Red Lion, Fareham | Restaurant review
The warm weather has brought with it all the sounds, smells and tastes of summer – lawnmowers buzzing, sun cream-scented skin and sausages burned to charcoal.
Walking around the area recently, it seems as if every man and his dog is enjoying the first few barbecues of the season.
Of course, your Dish Detective has been indulging in more than their fair share of grilled meat, and so to mix it up we decided to go back to basics for some good old pub food.
As many sun-seekers made their way through Stubbington and down to the beach at Lee-on-the-Solent, we parked in the village and spent an evening at the Red Lion.
The Gosport Road eatery has changed hands a few times during the years, and now offers an incredibly wide range of cuisines under the ownership of Greene King.
My companion and I make a reservation and wander past pub-goers enjoying the sun outside the front of the venue, before being shown to our table by a friendly member of staff.
We are offered the choice of using a mobile app to order our food or being served the old-fashioned way. We opt for the latter as it doesn’t appear to be too busy in the restaurant.
The extensive menu is rather overwhelming at first glance – do we choose pizza? Fajitas? A pub classic?
My dining partner and I decide to join forces for the tempting offer of two meals for £11.49 as we cannot resist a menu bargain, but as we are ravenous we also indulge in starters.
After being served a pint of Peroni (£5.10) and a large lemonade (£3), we place our food orders and sit back to wait for our meal.
Meanwhile, I glance around at the décor which has been updated since my last visit a few years ago. It’s a cosy, classy vibe with mismatched chairs, wood panels and a welcoming fireplace.
We don’t have long to wait, as our nachos sharer (£7.49) and a side of garlic bread (£2.49) arrive promptly –good news for our rumbling stomachs.
Although your DD has a big appetite, I did actually mean to order the regular nachos, but with help from my hungry companion we demolish the pile of tortilla chips.
They are loaded with sour cream, salsa, jalapenos and cheese, making them slightly messy but a delicious treat to start the meal.
My fellow diner offers me a bite of one of their three garlic bread slices, and it is pleasant – although I’d probably opt for cheese on top next time as you can never have too much cheese.
Our plates are cleared and minutes later our main dishes arrive: battered halloumi and chips with mushy peas for me, and a huge portion of fish and chips for my friend (which costs £1 extra in the pub classics deal).
A side of curry sauce (£1.50) is shared between the pair of us, and we dip our chips in and savour the sauce, which tastes just like it does in a good chippy.
My meal comes with four halloumi batons in batter, and the salty, cheesy offering is delicious – with the portion just the right size for me.
My partner’s gigantic offering of fish and chips leaves them feeling stuffed but satisfied, with plenty of kind words to be said about the mouth-watering taste of the fish dish.
This break from badly-cooked barbecued burgers and sausages is a welcome relief, and we are both looking forward to trying more of the mountain of culinary options on the menu.
We pay and leave just as a weekly pub quiz is about to begin.
As we stroll back out into the glorious sunshine we vow to return to fill our stomachs at the Red Lion again and maybe even try our hand at some general knowledge.
Tel: 01329 662003