We Are Chester writer Josie Penfold was invited to the newly-refurbished Red Lion in Dodleston, Chester, to taste its new menu. Find out what she thought below. Photos: Josie Penfold.
The Red Lion in Dodleston, Chester has undergone a fabulous make-over and has a menu to match its warm and welcoming country pub design.
The pub is one of many that make up the Vintage Inns group, and I was treated to a little taste of the top menu that these pubs produce. Fine dining and pub grub don’t always go hand-in-hand, yet The Red Lion has somehow managed to pull it off with both the food it offers and the beautiful, traditional setting- all for a very reasonable price.
Now, that’s not to say that this place doesn’t have that great English pub-feel to it or that the food on the menu consists of tiny proportions made up of ingredients that you’ve never heard of. Instead, it has put its own spin on our favourite pub classics giving the menu an edge over the typical pub menu and it can be enjoyed at heavy wooden tables next to a warm fire. Indeed, the name ‘vintage’ is spot on in describing a place that oozes quality in every aspect.
Unexpected taste sensation
And the most important part of this quality is, of course, the food. The menu itself has been carefully crafted as different flavours join together to form an unexpected taste sensation. Instead of a prawn cocktail or calamari basket, we have a double serving of favourite fish starters with salt and pepper calamari and tempura prawns served on a prawn cracker with a chipotle mayonnaise. Perhaps one of the best starters I’ve had in a very long time, it looked and tasted fantastic – a definite winner on the starter menu.
But if fish isn’t your thing, then why not try a duo of pate with pork and Madeira pate and duck parfait – or should I say par-fect. Served with Brambly apple butter and baby gherkins on rustic bread, this combo of smooth and coarse spread forms an unbeatable partnership. I was perfectly satisfied so far.
And with a taste for exceptional flavours, I was ready to indulge in the next course of samples from the mains. One of the first dishes to greet my table was the great pub pie. And not just one, but two samples; one of the chicken and thyme pie, the other of the steak and mushroom pie.
For anyone, like myself, who loves a good pie, you’ve come to the right place. Both pies are topped with a light, puff pastry and while the chicken pie offers a rich creamy sauce, the slow-cooked steak pie bursts with sweet, red wine flavours. Yum. And the great food doesn’t stop there – the menu has a range of dishes from steak, lamb and fish to burgers and pizzas and there are also vegan options – so there is certainly a dish for everyone.
But, for me, the ultimate winner on the menu– perhaps the winner on every menu – was the British Classic, the food heritage to our wonderful country. I am, of course, referring to the great dish that is fish and chips. Simple, yet effective.
The beer-battered cod was crispy and delicate as the fish flaked easily away with each mouthful, whilst the triple cooked chips had the perfect amount of crisp in the bite to reach the soft, melting middle. A meal that can never be beaten, especially when the quality is so high. The pub paid great tribute to this favourite.
There’s always room for dessert
After my taste buds rested after being so greatly rewarded, the tasting moved onto the sweetest part of the menu – the puddings.
When it comes to desserts, I normally have to be really in the mood for one – I don’t have the biggest sweet tooth – and after a starter and a main, I’m usually full and the dessert menu can often lack creativity to really spark much interest and so I normally stop at two course. However, The Red Lion’s desert creations certainly had me ready to squeeze in one last course.
Our old friends, the apple pie and crème brûlée have been joined by the more unique Melba mellow mess, raspberry milkshake cheesecake and treacle and pecan tart. While the Melba mellow mess is light and fluffy, and the cheesecake is delicate and fun with its milkshake inspired flavours, the pecan tart is rich and sweet – and for me, was the perfect end to a fabulous array of the tastes from The Red Lion’s vintage menu.
Be sure to pop in to The Red Lion and check out the new, exciting renovation and enjoy top quality food – pub grub, with an edge.