There’s no more positive sign than a full pub car park, so my family and I were perfectly happy to have to use the overflow one at The Red Lion and make our way into the traditional country pub from there.
Nestled just off the main road in Brafield-on-the-Green, a village about four miles outside of Northampton and home to approximately 700 people, The Red Lion is part of the well-established and award-winning McManus Taverns group.
My wife and three children and I made our way up the long driveway, running alongside a large, dog-friendly garden, and were greeted with a warm and friendly welcome. It is quite deceiving how big this pub/restaurant is as it goes off into little offshoots with three or four tables, which all help to create a cosy and relaxed atmosphere.
Even though this was a warm Sunday, we agreed that in the winter The Red Lion would be the type of pub/restaurant that would remind you of the popular Christmas movie, The Holiday. We were seated on a circular table and presented with an impressive drinks menu that had something for everyone. Draught lovers will be pleased to hear that they have a good range of beers and lagers, and I opted for a pint of Moretti. There is an extensive wine list and if we had been with friends on a night out I would have gone for a bottle of Amarone, which I was pleased to see in the red wine section. There were nine cocktails to choose from and five mocktails. My wife went with a Pornstar Martini, whilst my youngest daughter chose the Lemonade Pineapple Cooler mocktail, while a J2O and Coke Xero made up the drinks order.
On the drive over we were discussing if we were going to have two or three courses, as it is rare for us to have three courses when we eat out. We are your typical main and dessert family, however the sharing nibbles left us intrigued and we decided to go with this as a starter. We chose hummus, pork belly bites, whitebait and Curious Vegan maple and mustard sausages. Garlic bread and cheese is on the menu as a side, but when we asked if we could have this to make up the fifth ‘nibble’, they were happy to oblige. This sharing starter came to £20.
Our favourite was the pork belly bites, really tasty, with the perfect amount of crackling, finished off with a pot of apple sauce. The Curious Vegan sausages were our least favourite, which I did expect, but it did leave us curious as to what a traditional sausage would taste like with the tasty maple and mustard sauce.
For their mains, all three children went for roast chicken, my wife chose beef and I went for pork. The roast chicken for the children was exactly what you expect, I couldn’t fault it and they were good- sized portions. When the food arrived I was expecting a bowl of vegetables, as other restaurants present vegetables that way, but ours were neatly presented under our meat, with a delicate portion of gravy. So delicate, we just had to ask for some more!
We all thoroughly enjoyed our mains, so much so that we struggled to even think about dessert, although on the journey home we did comment on the table next to us, who were about to get stuck into a triple chocolate brownie and a lemon tart, both of which looked fantastic.
The staff were welcoming, polite and cheerful, and this village hideaway is not just a favourite for the villagers of Brafield-on-the- Green but for any family, group or couple. It is perfect for a pint or a glass of rosé on the way home in the summer, and cosy enough for a Sunday roast or a heartfelt pie and veg in the autumn or winter. We travelled from the east of the county, and it was worth every mile, and we will definitely be returning throughout the year.
This visit was booked anonymously and the food and drink was paid for by the writer.