Tag Archives: review

A spur of the moment meal at the red lion grog house

It was too good of a day not to take off.

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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.

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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!

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The Silver Star Gets A Gold Star From Me

I finished another book recently! I picked up Jeannette Walls’ book The Silver Star (though I was late to the game, as it was published nearly a year ago in June of 2013) because I’ve enjoyed her other books immensely. Despite the controversy that has surrounded The Glass Castle and the criticism it has received as potentially being a work of mostly fiction I frequently recommend it to people who come into the library looking for something different or entertaining. I enjoyed it and Half Broke Horses because they are just descriptive enough and have that unique element of balanced humor and seriousness.

Anyway, back to The Silver Star. The book takes place in the 1970s. Our narrator is 12 year old Bean (Jean) Holladay and the story centers mostly around her and her 15 year old half-sister Liz. At the beginning of the book the girls live with their easy come, easy go mother Charlotte Holladay, a singer/song-writer who conveniently abandons things that are tough or make her uncomfortable. Shortly into the story Charlotte does just that: she abandons the girls, promising to return after she’s had some solo time. When Charlotte hasn’t returned a few weeks later, the girls fear they’ll be found out and moved into foster care. Liz, always the problem-solver and definitely idolized by Bean, suggests they travel across the country to Byler, Virginia, where Uncle Tinsley still lives in the old Holladay mansion.

When the girls arrive in Byler things aren’t quite what they expected. They slowly, at first, form a relationship with Uncle Tinsley and then realize they’ll probably be staying in Byler for awhile. The girls make themselves at home, learning about the Holladay family’s history of owning the mill in Byler, meeting family, exploring, and going to the newly-integrated school. They decide to look for jobs and soon find it at a local family’s house, working for the mill’s foreman, Mr. Maddox. Though initially considered somewhat of an outcast, Bean embraces her new school and the friendships she makes there and with her father’s family. Liz, however, keeps her nose to the grindstone working for Mr. Maddox and begins withdrawing after being made fun of at school. Then something awful happens to her, and she becomes even more withdrawn, while Bean takes charge of the situation, at least as much as one can take charge.

The Silver Star is a coming of age story of two girls in a unique situation, in a classic southern town dealing with some classic issues and some unique ones. I absolutely adored some of the characters: Bean was, of course, my favorite, but Uncle Tinsley, Joe, Aunt Al, and Liz are all wonderful also. Bean’s innocent courage and curiosity remind me a lot of another famous literary character, Scout from To Kill A Mockingbird. Mr. Maddox also reminded me of a character from Harper Lee’s famous masterpiece, as did the atmosphere, storyline, and the storytelling. The Silver Star also many elements that were reminiscent of The Glass Castle, such as the abandonment, the strongman characters, the sibling relationships, and the coping skills, which isn’t surprising, consider they’re written by the same author.

I would probably give this book 4.5/5 stars; if I had just recently finished Jeannette Walls’ other books I might have been more disappointed, as I would definitely consider this book my least favorite (what a back-handed compliment). It was easy to read and possibly geared more toward young readers though it surely appeals to both a young adult and adult audience. While I wouldn’t say the book is fast-paced it does move along easily, but the first third of the book had some moments that were slow. The book has several miniature lessons and moments and characters that left me thinking. Though I didn’t like it as much as I liked either of Walls’ other books or To Kill A Mockingbird, it was a fantastic story that I may pick up again and have already suggested to others. I can’t wait to read more from Jeannette Walls, and am currently seeking a book that reads similarly.

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