To get to The Red Lion, there will be some light travel involved (unless you happen to live in the picturesque village of East Chisenbury). But it only takes around two hours in the car, and let me tell you, the journey is well worth it.
This charming Michelin starred pub’s ethos is to make everything in-house that is humanly possible, and this filters down to the meat they serve up. When we asked what Mangalitza was, we were told it was pig, but not just any pig, the pig that used to keep the other pig company in the back garden of the pub.
Next to the pub is a luxurious riverside guesthouse called the Troutbeck, made up of five unique bedrooms oozing with character. Highlights included a mini pot of ground coffee to be made in the room’s very own cafetiere, an umbrella to do the two minute walk from the room to the pub, and being able to open the trout patterned curtains to see the river only a few metres away.
After sampling the home-made sourdough bread with some home-made butter, we ordered Jerusalem artichoke soup with olive tapenade and a caramelised onion and cheese tart to start. I still can’t quite get over how good the soup was. The artichoke was strong enough that you knew you that was the main ingredient, but not so strong you felt overwhelmed, and the olive tapenade lightly dolloped on top was a genius addition, neatly finished off with delicate little crisps (which I think were root vegetable crisps). The onion and cheese tart was again delicious, flavoursome and exciting yet subtle and not stodgy as tarts can sometimes be.
Of the five mains on offer, the rib of Wiltshire beef for two with hand-cut chips and bearnaise sauce really stood out, being a special occasion after all (my birthday). Our waiter, who incidentally turned out to be extremely witty making jokes about the bill earning interest overnight, and me keeping dessert all to myself (perhaps you had to be there), joined a side table onto ours in anticipation of the beef’s arrival. Had we ordered the whole cow? It wasn’t quite the whole cow, but a sizable portion of beef arrived with chips that were large enough to cause someone some damage if thrown at them in a fit of anger, and a green side salad. The word hearty has never been more appropriate; the beef was cooked perfectly, the chips fantastic, it was a pleasant surprise to find kale hiding under the beef and the bearnaise sauce was just wonderful.
After all that beef we thought best to share one dessert so we chose the Valrhona chocolate brownie with pistachio, orange and beetroot ice cream, as I am a big fan of beetroot and couldn’t resist the curiosity. Delightful.
If it isn’t clear from the above, I really do recommend The Red Lion very highly. And bring some walking boots to walk off dinner in the beautiful Stourhead landscape garden not far away.