Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Lunch at The Red Lion, Odiham

What makes for a blissful Saturday, I hear you ask?

Well, for me it's simple. A lazy morning pottering around the house, followed by a walk with a good pub firmly in our sights! Yup, that thirties life has got me good. And these days a chilled weekend is a rarity; we seem to be working our way through an endless number of weddings, baby showers and hen/stag do's, making those relaxed Saturdays even more cherished.

When the folk at Red Mist Leisure asked if I would visit the newly refurbished Red Lion in Odiham, we knew we were in for a good'un. Based on others we've visited already - The Royal Exchange, The Wheatsheaf, The Cock Inn and The Duke of Cambridge - we knew the local Surrey/Hampshire chain would come up trumps! With hints of a traditional pub, The Red Lion has been brought into the contemporary dining scene with a fresh interior and first class menu. 

Of course, we had to first work up an appetite. A lazy Saturday morning in September is just that - having just gone back to work after six whole weeks off (the joys of teaching!) those extra few hours in bed are most certainly needed... hell, I think getting up before 9am is just foolish. A couple of coffees later and I can start thinking about breakfast, and before I know it it's late morning and I'm still in my PJs. I know, I know. That kid-free, responsibility-free life! So to prepare us for the next feed help energise ourselves, we donned our walking shoes and drove to Odiham castle. After parking up we wandered along the stream towards the 13th century castle ruins; satisfying our inner history geek, getting some fresh air and working up an appetite in one fell swoop. 

We arrived at The Red Lion just after the main lunch-time rush, and were surprised by how busy it was! The tables outside the front of the pub were bathed in warm sunshine, and there wasn't a spare seat in sight. A mix of locals catching up with friends, ramblers refreshing mid-walk, and wedding guests enjoying a pre-reception tipple - it had a real 'anything goes' feel. 

After finding our table next to the exposed brick fireplace, we were quick at ordering a couple of drinks - a sauvignon blanc for me and a Brooklyn lager for him - and got down to checking out the menu. The couple next to us were tucking in to a couple of deli sandwiches; the rare roast beef on granary looking pretty perfect with a mug of hot homemade soup along side. We ordered the fried baby squid and Hampshire cured meats to start us off - two of our favourite and go-to starters. The squid came with caper 'popcorn' which added a tangy saltiness to the fresh, crispy squid. No soggy batter here! 

Choosing our main courses is where it got really tricky. The deli butchers board wooed us with promises of seared Hampshire sirloin and Tilford brewery sausage rolls, and the honey and thyme camembert reminded us of the oh-so-delicious baked cheese offering we loved at The Cock Inn. Eventually, Rich settled on the hake wrapped in parma ham with dauphinoise and hollandaise sauce - 'cos what's better than potatoes layered with cheese and cream? (Nothing, FYI). Beautifully presented and the fish both crispy on the outside but still moist within, it delivered on both style and substance. It was so aesthetically pleasing, and something that wouldn't look out of place in a 5* dining room - props to the chef!

I went for something a little more hearty but equally as gourmet; chicken supreme with truffle mash and seasonal greens. As expected, the chicken was cooked to absolute perfection and the truffle mash was subtle yet punchy - without being too rich. Totally delicious and again executed perfectly. We finished off with a nostalgic pud of butterscotch tart with a meringue top, which we managed to devour in record time... and there was me thinking I couldn't eat another thing!

I was so impressed with The Red Lion. The interiors remain true to the traditional pub's history, with exposed brick, timber beams and up-cycled wooden tables, filled with pops of colour from the fresh flowers dotted on each table. The modern paint job and comfortable furnishings feel warm and inviting, giving the pub a 'curated' and individual feel. They've managed that hybrid of modern-but-authentic pub feel perfectly. 

Is it too soon to go back?!

The Red Lion (website).
102 Highstreet, Odiham, RG29 1LP.

Thank you to The Red Lion for welcoming me to review their pub. All views my own.

1 comment

  1. The food here is so beautifully presented - unlike any pub I've ever been to before! The hake and chicken dishes both look and sound so delicious! x



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