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Review: The Wheelton pub that takes pride in its produce

Posted on - 27th May, 2023 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Food & Drink, Opinion, Preston News, Pubs, South Ribble News, What's On in Preston
The Red Lion bacon brie and cranberry panini
A bacon, brie and cranberry panini with none of that green, leafy cack on the side

It was the third sunny day in a row in Preston, so my daughter Ground Zero, my mother Yvonne and I took advantage of that freak phenomenon by taking a drive to The Red Lion in Wheelton for lunch.

I’d never tried it, though Yvonne told us that she and my father Dry Tony have been going in for years. She gave us a thorough run down of everyone who had ever owned it, though we eventually had to steer her away before she got riled up about the War of the Roses and started trying to punch Yorkshire.

It ticked the authenticity boxes of a traditional English pub that had avoided being given cheap veneers by chain breweries. Elderly men sitting on their own with their pints and looking quite happy to do so. A log fire, woodwork that’s a little worse for wear, wall colours that could be any part of the spectrum but will always be recalled as being dark green. A werewolf mooching around outside in the hope that Yvonne might wander off a nearby path into its mouth, unaware that only one of them would be eaten and it wouldn’t be her.

Read more: Lostock Hall author publishes second book in werewolf romance series

The Red Lion was named Pub of the Year in the Campaign for Real Ale’s (CAMRA) Central Lancashire branch last year, and according to Yvonne who had a pint of Oakham Citra, they knew how to keep their Real Ales. Ground Zero and I had a try of it, and decided that Yvonne could keep hers, too.

Yvonne decided on a bacon, brie and cranberry panini for £4.95, which came with a few crisps and some crunchy homemade coleslaw. It wasn’t short of filling, and the bacon was cooked ‘nice and crispy’ as requested.

Ground Zero ordered baked Camembert with local chutney and homemade ale bread, for £6.95. I’m not 100 per cent sure that the bread we received was homemade as it looked sliced by a machine, but it was nice enough. My apologies to the Red Lion if I’m mistaken. The chutney tasted similar to the filling of a Christmas mince pie, which might have gone better with a stronger cheese such as Cheddar, as it overwhelmed the Camembert a little. Nevertheless, it was good value and Ground Zero enjoyed it, as did Yvonne.

The Red Lion Camembert with local chutney and homemade ale bread
The unhealthiness of a baked slab of saturated fat and pile of carby bread was nullified by the fruit chutney; one of your five a day

I opted for homemade chicken Kyiv with french fries and homemade coleslaw, for £11.95. The chicken was beautifully tender and had retained a significant amount of its filling. It was a nice surprise, as every chicken Kyiv I’ve had previously has turned into a dry, plain breaded chicken breast for me and a debauched, garlic butter pool party for the bottom of my oven.

The fries had been replaced by some sturdier chips, which I didn’t mind, and although the portion wasn’t huge it was more than enough.

The Red Lion chicken Kyiv
Get that down ye sharpish or you’ll miss Buck Rodgers in the 25th Century

All in all, we had a pleasant visit to The Red Lion; the type of local pub that was easy to find in the 1980s, but is increasingly rare today. There are no frills or frippery on anything, including the food. No balsamic reductions, and no regret after eating that orange thing on your cheesecake that looks like a tomato pretending to be a fruit, pretending to be a tomato. You don’t have to check the menu to reassure yourself that the foam on your plate is a garnish made out of micro peas because what it really looks like is a terrifying lack of hygiene procedures in the kitchen.

What the Red Lion delivers in spades is a nostalgia-inducing visit to a proper old fashioned pub. Excellent beer, friendly staff who’ve been there for years, manageable portions of tasty, mostly homemade food- not piled high on an oversized plate – and a quiet vibe that says ‘bugger off with your garnish, you’re going to eat it, not wear it’.

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