The Red Lion, Stone Edge, nr Chesterfield, Derbyshire Restaurant Review
PUBLISHED: 16:50 02 February 2010 | UPDATED: 15:07 20 February 2013
High quality cuisine, great produce and excellent food and wine pairing proved to be a winning combination for Food and Wine Editor Amber Locke when she visited The Red Lion at Stone Edge, near Chesterfield for a Derbyshire Life luncheon.
The Red Lion Pub and Bistro, or rather 'The Famous Red Lion' as it's often known, is located just off the main Matlock to Chesterfield road. It sits on the side of the B5057 as an imposing stone-built building and is blessed with a large car park to the side and a sunny south-facing terrace to the rear.
Not that we saw any sun on the day of our Derbyshire Life luncheon, which was held in mid November last year, and we were rather more interested in the cosiness of the interior than appreciating the venue's outside attributes!
Earlier last year The Red Lion underwent an extensive refurbishment and was transformed into a stylish bistro and bar, complete with big comfortable leather armchairs and squishy sofas, with a few animal prints dotted about. The walls are a mixture of painted plaster and exposed stonework and the flooring is part stone and part wood. A clever use of subtle lighting gives ambience and atmosphere and the walls are adorned with stylish black and white prints of Derbyshire landmarks and countryside scenes by local photographer Ian Daisley.
All this adds up to a super-stylish interior but the pice de resistance is a curved stainless steel seafood bar with an impressive display of a wealth of freshly-caught seafood set on crushed ice. The Red Lion prides itself on its selection of fresh fish and John, the operations manager, takes a trip to Anglesey once a week to buy (and sometimes catch) the fish for the restaurant.
We sat adjacent to the bar and bistro in the Harwood room, which I imagine is also the venue's main room for wedding receptions. With its subtle, muted-toned tartan carpet, big ornate gilt mirrors and fabric-covered chairs, crisp white linens and dramatic towering flower arrangements on each table it certainly looked set for a special celebration.
The wine for our lunch had been provided by wine merchant Andrew Coghlan from Barrels and Bottles in Chesterfield and Andrew gave us an insight into each of the interesting wines that had been carefully chosen to suit the meal.
To start we were served dainty cups of Isle of Anglesey Lobster soup as a taster. This frothy soup was a gorgeous colour, delicately flavoured (not overly fishy as many lobster soups can be) and contained a chunk of lobster meat in the base of the cup - one very slight criticism, a small spoon might have made this slightly more delicate to eat! A crisp and fruity, pale green Australian Gartelmann Benjamin Semillon was served with this dish and its limey citrus flavours teamed brilliantly with the richness of the soup.
The chef had cleverly swapped the traditional running order of the menu with a fish dish and a meat course and served the heavier belly pork and black pudding terrine as a starter and a baked turbot as the main course. I was slightly sceptical but this worked brilliantly with the coarse-cut terrine being flavoursome but not too heavy and a sharp apple pure balancing the richness of the meats. Another Gartelmann wine was poured with the starter, this time a plummy and deep maroon-coloured spicy Rhone-style Wilhelm Shiraz.
Sustainable-farmed baked Welsh turbot was served as the main course, topped with Menai Strait oysters and served with a foamy champagne sabayon. The fish was cooked to perfection; juicy and meaty and with a refined flavour and the delicate, slightly salty oysters and elegant sabayon adding an even more luxurious touch to this stunning dish. To accompany this a tropical fruit-flavoured and minerally New Zealand Highfield Sauvignon Blanc was served. As this is one of my favourite wines this course was an all-round winner for me and one of the most enjoyable dishes and successful food and wine pairings I have experienced all year.
Dessert was served as a trio of puddings: a coffee crme brle, a cube of sticky toffee pudding and a slim wedge of lemon tart. All provided different degrees of sweetness and a contrast of smoothness and texture. The final Gartelmann wine of the day was a Late Harvest Ambrosia. Its sumptuous nutty and apricot flavours made it rich and luscious and at the same time fresh and clean tasting, providing a happy and complementary pairing to the puddings.
The quality of food, cooking and the excellent standard of service at The Red Lion is certainly something to be admired and with a 25 bedroom luxury boutique hotel being built by the owner in the field next door ... this is certainly a venue to watch!