The Fox has become a bit of an institution in Napier over the last six years – Mike & Louise Williams converted an old house on the edge of the town into an English-style pub with the byline ‘a taste of England in the heart of the Overberg.’
Mike has been experimenting with the ‘perfect steak & kidney pudding’ … NOT pie! The reason, he explained, was that a number of regulars had been asking about it, complaining that they couldn’t get one anywhere, and after all, a ‘pudding’ is a ‘pudding’ and a pie is, well … uninteresting!
On his recent trip to the UK, Mike did a lot of research by visiting various pubs (poor chap!) and talking to lots of experts, and he found the recipe that uses all the right ingredients (like suet) and a few other secret things.
Mike proudly told me about his successful endeavours so I thought I’d visit The Fox and sample his efforts.
I understand that kidney might not be to everyone’s taste, but I love steak and kidney, so I was looking forward to the experience. I was pleased that there were another chap who had ordered the same thing, it would be interesting to hear his impressions too.
First Impressions: The Fox is familiar to me, but I am always pleased to enter the Old English Style Pub with it’s well-tended garden and walls filled with memorabilia and knick-knacks collected by Mike & Louise on their travels. There is a cosy dining area inside with tables on the balcony for those who want to watch the world pass by. Or the garden is also available for those who want to enjoy the abundant bird life that also visit. For those who want to socialise at the bar, there is plenty of seating in the compact but well-appointed tap-room.
Service: what a lot of people don’t know is that Mike and Louise are the chief cook and waiter/bar maid only. The only time some extra staff are drafted in are for special occasions like St Patrick’s Day. Mike & Louise have an established routine and operate well in unison with taking orders, serving drinks and snacks and then ultimately the meal. I did not think that a twenty minute wait for the main to arrive was unreasonable as the good company and hospitality made the time fly.
The Food: The Fox has a reputation for serving a ‘bord vol kos‘ (plate full of food) and the steak & kidney pudding was no exception. Served with chips, peas, carrots and cauliflower and liberally doused in gravy, this was a REAL serving! The presentation was good and, looking at the other plate my fellow diner ordered, both plates had a uniform look and quantity on each plate.
There is no other way to describe the gravy except as ‘unctious’ – the rich and shiny liquid gave off a delicious aroma and the pudding shone. The vegetables were well cooked and tasty.
But the pudding … was a triumph! It was tender to cut into, but firm inside and had a lovely mix of steak vs kidney, not too much or too little of each. Well balanced. It was delicious and although it was a hearty plate of food, I was determined not to leave any of the pudding – some of the veges were sacrificed as it was a very filling meal. It will be even more popular on a cold, rainy day.
The other diner who also had the pudding was very happy with his meal and his wife was delighted with her plate of lasagne and vegetables (this looked delicious too).
The Bill: Two glasses of Robertson Red (R18 per glass) and Steak & Kidney Pudding – R131.00 total bill – while some may feel this is expensive, I can assure readers that this delicious and substantial plate of food is good value for money.
Highlights & Extras: The Fox is a friendly and welcoming pub / restaurant with a good menu and wide selection of drinks, wines and beer on tap. They are the only pub between Somerset West and Port Elizabeth with Genuine Guinness Draught on tap – available only to formally and expertly trained publicans, both Mike and Louise have qualifications from various establishments in the UK.
Mike and Louise are doing what they enjoy most – hosting people who enjoy the traditions of a genuine English-style pub and grill. The many regulars who keep returning to the picturesque town of Napier come to sample Mike’s excellent and varied menu. They come to experience the traditional Sunday roast and vegetables – joints of beef, lamb or pork with all the trimmings (including REAL Yorkshire Pudding!), together with starters and desserts.
The Fox in Napier, 10 Sarel Cilliers Street, Napier (closed on Tuesdays)
(click to view in Google Maps)
Telephone: 028 423 3293