ASK any member of staff at The Ginger Fox restaurant in Albourne a question about the food or wine on offer and you’re guaranteed a knowledgeable reply.
And that’s down to the fact that all staff take part in monthly ‘tasting sessions’ so they can speak from personal experience when questioned by a customer.
The thatched-roof restaurant, complete with sculpted fox on its roof, is off Muddleswood Road and is in fact one of four in the Brighton area owned by Ben and Pamela McKellar.
Each restaurant aims to provide good quality simple, seasonal dishes with as many ingredients as possible sourced locally. And while every restaurant is based on the same ethos, each chef designs their own menu and puts their own slant on the food. And at The Ginger Fox, Spanish-born chef Caye Nunez does it with style.
Apart from a daily ‘specials’ board, there is a mouth-watering array of starters, mains and desserts. As we surveyed the menu, we were brought an inviting basket of freshly-baked bread to whet our appetite.
For my starter, I chose Hot Smoked Salmon which was served on blinis topped with chive creme fraiche and salmon roe - a delicious combination with the roe providing a delightful pop-in-the-mouth citrus-like surprise to the tastebuds.
My two colleagues both opted for Pan Fried Scallops, served with white onion puree, black pudding and crispy shallots. “Not the biggest scallops I’ve ever had,” said one, “but definitely some of the best.”
Among the other starters we could have gone for - which ranged in price from £5.50 to £8 (for the scallops) were Crispy Lamb Sweetbreads served with kohl rabi, carrot and pomegranate salad and cob nut dukkah - an Egyptian dish of nuts, herbs and spices. Another intriguing-sounding starter was a salad of fig, chicory, walnut and perl las - a type of Welsh cheese.
For the main course, both I and one of my colleagues opted for Pan Fried Fillet of Wild Seabass which was served with purple sprouting broccoli, cauliflower puree and beurre noisette, (£18.50). It was cooked to perfection.
My other colleague had no hesitation in ordering a Char Grilled Redlands Farm Sirloin Steak (£18.50) which was served rare, as requested, with dripping chips, savoy cabbage, Isle of Mull butter and onion marmalade. Not content with the delicious butter and marmalade, he requested mustard and mayonnaise as well - which, of course, was promptly delivered!
For pudding, he opted for the fruit crumble and custard from the ‘specials’ board - and pronounced it delicious. But I’m sure my pudding topped it! It was one of the best I’ve had in a long time: Steamed Lemon Curd Pudding served with vanilla custard. The pudding was light and airy topped with lovely tangy lemon and almost-crunchy lemon rinds. The custard was nothing short of fantastic - a tasty, light ‘foam’. And, as a bonus, the menu stated that £1 of the cost of the £6.50 lemon pud would be donated to The Rocking Horse Appeal. Great food, as well as the feelgood factor.
My other colleague opted to finish with the Quince Bakewell Tart with clotted cream (£5.50) - and he confessed it was the clotted cream which clinched it for him, admitting that whenever he had a tub of it at home in the fridge, he always finished it off - then blamed the kids for scoffing the lot!
Other delicious-sounding desserts included doughnuts served with a spiced blackberry compote and natural yoghurt (£6.50) and Chocolate Delice with poached pear and spice sable biscuits, also £6.50, or homemade truffles at £1 each.
If you prefer a savoury finish, the restaurant offers a selection of British cheeses (£7) or Welsh Rarebit with Sussex ale at £5.50.
Although the Ginger Fox, from the outside, looks like a period county cottage - complete with fox on the roof - it is, in fact, a former petrol station. And, if you’re wondering about the name ... owner Ben McKellar has ginger hair. His other restaurants are: The Gingerman in Norfolk Square, Brighton; The Ginger Pig, in Hove Street, Hove, and The Ginger Dog in College Place, Brighton.
And, if they’re anything like The Ginger Fox - they’re all worth a visit.