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Luxury with a Capital, Diamond-Studded ‘L’ and Zero Stuffiness

Palm trees dance across the wallpaper in The Fox's grand, terrace dining room, a verdant green and white colour palette of velvet chairs and tiled tables, mirroring the lush, 400 acres of green country estate that we overlook through stately, open doors.

It’s the sort of place which makes you want to instantly redecorate you home, before remembering that you live in a semi in the London 'burbs and not a grand, 19th Century manor house at one of the UK’s most exclusive hotel and country clubs, Foxhills.

This is luxury, with a capital, diamond-studded “L,” yet remarkably, this double AA Rosette winning restaurant doesn’t have a whiff of stuffiness. This is fortunate, because we are dining with our two children, and one of them is currently eating the salted and chilli butters with his fingers. We opt for slathering it on the assortment of steaming, freshly baked rosemary focaccias and tomato ciabattas, instead.

I begin the meal with the tempura cod cheeks, which are the perfect combination of light and sticky with a meaty succulence. They frame a charred gem lettuce, artfully drizzled in a tangy, citrusy hit of yuzu sauce and umami-rich, squid ink mayonnaise.

My husband opts for the moreish, stout glazed oyster mushroom, on a walnut rye loaf and onion puree, topped with lovage and delicate, silky white mushrooms.

Meanwhile, the children are thrilled that the bread rolls - accompanying their creamy, tomato and basil soup starters - arrive on tiny wooden stools, and immediately give the rolls names and daft voices, while polishing off every soup drop.

The scent of lavender hangs in the breeze from the garden, beckoning the children out to the lawn between courses to play with the croquet set - or rather, clumsily bash balls with mallets. I begin to feel like a character from a dreamy, Evelyn Waugh novel, until my son brings me back to Earth with a demand to visit the bathroom.

If there is truffle on the menu, I will sniff it out like the pig I am, so I have the truffle gnocchi main course. Unlike the usual, boiled or baked gnocchi, these light and bouncy bites have been gently fried and accompanied with a rich, truffle and madeira cream, topped with toasted hazelnuts and surrounded by a mix of textures and clever flavour combinations, from crunchy shards of cheese to silky confit of beetroot and kale.

My partner has the confit pork belly, a juicy, salty slice of meaty heaven, paired with crispy pig cheek, with crushed swede and an apple caramel sauce that I could eat with a ladle.

I don't expect a huge amount of eating from the children, following the butter, bread and soups, but alarmingly, they both devour most of their spaghetti bolognese mains.

We wash these down with a beautiful bottle of earthy, fruity and medium bodied Wairau River Pinot Noir from New Zealand.

Devastatingly, we don't have space for our own desserts. But our children do, and they inhale just enough of their warm chocolate brownies and white chocolate ice cream to allow us a few, delicious spoonfuls.

Thanking the friendly, but unobtrusive staff, we waddle out, admiring the other two dining rooms and the grand mural, depicting exotic camels, elephants and men on horseback.

Foxhills was once owned by 18th Century politician Charles James Fox, who famously survived being shot during a Hyde Park duel thanks to his “ample belly.” And if I had the fortune to dine here each night, I’m confident my tum would be equally resilient in a duel.

The Fox Dining Rooms, Foxhills Club & Resort, Stonehill Rd, Chertsey, KT16 0EL

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