The finest food should tell a story. It could be the journey it has taken to get to your plate or the skill involved in preparing it.

This tale begins underneath a mango tree in the Caribbean and brings us to The Fox in Newfound.

Buddy Headley's formative years were spent on the beaches of Barbados and he has bought a flavour of that paradise with him to the Hampshire hamlet.

He explains: "I used to surf, my dad was a fisherman and I was on the beach all day. We had a small farm, so I grew up around fresh produce, with my grandmother and mother cooking traditionally.

"Going around the island surfing I had to be self-sufficient, so I started cooking like that. We would meet under the mango tree and cook and drink rum.

"We'd catch the fish, get the fresh herbs from the garden — parsley, thyme — and season it and then we would make stone ovens outside and cook it. There was lots of rice and coconut cream and traditional things liked curried chicken and mutton."

He moved to the UK and set up a Caribbean catering business that took him all over the country. Then he met Kate Giles, a former Metro­politan Police officer, and the pair decided to open their first pub.

It was a natural choice to position Caribbean food as the unique selling point at the pub, a Fuller's tenancy.

Buddy describes the food as fusion, with inspiration coming from various islands.

"There are elements from Barbados — mussels with Mount Gay rum. We use a lot of rum here," he smiles as he describes the menu. "There's Cuban tuna and the most popular is the Jamaican jerk chicken and the curried mutton and goat."

Something for everyone

These specialities sit alongside traditional British meals on a menu designed to cater for all. Often those who come in for lamb shank or fish and chips are tempted by the more exotic offerings.

"I thought if people were not familiar it might put some off. That's why we have the traditional British dishes too like sausage and mash. Often the older people come in for the traditional food and go for the Caribbean food anyway," he says.

The prices of the English and Caribbean dishes are similar but it is the Caribbean ones that return a better profit.

The pub also has a healthy rum revenue stream and the couple are working on introducing cocktail nights.

While Buddy creates the menu — inspired and re­-imagined every time he returns from a trip to Barbados — he has trained a team of chefs to replicate his dishes. This allows him and Kate to keep in close contact with their customers and they are always working on new ideas.

This can be seen throughout with promotional materials in the pub highlighting a Thai takeover night coming up on a Monday. A similar Eastern European event provided by an external caterer also keeps people coming through the doors.

Buddy says: "We do a Caribbean buffet as well. It brings people to the pub on quiet nights and our drink sales go through the roof. We get people in the pub we have not seen before. They look at our menu and then they come back."

 

Keeping things fresh

And there are always reasons to return, as Kate explains: "You need to keep refreshing all of the time. Every year we have done something different, from the basic things like replacing the garden tables. This year we are getting the barbecue going."

This fits with the Caribbean theme, with street food such as smoked chicken, fish, and a Cuban hog roast to be available from a covered and decked area decorated in bright Caribbean colours this summer.

It complements a spacious garden, which has proved popular with families, who regularly bring children to the after-school Fox Club at £1 per head.

That branding is important and Kate, wearing a Fox jumper when we meet, points to cuddly foxes positioned around the pub and explains that she pens "Fox Tales", stories from the pub, for a local magazine.

It has ensured the pub has gained a reputation as a welcoming local, something Buddy and Kate take huge pride in, but they are also attracting more and more guests from further afield to the only Caribbean pub for miles around.

 

On the menu...

Sweet potato and salmon fishcakes, sweet chilli sauce and garnish £5.95

Jamaican akee and saltfish, dumpling disc £5.95

Buddy's jerk chicken, coconut rice, plantain, salad, coleslaw £9.75

Caribbean curried mutton, coleslaw, rice and peas, plantain garnish £9.75

Barbados mussels, Mount Gay creamy sauce, skinny fries £6.25/£11.95

Blackened tuna, pineapple, sweet potato, sautéed savoy, sweet pepper sauce £10.92