Family-friendly pub ahoy!
The Red Lion has sat on Odiham’s High Street for a few hundred years (500 to be precise) and even though many things may have changed during its long history (including a stint as a grocer), it hasn’t lost any of the traditional charms that people flock to when looking for a good old British pub.
Having had a major refit in 2017, courtesy of the Surrey-based group Red Mist Leisure, it reverted to its original name and became a fully-fledged gastropub and B&B. With its north Hampshire location, it also benefits from being just a stone’s throw from the M3, as well as the Berkshire and Surrey borders.
Almost two years on and the building is looking fresh and inviting and is all about being at the centre of the community while providing excellent locally sourced food and drink to those who visit.
When we arrived on the Sunday lunchtime it was buzzing – busy, but not rammed, with diners heading out for a family Sunday lunch and cheeky drink before the return to work the next day.
The walls and ceiling are festooned with the wooden beams of the building with more modern, quirky prints hung upon the walls. The furniture and decor are relaxed with industrial lighting and weathered leather seating, giving it a one-part countryside rustic to one-part subtly stylised look.
The clientele was a real balance between the local residents and people, like ourselves, who had trekked a bit to get there. The dress code was casual, with jeans and trainers as de rigeur.
Despite it being a chilly day in January, the sun was pouring in through the windows and it was warm enough to not need the log burning stoves on. There were various age groups around the dining and bar areas, as well as a good smattering of adorable, well-behaved dogs too.
SCOFF & QUAFF
With a well-varied menu and a good selection of both specials and vegan choices, I decided to go for a honey-roasted gammon roast dinner.
The roast came with duck fat roasted potatoes, seasonal vegetables, gravy and a Yorkshire pudding (bit divisive with the gammon, but I’m always game for a Yorkie). The meat was cooked beautifully with just a hint of the honey glaze. The seasonal veg was a mix of Chantenay carrots, kale, leeks and green beans with a very good slog of butter. The roast potatoes were the absolute star of the plate, with my husband remarking they were better than mine (humph) and the gravy was tasty, although I would have preferred it on the side rather than ready-poured as my Yorkshire didn’t get much of a coating.
Portions were spot on for size, leaving just enough room for a dessert without feeling too stuffed.
The kids, who are both at a notoriously fussy age, gobbled up pork & herb sausages and a battered haddock and chips, with little to no encouragement. High praise indeed from preschoolers.
For dessert, I opted for a Danish Bread & Butter pudding with custard. It’s worth pointing out that I’m not normally a fan of custard, however, the cosy atmosphere lent itself to a “proper” pudding and it was absolutely the right choice. The custard was light in texture and strong on vanilla, with the pudding itself moist and full of fruit and spices.
There was a huge selection of drinks on offer from local gins, craft ales to English sparkling wines and much more. The menu goes into detail about where everything is from and features numerous Hampshire and Surrey beverages. A small glass of Millstream Chenin Banc starts the proceedings at £5.35 for a 175ml glass.
There are seven rooms at the Red Lion, leaning towards the bijou size-wise but they’re spotless, warm and modern without wiping out the past.
Gnarled wooden beams punctuate the slick paint-work, a timely reminder that, despite the urban-chic interiors — the industrial lampshades and the wet room’s bright-white hospital tiles, you are in a Georgian town in rural Hampshire.
Back to the wet room; definitely wet room, not bathroom because there are no baths here (très continental). Don’t worry, though, the huge shower-heads pump out hot water, and some. A certain Mr Muddy Hants, a.k.a the cleanest man in Odiham, was a huge fan.
Our room, Hunter, was directly above the bar and backed onto the main road. I’m very sensitive to sound but heard not a cough nor a splutter.
The bar was empty and silent by 11.30pm, traffic noise was minimal and in the morning I opened the large, Georgian windows to Sunday morning bells from All Saints Church across the road.
Each room has a Dualit coffee machine, ESPA goodies in the bathroom and a reasonably priced mini-bar, plus there’s a shared guest cupboard with an ironing board, board games and wine glasses (life’s essentials).
Absolutely. With a children’s menu that caters to all levels of fussiness, plenty of sharpened pencils for colouring-in and child-friendly options for staying over, this is the perfect spot to take the family when out exploring for the day or weekend. They also offer a ‘Kids-Stay Free’ option during the school holidays to help keep those costs down.
OUT & ABOUT
The town of Odiham is super quaint and very rustic, with numerous independent boutiques and shops throughout the High Street. Locally, there’s plenty to do with Galleon Marine offering rides at the end of the High Street on the Basingstoke Canal and the ruined Odiham Castle to explore.
Also, if you hear some loud noises then don’t be alarmed as the town is also the location of RAF Odiham which is the home of the Chinook helicopter fleet, and is worth craning your neck for a gawk at when they fly overhead.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Families, young and old. This place is extremely child-friendly and gives families all the joys of a pub getaway without worrying about what to do with the small ones. It’s also a great spot to take your parents for dinner or lunch with easy parking (there’s a car park around the back and 2 hours of free street parking).
Not for: Those looking for a super quiet intimate spot and avant-garde foodie experiences. While it’s cosy and welcoming it’s quite busy and family-focused. The food here is brilliant but very simple and traditional, so not for those hunting for Hampshire’s version of The Fat Duck.
The Damage: Extremely reasonable. With starters at around £7 and main meals hovering around the £15 mark, it’s on the higher end of ‘budget’ but with excellent quality. They also have numerous offers throughout the week including a special midweek menu, a bottomless weekend brunch (£15 with unlimited prosecco or cocktails), a Monday burger night and seasonal offers to watch out for.
The Red Lion, 102 High Street Odiham Hampshire RG29 1LP. 01256 701145, redlionodiham.co.uk
Pssst…. don’t forget to check out our fantastic Reader Treat to win a meal for four at The Red Lion worth £150