I put it down to fate, that when during a search for somewhere to stay near Herne Bay, The Sunday Times food critic Marina O’Loughlin posted on her twitter account about a local pub called the Red Lion.
I googled the small village pub and was soon booking a night in what appeared to be the ideal stop over for the night, but was this to be the case?
The Red Lion is located in the small village of Stodmarsh, just 5 miles to the east of Canterbury and has a recorded population of just 55 people, the Red Lion being its only public house since it was built in the 15th Century, with the current building being erected in 1801 after a fire.
To get there we travelled south from Manchester then following the sat nav through narrow country lanes before finally arriving at the small village. We passed a small church and graveyard then there in all its glory, stood the Red Lion. The journey in total took around 5 hours.
We entered the front door, to find ourselves standing in a true local pub complete with wooden beams and stone floor. We were welcomed with an expectant smile and shown to our room, one of only 2 that were available to book.
We had opted for the Blue Room, purely for the fact that this one came complete with a roll top bath.
The room is small due to the age of the building, however space was more than ample for our stay.
In contrast the bathroom was HUGE. Burlington sink and toilet matched ours at home, so had to compliment the taste, then there on its own raised area, complete with a massive mirror, stood the freestanding roll top bath. The owners had even left some bath salts to truly relax.
We left to visit family for the day after confirming that they had kindly reserved us a table for dinner later in the evening.
On our return to the Red Lion later that evening, we were shown to our table that had been set and reserved for us close to the warming open fire.
We were shown the latest menu, which is seasonal, this latest one being a Festive Menu for the Christmas Period. Casting my eyes over the list, I knew this was going to a difficult decision.
Finally I narrowed it down to two options from the starters, either their version of a Kiev which consisted of Whole Quail and fermented Wild Garlic (£5.50) or Profiteroles filled with Goose Liver Parfait and covered with Peruvian Dark Chocolate (£8) but as I still couldn’t decide, I opted for both.
First I tried the Quail, which was out of this world delicious, it didn’t take me long to be picking it up with my fingers and making sure that I scoured every last bit of this tasty delight.
Moving onto the Profiteroles, which I found a little overpowering. Their richness, especially as a second starter was a little too much for me and I only managed one of the three served. That didn’t take away from how good they were however.
India choose the Smoked Ling (A white fish) and baked white chocolate tartlet with duck yolk (£7.50), which for somebody that isn’t a fan of white chocolate didn’t seem like a great choice. She finished it all however, with the rich egg yolk mixing through the tart to make a creamy tasting fish tart of which every last scrap was cleaned from the plate.
Moving onto mains, I went for the Stour Valley Venison Loin, Pedro Ximenez and Chequers Berry (£32). Cooked perfectly, it is complimented by the sweetness of the Pedro Ximenez and the dry fruit of the Chequers Berry. Served with chips on the side, this was another perfectly executed dish.
Indias main was a Pork Tenderloin, Baby Leeks, Yoghurt Charcoal and Fermented Romescu (£19). The pork was melt in the mouth tender ands again perfectly complimented on the plate, without being overly complicated.
India being ‘Brace Challenged’ enquired if there was any mayonnaise with which to eat her accompanying chips which she ordered on the side. They didn’t have any, but instead offered to make some fresh or to have some smoked hollandaise. She opted for the latter and I for one was glad she did. It was devine. I asked if the Eggs Benedict in the mornings came with it. I was advised that it
The menu is pretty much dictated by what can be sourced and foraged locally by the staff and other villagers, which has led to some unique and interesting flavours.
As well as the menu, the local foraging has led to the production of some of their own spirits and liqueurs, including a cherry vodka that India thoroughly enjoyed.
I kept to the wine and while their list is still fairly small, they have managed to source some real beauties, including a Portuguese Red that reminded me of the great Dao that I had consumed recently at Manchester Bull and Bear.
Unfortunately, and probably helped by having two starters, I was stuffed and couldn’t even bring myself to order anything from the desert menu. Instead we opted to retire for the night, utilising those relaxing bath salts and got a good nights sleep.
In the morning it was nice to be woken by clucking chickens and cows rather that traffic noise or someone down the street yelling.
We headed down for breakfast, which we had preordered the night before at the time convenient to ourselves. Those Eggs Benedict with that Smoked Hollandaise that I requested.
I congratulated myself again for making that choice the night before, I would highly recommend that smoked hollandaise (Sorry again for going off menu).
After finishing breakfast, we bid Monty the local cat good morning and headed back upstairs to pack for our drive back home.
On check out we had another natter to the staff, all of whom were incredible friendly and accommodating. The team here really have set up a local gem as well as a destination pub. When staying here, you are welcomed as part of the extended family and leave feeling like you’ve just visited an old friend.