Review: A hearty meal and award-winning real ale on offer at The Red Lion in Woodbridge

Red Lion, Woodbridge

Red Lion, Woodbridge - Credit: Archant

I wasn’t sure what to expect from The Red Lion in Woodbridge, writes Nicola Warren.

Food review at the Red Lion, Woodbridge

Food review at the Red Lion, Woodbridge - Credit: Archant

All I knew about the pub before visiting was that it was taken over by Daniel Davey and Ryan Carter last summer, and they have since been awarded a Cask Marque for their real ales.

But as for the food, I was in the dark. There’s no menu online and all I’d seen on the Facebook page were a few tantalising pictures of some of their dishes.

Perhaps having no expectations is a good thing, though, as we discovered on Monday night.

The Red Lion is situated at the end of the town’s Thoroughfare, and there’s a large car park behind it.

Food review at the Red Lion, Woodbridge

Food review at the Red Lion, Woodbridge - Credit: Archant

It’s a big place and, inside, you can tell, it has been decorated fairly recently. The Red Lion is a bit like a traditional village pub, with a dark wood bar and furniture and a warm colour scheme.

There were several people at the bar when we entered and a gentleman asleep at one of the tables. See what I mean about it being like a village pub?

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We soon felt just at home as the regulars, with the friendly bar maid also taking our orders.

I thought it was a nice touch that she brought over a jug of water with our drinks without us having to ask.

Food review at the Red Lion, Woodbridge

Food review at the Red Lion, Woodbridge - Credit: Archant

There’s a wine list to choose from, with glasses costing around £3, but we went for a soft drink and a shandy.

Music was playing, but not so loud that it was intrusive, and I found myself humming along while looking at the menu. Meanwhile, my husband Phil’s mouth was watering.

The menu is a mixture of British classics, such as sausages, herbed mash and onion gravy and Bramfield cured ham, eggs and hand cut chips, and Mediterranean food like Sicilian caponata on char-grilled ciabatta and handmade beef meatballs with spaghetti and tomato sauce.

Everything is home-made using fresh ingredients, which are locally sourced when possible.

The most expensive dish on the main menu was £11, which is pretty reasonable compared to a lot of pubs nowadays.

I was tempted by the beer battered cod, chunky chips and minted peas as well as the Mediterranean vegetable crumble with a Parmesan crust.

But when the waitress told me the fish of the moment was sea bass, my mind was made up.

I asked what sauce it came with and, when she returned from the kitchen, she said it wasn’t usually served with one. However, the chef had offered to make a parsley butter sauce if I’d like, to which I happily agreed.

Phil, meanwhile, had his eye on the ‘stack’ burger, with Monterey Jack cheese, crispy bacon, onion rings, relish and chips.

But he finally decided on the pie of the day – chicken and mushroom.

We had a bit of a wait for the food, but when everything is home-made that’s what you expect.

When it came out, my fish dish was nicely presented, with two fillets of sea bass resting on crushed new potatoes, a wedge of lemon on top and green beans on the side.

The bass was cooked beautifully, the well-seasoned flesh coming away from the skin with ease, and there wasn’t a bone in sight.

In hindsight, I probably didn’t need the sauce as a squeeze of lemon over the fish cut through the buttery crushed new potatoes nicely. But I did enjoy the creamy sauce with a hint of parsley. The green beans were a nice simple accompaniment.

Both of our main dishes were of a generous size, Phil’s pie coming with a decent helping of creamy mashed potato.

He found that the puff pastry was crisp and flaky and underneath lay big chunks of tender and succulent chicken with mushroom in a creamy sauce.

The hearty dish came with cabbage, carrots and green beans.

Neither of us needed additional sauces, but local Stokes and Great British Sauce Company condiments are on offer if you do.

I must admit we were fairly full after that but, for research purposes, asked what the desserts of the day were.

On offer that evening were vanilla pannacotta with berries, mixed berry Eton mess, vanilla and white chocolate cheesecake and a selection of ice creams.

Phil chose the Eton mess and I decided on the cheesecake, which he promised to help me out with!

The Eton mess, presented in a large glass, was a mixture of sweet crushed meringue, whipped cream and colourful berries – redcurrants, blackcurrants, blackberries and strawberries.

My large wedge of cheesecake had a thick buttery base, creamy topping and was topped with white chocolate drops.

It was served with raspberry ripple ice cream and the tanginess balanced out the richness of the cheesecake.

We’d planned to see a film at the Riverside afterwards, but we were glad to get a walk along the River Deben in beforehand, to help all of that food go down!

If you’re looking for good home-cooked food, served in generous portions, which is good value for money – and let’s face it, who isn’t? – I’d recommend a trip to The Red Lion.

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