It was too good of a day not to take off.
I feel good about my accomplishments at work today, so I took off early and decided to head to Fountain Square for lunch and a beer. Of course I went to Red Lion Grog House. It’s an English pub with awesome food and a good selection of imported and local brews, so it’s a favorite of mine… Oh yeah, and Nate works there and Sara and her fiancé Wally own it. It opened in 2009 at 1043 Virginia Avenue, in the Murphy building. Nate and I frequented when we could and in 2012, almost 2 years ago, he took a job in the kitchen.
It’s funny, cooking is something Nate has always enjoyed and he definitely does it better than me and most other people I know. The job had worked out just perfectly; he excelled more than I though he would and is a natural leader in the kitchen. And he’s so much happier in this job than he ever has been, at least as long as I’ve known him.
I would call this a review of Red Lion Grog House, but I guess it wouldn’t be unbiased, huh? Well in any case, this is how I truly feel.
One of the first things I ever had off the menu was the fried pickles. If you know me, you know how much I love pickles…. they’ve been a favorite food of mine since I was a kid. Anyway, the fried pickles at RLGH are breaded and fried crispy golden and served with a garlic aioli that’s made in-house. It’s hard to pass up the pickles, but I do occasionally have the spicy shrimp served with a chili aioli, or the deep fried Mac and cheese bites, all of which are delicious fries goodness. I haven’t tried the scotch eggs, because I’m simply not interested. However, this traditional UK appetizer is apparently really awesome at Red Lion, and comes highly recommended. One of these days I’ll try the sausage and panko wrapped hard-boiled eggs, I promise.
The first entree I ever had at the Grog House was, of course, the fish and chips. The fish was light and fluffy and battered in what Nate calls a wet batter before it’s deep fried. The chips are hand-cut in-house and taste amazing with the spicy curry sauce. I basically had the signature dish and left so happy that first time that Nate and I promptly came back with his parents, then with my parents. I’m also a big fan of the chicken and chips, battered the same delicious way.
I often get the buffalo chicken sandwich (because I can never get enough buffalo sauce) with the house blue cheese dressing, or sometimes the macaroni and cheese with the crunchy breadcrumb topping. Red Lion recently donated some of this macaroni and cheese and some of their traditional shepherd’s pie to my library’s arts gala event. Though I don’t order it often, the shepherd’s pie is another of my favorites, and people seem to rave about it. I have had a few friends tell me they don’t care for it; I think it’s because it has a very herby taste with a strong rosemary flavor, and it seems like rosemary is something people tend to have strong feelings about.
I rarely get dessert… I never have room because I fill up on an appetizer and entree. But sometimes I come in just to have a few drinks and a snack. The elephant ear is definitely worth getting, because you can’t find one easily unless it’s summer and it’s just so delicious. Red Lion also does a specialty bread pudding that they change up frequently. They’ve had an orange flavored on, caramel, Oreo… The list goes on. Nate has fun thinking up new bread pudding ideas, and I have fun trying them out as a customer.
Red Lion has a great relationship with local breweries and serves beer from Fountain Square, Sun King, and Triton breweries, among many others. The taps change frequently enough that even when I was going in more frequently (a few times a month) I could try something new often.
I’m so glad Nate gets to be a part of this restaurant. It seems like such a random thing that happened, him applying for a job in the kitchen, but it has really allowed him to explore his passion and excel. He’s also the cook at home and he’s more motivated to try new dishes at home as well. I love that he is proud of what he does, and that he truly does work for a great place with delicious food.
If you haven’t tried Red Lion, you really should. Say hi to Nate, Wally, Sara, or any of the other awesome and friendly staff members, and tell them I sent you. You won’t be sorry!