Red Lion Inn - Babcary, Somerset
Visited for dinner 12 May 2016
We got within two minutes of the restaurant, only to be blocked from a direct route after a collision further up the road.
Telephone calls and GPS through intermittent network connection saw us safely arrived after a half hour delay.
The Red Lion offers plenty of facilities in different rooms and areas and caters for events beyond the norm of a local village pub.
Beetroot & Goat’s Cheese, Apple, Horseradish
This was very nicely plated but only had a sure touch as far as presentation was concerned. Purple beetroot was almost washed out and lacked real earthy flavour while golden beetroot was heavily pickled and far too sharp. The goat’s cheese had lost any character. It was whipped up with a creamy base (cream?!) and missing all goaty, cheesy goodness.
Confit Pork Belly, Butter beans, Honey & Cider Jus, Crackling, Seasonal Veg
Crackling was one of those nods to a ‘Matchmaker’ chocolate stick (thankfully, without the chocolate). Long and thin pig skin. Crunchy, as it should be… but gone too soon.
The pork was pretty soft and forgiving but the whole dish was awash with aniseed sauce. Star anise used so carelessly that nothing else could compete. Honey and cider had given up and were nowhere to be seen or, more importantly, tasted.
Duck Breast, Potato & Pancetta Terrine, Heritage Carrot, Broccoli, Jus
The meat was definitely over-cooked but, strangely, the skin had not been treated to enough heat to render it anything other than inedible fat. The potato terrine sounds good on paper but sat there, watery, tasting of water and with no hint of pancetta. Vegetables were about right and the ‘jus’ was fruity but not too sweet.
Pink ‘Forced’ Rhubarb & Ginger Crumble, Vanilla Ice Cream
This had all the required elements but just cried out for more visual appeal. The unfortunate presentation in a ramekin on a plate with a dollop of ice cream went dangerously close to suggesting a Meals On Wheels delivery.
100% Cacao Chocolate Tart, Honeycomb, Salted Caramel Ice Cream.
Huzzah… I can finish on a high note. Not too sure that this was much more than 70% choccy but that’s usually adequate for a dessert as far as I’m concerned. Chef seemed to have a more assured, practised touch with this one. It looked good on the plate and ate well. The balance between sweet, salty, creamy and crunchy was nicely judged. Unannounced popping candy suddenly made its presence felt. There really was far too much of it but I didn't care at all as it also gave me far too much pleasure, sounding in my mouth and ears. A good end among an uneven set of dishes.
It is good to see a decent range of wines available by the glass.
Young staff at the bar and serving our table were assured and confident. The chef who appeared briefly was perhaps twice their age. I hope he maintains his confidence to explore and deliver a pleasingly varied menu but the quality of his cooking now needs the same assurance. The Red Lion offers better than average ‘pub grub’ and, overall, we did not regret our holiday visit.