The Hare and Hounds, Fulbeck
I don’t live far from the Hare and Hounds and over the years have seen it evolve from quite a dark and tired village pub to the thriving gastro inn and restaurant of today.
Under the ownership of Paul and Lorraine Willoughby the Hare and Hounds is a destination of choice for many. The pub faces the village green of the charming Cliff Village of Fulbeck; it is a picture postcard country inn.
We visited on a warm summer’s evening and people were already enjoying a pint or supper at the umbrella shaded outside tables. We headed towards the bar and the table we had booked in the restaurant. The interior walls of the old layout have been removed to make a light and airy, Farrow and Ball inspired, coir carpeted country interior. To the left of the bar is a less formal dining area, while to the right the restaurant is a more tranquil setting.
Agreeing on the definition of what it means to be a pub or a restaurant these days is never easy. The Hare and Hounds blends styles perfectly by offering a choice of locations with slightly differing ambiences. Menus offer dishes suitable for lunch or a light bite (soup, sandwiches and pub classics) right through to evening dinner and special occasions.
We had our drink at the bar and looked over the evening menu, a specials menu and the blackboard’s choice of pies. I chose a starter of crispy breaded whitebait with garlic mayonnaise, followed by pan-fried fillet of salmon served with crushed new potatoes with sundried tomatoes, fennel, crayfish and herb salad and lemon oil. Louise, my dining companion for the evening chose a warm goat’s cheese, walnut and fig tartlet served with mixed leaves and sundried tomato salad to start, followed by the pie of the day which was steak, Guinness and mushroom served with chips and a selection of seasonal vegetables.
My whitebait were meaty and generous; the delicious salmon perfectly complemented by the crayfish salad (a mini meal in itself) and plenty of flavour and satisfaction in the crushed potatoes. I really enjoyed both of these dishes. The same was true for Louise’s enjoyment of her starter with a slightly sweet dressing on the leaves; crunch, soft pastry and goatiness to the tart. She really approved of the meaty richness of the pie as well as a perfectly judged pastry-to-filling ratio. What were the other dishes we will have to go back for? Well, for me spiced lamb samosas with yoghurt, mint and cucumber dip to start and to follow seared tuna steak with Niçoise salad and poached egg. For Louise it would have to be Thai spiced crab cake to begin with and then a main course of chargrilled flat iron steak with garlic butter, frites and salad.
There is plenty of choice and something for everyone on these menus and children are always welcome, whether they eat in the bar or restaurant. Sunday lunches are a particular favourite with families but it’s best to book ahead.
The very friendly and efficient staff had given us chance to have a breather and do some more chatting but the serious business of desserts could be put off no longer. I chose lemon tart served with raspberry sorbet, while Louise tucked into a warm chocolate brownie with a scoop of pistachio ice cream. We both agreed they were excellent puddings and a cracking finale to our meal. The quality of the ingredients, cooking and presentation had shone through every course.
The Willoughby’s have had justly deserved success and awards for both the Hare and Hounds and their other establishment, The Brownlow Arms at Hough on the Hill. Long may this continue in recognition of their flair and professionalism, restoring a vibrant village inn to the centre of a county community.