The Red Lion sits on the A48, on the way to Cowbridge. In fact, it’s been sitting there since 1784, on the site of a medieval tavern known as the Hopping Hall as far back as 1434. There’ve been more incarnations along the way, but since 2019 it’s been in the capable hands of Dave, the happy landlord.
On a particularly miserable Saturday afternoon, we found ourselves in the car park and decided to pop in: the log burner was lit, dogs were welcomed, and settled in comfy fireside chairs, the outside elements were soon a distant memory. The Red Lion has the sort of location that means by the time you decide to go in, you’ve driven past – I’m delighted we pulled over this time.
The menu has been given a lift with a smattering of untraditional-by-pub-standards additions. Fritto misto – calamari, whitebait and prawns served with smoked aioli and salad – or butternut squash arancini, which in fairness does seem to pop up regularly now. Chicken supreme comes with chorizo pistou, which according to Google is a pounded sauce made of garlic, basil, pine nuts, grated Sardinian pecorino and olive oil, and is paired with hasselback potatoes and parmesan shards. They do an awesome homemade steak and ale pie with creamy mash and seasonal veg, plus a great selection of burgers; veggie and vegan options are available, as are homemade desserts.
During our two hours inside, various groups came and went, and the staff were very accommodating and friendly. More than once they deftly navigated our two dogs sprawled out on the rug – indeed, they also have a dog menu, and Bob and Ollie thoroughly enjoyed some perfectly presented sausages. Traditional and welcoming, The Red Lion has been around for hundreds of years and I imagine it will continue: no faff, no gimmicks, just customer-focused, friendly and good.
The Red Lion, A48, Bonvilston.
Info: 01446 781208 / theredlion.wales
words ANTONIA LEVAY