Pristine mosaic tiling and etched glass scream ‘sensitive refurbishment’ from the moment you arrive at this stalwart. Inside, the dark wood bar is lined with pewter tankards (don’t expect to be given one if you want to drink outside); to the back is the Fox’s Den, a series of intimate booths used for both drinking and dining.
Local sourcing is a priority and a pleasure here: in addition to the pub’s own-label ale, the cask beers might include offerings from Suffolk’s Nethergate brewery or Purity’s Mad Goose from Warwickshire.
The bar food is outstanding, uncomplicated British cuisine rendered in perfect and generous portions; the bar snacks range from pork scratchings, pickled eggs and cockles to generous mains (roasts, pies, burgers, accompanied by excellent chips cooked in goose fat).
Even if you don’t stay overnight in the seductively masculine bedrooms upstairs, you can always drop by for one of their huge breakfasts, accompanied by various hair-of-the-dog libations. In fact, only the excruciating slogan – ‘Hops and chops, cuvées and duvets’ – strikes a false note at this Smithfield treasure.