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Red Fox English Pub in Royal Oak

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About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating

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Red Fox English Pub in Royal Oak - Photo of Red Fox English Pub in Royal Oak

Red Fox English Pub in Royal Oak

Photo © Laura Sternberg, Licensed to About.com
The Red Fox is a new pub in downtown Royal Oak. While its second-story location can be a pro or a con depending on what you value in a restaurant, the dining area itself is open and airy. While it has some pub elements – long, wood bar; brick walls; wood-enhanced ceiling – the décor is more modern than would usually be expected of a British pub. The “pub,” however, can be found in the restaurant's menu, which includes several nicely done British favorites. While not every dish is stellar, enough are to make this an area favorite.

Atmosphere

The Red Fox English Pub is located in downtown Royal Oak above Cantina Diablo (or what was formerly Memphis Smoke). To gain entrance, you either have to walk through Cantina Diablo or walk around the corner of the building toward its parking lot entrance. The restaurant is located at the top of a long, dark flight of stairs, but once you turn the corner into the dining area, things lighten up quite a bit. In fact, the space is really quite lofty and doesn't exactly scream “pub.” While there is the requisite bar, wood floors, brick walls and scattered British flags, the rest of the décor is simple, airy and uncluttered. There is also a wall of windows overlooking a nicely outfitted patio area.

The outside dining area is easily as big as the main dining room and filled with tables, cushioned couches and even a fire pit. Even so, there is no shade at lunchtime, so, while open for lunch, the restaurants roof-top patio will prove more popular later in the evening.

Menu

Red Fox aims for authentic pub food and has such favorites as warm pretzels, proper chips (British fries), roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, fish & chips, Shepherd's pie and bangers & mash. It also has a special, roasted meat-of-the-day menu. For instance, perch was the theme for our Friday visit and included several dishes containing the slow-roasted fish. The pub also has an extensive beer menu.

Appetizers

The French Onion Dumplings were served in a custom dish that cradled each dumpling and allowed for the Gruyere cheese to be broiled on top. You could locate the dumpling under the cheese by virtue of a tooth-pick attached crouton. As might be expected, the Gruyere served as a nice complement to the sweetness of the sauteed onions that filled each dumpling. All in all, the dish had all the best elements of French Onion soup without the pesky broth.

The Crispy Chicken Fingers were served in a nice-sized portion and were juicy and tender. The chicken strips ranged in size from nice chunks of chicken breast to long, thin twirled pieces, all of which were covered in a home-style crunchy breading and nicely seasoned. They were served with both ranch and honey-mustard sauces.

Entree

The Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding – a house specialty -- was served with your choice of potato, Yorkshire pudding and grilled brussel sprouts. The roast beef itself was served in thick slices that were so tender and moist that it tasted like Prime Rib. Rather than au jus, however, the roast beef was served with a beef gravy, the thickness of which contrasted nicely with the tender meat.

The Proper Chips (British fries) were cut in short rectangles, but had a nice, crispy outer covering. Of course, they were also served piping hot. Considering they're offered as a selection on the appetizer menu, the chips weren't anything particularly special, although vinegar was on the table in keeping with British tradition.

The Yorkshire pudding was, unfortunately, served luke warm, which didn't help a version that seemed to be made up mostly of scrambled eggs. While the Yorkshire pudding was a little disappointing, the grilled brussel sprouts were a nice surprise. While not many people's first choice of vegetable, they were very tasty and a nice complement to the rest of the meal. The brussel sprouts were coated with balsamic dressing, the blackening of which gave the coating a subtle sweetness. The brussel sprouts also managed to remain crisp rather than get bitter or mushy with cooking.

Service

While the waiter was friendly enough, he could have been more attentive.

Tips and Tidbits

  • Parking available at rear of restaurant
  • No children's menu, but chicken fingers on appetizer menu will feed two
  • Modern, airy, and uncrowded
  • British fare, including roast beef and fish & chips
  • Access requires climbing a very long flight of stairs, although elevator is available

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