We’ve been house-hunting in and around Bury St Edmunds and a fair few people have recommended checking out the little villages surrounding this Suffolk market town. Of course, my idea of checking out a new place has to involve food, so a pitstop for lunch in Thurston en route back to my mum’s in Essex was mooted.
Here, we found The Fox & Hounds: a freehouse near Thurston’s train station that, rumour has it, was originally built in the mid-1800s to cater for labourers building the station and railway line. A frequent CAMRA award winner, it’s a dog and family-friendly pub that offers homecooked food, a regularly-changing selection of beers, a sports bar area with a TV screen and dartboard, quiz and bingo nights, and occasional live music.
It also offers a warm welcome, and on stating that we were planning on moving nearby, the lady behind the bar was enthusiastic about giving us information about the local area, which softened the blow of the information that food orders would take a while as they were so busy.
And busy it was, with guests ranging from an elderly lady dining alone at the table next to us to a large group of people who appeared to have booked for a celebration. There were further tables dining outside to make the most of the sunny weather – a packed pub is always a good sign!
It gave us the chance to take a look at the local beers on offer (from Woodforde’s, Greene King, Adnams, Green Jack and others), and to devise a game for the small child which involved asking him to find certain pump clips amongst the hundreds displayed on the walls of the pub.
We managed to grab a table in a corner in the main room and were told someone would come over to take our food order. In all fairness, I’d already looked at the menu before I decided on the location and thought the wide variety of traditional pub grub – along with additions like steaks from local butcher Hubbard’s and regularly changing curries – would give us plenty of choice.
“Portions are generous!” proclaims The Fox & Hound’s website. They aren’t wrong – and their pricing is incredible, too.
At just £12, the beer-battered cod, chips and peas was brilliant value for money: the perfectly battered and enormous fillet of fish was sprinkled with salt and sat on top of an equally huge mound of chunky, golden chips. It was such a big portion, in fact, that a good handful of chips needed to be abandoned. I tried a few of them and I’d happily head back here for those alone.
The child and I shared the Nachos Supreme (£13)…and supreme it was. A giant bowl of crispy corn tortilla chips was topped with a generous serving of mildly-spiced chilli con carne and melted mixed cheeses, with huge metal pots of sour cream, salsa and chunky guacamole served separately. Normally when I order nachos, all the toppings are already piled on top – I thought it was better this way, as it prevented the tortilla chips from getting quite so soggy and also meant I could dip the dry tortilla chips towards the bottom of the bowl directly into the pots.
Between the two of us, we couldn’t finish mine either – if you have a hearty appetite and find yourself in Thurston, The Fox & Hounds is clearly the place to go. It’s a place that feels like a real community hub, and despite being “foreigners” we were made to feel so welcome. With great beer, great food and a lovely atmosphere, I’ve got a funny feeling we’ll be back once we’ve found somewhere to live…