“ Address: 26 Bank Street / Inverness / IV11 1QU „
On a recent trip to Inverness, we were attending a concert as part of our visit and were meeting up with friends. As I had never been to Inverness previously, I had no idea about the pubs or restaurants there, but a friend of mine who had visited Inverness earlier this year suggested Johnny Foxes Pub Restaurant as a good meeting place. She informed us it was a nice pub with a good atmosphere, which also served meals and was easy to find on the banks of the River Ness. ~~Johnny Foxes ~~ Situated on Bank Street which runs along the banks of the River Ness, Johnny Foxes can't be missed when driving or walking across the central bridge over the river which is right opposite the pub. However, we were approaching the pub on foot, a ten minute walk from our guest house along Ness Walk, which is a lovely stroll along the banks of the river into the city centre and we still found it easily enough. If you follow the walk along the river, then you can't miss it. We visited Johnny Foxes twice during our stay in Inverness and on both occasions it was an enjoyable experience. The bar is partially hidden from the road as it is set down some steps from the pathway above, although the name is clearly visible from above. Adjoining Johnny Foxes is 'The Den' wine bar and club which also can be accessed from inside Johnny Foxes bar area. ~~ Who is Johnny Fox? ~~ I do enjoy finding out where pubs got their name from and I was interested to discover the story behind Johnny Foxes. Johnny Fox was a notorious poacher who lived in the hills of County Wicklow above Dublin with his wife and 11 children. Johnny's skills at poaching were matched by his wife's cooking skills, which were said to be the envy of many, with fresh Salmon and Trout, as well as Venison, Pheasant and Grouse with batches of home-baked Soda Bread, washed down with poteen or stout at many of the feasts they held. An evening at Johnny Foxes was not complete without a Ceilidh as he loved to entertain, either by playing his fiddle or telling poaching tales but sadly, one night whilst out poaching, Johnny's reign of fun and freedom came to an abrupt end when he was caught by the gamekeeper and sent to jail, where with the help of friends, he feigned his own death whilst awaiting trial. Indeed his wake was the last Ceilidh of Johnny Foxes to be held in Ireland. As the tears rolled down the faces of the mourners, they turned to tears of joy when up popped Johnny's head above the coffin, a smile on his face and the words on his lips..."Pass me my jug and my fiddle for I'll be a thirst for a Guinness". Johnny and his family then fled Ireland and took up residence on the banks of the river in Inverness, where he caught many a fine Salmon. ~~ My visits to Johnny Foxes ~~ Our first visit was on a mild July evening and as we walked down the steps to the bar, I noticed some picnic-style tables and benches along the patio area outside the entrance, which is where we decided to sit after buying a drink inside. Although it was a mild evening, there were also some overhead heaters which were turned on and which kept the outside area a pleasant place to sit late into the evening when it got a little chilly. Although the inside of the pub restaurant was really nice and cosy, we decided to sit outside purely because with our weather being the way it is, the chance to do this doesn't come along very often! We spent a pleasant evening sat outside, enjoying chatting to friends with a couple of drinks. Although the pub became quite busy as it was a Friday evening, there wasn't any rowdy groups and the atmosphere was friendly and welcoming at all times. The drink prices were a little higher than we usually pay, with a small glass of white wine costing £4.40 and a pint of beer (Belhaven Best) was over £3, but the service was good and the staff very friendly and welcoming. A large range of drinks are available with the usual shorts, an extensive wine list and a range of bottled and draught lagers and beers, with one of Scotland's champion beers: Black Isle Yellowhammer, served here at £3.40 per pint. As well as the alcoholic drinks, there are plenty of soft drinks and a good range of coffees and cupcakes. The following day we visited Johnny Foxes again around lunchtime for something to eat prior to meeting up again with friends a little later to attend the concert. Being a Saturday lunchtime it was quite busy, just as you would expect given its location which is only a minute's walk from the busy shops and so there were a mixture of folk out for a drink or lunch and shoppers stopping off for a drink or a bite to eat. There were no tables available outside the pub and inside seemed just as busy, although we were lucky as just as we walked in, some people were leaving from a cosy window booth and so we got a table right away. The inside of Johnny Foxes is spacious, yet cosy, with stone floors and wooden tables as well as window booths and large barrels scattered around to use as tables to stand your drinks upon. Large arched wooden church-style doors and wooden arches across the bar which stands in the centre, all makes for a very warm old fashioned and slightly gothic feel. An old cooking range and fire place stands out on one wall and overall I really liked the interior of Johnny Foxes. There were also plenty of toilets and they were spotlessly clean. There are both lunch and dinner menus at Johnny Foxes and we opted for sandwiches from the lunch menu. I chose a honey roast ham & truckle cheddar panini which was £4.95 and added chips which cost a further £1.95. My partner chose North Atlantic prawns in marie rose sauce on bloomer bread which cost £5.25 and also added chips. The sandwiches were nice and filling and the portions of chips were generous, although this is slightly more than we would usually pay on average for a sandwich with chips. The dinner menu was quite varied and extensive and some dishes appeared a little more expensive than what I consider to be average prices for pub grub, but there were also some which seemed quite reasonable, such as oven baked lasagne served with garlic bread and salad for just £6.95. We didn't wait long for our meals and cannot fault the service or food quality, so overall there was nothing to complain about and judging by the amount of customers, Johnny Foxes seems to be a very popular place to visit. The bar staff were very welcoming and chatted to us whilst serving drinks which I appreciated and it all added to the friendly atmosphere. Later on when our friends arrived, we bagged a couple of the outside tables again and enjoyed a couple of drinks in the sunshine before the sky began to darken in preparation for what became the drenching of my life later that evening at the concert, which was held outdoors at the neaby Northern Meeting Park! It was only the fact we were soaked to the skin by the end of concert that prevented us from making a further return to Johnny Foxes, as the intention had been to meet up there again after the concert. However we were all looking like drowned rats at this point and everyone instead returned to their hotels and guest houses to dry off. If you find yourself in Inverness then I can highly recommend a visit to Johnny Foxes. Its interior is cosy and welcoming and the friendly service we received means that if we return again to Inverness, I won't hesitate to visit again. Some of the prices may be a little higher than average but the atmosphere and service more than make up for this, so Johnny Foxes still gets top marks from me.