Dining Out: Lobster on a burger and the most amazing garlic bread at the Red Lion in Bispham
The first time I went in the Red Lion, in Devonshire Road, Bispham, must have been around a decade ago. It was the day of the village gala day and the pub was so busy it was hard to move.
So when I took my family to visit and review the food at the Beefeater eatery, I did so knowing how many other people will already have an opinion.
Indeed, at the time of writing this review, the Red Lion had almost 1,000 ratings on TripAdvisor – most of them, I hasten to add, very positive.
It is a local institution and I’m well aware of the controversy that would ensue would I find the place detestable and the food inedible.
Fortunately, that was not the case, and we all left with full tummies and in the knowledge that we will soon be returning to tuck in again.
We arrived on a Sunday afternoon without a booking. After waiting a few minutes, we were welcomed by a worker who said the waiter-service restaurant was fully booked, though we were fine to sit down elsewhere and order at the bar instead.
The menu was expansive, and the children’s menu had a good selection to choose from too. The pub is nicely decorated, homely, clean, and quiet enough to enjoy a conversation but loud enough not to be overheard.
I was torn between a few choices but ended up picking the lobster double stack (£15.99); two quarter-pound beef steak burgers topped with beer-battered lobster and melted Cheddar cheese, served in a seeded bun with burger sauce, lettuce, fresh tomato, and red onion.
I’d have preferred a choice about how I want the burgers cooked as I found them a little dry, especially with the burger sauce on the bottom of the bun and lacking in volume, but the lobster was fresh and the portion size was very generous. I choose fries on the side above sweet potato fries and thick-cut chips and they were nicely cooked and seasoned.
The other half had the double bacon and cheese beef steak burger (£12.99) and said it was delicious, as were the chips, and finished the lot.
The oldest lad, eight, has the children’s poppin’ chicken, fries, and baked beans (£5.49 with choice of chicken meatballs, garlic bread, or veggie sticks as starter and a drink), and said, when asked for a score: “Ten out of 10. No, nine-and-a-half because the chips were a bit crunchy.” A harsh critic, perhaps, but the empty plate – rare for him – is reflective of the simple but tasty nature of his meal.
The youngest lad, four, had the same but with a slice of garlic bread instead of chips and he left only a bite of a garlic bread and, despite being a picky eater (regular readers may recall he recently refused to eat at all) he never complained once.
All our food was delivered to us quickly, though we had to remind our server about the side of garlic bread, which I have purposefully left until last to write about. Listed under the starters to share, the dish is described as “flatbread strips”, so we were expecting something similar to the ones from your popular pizzerias. What actually arrived was a huge flatbread cut into large strips and brushed with garlic and parsley, with a butter and herb sauce, and it was incredible.
We all tucked in and we still couldn’t finish it, though it wasn’t for a lack of trying. It’s probably the nicest thing I’ve tasted while reviewing for this newspaper and I would have it again in a heartbeat.
Beefeater bosses, if you’re reading this, feel free to email in and I’ll give you an address to send a lifetime’s supply of these bad boys!
Our bill after one drink each came to £50.71, which is maybe slightly more expensive than other nearby pubs, but it was value for money. We all genuinely enjoyed ourselves and will not hesitate to head back to the Red Lion.
One recent reviewer on TripAdvisor describes the pub as “under-rated”, and while I don’t know if that’s the case or not, I would definitely recommend eating there with your loved ones soon.
Don’t eat breakfast or dinner beforehand. Starve yourself. Maybe even fast for a week first. Then order a huge burger and 25 sides of the amazing garlic bread! Do they do doggy bags?