A few weeks ago I received an email asking me if I'd like to review the recently refurbished Red Lion, part of 'The Sizzling Pubs' group, in Bedford. As one of my favourite things to do is to eat out, I of course said yes!
We were booked in for 5pm one Friday evening and in the meantime I browsed the online menus. I was impressed at the selection of foods and the amount of offers that were available, such as kids eat for £1 and skillet and a drink for £5.99.
Eliot had already chosen exactly what he was going to eat when I looked at the menus online and I had an idea of what I might order but wanted to have another good look at the menu when we were there.
On arrival we were shown to our table, which had a nice view of the sparkly lights in the garden. With the 'Sizzling Pubs' you usually order at the bar once you have decided what you are eating, don't forget your table number!
We went for an offer of mix and matching three starters to share, choosing cheese and bacon crispy potato skins, the new chicken madras pakora bites and new garlic prawns.
I said 'to share' but Eliot and I don't eat prawns so the other half had them to himself and we shared the rest. I really enjoyed both the other starters and was pleasantly surprised with the chicken madras pakora bites. I love Indian food but usually find if I buy an Indian dish from the supermarket or order one in a non Indian restaurant, they just don't taste authentic and have a certain flavour. But I didn't find that with these pakora bites and loved the mint sour cream they were served with. It was a generous serving too, if you weren't too hungry and after something light this would be a good option!
The potato skins were nice, crispy and full of flavour. The other half enjoyed his garlic prawns too.
I opted for one of the newer options from the menu, 'The Tennessee' loaded steak which consisted of a 8oz sirloin steak covered in a bourbon glaze, streaky bacon and melted cheese. It was served with onions, a grilled mushroom and tomato, onion rings and chips. I'm one of those people that asks for my steak 'well done' which it mostly was, there were a few pinky parts but not enough for me to ask for it to be cooked a bit more. I'm not a fan of bourbon as a tipple but I really like it as a glaze it's so tasty! I would definitely have this dish again!
Dessert was something Eliot didn't stop mentioning throughout our dinner! Again as we'd looked at the dessert menu prior to coming, Eliot had decided he was having the 'Build Your Own Sundae'. I think it is a super choice for a kids menu, it makes pudding even more fun and has one of their five a day included. Eliot certainly enjoyed building his sundae with the strawberries, chocolate buttons (and they were Cadbury buttons, hurrah!) chocolate pieces and chocolate sauce.
I am probably more of a 'dessert' person than a 'starter person' so found it difficult to make a choice! I was torn between the treacle sponge and the new black forest sundae. In the end went for the sundae, which included vanilla ice cream, black cherry compote, brownie pieces and cream. It was so good!
The OH went with the Mint Aero Sundae, which came with vanilla ice cream, brownie pieces, mint aero bubbles and cream. As you can see this looked pretty good too!
Our thoughts overall...
There is good range of food options available that cater for different tastes and needs, including one or two vegan options which I know is growing. Prices are reasonable and extremely good if you take advantage of one of the offers which are super value! You can even get a fiver off your bill if you sign up.
I was impressed with the options on the kids menu, plenty to choose from and as most of us parents know, children can be fussy! What I liked most was you choose your main then get to choose your two sides which again is helpful to those of with fussy eaters! I also liked the fact there were options for under and over 5's.
All of the food ordered was a good standard and we enjoyed everything we ordered.
As mentioned above, you decide what your eating then order at the bar with your table number. We were served our meal by a very friendly and pleasant waiter who was also good with Eliot. I'm sure you know what I mean if you're a parent out dining with the family and there's that waiter/waitress that make your outing more relaxed and enjoyable. They take time, even if it's only a few seconds to interact with children and make the experience even better. That's what we had with out waiter!
The Red Lion has recently been refurbished but I can't compare its current look to what it was like before as this was my first visit. However you could see lots of things were new. I loved the different colours of paint on our table which had a quirky effect!
As it was a Friday evening, there was lots of hubbub in the bar with people having after work drinks. Where we were seated there was lots of other families too which made me feel more comfortable and at ease. There was a warm, cozy feel to the environment which was welcoming
In the bar area I noticed sign which said children were welcome to eat in the bar area until 5pm and elsewhere there was a sign stating children were welcome in the restaurant area until 9pm. I'm 50/50 on this one as there have been times we've needed to eat late, perhaps if we've travelled away on a break. If it was the only option around that could be a bit of a problem!
On the other hand 9pm is late for little ones and I know there are many people who do not want children around them when they're out for dinner, regardless of the time. I've never been one of those people even before having children so if it is an establishment offering a kids menu I'm not sure there should be a limit on what time they can be in the restaurant until.
Would we go back?
Yes I would certainly go back to The Red Lion and would try other 'Sizzling Pub' branches too. The food is good value for what you get and there are plenty of offers to help you ensure you don't break your budget!
*We received a complimentary meal in exchange for a review, all thoughts & opinions are my own