In October of last year, Fountain Square welcomed newcomer, Red Lion Grog House to the scene. (Check out the website...nicely done.) Although they are located in the heart of Fountain Square on Virginia Ave., it takes a minute to find them due to a distinct lack of a good outdoor street sign. It helps to know it is part of the old G.C. Murphy building.
The lack of a freshly tapped beer at a grog house was quite the disappointment for Fred and Libby, but we were still optimistic and so glad to finally be out and about after so long. The menu features typical English fare...fish 'n chips, bangers 'n mash, shepherds pie, scotch eggs, a little curry, and some sandwich and burger options.
FLOE decided to start with the fried pickle chips with garlic dijon-aioli. Fred chose the curry dish, the Chicken Tikka Masala while Libby stayed very English with the Fish and Chips...although the Blanket Bangers sounded oh, so tempting! Ozzy, being in a mood after waking up cranky from a brief car nap and losing a toy the moment we set foot in the pub, settled on some of the fresh-cut fries and a water...oy. Stella seemed very content post pre-dinner peas and squash. :)
The pickles came out fresh and hot. A nice crunch, a light fry, and that dipping sauce was just fantastic! Something to save for anything else you could possibly dip in it! They were gone far too quickly, but definitely got us in the mood for more!
The entrees arrived soon after. Fred's Chicken Tikka looked so good that poor, quick Stella stuck her hand in it the moment Daddy's attention went to picking her toy rings off the floor for her...a little too warm and a shock brought the pleasantness of the evening to an abrupt halt.
After soothing the wee one, Fred found the Chicken Tikka Masala to be rich and flavorful. He had always heard that the English did Indian very well, but had assumed that their version would always be a bit watered down on the flavor side. But this was heavily seasoned and certainly equal to anything he's had at India Palace. The only thing missing was the naan. And a hefty beer, of course! Served with only basmati rice, it was a hearty portion that left a wonderful warmth around the lips and belly.
At first glance, you could tell Ozzy's fries were going to be good. A perfect brown hue promised a lovely flavor to those house made fries...and they did not disappoint. Ozzy was very happy, complaining only that there were too many for him to finish. Libby was so pleased to see an equally welcoming perfect golden-brown fry to her Atlantic cod. This was easily one of the best fish and chips entrees ever, and there have been many. The fish was not oily, of good quality, perfectly fried with a tasty batter...and a perfect amount. Not over battered, mushy, or underfried. Well done. A little(or maybe a lot) of malt vinegar and we were good to go!
Afterwards, one of the owners came up to let us know there were going to be a few locals on tap, including two Sun King brews and Upland Rad Red (complete with a custom Red Lion tap)...not a bad start. She also made sure to let us know there would be no domestics...even better. There will also be about 20 bottled beers available. We will definitely be back when the taps are present and full and we can get the full Grog House experience. :)
Price-$$, Well worth the money for far above average pub-grub.
Atmosphere-** - ***, We never thought we'd say this, but they need more sh!t on the walls. And beer...
Service-****, Service was top-notch, although it was a slow night and they had plenty of extra staff on hand.
OverallFred - B+, Assuming they get that liquor license, this place could be dangerous... Perfect fried pickles. Must try the Blanket Bangers next time.
Libby - B, The meal was good. But sadly the rating has to take a hit when there's no grog in the grog house.
Ozzy- B, Enjoyed the fries and dessert, but there really weren't any children's items available. Although the waitress did offer to come up with a PB&J!