Dining Out at The Red Lion, West Deeping
What an absolute pleasure! This month we’re thrilled to add The Red Lion at West Deeping to a list of our favourite local restaurants, thanks to the talent of Frazer & Emma King who have created a genuinely lovely dining experience…
Brilliant dining, a super cosy place, and really really lovely people! Although we do have to issue a note of caution before we go any further. The Red Lion is the most popular name for a pub in the country, with about 530 places sharing the name. The Red Lion that we’re featuring here is in West Deeping, so make sure you get the right one, because not all of them are created equally. For a start, not all of them are within beautiful limestone buildings, Grade II listed and dating back to at least 1632.
Not all of them are situated in such a friendly village, welcoming children and dogs, families and locals. Not all of them have been treated to a sympathetic refurbishment, reinstating original features and creating cosy wood burners in inglenook fireplaces for those cooler months. And above all, none of the other Red Lions dotted around Britain have the phenomenally talented Frazer King in the kitchen, or the warm and professional Emma King at front of house.
The two met at The Deepings School and went on to study marine biology and drama respectively. Frazer, however fell into (and then fell in love with) hospitality, working in London and in Norfolk before returning to the area to work as the Head Chef at The Olive Branch, at Paten & Co and at Barnsdale Lodge under its previous owners prior to Covid and furlough.
The dream was always to own a pub or restaurant of his own, but lockdown afforded the chance for the couple to consider it more seriously and look for potential businesses to take on. Lockdown also made Frazer realise that he was spending too much time working too many hours instead of watching his daughters growing up, as children are inclined to do, far too quickly.
The couple wanted somewhere that would be family-friendly and welcoming to locals, in which to offer the kind of well-thought out dishes that would also ensure the place was worth travelling to from Stamford, Oakham, Peterborough and south Lincolnshire.
Happily, in April 2021 the couple found West Deeping’s Red Lion and recognised that it could be a pretty place to create a dining experience whose appeal would go far beyond the appearance of the building itself.
Frazer blitzed the kitchen, creating a place to work, and the couple turned their attention to ripping out old carpets and painting over the oppressive dark walls with fresh neutral shades, allowing the lovely architecture of the building to show through uninhibited.
Whilst the building dates back to at least 1632, a first floor was added (and the thatched roof removed, replaced by Collyweston slate) in 1795, then latterly several internal walls were all removed too.
This meant that two smaller rooms were consolidated into a brighter, more open-plan environment, and expanded further with the inclusion of the former kitchen with its old brick bread oven and the snug area which was formerly used as the innkeeper’s residence. Happily the couple were also able to uncover and restore an old inglenook fireplace which is now the beating heart of the bar, adored by customers in the winter months.
Customers can dine in the bar or in the restaurant at the back of the building with its adjacent terrace. Currently there’s a ‘Picky Bits on the Patio’ menu comprising no fewer than 17 small dishes such as rosemary fries, pork crackling, dressed crab, baked bone marrow and steamed mussels. Those enjoying fresh air on the patio can mix and match these tapas-style options for sociable dining. In the autumn and winter, this grazing-style menu will be replaced with a set lunch menu in September with two or three courses for £15 and £22.50 respectively.
Otherwise, the à la carte menu can be enjoyed during both lunchtime and evening service. It’s an absolutely fantastic menu comprising five starters, eight main courses, half a dozen side dishes and four desserts plus options for mini-desserts, ice creams, sorbets and cheese. Butchery is sourced from Owen Taylors or Grasmere Farm, fish is delivered daily, Hambleton Bakery provides bread, whilst honey is supplied by villagers Susanne and Ian Aldred’s hives. Sam Reilly, AKA ‘The Rutland Chef,’ provides speciality ice cream including the Stilton ice cream commissioned by Frazer to serve with his Eccles cakes, which are also baked in-house.
The chef also takes the family out on foraging sorties to gather wild garlic or encourages them to help out in the family’s kitchen garden. A special mention, too, for Custard, Chocolate, Jelly, Buttons, Oreo, Sherbert and Peanut, who lay the restaurant’s eggs and have been very well named by the couple’s daughters.
Frazer & Emma work with Amps wine merchants of Oundle and with local real ale aficionado Nigel of Hopshackle who has created a totally bespoke draft beer, named King Street, exclusively for The Red Lion.
Look out for the return in September of the set lunch menu and for monthly quiz nights, plus Pie & Pint Thursdays, as well as The Red Lion’s quarterly wine dinners in conjunction with Amps. The format for this is a five-course tasting menu with wine pairing, and having visited South America back in June, the next two destinations are Australasia on September 13th then France on 6th December.
If we’ve done our job properly, the images should demonstrate the style and thoughtful composition of each dish, but what they won’t convey is the exceptional flavours. You’ll have to visit for the full experience, and you should definitely do so at your earliest opportunity, because you’ll find that The Red Lion is the friendliest, nicest and most enjoyable place to enjoy fabulous food and a warm welcome, from a genuinely lovely family!
Sweetcorn soup with chilli and smoked almond relish £7.
Marsh samphire pakora with coriander mayonnaise and wild flowers £8.50.
Wild goose pastrami and heritage tomatoes on grilled sourdough with wood sorrel £9.
Roast pork croquettes with pickled gooseberries, wild garlic capers and scratchings £9.
Steamed Tallington crayfish, pickled fennel and nasturtium salad £8.50.
Smoked beef brisket, celeriac remoulade, grilled Gem lettuce and crispy shallot £20.50.
Grilled pork loin with saffron pickled cabbage, parmentier potatoes and marjoram £19.
Whole baked lemon sole with soy steamed mussels, fermented carrot, sea arrowgrass and chilli £21.50.
Blackcurrant jam doughnut with red wine custard and West Deeping honey cream £8.
Dark chocolate mousse with raspberry sorbet £8.50.
Charred peaches with balsamic and shaved Berkswell £8.50.
Cheese & Savoury
Eccles cake with Stilton ice cream and port gel £8.
Local cheese selection with crackers & homemade chutney £9/three; £16/six.
The Red Lion at West Deeping
The Pitch: “Local, fresh and sustainable food and drink with friendly-family service courtesy of Frazer & Emma King. Ingredients sourced within 30 miles where possible. Beautiful Grade II listed 17th century pub restaurant.”
Opening Hours: 12 noon to 11pm Wednesday to Saturday (kitchen 12 noon to 2.30, 5pm to 9pm) and Sunday 12 noon to 6pm (kitchen 12 noon to 3pm).
The Red Lion, King Street, West Deeping, PE6 9HP. Call 07421 977661 or see www.theredlionwestdeeping.co.uk.