Dining Out: The Red Lion, Newborough
PUBLISHED: 00:00 27 May 2016
Comforting surroundings and a modern British menu can be found at this recently-renovated pub in Newborough
A WARM welcome, local ales and a seasonal menu of home-cooked food are the ingredients many of us look for in the perfect gastropub, so when we were greeted with all of the above – plus beautiful surroundings – at the newly-refurbished Red Lion at Newborough, we realised this was somewhere special.
The small village of Newborough itself combines the best of both worlds – it’s just off the A515 outside Burton upon Trent but is on the outskirts of the Needwood Forest, placing it just a stone’s throw away from beautiful walks and picturesque countryside.
Under the guidance of manager Emma Smith, the Red Lion has achieved that tricky balance of appealing both to those in search of a friendly pint and discerning diners, and it is as popular with walkers and local farmers as it is with families, couples and anyone celebrating a special occasion.
Following a complete refurbishment in February, it now has beautifully-styled interiors that reinforce the warm welcome guests receive. With a blend of dark wood and exposed stone walls, the cosy restaurant has covers for about 40, while the larger, more relaxed bar area with feature log burner welcomes dogs and muddy boots.
The kitchen is run by executive head chef Adam Bonner and all meals are freshly prepared using local, seasonal produce. Even more impressively, everything on the menu is homemade except for the bread and ice-cream – though they hope to make these in future, too.
There’s also a fine selection of wines and ales and whilst browsing the menu we enjoyed an aromatic pint from Whim Ales (£3.30), brewed in Hartington, and homemade lemonade (£1.90).
Starters include duck spring rolls with Asian ‘slaw’ and hoi sin barbecue sauce; salt and pepper squid with sweet chilli sauce; twice-baked four cheese soufflé with apple and walnut salad; or sharing platters such as oven-baked Camembert. Main courses range from confit duck leg with roasted beetroot, chorizo, butter bean and puy lentil cassoulet, to braised shin of beef with bourguignon sauce, horseradish mashed potato and seasonal greens.
My starter of maple-glazed ham loin (£6) was an artfully presented take on classic ham, egg and chips with a succulent piece of gammon, a just-so poached egg and triple-cooked chips, lifted by a dash of tasty pea purée. My partner’s smoked salmon, potted shrimp, capers, salad and toasted sourdough bread dish (£6.50) provided a refreshing mix of seafood flavours.
For the main course I couldn’t resist the Red Lion’s signature rotisserie chicken, which is marinated for 24 hours in a secret blend of herbs and spices before being roasted in the pub’s rotisserie. Diners can choose a quarter (£5), half (£8) or whole chicken (£15), served with coleslaw and a choice of sauces. Side orders such as pickled onion rings can be added for £3 extra.
When the platter arrived – laden with skinny fries, salad, corn on the cob, sauces and a heaped bowl of chicken breasts and wings – it crossed my mind that I might have over-ordered, but the delicious aroma of succulent meat with crispy seasoning persuaded me otherwise and the combination was a feast for the tastebuds.
Across the table my partner was equally pleased with his 8oz rib eye steak (£18), cooked as requested to a tender medium rare. Paired with chunky chips, beer-battered onion rings, vine tomatoes, mushrooms and a powerful Stilton sauce, it was pure heaven for carnivores.
Despite the generous portions we weren’t any less enthusiastic about dessert and finished with pineapple upside down cake with coconut ice cream and sticky rum sauce (£6) and milk chocolate cheesecake with orange curd, chocolate ice cream and sweet candied orange pieces (£6).
On its website the Red Lion states its aim is simple: ‘to serve delicious, affordable food that guests will want to return to week after week.’ As we left feeling totally satisfied, there was definitely a sense of ‘mission accomplished’. w
The Red Lion, Duffield Lane, Burton-on-Trent DE13 8SH, 01283 576182, www.redlionnewborough.co.uk