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The Vegetarian Red Lion restaurant review: “The desserts are so good”

PUBLISHED: 18:30 19 July 2017

Restaurant review, The Vegetarian Red Lion, Great Bricett: Lemon and lime cheesecake

Restaurant review, The Vegetarian Red Lion, Great Bricett: Lemon and lime cheesecake

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Charlotte Smith-Jarvis goes meat-free at the new Vegetarian Red Lion in Great Bricett

Restaurant review, The Vegetarian Red Lion, Great Bricett: Gruyere and chive croquettes with sweet chilli dip. Restaurant review, The Vegetarian Red Lion, Great Bricett: Gruyere and chive croquettes with sweet chilli dip.

Food

“Eek, I can eat everything off the menu!” My friend Rach did a frantic hop of joy, wielding a piece of paper printed with entirely vegetarian food.

It looked promising. A global foray into the world of pulses, grains, roots and fruits.

To start a couple of gold hued gruyere and chive croquettes for me – not unlike Glamorgan sausages but less dumpling-y in texture. They were totally light and indulgently cheesy without a hint of grease in sight. But a bit more of a chive punch was needed. I couldn’t really taste those allium notes.

Restaurant review, The Vegetarian Red Lion, Great Bricett: Quinoa and tomato burger and vegetable curry Restaurant review, The Vegetarian Red Lion, Great Bricett: Quinoa and tomato burger and vegetable curry

Unusual sounding avocado and dill balls were similarly crisp and light. A fresh idea and not sludgy at all (which is what I imagined they’d be).

To follow I was interested in the vegetable curry. They can so often be disappointing. We’ve all had pub curries consisting purely of a thoughtless gruel of mushy veg, curry powder and tinned tomatoes. This one had a mild bite of heat and was layered with spice, giving a full, rounded flavour not far off what you’d get in a decent curry house. Chickpeas were plump and nutty. The addition of apricots was a nice touch, but not too sweet. And the veg still had bite. With rice and naan bread, it was very filling.

MORE: The Last Anchor Ipswich: “Great value, tasty cooking”

Rachel’s quinoa and tomato burger had a ‘meaty’ texture and her eyes lit up at the bowls of burger sauce, fries and coleslaw that came with it. While it was a good attempt, the burger lacked a definitive flavour. It just needed something else to bring it to life. A bit of spice, or heavy dose of garlic maybe?

Puds were mammoth in size. I hate cheesecake, but Rachel’s slab of the dessert, flavoured with lemon and lime, was fluffy as a cloud and had a nostalgic lemon sherbet flavour.

It was outshone though by my vegan chocolate and date pudding. You couldn’t tell it was made for vegans. Sticky, moist and not ‘nuked’ to within an inch of its life, it was like your nan’s best Sunday dessert. Truly indulgent. The vanilla ice cream with it was good quality too.

Ambiance

The new owner has done a great job refreshing this place. It feels much brighter inside thanks to a cool shaded colour scheme, and I think a wall or two has been knocked down to open it out a bit. There are sunny gardens for outdoor eating too. It was surprisingly busy for our early evening sitting.

Drinks

When I asked for a wine list I was offered red, white or rose and then one or two options within those brackets. I had the Chardonnay, which was fine. It would be nice to see a better selection of wines available – especially for the regular vegetarian clientele.

Service

Friendly and informative but not obtrusive. Food arrived swiftly.

Price

Three courses for two plus a glass of wine and soda and lime was just a few pence over £50. We both thought that was spot on for what we had.

Parking

There’s plenty of free parking just outside the front of the pub.

Highlight

I’m going to say that chocolate pudding. I want the recipe!

Summary

Vegetarians and vegans are both well catered for here. The cooking is interesting and solid, with most of the flavours spot-on. A couple of things could have done with a bit more welly taste-wise, but that didn’t detract from our enjoyment of what felt like a wholesome (apart from the puds) dinner, made with thought and care. Portions aren’t skimpy either.

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