Serving up a traditional warm welcome - The Leamington Observer

Serving up a traditional warm welcome

IT would be difficult to picture a more quintessentially English scene than that of The Red Lion, sitting on the edge of the pretty village of Hellidon in Northamptonshire, a few miles from Daventry.

The solid stone country pub stands proudly next to the village green faced by rolling fields in which sheep graze. It could have have come straight from the pen of Thomas Hardy or the brush of John Constable.

The traditional pub at the heart of such a scene is something which has become rarer in recent years with the many pressures that have been put upon the industry in the 21st century, so it was good to see The Red Lion so busy on a Thursday night. That we were soon to discover was not down to any simple chance.

The Red Lion has established a reputation for good food while also offering accommodation – six double rooms and a cottage sleeping up to four guests right next door.

It is a member of the Freespirit pubs family, an independent group with a roster of five inns located across Warwickshire, Oxfordshire and Northamptonshire.

And like its fellow family members, The Red Lion follows the same ethos – sustainable and seasonal local produce achieved through working closely with farmers, growers, wholesalers and fisherman.

Those choosing to stay the night will certainly not lack for comfort. Getting a room right may seem simple on paper, but in reality it’s amazing how many get it wrong. There is nothing at the Red Lion which has been overlooked – from the addition of handy hooks to wonderfully comfortable beds and contemporary bathrooms complete with all mod cons.

While a cooked breakfast is available in the restaurant on Saturday and Sunday mornings, a generous complimentary breakfast basket containing cereals, fruit and pastries is delivered to guest rooms each morning.

Anyone staying at The Red Lion would be doing themselves a disservice if they did not book into the restaurant for dinner.

The pub underwent a major refurbishment a few years ago but not at the expense of being what it has been for many years – a warm and welcoming traditional hostelry.

The menu combines the Freespirit pride in quality ingredients, which includes superb meat sourced from local farms, together with the influences from his homeland of Portuguese-born head chef Miquel Loureiro. It proves a winning combination.

We started with wonderfully fresh succulent meaty scallops served with chorizo, and the equally impressive salt and pepper squid in a spicy mayonnaise.

That was followed by the blade of beef in a rich bourguignon sauce, accompanied by creamed mash, braised red cabbage and crispy kale, alongside pork belly with sage mash, perfectly cooked roasted roots and a cider jus. Both slow cooked, the beef fell apart, while the fat on the pork was perfectly rendered. Be aware the portions are very generous!

We enjoyed both with an excellent bottle of Portuguese Lua Nova from the carefully selected, but not daunting wine list.

Mighty as the main were, we still managed to find room however for a mango and passionfruit roulade and an apple pie with custard – and didn’t regret it.

And we must not forget to mention the first class service from clearly knowledgeable staff who are attentive without being overbearing.

The menu also offers specials, a fish of the day, a range of pub classics, from pies to fish and chips, and top quality steaks and children’s meals.

The adjoining bar was busy throughout our visit, serving everything from locally brewed ales to specialist cocktails.

The Red Lion is what so many pubs once were; the heart of a community, but it’s one that also extends a very warm welcome to visitors.

Visit for further details.


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