You probably know The Sly Fox as the little piece of London nestled in Southern Pines, but we sat down with chef Bill Dill and general manager Ian Drake for a little Q&A on the ins and outs of running a gastropub. What did we learn? Well, Ian has a super cool British accent and chef Bill is the meat cutting and barbecuing master. But don’t worry, there’s more.
Q: We’ll start with a little background. How did you both end up in your current roles. Specifically you, Ian? I’m assuming you’re not from ’round these parts.
I: I worked for a British embassy in Washington, D.C. actually. Met my wife there and we were married a year later. My post ran up at the embassy and they wanted me to go back to England but I didn’t want to go, so I took retirement and moved here with her. She’s a North Carolina Native. I met Mark while eating at Elliott’s and The Sly Fox had only been open for about 6 months. I started out as a bartender and just worked my way up.
CB: I moved here to follow golf at the end of ’98 and worked at the resort. I got tired of the corporate life, so I took a job at The Pine Crest Inn and worked my way up to executive chef, which is how I got the job here.
I: And he’s the barbecue master.
Q: So how much does The Sly Fox resemble a pub in England. You know, besides the telephone booth in front of the restaurant.
I: Oh, it’s very authentic. Even the way it’s laid out, you see? It has a dining room and then a room with more comfortable chairs where people can eat. If this place was in London, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
Q: So, Chef Bill — how did you learn to make those traditional English dishes as an American and make them as authentic as possible?
CB: It’s just home cookin’. The shepherds pie, the bangers and mash. It’s all home cookin’ at the end of the day, which is where I got my start when I worked with a small catering business out of New Bern. We also follow a very traditional recipe.
I: We don’t put our own spin on it or anything. The English dishes you find here is basically what you get in London.
Q: Do you have the stamp of approval of people who come in from Britain?
I: Oh, absolutely. We have a big English community here and they come in often. But also, the Americans who have lived in or traveled to Britain say our food tastes very authentic.
Q: So Elliott’s on Linden is really big on the farm to table concept. How does the Sly Fox follow that concept?
CB: It helps in the development of our menu because when we’re creating our menu, we look to see what farms are close to us. We also like to support local farms.
I: And the produce is fresher.
CB: And it lasts longer.
Q: Can you tell me how The Sly Fox got its name?
*Ian and Bill exchange glances*
I: You’ll probably have to ask Mark about that one honestly.
Q: Alright, well I’ve asked all of my questions, but is there anything either of you would like to add that I didn’t cover?
I: What about beer?
Ah, yes. The important things. Do you have a lot of British beers on tap?
I: Oh yes, we’ve got a huge selection of English beers but also a big selection of European beers.
Q: What’s your favorite British beer?
I: Definitely Fuller’s London Pride and Old Speckled Hen. I grew up pretty close to the Fuller brewery in London.
CB: I’m more of an IPA man.
Noted, good sir.