Red Lion in Denton: A big thing in a small package
If there is one thing we love gents and gent-ettes, it is a good village pub. There is arguably no better way to enjoy a wonderful meal and beverage than surrounded by Northamptonshire’s picturesque countryside. So imagine our delight when we came across one of the most wonderfully hidden village pub gems in the county; the Red Lion in Denton. Located just opposite the village green, the pub has undergone a recent refurbishment and is looking to make a name for itself as a foodie’s paradise. It seemed only right that we exposed the little gastropub to you fine folks.
The Red Lion in Denton
Denton is a small village that can be found a short drive to the South East of Northampton town. Though small in size, Denton and its residents are no stranger to a village pub, with the tiny village having three public houses open at one time. Gradually, these closed down and the last pub standing was the Red Lion. The pub was recently taken over by landlords Stacy and Deryck back in July 2015 and, along with Charles Wells brewery, underwent a major refurbishment to transform the pub into one of the most charming establishments in the county.
Speaking with Josh Baxter, Operations Manager Josh about the refurbishment, he said: “A refresh was required to entice not only the locals back in but to make this a destination pub for food. We have also just taken on Kym Symes as our General Manager so have a fantastic team in place to push the venue forward. “
The stunning countryside pub and restaurant is petite in size but packed full of charm and comfort, creating an intimate and cosy setting. The bar is a pleasant space to sit and enjoy a drink with friends whilst the longer dining area is comfortable and inviting, with a combination of quaint decorations, tasteful furnishings and endearing staff who look genuinely pleased to see you. It is this homely and relaxed atmosphere that struck us, with the setting making you feel immediately at home.
Gent tip: With it being a little of the beaten track and with its relaxing, intimate atmosphere, the gastropub would work well as a date night location.
As the summer months’ approach, this one will certainly be one to look out for. Seating is available at the front of the pub, overlooking the quaint village green and church; a perfect view whilst sipping on an ale or prosecco in the sun.
Do not let the humble decor and relaxed setting fool you however; the Red Lion in Denton is doing some seriously impressive stuff in the kitchen. The pub has taken on skilled and aspirational Head Chef Michael Spence, who has worked at Bristol’s Rosette awarded Thatched Cottage and Bath’s Michelin Starred Pony and Trap. The gastropub serves up classic British dishes but with a level of quality and refinement rare to find in Northampton, using distinct and exciting flavours that are sure to leave patrons smiling.
A starter of Venison Scotch Egg with cherry tomatoes and wild mushrooms was a triumph, with the gamy venison pairing well with the soft egg yolk and crispy coating. The wild mushrooms added an earthy flavour which was offset with the tanginess of the brown sauce and the sweetness of the tomatoes. It was clear from the first course that Michael has brought over his knowledge, ideas from years of experience. with the entire dish being well balanced and full of flavour. The soup of the day, butternut squash and red pepper, had a delicately sweet flavour followed by a slight spicy kick from a small amount of scotch bonnet added to the dish, just enough to keep the taste buds on their toes.
Opting for a pub classic of fish and chips, the dish was far removed from what you might expect from your local chip shop. The cooking of the fish was faultless, with the beer batter lights and crispy and the cod inside soft, flaky and full of flavour. The crushed peas had a hint of mint whilst the sharp homemade tartare sauce and crispy, hand cut chips were all delicious. The small gastropub also underwent the Northampton Gent burger inquisition, serving up their Red Lion Kitchen Burger filled with succulent beef, smoked apple wood cheddar, bacon and a gherkin. The burger review will be up soon with more details, but we can reveal that in terms of presentation, it’s hard to serve up a more delicious looking burger.
Aiming to be known for its food, the kitchen does not cut any corners. It sources a large amount of its produce from local Northamptonshire suppliers and speaking with Michael, he stressed the importance of seasonality in his dishes and freshness of the ingredients. The Red Lion in Denton also create all dishes from scratch, with even the ice creams and sorbets being homemade. A quick conversation with Michael reveals that food is his utmost passion and the quality of the dishes speak for themselves.
As well as delicious menu, the pub has spent a lot of time and effort refining the drinks on offer to gents and gent-ettes as well. Besides a carefully sourced wine list, the pub also has an impressive selection of beers, with tipples on tap including Young’s Bitter, Courage, Estrella and Northampton Gent favourite, Erdinger. There is also a varied selection of bottled beers to choose from as well.
Speaking about the beverages, Josh said: “We have put time into our cellar management and making sure our ales are good as they can be, which will soon be certified by Cask Marque. We also have an extensive wine menu to compliment Mikee’s food with pairing being offered on selected dishes.”
For the Future
Speaking to Head Chef Michael, he spoke about his ambition to continue refining the food offering. It’s incredible to think that with the level of food being served, the pub is still in its early days and finding its feet. He also hopes to connect with more local business and suppliers to really push the boat on what he is able to offer dinners.
As everything served focuses on seasonality, the Red Lion in Denton’s menu is constantly changing and adapting to focus on what produce is in season. It is this dedication to quality and service that sets the pub apart from many of its counterparts and makes it something quite special.
Yardley Inns Ltd will also be taking over and putting the magic touch on the The Old Cherry Tree at Great Houghton, with them heavily investing in a complete overhaul of the kitchen. With an expected opening of mid to late May, expect a review to follow very soon afterwards gents and gent-ettes!
Go. It is really that simple. The dainty gastropub is serving up some of the most delicious food in Northamptonshire that is only matched by the level of service you receive. Staff want to ensure customers are enjoying themselves and it seems that the same care and attention that is paid in the kitchen runs throughout the entire pub.
It is arguably one of the best hidden gems in Northampton and somewhere like this should really be packed every evening. Our suggestion is to book a table before people find out what they are missing.