Update 2012-09-30: The Red Lion has been awarded a Michelin star.
Old and new seems a good enough assessment of the Red Lion. As you approach from the north, there it is in the S-turn in the midst of this tiny village: thatched and ancient and a perfectly lovely find. Inside, there is an old bar and the de rigueur huge fireplace (I am assured it is used throughout the winter) and a nice selection of drink (I had a Black Rat Cider for the first time in more than two years and it was an excellent run recovery beverage).
Out back there is a large and highly manicured lawn making up the garden where a couple of families were perusing the menu, eventually ordering gazpacho, mussels, risotto, and several other not-so-pubby treats. That’s part of the new: the couple that run the place are foodies and she has worked in Michelin starred kitchens. That can be less-than-impressive if someone doesn’t bring a spark to the job and then carry that and the professionalism on to their own kitchen, but I get the feeling, looking up the hill to their private herb and veg garden, that she is the real deal…the kind of cook that could lure me back into the chequered trousers in a weak moment.
The back of the pub is not only culinarily new but physically new, as well. Subsidence is a nightmare to correct in these 300-400 year old houses (ours in Stretham had some emergency wall work done) and I would reckon the only way the brick work seen here would be allowed is to add structural integrity. Very nice work, but you’d never know it was the same building if you didn’t walk through it.
Oh, yeah, this was the 1000th pub in this blog’s life. I’ll have some thoughts on this in a day or two.