing delicious dishes and sublime customer service. See you again very soon.
Rating: (1: Hate: I’d rather eat my shoe – 10: Love: I’d sell my kidney for a meal here)
Value for money: 9
Restaurant name: Fox Hale Barns
Open since: September 2016
Address: The Square, Hale Road, Hale Barns, Altrincham WA15 8ZN
Opening times: Monday 12–10pm / Tuesday 12–11pm / Wednesday 12pm–12am / Thursday 12pm–12am / Friday 12pm–12am / Saturday 9am–12am / Sunday 9am–10pm
How to make reservation: Telephone & online (if online, maximum number of diners is 6)
Call: 0161 980 3000
Owner: Danny Fox
Head Chef: Stephen Mulholland
General Manager: Luigi Lanzotti
Front of House: Linda / Marianna
Whilst in the area: Check out Booths, which is cute grocery store and the perfect pit-stop to stock up your larder.