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Red Lion is still worth its salt

Someone flashing their knickers at you  for two hours might sound like an ideal night out for some. But when you’re out for an anniversary meal with your beloved at The Red Lion at East Haddon, it’s a little awkward.

We’d been looking forward to this midweek meal at one of the county’s best rated posh pubs, just the two of us, no kids in tow, chance for at least one decent drink. We started with a rhubarb and ginger gin from local heroes Warner Edwards, and what I hoped would be something fancy – a Elderflower fizz, described as elderflower topped up with prosecco.

A very average flute of fizz arrived – and cost nine flippin’ quid. Our waitress was a very chirpy teen who explained that a few things were off the menu, which seemed surprising for a Wednesday. However there’s a reasonable choice of starters, steaks, more gastro-pubby, locally-sourced mains and burgers.

We chose a salmon salad starter with a poached egg, and a bacon hash with a fried egg and orange tomato sauce. The hash was declared a resounding success but unfortunately the salmon salad came soused in a salty vinegar dressing which hadn’t been in the description. Vinegar is my nemesis, so I tried to pick round and just eat the egg and fish. The egg was still a little snotty for my taste.

Distracted though we’d been by the business of menu perusing, it became obvious that the late-teens/early 20s girl on the next table was apparently so relaxed in her surroundings that she didn’t attempt to pull down her very short skirt and was manspreading throughout her meal, knickers on full show.

And it wasn’t like we were accidental witnesses to some racy young couple’s exhibitionism. She was with a very proper elderly lady, presumably her gran.

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We therefore gave full and undivided attention to our mains: confit of pork belly with crackling, on a bed of crushed peas and a 10oz rump steak. Again, my steak was far too salty, and came with flat mushroom, asparagus and a few limp rocket leaves. The pork meanwhile, was declared a total winner.

Determined to get at least one un-salty dish, I ordered a panna cotta with fresh raspberries while Penda’s Partner chose a strawberry Arctic roll. This time they were both good – generous portions and with sharp fruit balancing the sweetness. The pub, which seats about 45, wasn’t busy but there was a steady stream of couples of all ages coming in, and flasher girl left early, presumably feeling chilly.

Another couple were overheard mentioning too much salt on their starter, which by this time I’d raised with the waitress.

“I’ll let the kitchen know,” she replied, with no offer of amends. A week later we were told another couple had a salty meal.The bill came to £85, adding in the coffees (one which was replaced because of floating coffee grounds) and a focaccia and oil side.

We left wondering if the pub’s good reputation has led to a too casual approach to basics like seasoning. But we’d go again, because the whole experience was far from pants…

Penda

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