Although it has collected a Michelin star, the Red Lion is still very much pub inside, with space given over to the bar and dining tables not crammed in cheek by jowl. It can be found hiding in the little village of East Chisenbury on the edge of Salisbury Plain. Looked like the local vicar was in for lunch at a nearby table. That kind of place. Nowhere better on a wet Saturday in December.My starter of chestnut capelleti with roast sprouts and parmesan was pure seasonal perfection, really beautifully toothsome pasta. I have to admit to being a bit envious of the Arnold Bennett risotto though. Spot-on risotto shot through with flakes of smoked cod, topped with a confit egg yolk, bathed in a hollandaise sauce, lightly scorched on top. Wicked.
As noted, I shared a chateaubriand with my dad. I think there must have been more than 12oz each, wonderfully flavoured meat. The inky, glossy gravy was superb – I could have wished for more than the little puddle it arrived with (to be fair, service was so warm and friendly I’m sure they’d have fetched some if I’d asked!). There was a very fine side of little gem lettuce with a refreshing dressing; an absolutely ideal balance to the rich beef. Big fat chips were very good too, especially to scoop up the bearnaise sauce – just a tad lacking in punch, that sauce, good texture though.
Maureen had a wild mushroom pithiver. The dome of golden brown pastry was a feast for the eyes, and inside it delivered on the promise with deep, rich, earthy mushroom flavours. One of those vegetarian dishes that needs no apology for being meat-free, I almost wished I’d ordered it.My pudding absolutely kicked butt, and seasonal butt at that. Pumpkin rice pudding. All the glorious silky richness of proper rice pudding but with the pronounced autumn flavour of pumpkin. To this were added bitter/sweet notes: an espresso syrup drizzled over it, and a scoop of praline parfait in the middle along with nuggets of caramelised hazelnuts. Haven’t enjoyed pud so much in a long time.
This is a great pub. At about £40 for 3 courses before drinks, it’s not what you’d call a bargain, in fact I’d say it’s about bang-on for the sheer quality of food as well as the great ambiance and service. And being a pub, they were proper reasonable on the wine list. Both bottles under £30 and both better than wines I’ve paid three times that for recently (cough, Hedone, cough).