The Fox and Crown is best known for its beer and fine ales. Tucked away in a quiet street in Old Basford, Nottingham it is one of the few pubs that has managed to retain its own brewery. With it being just minutes from Basford tram stop, it attracts real ale drinkers from across the city.
However, I recently learnt that it is also home to a Thai restaurant. Striking me as a rather odd bedfellow for a traditional English pub, and following numerous recommendations, I decided to check it out.
It was a Monday night –the cupboards were bare, the supermarket posed an unthinkable challenge and there was an air of denial that the weekend was really over. The perfect night for pub grub. My partner rang ahead and reserved a table despite my scoffs that it was a Monday night and therefore totally unnecessary. But when we walked into the warm, carpeted pub and spied a reserved table for two tucked in the corner of a throng of taken tables, I counted my lucky stars.
Ordering a couple of Alcazar ales to get us into the swing of things (delicious, golden flavours) we made our way over to our table to pour over the menu. I had been told the Thai food is managed by a family who run a separate business to the pub, renting the tables in one half of the venue. But despite this I still half expected the menu to be pub grub with a few classic Thai dishes thrown into the mix.
Instead we were presented with a comprehensive, hard-back menu with a mouth-watering selection of dishes that would rival any Thai restaurant in town. We ordered some prawn crackers to silence our rumbling stomachs as we flicked through page after page of delicious-sounding dishes. The prawn crackers were top notch; crispy and thin – and not drowned in the greasy oil that many are plagued with. Served with a tangy sweet chilli sauce they were the perfect accompaniment to our menu deliberations.
We finally selected a platter dish to start, followed by a Thai red curry with chicken and stir fried prawns served with cashew nuts, coriander and tomatoes. With pub-style service, the food is ordered at a little counter to the side of the bar with its own cash register and a little bell that brings someone out of the kitchen. In fact the same man who took our order and served us our food, appeared to have cooked it as well. Next stop was the bar, as the food and drinks are run separately I turned 90 degrees to face the barman who promptly opened me a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc (costing a mere £10).
Back on our table, which was beside a small fire, we were quickly presented with our starter. Boasting a fine selection of Thai goodies, it featured a fish cake, prawn toast, curried vegetable spring roll, chicken wings and perhaps most divinely of all, a king-sized Thai battered prawn. The batter on the prawn and spring roll was light and crispy, accentuating the flavours of the prawn and vegetables. The juicy and perfectly cooked prawn was marinated in Thai spices and coriander – my only complaint was that there was not more than one. However, the platter was the perfect size to feed two people as a starter.
The prawn dish that followed was equally delicious. Prawns are so easy to overcook but this place has them down to a tee – firm and juicy – and perfectly complemented by subtle Thai flavours. The dish was dressed in a light, oyster-tasting sauce with crunchy vegetables and freshly ripped coriander. By contrast our red curry provided the creamy Thai kick that we had been craving – my only criticism was it could have been richer in flavour. Nevertheless, the plates were promptly licked clean and we were left with satisfied stomachs and tingling taste buds.
Our place mats and plates were promptly cleared, leaving our little wooden table with just beer mats and ale glasses. We were back in the pub again, as if we had just imagined a journey through Thailand’s culinary delights.
An unlikely bedfellow, yes – but one I thoroughly recommend.
(Written for the Nottingham Post)