The Red Lion – Stoke Poges
Buckinghamshire’s newest gastropub, The Red Lion at Stoke Poges, has undergone significant refurbishment and is now open to the public.
Situated just 3 miles from Slough, this cosy and picturesque restaurant, pub and bar is nestled in the countryside but only a stone’s throw away from the bustling M4, with easy access from both Berkshire and London. I visited The Red Lion for the press launch this week and travelled by train from London Paddington to Slough. The journey was a 20-minute direct train and a 7-minute taxi ride from the station, so it is easily accessible by car and public transport.
Upon arrival at The Red Lion, you are greeted with a sweeping driveway and courtyard with outdoor seating for guests. The Grade II listed pub has subtle external lighting, which gives the building an added dimension and really enhances its detailed architecture. This particularly shines through when visiting in the evening. A small set of steps leads up to an entrance and porch covered by wisteria branches, with dimly lit lanterns and a warm inviting doorway.
As you enter the gastropub you are greeted with a mix of country and contemporary style, wooden beams and open fireplaces with a modern, chic twist. The extensive renovation of The Red Lion has completely transformed the interior. The first room as you enter on the right features soft pale green and beige cushioned seats, brass tables and a roaring log fire. I positioned myself closest to the fireplace so I could fully immerse myself in the ambience.
The room to the left was small and intimate; the ‘snug’ of The Red Lion. Even better, this room had an open fire too. The final place to check out was the new private function room with capacity for 8 people. This would be the perfect spot for a celebration with a few close friends or family members. Moving on to the bar, and this set up was my idea of heaven a fully stocked gin bar with every possible flavour combination including blackberries, watermelon, nectarine and figs.
The restaurant itself was warm and cosy, and neutral tones throughout complemented the new wooden furniture and flooring. Seating was plentiful, with lots of space between tables allowing you ultimate privacy when dining.
A new drinks menu included a vast selection of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails. I sampled a Blood Orange and Passion Fruit Collins which was light, refreshing and fruity and for £8.50 was an absolute steal. Plus, if you visit the restaurant from Monday to Friday between 12-7.00pm, they offer a Happy Hour with 2 cocktails for £10.00.
I also sampled a freshly infused Mint Tea which came with a homemade macaroon – this was the perfect palate cleanser after dinner.
Where to start? The menu. I was overwhelmed with the size of it. There are sharing platters, starters and nibbles to eat while you wait. Depending on how hungry you are, there is something to satisfy everyone. I was lucky enough to try a selection of canapes, all of which can be enjoyed as starters. These included the Lobster and King Prawn Pot, which was full of flavour and served on a crunchy ciabatta crispbread. The Salt & Szechuan Pepper Squid was accompanied by a garlicky aioli and the Deep-fried brie was served warm with sweet tomato chutney. The Chargrilled Lamb Koftas were paired with a roasted red pepper and mint salad, which was light and refreshing.
Once seated, I was then offered the opportunity to try a starter. I opted for Crispy Karaage Chicken with cucumber ribbons, mooli, kale and cauliflower couscous salad, and a warm katsu sauce. I must warn you portion sizes are large and fantastic value for money at £6.95. If you want a light bite you could easily opt for a starter as a main at The Red Lion. However, the food is so delicious I would have to recommend at least two courses.
This starter reminded me of a classic chicken katsu curry but the crunchy and nutritious salad put an interesting and lighter spin on it, leaving room for a main course.
There are classic pub grub dishes to choose from including a Creamy Chicken and Leek Pie, Beer Battered Cod with chunky chips, and a Roasted Rack of Lamb. Pizzas, burgers and steaks also feature on the menu. A separate vegan menu is offered and you will find plenty of high protein, low calorie dishes too. It is so nice to see a restaurant fully embracing vegan food and offering a variety of options for diners to choose from.
I opted for a 7oz fillet steak which was cooked medium. Steaks are so subjective, and it is often hard to please everyone due to cooking times and cuts. Nonetheless I was pleasantly surprised; the steak was cooked to my satisfaction, there was no fat and my knife glided through the meat. I considered switching the twice-cooked chunky chips to dauphinoise but decided to stick with the menu suggestion and was pleased I did, as they came lightly seasoned and there were plenty of them.
The final accompaniments were an Ale-glazed Shallot Tart topped with Cropwell Bishop custard, Stilton and walnut crumb, and a portion of kale. The tart was a delicious side; the pastry was flaky and delicate, shallots sweet in flavour and soft to taste with a shiny glaze, and the cheese was creamy and rich. It almost reminded me of a cheese fondue – it was scrumptious.
I have a sweet tooth and so dessert was an obvious choice. The only problem was the options were so good I struggled to choose, so I ordered two something I have never done before. However, life is for living and food is a huge part of my life, so I convinced myself that it was totally acceptable, plus I shared the second dessert with my family. The Mango, Berry and Coconut Meringue Mess with passion fruit coulis was fruity and light and the meringue was sticky and crisp, although I wasn’t wowed by the appearance. I would have preferred it in a glass, although I appreciated that it was a literal take on the word mess.
The second dessert was the Melting Chocolate and Peanut Bomb. A hot salted caramel sauce was poured over the bomb and revealed a sticky toffee pudding in the centre. This was a great flavour combination of sweet and salty, and the creamy Bourbon vanilla ice-cream was the perfect accompaniment.
This gastropub is a great addition to the Buckinghamshire countryside. The atmosphere is sophisticated and homely, and it is the perfect place to visit for after work drinks, a light bite or a 3-course meal. Service was impeccable and could not be faulted. I was not rushed to order, and no one cleared empty plates while I was still eating. The staff were friendly and gave excellent recommendations on what to order; something I always ask for.
The food menu is honestly one of the best I have seen in months. It is rare to find a restaurant which has something to cater for everyone. All in all, if you are looking for a new gastropub with phenomenal food, a varied menu and great selection of cocktails, then I would recommend a visit to The Red Lion.