WETHERSPOONS made national headlines when it slapped a ban on dogs entering its pubs.

In a company statement, that some felt screamed of "doggy discrimination", it was argued that even well-behaved canines can act unpredictably – a sentiment that could quite easily be applied to two-legged patrons of our nation’s alcoholic hostelries any day of the week.

As the owners of a St Bernard, we have often shivered outside cafes on benches, while scoffing our rapidly-cooling bacon sandwiches, due to a “no-dogs inside” policy.

When you find an inviting place to eat that welcomes man’s best friend through the front doors, therefore, it is a treat that many owners feel obliged to share together.

The Fox and Rabbit Inn, just off the A169 Whitby to Pickering road, is happy to admit hounds and mongrels of all sizes, including our 65kg pooch, although we did find that taking Coco on a three-and-a-half mile walk beforehand in Dalby Forest, which lies just a five-minute drive away, helped her exhibit standards of behaviour that might have even persuaded Wetherspoons to relax their stance.

We visited on a Sunday afternoon were seated in the bar area – there was a separate dog-free restaurant section complete with comfortable sofas, open fires and views of the North York Moors – but we felt just as cosy in a traditional country pub setting, with enough room for our giant breed to stretch out beside our throne-sized chairs and big wooden table, complete with canine-themed place mats.

Almost every other group of diners in our vicinity also had a tail-wagging companion, leading to relaxed chatter between the tables.

Having been welcomed by the friendly bar staff initially, we ordered our drinks from a choice of six white wines, two rose and five red, while there was also a good selection of real ales on offer.

There were six starters, meanwhile, on the menu and I really enjoyed my Baked Flat Mushrooms with Crispy Bacon, Red Onion and Cheddar.

The two mushrooms were big and juicy and completely covered with a melted cheese of good strength with the well-cooked onion and bacon mixed in and topped off nicely with a garnish of chives.

An accompanying salad, meanwhile, was fresh and doused with a tasty dressing.

My wife Nikki opted for Classic Prawn Cocktail with Wholemeal Bread and her portion could have comfortably been shared by two people.

The prawns were a good size, the sauce an ideal consistency and the bread warm.

There was also lots of lettuce, although Nikki felt she might have preferred Iceberg, rather than the standard kind.

For main course, I decided on Roast Loin of Pork with Roast Potatoes, Stuffing, Apple Sauce and Yorkshire Pudding.

My two slices of meat were thick, with no stringy dryness, but a nice slither of crackling.

Both the potatoes and Yorkshire Puddings, meanwhile, were cooked flawlessly, just starting to blacken in parts on the outside, without being overcooked.

You could also taste the pieces of apple in the sauce – it wasn’t just a bottled puree – while the stuffing was not quite of the same standard as the rest of the food but was of a generous size.

My other half went for turkey and was equally pleased with its tenderness, while the veg was served to share and was plentiful, including lots of nicely-flavoured red cabbage, as well as carrots and courgettes, which were neither pulpy or too hard.

There was still gravy left on our plates at the end too and it carried a nice, subtle richness.

Other roasts offered were beef and lamb, as well as two fish mains and a couple of vegetable options.

Dessert then left both of us spoilt for choice, but I eventually went for Sticky Toffee Pudding with Toffee Sauce and Vanilla Ice Cream.

There was again just the right level of crispness on the outside of the sponge, with a good amount of tasty toffee sauce and a decent scoop of good quality ice cream.

Nikki had the Chocolate Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream, which was deliciously gooey on the inside, having been taken out of the oven again just before it started burning on the outside, whilst a berry compote perfectly complemented the brownie’s richness.

Other puddings available were Eton Mess, Cheesecake, Crème Brulee and seven different flavours of ice cream.

There was also an under-10s' menu, which our daughter ordered from and cost £9.50 for two courses.

She chose Roast Pork, like me, with beef, turkey, scampi and penne pasta the other alternatives.

The portion size was more than appropriate for the advertised age and the Eton Mess she picked for dessert would definitely have satisfied an adult’s appetite.

Accordingly, I sampled some and it was excellent with loads of cream, perfect-sized broken meringue pieces and well-proportioned measures of juicy fruit.

In total, our final bill was £73.40 for two adult three-course dinners, a two-course children’s menu, a couple of glasses of wine and a J20.


The Fox and Rabbit Inn, Whitby Road, Lockton, YO18 7NQ

T: 01751 460213

W: foxandrabbit.co.uk

Ratings (out of ten): Food quality 8, Service 8, Surroundings 8, Value 8