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The Red Lion, more than palatable pub fare

The cozy interior at the Red Lion
The cozy interior at the Red Lion

Being New Year’s Eve, the thought of alcohol consumption is on many minds today. Mine, too, though more so how it pertains to food, at least in the case of the Red Lion, which does terrific double duty as being a very welcome destination for both imbibing and eating.

My initial attraction to the Red Lion was as an attractively appointed and very proficient British pub that served a nice array of draft beers in proper 20-ounce Imperial pint glasses complemented with an equally nice selection of whiskies. Though I still enjoy visiting for a beer or whisky, I like the Red Lion even without libations; the food has long been worthy of visit by itself. I write that as someone who thoroughly enjoys the pub culture, and pubs, but have never been a fan of British pub fare, either here or in the UK (or Ireland).

And the Red Lion serves a menu that might be described as contemporary pub fare. It is recognizably British, and though several of the dishes are traditional, the offerings are far from stodgy and far from the typical pub food in quality and imagination. The Red Lion does not aim for the heights of a gastropub – those ambitious restaurants in pub settings that did much for the British restaurant scene in the past decade-and-and-a-half – it just serves quality, usually hearty preparations with appealing flavors from good ingredients.

There is a lot from which to choose, too. There are twenty-five items on the lunch menu, many with British provenance, but others local and Asian, and nearly a half-dozen featuring Indian flavors. You might expect that, as chicken tikka masala has been the most popular dish in the UK for a while now. The Red Lion does serve a version of that. There is also something like you probably won’t find in pubs in the home country, Baked Tandoori Chicken Quesadillas, which are terrific, with an Indian-style bread substituting for the flour tortilla. It is also a good amount of food for $14. The Tandoori Chicken Enchiladas are another dish that mixes Tex-Mex ideas with those from the Subcontinent. More traditionally Indian, the Minced Lamb Keema, a grilled ground meat skewer, served with aged basmati rice is another favorite among regular.

Among the traditional British dishes are the long-lauded fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, sausage rolls and a Cornish pastie. Chicken and Dumplings, a cheeseburger, chicken pot pie, and a Monte Cristo sandwich are a few of the home-grown offerings that are also done quite well. The items at lunch ranged from $9 to $16 with a $12 average. It is about the price of a typically lunch these days, and the Red Lion is probably tastier than your typically lunchtime options, and the portions are generally large. Its pub setting also has the advantage of making the meal more fun by subtly encouraging you to accompany your lunch in the typical British fashion, with a pint of beer or glass of wine.

The Red Lion
2316 S. Shepherd (between San Felipe and Westheimer), 77019, (713) 782-3030

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