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Hits and misses at laid-back Red Lion

Review – The Red Lion at Brafield, 6 Bridle Path, Brafield- on-the-Green, NN7 1BP

After being recommended a visit to The Red Lion at Brafield by a family of vegetarians, it seemed somehow wrong to start by ordering pork scratchings. But oh, so right. Just under four quid’s worth of salty, crispy deliciousness.

There’s no doubt that the veggie options at the Lion are more plentiful than most posh-pub menus, with a risotto, a tagine, pasta, salad and gnocchi on the menu alongside a fried halloumi and chips dish.

One of Penda’s friends tried this, and sadly it wasn’t such a hit – deep-fried, battered cheese is a heart-attack waiting to happen. Just too greasy and quickly cold. We’d already done ourselves in by over-ordering with a shared starter of baked  Camembert with sourdough and chutney. It was £13 we didn’t need to spend.

Our mains were a mixture of deliciousness and disappointment. A seasonal special of slow-cooked smoky beef on greens with potato was a class apart – scorched and crisp on the outside, meltingly tender on the inside.

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But a belly-pork dish seemed less generous a portion, and a tad overdone. The steak chosen by another of the party was good, but charging just shy of six quid extra for six prawns on top is just cheeky.

A steak pie and chips had hidden mushrooms, fastidiously picked out by a fussy teenager who didn’t expect them. And the accompanying vegetables were dry and bland.The desserts were mostly fabulous – a salted caramel brownie with clotted cream ice-cream and the chocolate torte were beautifully presented and devoured with joy, while a Red Lion Mess with meringue, Chantilly cream and winter berries was too hard, too tart and a little mean with the berries.

The lack of consistency wasn’t just with the food. The staff were at points attentive and polite, but too often simply ignored us, leaving plates on the table too long and leaving us waiting for drinks to arrive.  It wasn’t busy, just too laid back. The issue may lie in the hugely long menu. I suspect it’s trying to be everything at once – country pub grub and gastropub.  That said, I’d go back for the posh pork scratchings alone.

NQ Penda

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