Muddy Eats: The Red Lion – Great Bowden (near Market Harborough)
In putting together a hit list of foodie pubs to visit for the launch of Muddy, there were SIX Red Lions! And as much as I like a pub (and dear reader, I do), even I have to make time for other stuff like making sure the kids get to school! So, it was The Red Lion in Great Bowden that made the cut (even though strictly speaking it’s just over the border, but that’s allowed, this isn’t Running Man). The pub sells itself as a ‘friendly dynamic free house’ and I cannot argue with that. From booking the table to closing the door at the end of our evening, the manager and his team were bang on the money of ‘service with a smile’, despite being busy Tapas Thursday!
It was marketed as ladies night, and maybe it was, because there was definitely something for the ladies (not that I was looking mind). Lots of bearded hipster types mingled among a very eclectic crowd. But strictly speaking, it’s a night for everyone. There were lads having a pint straight from work; the 60 something ladies that lunch; couples on a romantic date and a few mixed groups. I guess £9.95 for three tapas and a glass of Prosecco is a big draw, but I get the impression it’s always a pretty varied crowd here. The interior is stylish while still managing to be warm and welcoming, and me and my date for the evening (Grand Muddy) were quickly ensconced in two arm chairs in front of the fire, before you could say G&T.
The pub prides itself on freshly prepared, locally-sourced seasonal food, and we weren’t disappointed. Eschewing a starter in hope that we’d have room for pud (all the ice cream and desserts are homemade, nom), we went straight in for mains. We ordered a Thai style salad with marinated steak, and to keep up the theme, a sea bream and tiger prawn curry. With plates in the middle, we shared, and had our own Asian inspired tapas (with the obligatory side of chips; as you get to know me you’ll see that fried potatoes, however chipped, are my achilles heel!).
The wine was pretty reasonable, around the £5 mark for a large glass of Spanish Sauv Blanc (New World nearer the £7 mark), and as it was a Thursday evening we managed to squeeze in a couple of G&Ts too.
What I really liked about this pub was it felt like we were out, out. Not just on a meal out, but out in the throng, enjoying the buzz of those intending to take the party on elsewhere rather than under the duvet for an early wake up call from the teenage son still getting over a nasty tummy bug. The pub is a three minute taxi ride from the station, walkable in the summer months when it’s not pitch black and blowing a hoolie. Me and the old ma had plumped for the train rather than the usual car trip out, primarily because it takes less than 20 minutes from Wellingborough station, and secondary, so we could imbibe with the locals (ok, maybe that was the main reason ; )
Anyway, buoyed up by the booze and the atmosphere, we went off the rails and ordered a sticky toffee pudding (neither of us are usually sweet people), but by God we were glad we were that night!
It was like a piece of art, and wild horses couldn’t have kept Grand Muddy diving in with the fervour of a Haribo deprived, sugar junkie (she has a penchant for jelly sweets). It was, (and I say this word advisedly and ONLY when talking about food stuffs) moist AND fluffy and very scrummy!
Stuffed and replete, the barman (who did I say was very pleasing on the eye) called us a taxi and we said goodbye to some of the quirkier bits of the pub (a plastic frog on the loo floor and a kitch, vintage sign).
The Red Lion is a really good mixture of food, drink and chat (kids AND dogs are allowed). There are dishes on the menu that are a bit different, whilst still having a good choice of popular classics. With speciality beers, varied wines and Champagne on the menu, it’s a great venue for a quick drink or a proper night out (Market Harborough is minutes away, so you’ve always got a choice if you want the night to go on). Speaking of which, Grand Muddy fuelled by a batch of sticky, toffee sauce, instructed the Wellingborough taxi to take us past the Little Ale House in Wellingborough, for the inevitable ‘one for the road’. Fortunately, it had closed it’s doors for the night, which meant my head was marginally less sore for the 6am wake up call!
THE MUDDY VERDICT:
Good for: All walks of life, it was a veritable melting pot of clientele.
Not for: Those who want to be in the town or who don’t want to make the short walk into Market Harborough.
££: Mid priced to upper end. Thai style salad £11.95, Thai style fish curry £15.95, desserts all £5.95, glass of Spanish Sauvignon Blanc £4.95.
The Red Lion, Main Street, Great Bowden, LE16 7HB, 01858 463571 Website