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The Red Lion Hunningham

Here comes the sun  - and an award-winning destination pub with a lovely riverside beer garden to soak up some rays with a chilled glass of rosé in hand. Cheers!

Is there anything more British than a beer garden in the sunshine?

This immensley popular country pub and restaurant has enviable views along the River Leam while overlooking the scenic Warwickshire countryside. It also has a fantastic outdoor kitchen – just the ticket to enjoy a beautiful summer’s day with family and friends.

 

THE LOCATION

A lovely setting right on the River Leam next to a stone bridge, surrounded by farmland, and just three miles outside Leamington Spa in the village of Hunningham.

In summer the star of the show here is the frankly sprawling garden with river views – it’s enormous with outdoor furniture – and a newly opened outdoor kitchen. You can sit on the grassy riverbank and enjoy the peaceful surroundings. Earlier this month they held a family-friendly Bastille Day Fireworks event.

 

THE VIBE

We’re talking country chic here, with exposed beams, open fireplaces, stone walls, neutral paintwork and rustic stone flag floors. It’s all tastefully done, oozes comfort and there’s a buzz about the place. It was packed outside when we arrived for a special family celebration – our son’s 18th birthday tea – and the sun was out.

There were a mix of couples, groups of friends and families basking in the evening sunshine. From Richard the manager to the smiley team of waiting staff, everyone is warm, friendly and attentive, and both bar and dining room have a laid-back but lively feel.

Surrounded by fantastic walks, woods and common land, your four-legged friends are welcome to join you for lunch or dinner in the lounge bar.

 

SCOFF & QUAFF

Winner of Best Destination Pub in the Muddy Stilettos Awards 2019, and a finalist in the Midlands Food Drink and Hospitality Awards 2019 (Best Gastro Pub), The Red Lion offers British pub food that is cooked simply and cleverly. But having a young, talented French MD, Richard Merand, it also has something of a Gallic twist.

MD Richard Merand, (centre,) with his chef Adrian (right) and digital marketer Stefan Wesley (left) at the 2019 Muddy Awards drinks.

As there was a group of us we decided to go for some sharing starters – a Vegetarian Platter – consisting of hummus, pitta, olives, halloumi chips, and garlic bread – Baked Camembert and Garlic Prawn Skewers. All very more-ish.

The summer menu is a mix of pub classics such as burgers – beef, chicken and falafel – and fish & chips/veggie fish & chips with beer-battered halloumi, roasts and steaks grilled in a charcoal-fuelled Josper grill.  Specials included including Roasted Halibut Fillet and BBQ Beef Short Rib. There’s also a Children’s Menu for £8.50 with four options, plus a Sunday Roast for £9.

I chose for the Butternut Squash Chilli served with homemade nachos, and topped with cheese and sour cream – tres bon – washed down with a glass of New Zealand Nika Tiki Sauvignon Blanc

My husband took a break from his Keto diet to enjoy the Josper’d Red Lion Beef Burger in a sesame seed brezel bun with salad, relish and chips.

The Traditional Cassoulet with Toulouse sausages, chorizo, butter beans and confit of Duck was very popular with my mother!

The two teens chose Veggie Fish & Chips and the Buffalo Chicken Burger with sweet potato fries; while the younger one went for Kid’s Fish & Chips, below, with mushy peas.

The kids still had room for dessert and between the three of them demolished an irresistible Chocolate & Peanut Butter Brownie and an Apple & Summer Berry Crumble with custard.

Other pudding choices include Vanilla Panacotta, Passion Fruit Eton Mess and Sticky Toffee Pudding. A nice touch, teas and coffees come with a macaroon.

 

OUT AND ABOUT

With great walking and cycling routes nearby, The Red Lion Hunningham is ta popular place to stop and grab a bite to eat en route. Walking routes include the 4-mile Hunningham Circular along sections of the Millennium Way. You can see a description of the route hereLeamington Spa is only 5 miles away but if you want to stick to the countryside, you’re only a five-minute drive from the lovely Hilltop Farm Shop & Cafe  in the village from where you get stunning views of the open countryside. It has a children’s play area and Hilltop Hideaways glamping site (if you’re looking for an overnighter). Other countryside pursuits nearly include local Clay Pigeon experience at Honesberie Shooting School on a family-owned 400-acre farm around 12 miles south; Offchurch Bury Polo Club on the beautiful Offchurch estate – good for team-building activity days – and Stoneleigh Deer Park Golf Club.

 

THE MUDDY VERDICT:

Good for: Sunday lunchers, families, casual bar drinkers, dog-walkers. Everyone who wants a relaxed, down-to-earth pit-stop in attractive country surroundings without formality. Kids are well catered for and there’s plenty of outdoor space if young ones need to cartwheel in a field or drive a pretend tractor.

Not for: A formal fine dining experience with starched tablecloths or those wanting super-adventurous food. I’m sure it’s less busy on weekdays but this country inn is a chilled option – there are no airs and graces.

The damage: Starters are £6.50 – £9. Sharing boards slightly more at £14 for the Vegetarian platter and £13 for the Baked Camembert. Mains from £11.50 for roasts up to £45 for an 18oz British chateaubriand. Sides are £3 each. Puds around £7 – £7.50. Wine varies from £20 – £49 a bottle and starts at £4.90 for a 175ml glass. There’s a Happy Hour Mon to Thurs, 3-5pm, including 25% off all draft beer.

Main Street, Hunningham, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, CV33 9DY, Tel: 01926 632715  https://redlionhunningham

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside - Warwickshire