The Red Lion at East Chisenbury is probably our favourite pub in the world. We have been coming here from time to time for six years (see Red Lion 2015) and, so far, it has never let us down. It is has a well-deserved Michelin star earned through the fabulous cooking of Guy & Brittany Manning. Today, after a good walk across the Pewsey Downs, we are here for lunch.
The Red Lion always has good guest beers and today I try a pint of Heel Stone from Stonehenge Ales. It is a deep amber bitter with some fruity notes – very nice indeed. Rock has a Wild Elderflower Bubbly by Luscombe which she really likes because it is naturally flavoured and nowhere near as sweet as many fizzy bottled drinks.
Rock decides against having a starter but only because she wants to ensure she has plenty of room for one of Brittany’s desserts. I do not have the same level of self control and order the risotto of Cornish crab with fennel & lemon zest. When it arrives the rice is just a touch overcooked but the flavours are fantastic and I am really enjoying it.
We both decide to have main courses from the set lunch menu. I have the roast lamb neck with braised lentils, gem lettuce & jack by the hedge salsa verde. When it arrives it looks a bit like something that has been dragged out of a pond but it tastes much better than it looks – though the whole dish does have something of a ‘muddy’ feel to it. Rock is having the pan-fried Loch Duart salmon with olive oil mash, Provencal tomato & gremolata. The salmon is slightly overcooked and the dish as a whole is not terribly exciting. There is nothing very wrong with either dish but neither has the quality that we have come to expect from Guy.
Still, we know the desserts here can be extraordinary. Rock has the gorgeous sounding garden rhubarb sorbet with meringue, almond and strawberries. Rock is finding it very difficult to eat – it is all presented in a small bowl and the hard meringue is difficult to break without tipping the sorbet and strawberries out of the bowl. She gives some constructive feedback! My Alfonso mango & vanilla millefeuille with lime sorbet is presented more effectively but it is still not particularly special. After Rock’s feedback – we are given coffee on the house.
(Postscript: we have spent many years writing rave reviews about the Red Lion on Facebook, Twitter and WordPress. We have been here over 20 times and this has been the first time it has fallen well short of our expectations. There was nothing fundamentally wrong with any of the dishes yet we drove home feeling very disappointed. The date of this lunch was 27 May. We will be back – we want our faith in the Red Lion restored!)