Last time we were at the Red Lion, earlier this year, Rock had a migraine and we had to leave before we had even started our lunch…just one of those things. The time before that we left disappointed because, after having so many fabulous meals here, we had a lunch that fell short of our very high expectations. Now we are back wanting to have our faith in this great place fully restored!
I get into the mood for lunch with a seasonal beer. That Old Chestnut is a dark brown smooth bitter both malty and hoppy from the Ramsbury Brewery. Perfect for the winter. Rock has an organic apple juice from Luscombe with soda. Now we are ready for another Red Lion food adventure!
My adventure starts with the scallop & black pudding tortellono with swede purée, pickled pears and chicken jus. The tortellono is made with wafer thin fresh pasta and deeply filled with a mixture of scallop and black pudding. The swede purée is silky smooth, slices of piquant pear, herbs, baby onions, chicken jus plus additional cubes of black pudding and balls of pear all combine to make this heaven on a plate. Wow!
No starter for Rock – she is saving plenty of space for dessert. Her main course is pan-fried halibut with celeriac purée, poached Cox’s apples, Burbage shiitakes and a Noilly Prat beurre blanc. The halibut is perfectly cooked, the purée and the beurre blanc bring a riot of flavours that beautifully complement the fish and the apple brings a tart, refreshing zing to the dish. The combination of celeriac, celery, celery leaves, poached and fresh apple work incredibly well with the halibut. She is loving it.
I have the roast partridge with cromesqui (a small savoury croquette), potato millefeuille, parsnips, prunes, quince and sauce poivrade ( a lightly peppered game sauce). The partridge is succulent, the potato millefeuille is one of the best potato things I have ever tasted, parsnip purée and shavings of parsnip add different textures, the prunes add sweetness and the quince its own delicate flavour. Plus the rich depth of savoury cromesqui is a delight. If we were not in a public place we would pick up our plates and lick them clean! Omg.
The Red Lion has held a Michelin star since 2013 and this is due to the skill of Guy and Brittany Manning. Guy runs the kitchen and Brittany moves effortlessly between front of house and dessert creation. We have loved Guy’s starter and main courses, we have talked to Brittany as she dashes between tables, now we will find out if the Brittany inspired desserts live up to the exceptional standard that Guy’s dishes have set.
We decide to share the Red Lion Café Gourmand – a modest portion of five different desserts. Served on a large piece of slate we have: a chocolate creméux; a citrus Genoese sponge with apple & créme fraîche; home-made granola with a rum punch sorbet; poached pear with a hazelnut praline ice cream; and a chocolate bark with salt, chilli, pumpkin & sunflower seeds. Rich, indulgent chocolate, incredible sorbet and flavours that are both surprising and wonderful. Have I said wow enough times already….I don’t care. Wow!
As ever, the service here has been wonderful. We were mostly looked after by Ruth who was efficient, friendly and helpful. On our way out we stopped at the entrance to the kitchen to thank Guy & Brittany for lunch and they happily took time to chat to us about some of our recent food adventures.
To summarise our experiences of the food at The Red lion….occasionally good, regularly great, often extraordinary. This time round…absolutely extraordinary!