After last week's trip to Southwick to sample The Golden Lion, it seemed like the right thing to do to return and pay a visit to The Red Lion, thus completing our Southwick scouting. I was once again joined by my brother Tom, with Dad expected back next week.
This is just the sort of pub you'd expect to find when you travel out to the sticks. There's lots of wood and history, but dare I say it feels a bit tired? We ordered drinks and made for the quieter end of the pub, all the better to discuss our thoughts. The menu is a good size, not in the literal sense of course, and is supplemented by a few dishes on a specials board. Our first thoughts were that the menu was a little uninspiring. Very little jumped out and begged us to eat it. When some of the prices were revealed I felt myself withdrawing in to my shell like a confused snail, wanting to eat the leaf, but finding it hard to comprehend the price of said leaf. For example, chicken breast with leeks and new potatoes in a cream sauce, £13.95. There was also a duck breast on offer for nearly £16, as well as a vegetable casserole with halloumi and a cheese soufflé, both coming in around £12 - £13. There was though the curious anomaly of the sausage and mash which was priced in the Goldilocks zone at just over £10. Starters were on average £6, whilst sandwiches were between £6 and £7.
I did briefly think, to hell and damnation with the cost, I want to see what the food is like, but to be honest, nothing really tickled me. Not to be outdone, I regrouped and came at it from another angle. Perhaps I could order two starters, I liked the sound of that, but then that worked out at £12 too. Perhaps a starter with some chips then? I'm always interested to see how good peoples chips are. We then discovered that a side of chips is "£3.50, I just couldn't do it. My final attempt to find some value was a starter of chicken liver pate with a side of crusty bread, two things I like very much. This came in at £8 while Tom's ploughman's was about the same.
The food took about as long as you'd expect it to take to rustle up two meals that don't need cooking, and they were placed before us by a very friendly waitress. At first glance everything looked Rosie. I had a whole jar of pate all to myself, making me glad I had ordered the crusty bread too. I also had a small dish of delicious chutney and two slices of toasted brioche. This is where I feel the need to make several points. Firstly I don't like brioche with pate, I prefer bread, or it's toasted cousin called, toast. Secondly, (Here comes another of my big bugbears), when pubs and restaurants sell pate, does no one think about the bread to pate ratio? As stated, I had a jar of pate and two small slices of brioche. If I'd stacked the pate on two inches thick, it still wouldn't have touched the sides. I slathered that pate as though my life depended on it, getting through the brioche and the small baguette I had ordered separately and still didn't quite get through it all. Speaking of the crusty bread I ordered, something wasn't quite right there. The outside was of an odd and inconsistent texture. The whole thing was very hot, yet some parts were soft and leathery, I did wonder if a microwave may have been involved. I also thought the pate itself was a bit bland.
Tom's ploughman's was as a ploughman's should be. It featured pickled onion, ham, cheese, chutney and the same curious bread as I had been blessed with.
To be honest the whole experience confused me slightly. My continued bamboozlement at incomprehensible pricing sends my mind in to a spin. This is a nice enough pub, and the people seem very nice indeed. The menu sounds okay without getting you excited, and the food that I had probably didn't show them in the best light. Our advice would be, go and try it out for yourself, go for the sausage and mash, it's priced just right.