We have been intermittently eating at the Red Lion for a long time but this was my first visit since the ambitious newish team took control and earned plaudits in the more prestigous guides. I gather the kitchen is out of the Gary Rhodes stable and certainly the menu suggested that might be the case. Without entirely neglecting foreign influences this is very much British pub food as exemplified by my Scotch Egg starter [spot-on] and Fish and Chips main. The latter was nicely cooked and presented with impeccable chips. The fish was unashamedly coley which I had never eaten before. It too came precisely cooked in a crisp batter but I was underwhelmed by the fish itself. I've occasionally wondered about buying it from the fish counter but now I'm unlikely to. My wife went in the direction of meat and liked a dish of beef cooked with vegetables.
The pub has had a modern face lift since I was last there with fashionable grey/green woodwork that looked as though it originated with Farrow and Ball; that tells you a little about how it sees itself and what its target clientele might look like. Despite that the pub retains its essential structure with a number of separate rooms and a smallish bar serving beer. This is an ambitious operation with a new cookery school looking pristine in one of the outbuildings. The cooking was certainly very competent and we fully intend to go again. Service was enthusiastic to the point of approaching the effusive although our actual waiter was probably early in his career. None of that prevented it being quite efficient and we did leave feeling well looked after.
East Haddon is a small village, several miles out of Northampton and quite near to Althorp. A car is absolutely necessary to get there but parking facilities are just about sufficient for a full house. In an area not over-supplied with fine dining I would certainly recommend the Red Lion if you want decent, professionally produced food. It isn't cheap but the format enables an escape without the destruction of the family finances.
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