Inn-side and out
Living Magazine visits The Red Lion at Water End, to discover how it’s catering for post-lockdown visitors
I have driven past The Red Lion on the Leighton Buzzard road so many times and wondered why its car park is always so full. Now that I have visited, to experience its latest menu and the safety measures put in place during the Covid-19 pandemic, it is easy to see why!
From the outside, The Red Lion looks like a very pleasant, traditional pub, but inside its interior is more reminiscent of a restaurant, and its varied menu reflects that. We sat at a table by the huge patio doors, so as the sun shone, we were inside but almost outside. There are plenty of outside tables should you wish to make the most of the early autumn sunshine (or if you feel more comfortable, in the wake of the pandemic, sitting al fresco).
Inside, stylish screens have been added between tables. Not only are these a welcome safety measure, but, despite being transparent, they offer an extra degree of privacy – particularly welcome if you are a larger party, having girl-talk, or are having a business lunch perhaps. Other Covid safety measures include a one-way system, disposable menus and hand sanitisers.
The staff are helpful, friendly and attentive enough that you feel well looked after, while avoiding being intrusive.
We decided to try a selection of dishes that would cater for both meat-eaters and vegetarians (there’s also a decent selection of vegan offerings on the menu). Our starters were halloumi chips, chunky and served with an arrabiata sauce, that had enough of a chilli kick to make it interesting, and garlic flatbread. We couldn’t decide between plain or cheese-covered, so our lovely server suggested we have half and half. It was all delicious.
Our server also suggested a selection of three wine glass sizes, with a smaller ‘Prosecco’ size serving that was very suitable for a cautious driver or someone with more work to do later that afternoon!
We had already seen several diners enjoying the pizzas, so we definitely wanted to choose one of those. The hand-crafted ‘Esposito 75’ Neapolitan wood-fired Pizzas made the finals of last year’s National Pizza Awards – they are made using their unique pizza dough recipe for which they use Italian flour and proof the dough for a minimum of 48 hours And the proof was certainly in the pizza – our Funghi pizza had a crisp yet fluffy base unlike the mass-produced stodgy bases you might encounter elsewhere.
Before re-opening, Oakman Inns’ Chef Director, Ross Pike, redesigned the summer menu so that a safe environment could be maintained for the chefs and introduced some new dishes including some traditional regional Italian pasta recipes from Venice, Rome and Tuscany.
The sirloin steak was succulent and well-seasoned, and the house chips were among the best I have tasted in a restaurant. I chose a mushroom sauce for my steak, which complemented it well.
Sadly, neither of us had room for dessert, but if we had we might have opted for the baked cheesecake with frozen raspberries and hot white chocolate sauce. We’ll have to try that next time! NM
Find out more at: www.redlionwaterend.co.uk.