Saturday, 23 April 2016

THE RED LION - Chalton





12/10/19

Today, Father and I took a ride out to The Red Lion. It had been a while, and it wasn't far from our starting point, so we thought we would don our gastrohub caps and take a closer look.

This is a classic country pub, and it feels as much when you step inside. A little on the dark side, but warm and welcoming. We were served drinks and menu's by a very happy and friendly lady behind the bar, which always gets things off to a good start. There is a separate bar and restaurant area, we chose to sit in the former, possibly because it was closer to the bar.

The menu here is good, if not mind blowing. There are a selection of lighter bites for £9, including smaller versions of some of the mains. An average main will cost you about £14 here, which is right on the boarder of Goldilocks Town. It's acceptable as long as the food is at the same level as the price.

We both went for pub classics. Me for fish and chips, and Dad for ham, egg and chips. The triple cooked chip has reached The Red Lion, and is available as an extra, but does come as standard with some meals. I went for the upgrade. There is a good feel to the pub, with music at a sensible background level. I would say that some of the tables are a little close together though. This is a particular pet irritation of mine, especially if you're eating.

The food arrived in good time, and looked good. Dad was happy with his choice. The ham was good, and the egg was an egg. He generally feels that ham, egg and chips could be shown a bit more love though. Perhaps replacing hen eggs with duck eggs, or a dollop of nice pickle. My fish was beautiful, and fresh as a magic daisy. The mushy peas were good, and the triple cooked chips were very nice, though not the best I've had in a pub.

Our experience at The Red Lion was all good. The service was sincere and friendly, the food was very good, and the pub itself is a thoroughly nice place to be. And, if the sun shows its face, there is a garden out back with plenty of seating.

Atmosphere          8
Service                 9
Food                    8
Value                   7
Verdict                 4*



OLDER REVIEW:

We'd both been to this pub many times, but not since we had started writing reviews. It's a traditional pub, surrounded by fields, trees and all manner of green things. Punters have been attracted here for many years due to its reputation as a good food pub. My first memories of coming here long, long ago, are exactly that, a lovely country pub selling really good food. So for those reasons and so many more, we thought it time to get something on record.

Upon arrival we were blessed with a window of sunshine. An important choice had to be made at this point. Inside or outside? We deemed it just warm enough to sit in the amply seated garden. As is often the case with old buildings, we find the inside can be a bit dark and dingy, especially when you know the sun is showing off outside. We checked out the specials board inside before retreating back to the light and warmth of the garden with our drinks and menu's. We found some of the pricing to be on a rather odd scale. Fish and chips is available at either £7 or £10, that's fair enough, but there were other meals which shouldn't really have cost any different which were up for £13.

It's probably only fair to point out that I was, and still am slightly ill. I didn't really fancy much that was on offer, so played it safe and went for fish and chips. Dad went for the steak pie, even though he had a bad feeling about it. We had a sip on our drinks, blinked twice, and as if by magic the food appeared. We both agreed it had arrived alarmingly quickly. We don't like it when food comes out as though summoned in to existence by a magical demon in the microwave. Good food should take a little time to prepare. Unfortunately our hunch was born out. On the whole the food wasn't great. It was also a bit of an enigma. They had gone to the trouble to make their own chips, that's good. But we are pretty sure they used frozen parsnips to hang out with Dad's pie. The batter on my fish was light and crisp, but the fish itself was watery and just a bit unpleasant to eat. Dad's pie wasn't really a pie either. It was a section of a large tray pie, school dinner style, which had been liberated from its pie brethren. Just to rub mustard in to our wounds, Dad's pie should have been accompanied by mustard mash. I hate to be the one to break this to you dear readers, but there was no sign of mustard in that mash. You can imagine how much that hurt, Dad's only just getting over it.

As you've probably gathered by now, we were a bit disappointed. Not only was the food less than we had hoped for, the prices were more than we had hoped for, if that makes sense. Perhaps we were just unlucky, but we feel that the standards here have dropped over the last few years. I don't know how many people beat a path to the door of this particular country pub, but I do wonder how many of them go home satisfied.

Atmosphere          5
Service                 6
Food                    5
Value                   5
Verdict                 3.5*

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