The Golden Lion, Bedhampton

The Golden Lion, Bedhampton.
The Golden Lion, Bedhampton.
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The Golden Lion, known locally as The Goldie, was built between 1700-1725 and became Grade ll listed 200 years later.

According to owners Richard and Lynn and their son, Carl (the chef), it is known to be haunted. Despite this – or could it be because of it? – the pub is the natural hub of Bedhampton, a mecca for locals to drink in the comfortable bar (Doombar and Otter & Exmoor are on the Casque Marque Awards list) or to eat in the restaurant.

There was delightful, swift service from the moment I stepped into the pub, which was in sharp contrast to another pub visited this week where service was nonexistent, despite being open for business.

Here, it is immediate, friendly and observant. The menu was brought within nanoseconds and a drink served equally promptly.

The interior is equally welcoming, although it’s a small but well-planned place. The landlords’ interest in collecting different salt and pepper cellars is shown at each table, with a pair of chefs with checked aprons on one, two black Scotties on another.

Music is relentless and from another pop era (possibly the ghost’s own iPod selection). Red walls help to add the illusion of warmth, but hot soup was needed.

‘It’s mushroom, served with breads, one brown, one white.’ Perfect. I was tempted to dip my fingers in the huge square bowlful, but instead warmed up from the inside with this excellent homemade soup with quality bread. A pity about the butter, though.

The soup was on a lunchtime menu, as well as prawn cocktail with the ubiquitous marie rose sauce; chicken liver pâté; beef lasagne with salad; ham, eggs and chips; curry with poppadums, naan bread and mango chutney or lamb’s liver with bacon, creamy mash and onion gravy. There are also ploughman’s, jackets and sandwiches.

The pub has things all sewn up for the week via themed meals: Curry Night (Wednesday), Steak Night (Thursday), Table D’Hote (Friday and Saturday) and Sunday lunch.

The table d’hote demonstrates a careful choice of cooking. You might find feta with roasted pepper and coriander filo parcels on a bed of Mediterranean vegetables; smoked chicken breast with tiger croute and black pudding and a rocket and orange medley; roasted chicken and bacon ballotine with pistachio, celeriac rosti, wilted spinach, roasted pepper and sun blushed tomato jus alongside beer-battered cod and chips, petit pois and tartare sauce.

Prices range from £3.95 for soup and a fiver for the lunchtime mains to the table d’hote priced at £12.95 for two courses, £15.95 for three.

Desserts range from blood orange cheesecake to Baileys bread and butter pudding with butterscotch sauce.  

A bargain £5 lamb’s liver followed the soup, the chef again showing his prowess and generosity. Glistening, glossy strips of liver and good bacon were draped over pleasing mash, a moreish dark gravy in abundance in the soup plate. I would have preferred the lamb a little less cooked and maybe with some spinach. But it sure beats a lot of so-called bargain, cheap lunches, the bill coming to £8.95 for the food.

It’s a well-run pub, which is a welcome hub of the community. My bill came to £12.35, not including the tip.