There are some restaurants in Northamptonshire which I may have only visited once or twice, but which impressed me so much I always retained the desire to go back.
The Red Lion Hotel, in East Haddon, is one of these places.
I had visited when chef Adam Gray was involved (now chef at Skylon on the South Bank). Since his departure I had not been back, but was keen to see what the menu was now offering.
My husband and I dropped in on a Monday night and were impressed with the cosy atmosphere. I really liked the way the restaurant’s traditional interior was lit with little tea lights.
We were ushered to our seats and ordered our drinks (Coke, a large glass of Shiraz and a bottle of still water to share). Our waiter was very pleasant and professional, although I think he could have added tap water to the list when he asked us if we wanted still or sparkling.
Payat and I opted to share a starter and chose the smoked bacon hash with a fried hen’s egg and HP sauce (£5.95). The decision was tough as the list looked so tempting, but my pregnant state meant I had to forego my usual option of cheesy starters (the menu offered a baked Camembert for two and a delicious sounding whipped goats’ cheese with beetroot and pecan Waldorf salad).
Our smoked bacon hash was delicious and quite large. Payat ate most of the egg as it was quite runny (again against pregnancy laws, sigh) and it rested on a lovely rosti-like base of potato and onion, which included tasty and perfectly cooked bacon chunks. I liked the humour of serving HP in a side dish as if it was something a little more posh. But actually, what else goes better with egg and bacon than HP?
Next came our main courses; Payat had fillet of salmon with crayfish and dill potato cake and a tomato and red pepper salsa (£15.50), and arancini risotto cakes filled with Parmesan and basil pesto cream for me (£11.95).
It was only afterwards I discovered Payat had been given the wrong meal. He had ordered the char-grilled salmon steak (£13.95) but didn’t mention it to me until later! Nevertheless, he did enjoy the tender fillet which he said was well complemented by the soft fish cake. He was still talking about how nice it was the next day.
My risotto cakes were enjoyable. I have never had risotto cakes before and they were delicious, although I would have preferred a little more basil cream as they felt a bit dry by the time I reached the third one. They came with greens, including what I think was shredded cabbage, and I am not a massive cabbage fan so possibly wouldn’t have ordered them if I had known. I thought the delicate basil flavour might have been well-matched with something tomato-based.
Lastly we chose to share the sticky toffee pudding with toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream (£5.75) which was beautiful and tasted freshly made.
We enjoyed our meal at the Red Lion and it definitely remains on my list of top Northants restaurants.
VALUE: Fair prices for quality.
FOOD: Tasty and well executed.
SERVICE: Attentive (with one mistake).
DISABLED ACCESS: Yes.
COST OF OUR MEAL
FINAL TOTAL: £50.80
Anna’s star rating: 8/10
The Red Lion Hotel
Main St, East Haddon, NN6 8BU