Northamptonshire pub's 'farm to fork' menu put to the test

In a county teeming with good gastropub beer gardens, it can be hard to find the right one.

Monday, 26th November 2018, 7:34 am
Updated Tuesday, 8th January 2019, 5:00 pm

And with the influence of the hipster burger seemingly showing no signs of letting up, it's grip on countryside dining, there can be very little to choose between their food offering too.

However, there are some independents in the county taking the format popularised by Messrs Mitchel and Butler and Chef and Brewer - before going the extra country mile.

Take the Olde Red Lion in Kislingbury, set in an attractive stonework building yards away from its own farm and complete with neat patio garden.

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Its owners have created an appetising menu of what has become the new industry standard for gastropubs: robust main courses, pies, grills and a selection of hearty burgers. All underpinned by a good Sunday roast.

Except, the unique selling point of the Olde Red Lion is aimed at giving it a bit of an edge.

Not only do the chefs aim for a menu of locally grown ingredients - much of the beef and lamb is reared on the company's very own farm yards away.

In fact, the burger menu waxes lyrical about how its cattle produce are "happy, calm and healthy animals" that "experience as little stress as possible."

Putting this "farm to fork" ethos to the test our group orders the Sirloin and rump steaks, plus a plate of Italian meatballs and pasta, for variety.

Two order the farmhouse burger and I go for the lamb chops covered in an olive crumb.

The choice of burger toppings were sparse, but that can be forgiven when the selling point of the menu is the meat itself.

For a quiet Tuesday night though, with us and only another table in, service was slow - an hour in total for the main course to come out.

The burger meat, though delicious, was a little on the overdone side; the same could have been said of the steaks.

My lamb chops with hand cut chips and tomatoes lacked another element to the dish and fell slightly short on the promised olive crumb.

It was all pleasing, but was all just a few minutes off either side in their respective pans from being a memorable meal.

The puddings, all with an air of farming double entendre to them were excellent. The Farmers Guilt brownie (told you) was light and served with both cream and ice cream. It was polished off in no time with eight spoons.

The two waitresses were friendly and took money off the bill for the long wait without us having to ask awkwardly.

This time we caught this venue - an undeniably pretty pub with a good menu - on a bad day and would be willing to give it another shot.

But for the price, slightly cheaper than the aforementioned Chef and Brewer and unquestionably better in every way (an average of around £14 a dish), it remains one of the county's better pubs to while away an al fresco evening.

Without a wait, it would have got an eight. Simple as that.