There’s a buzz around Radford Semele – and its fast spreading around the area- thanks to the much-anticipated reopening of The White Lion.
This beautiful thatched country pub began welcoming visitors again last month following a transformative, but sympathetic, refurbishment by its new owners.
It becomes the fifth business to join the award-winning Peach Pubs stable- joining the likes of the popular Rose and Crown in Warwick, Star and Garter in Leamington, The Almanack in Kenilworth and The One Elm in Stratford.
And, based on my recent visit, what a fabulous addition that is.
First thing to strike me was the new design, which offers a fresh and contemporary backdrop to the dining experience while also staying sensitive to the building’s historic features, most notably the stunning exposed beams and brickwork which have been carefully restored and highlighted.
And, if you enjoy cosy nooks for private meetings or romantic meals, there are plenty of options.
There are also plenty of spots in which to linger and, on the evening of our visit, the restaurant was bathed in light with the bi-fold doors to the spacious terrace flung wide open. Summer temperatures and lighter evenings help really bring this pub into its own. Our comfortable corner in the garden room offered us the best of both indoor and al fresco worlds.
A spacious new covered curved pergola and sheltered dining space at the end of the garden that can also be booked for private parties. I think this will be a particularly popular feature.
A friendly reception and service offer a relaxing vibe while all the time sensing a reassuringly efficiently run front of house and kitchen, despite only reopening to customers last month.
The menu is bursting with fresh, seasonal recipes with classic and Mediterranean influences overseen by head chef Stefan Elliot, whose career has taken him from the small town of Llangollen in North Wales to Michelin-starred Northcote Manor.
From the Small Plates Menu, we opted for. . .
Hand-picked Devon Crab & Poached Salmon Salad
Black Pudding Scoth Egg, Apple & Brandy Puree (From the Specials Menu)
Apple & Parsnip Soup, Parsnip Crips (From the Specials Menu) Pictured above.
Main Course. . .
Free-range Chicken Schnitzel, Garlic & Parsley Butter, Rocket Parmesan and Fries
14-Hour Braised Beef & Ale Pie, Buttered Mash, Greens and Gravy
Stonebass, New Potatoes & Rocket. Pictured above.
Desserts. . .
Apple Tart Tatin, Vanilla Ice Cream
Chocolate Brownie (in Mini Pud with coffee form)
Chocolate and Salted Caramel Torte, Crème Fraiche. Pictured below.
Satisfied diners all round.
Other highlights of the tempting menu also include (Starters): Merrifield Duck Scrumpet, Hoi Sin, Cucumber and Spring Onion Salad (£8.95); Hot & Sour Salad, Watermelon, Chilli, Red Pepper, Peanuts & Sesame (£7.25); (Mains): Pork Belly, Champ Mash, Crackling, Peas, Courgettes & Beans (£19.50); Miso-glazed Cod, Black Rice, Choi Sum, Lime, Chilli and Coriander (£22.50); (Desserts): Banoffee Cheesecake, Rum-Soaked Raisins, Bananas & Pecans (£8.25); Lemon Posset, White Chocolate(£7.50)
There’s also a comprehensive cheese board selection with a choice of five cheeses available for £13, three for £8.50 or a ‘smidgen’ (not sure what constitutes a smidgen!) for £4.50.
Whether you’re looking for fine dining or good hearty pub classics, The White Lion has something to suit all appetites – but, it must be said, not necessarily all pockets!
While our meals could genuinely not be faulted in taste or presentation, it is only fair to point out that some of the prices are a little eyewatering – the cheapest main course is £15.25 (before adding sides) although I sense it’s probably as much an indication as to the rising costs in the hospitality sector these days being passed down to the consumer and they’re not unique in this.
The message here though is, if you do want to treat yourself to a top-notch dining experience with an innovative and exciting menu, you will get the quality you’re paying for at The White Lion and won’t go home feeling disappointed. It is in the upper echelons of gastro pub dining that, if your purse can stretch, will definitely have you returning again.
Visit The White Lion here