Lovely Bits of Britain
Red Lion Pub offers tasty British fare, big portions, good service.
When two friends and I arrive for Sunday brunch at the Red Lion, we find a crowd at the bar and one free table. There’s soccer happening, Manchester versus Liverpool and it’s a tie game bringing loud cheering and groaning each time something noteworthy happens. About the time our server brings our food to the table, it’s game over and the bar empties as silence settles over the room.
While we wait for our order, thanks to the ubiquitous cell phone, we look up an answer to our question: what is the “corned” part of corned beef? Here’s what we learn. The beef is treated with large grains of rock salt known as “corns,” hence corned beef, and the salt, of course, diminishes potential spoilage.
A friend chooses the Smoked Salmon Hash and finds a generous portion of salmon on top of crisp potato hash. Two perfect over-easy eggs, chopped green onions, tomatoes, and a dollop of dill sauce complete this satisfying dish.
Another companion orders the Wimbledon Breakfast and says it’s what she expects: the over-easy eggs have nice runny yolks; the bowl of melon, grapes, and strawberries has enough; the blueberry scone is appropriately buttery.
We note a couple more unique brunch choices, Chip Butty and Breakfast Poutine. The Butty, shoestring potatoes topped with HP sauce, (brown sauce with a tomato base, vinegar, and spices) plus bacon and fried eggs, are stuffed inside grilled sourdough. It’s popular in the UK, with or without bacon and eggs, or in other words, your basic potato sandwich.
For the Poutine, the chef smothers fries and cheese curds with ale gravy which distinguishes the dish from a common poutine. To be certain no one who orders poutine leaves hungry, the chef adds two eggs.
I return for lunch a few days later because I’ve been obsessing about their sticky toffee pudding which a friend has described as devastatingly delicious.
But first lunch. My companion orders the strange Baked Tomato Soup, a bowl of soup topped with a grilled cheese sandwich, then baked with more cheese, cheddar and mozzarella. It comes exactly as described with a minor addition of chopped tomatoes and green onions to add color and contrasting flavor to this bowl of cheese with tomato soup lurking underneath. This Baked Tomato Soup, albeit messy, does mimic classic comfort in a bowl, soup our moms made, Campbells Tomato with toasted cheese sammies, only this sandwich wasn’t made with Wonder Bread.
My lunch, Chef’s soup, a large bowl of lamb stew, looks and tastes nothing like soup. I’m not complaining. There must be close to half a pound of lamb, juicy tender chunks along with carrots and potatoes in dark rosemary scented gravy. I ask our server if there’s a difference between lamb stew and lamb soup. He laughs. I check the menu, decide I am enjoying a bowl of Shepherd’s Pie, made with Strauss braised lamb and vegetables in red wine and rosemary gravy. Whatever they want to call it, it’s a generous bowl of something that makes a second meal a day later at home.
Many dishes on the restaurant’s Favorites from the UK menu will bring expats looking for a taste of home. Salmon Wellington, fillet of salmon topped with herb infused cream cheese wrapped in filo dough, and Bangers and Mash, three sausages, crisp onion rings, and house gravy on mashed potatoes, are typical dishes found in the UK. I have fond memories of Seafood Pie — salmon, cod, shrimp, and veggies in a rich cream sauce topped with mashed potatoes — my favorite dish when I hiked part of the Pembrokeshire Trail in Wales.
I have one complaint about dessert; the anticipated sticky toffee pudding needs a bigger bowl. Something so rich, so decadent, so gooey should have ample space on the plate to soak up the caramel sauce and make it possible to collect a bit of vanilla ice cream in every bite.
After two meals at Red Lion, I can say everything is made in house as advertised, the portions beyond generous, the service flawless.
On the Menu
- Location: 1850 N. Water St.
- Phone: 414-431-9009
- Hours: 11 a.m. to close Mon-Fri, 10 a.m. to close Sat, 9 a.m. to close Sun
- Website: http://redlionpubmke.com
- UM Rating: 4 stars (average of Yelp, Trip Advisor and Zomato)