TFI Pieday: Crunchy crusts in the Red Lion in Cranford St John
Hap-pie days are here again for the Muddy Clan. Not content with our Thursday night pie extravaganza via Sauls of Spratton, we’ve just returned from a sumptuous Friday pie day at the Red Lion in Cranford with full stomachs, big smiles and ready for a super snooze (the pie thing really appeals much more to him than it does to me, and he really was very enthusiastic about me covering it this week, so brownie points pour moi ; )
Northamptonshire Mudster’s voted this establishment as one of your favourite cosy Northamptonshire Pubs in a Muddy Pub feature earlier in the year, so what finer place to celebrate British Pie week?
The Pub is really warm and welcoming to all. We arrived at 7pm and it was quite quiet but got pretty busy as the night wore on, so booking ahead is recommended – or you could take your chances, arrive unannounced and eat in the bar area.With coal fires, board games, and a brilliant selection of drinks behind the bar, we would have been set for the night, but we opted to eat in the dining area, with it’s contemporary feel and quirky tables and chairs. The music playing in the background was a nice touch (Bon Jovi to accompany our crab, crayfish and apple cocktail starter – so big we shared it – oh, and we had calamari too, which was really light and crispy, not one of those over chewy affairs).
So what about the pie news? With new research revealing that 75% of people enjoy a pie at least once a month, British Pie Week has been growing every year with pie-eaters everywhere seeking their ultimate pie perfection. Our mission? Taste a highly recommended pie in one of Northamptonshire’s finest hostelries – and if we can squeeze it in, possibly have dessert too.
We weren’t disappointed. Mr Muddy is happy to embrace his northern roots and has previously pronounced Chef Sonia as best Gravy maker south of the Cheshire borders. He’s not ashamed to have loyally followed his Queen of cuisine from the Golden Lion in Wellingborough in search of savoury goodness that he claims only his Mum could provide previously (the secret is in the veal bones I believe).
Tonight the main event, a delicious steak and kidney pie supplied to the pub by 19 Gales, didn’t disappoint. This crusty goodness was accompanied by delicious local vegetables and crispy home cooked chips so Mr Muddy was in his element. I opted for a beautifully cooked cod loin with bubble and squeak plus a poached egg, and it was so humongous I brought it home (as per). The chicken schnitzel burger for mini muddy was given the thumbs up, but even she had to do the doggie bag! Now we all know there’s another part of our tum for pudding, so we did manage to squeeze in a shared chocolate brownie, although I believe the 12-year-old ate most of it. The waiter, Alex and his cohorts, were attentive and smiley and a couple of hours passed really rather pleasantly.
With a history that stretches back over 400 years, The Red Lion has real old world character and charm befitting of a traditional village pub with low ceilings, beams, open fires and cosy corners, but it’s the staff and the bright and contemporary restaurant in a glass extension, that makes the pub a great place to hang out and eat with the locals, and we tourists.
Special mention to Mark Robinson and his team at The Red Lion. Cranford St John has been the ancestral home of the Robinsons since the 18th century and Mark is really committed to keeping the community spirit going in the village and is already planning The Music Barn Summer Solstice Festival on Saturday 7 June (I’ve snaffled my tickets already). I think we’ll let the pie settle before we even consider anything dance related but for you hardier souls you can find details of the event here.
THE MUDDY VERDICT:
Good for: Dinner dates, meeting old friends, walkers or just people getting away from the larger Northamptonshire towns. It’s a real community pub that is keen to welcome all visitors.
Not for: Neon addicts looking for “Bangin’ house tunes”. Dogs and kids are welcomed, but there’s not a huge amount of space for them to wander around when the pub is busy, but when the lovely garden is open in the Spring/Summer you can drink and dine outside and there’s a great play area for the rugrats.
£££: This isn’t cheap pub grub, but then it’s more gastro/restaurant quality than most casual pubs and the food is well thought out and served up beautifully. Starters and desserts hover around the £6 mark, whilst mains are £12 upwards. The reasonably priced wine list is a bonus though, and we had a lovely French Malbec. We visited on a Friday night but there are numerous offers on earlier in the week, 2 for £20 meals and two steaks and a bottle of vino for £30. See you there one day!
The Red Lion, Cranford 42 High St, Kettering NN14 4AA