Slow Cotswolds

  • The Red Lion, Long Compton

    All the pubs, cafes, restaurants and places to stay within Slow Cotswolds are hand-picked for their special qualities but, of course, places change hands and not often for the better. Not so with the Red Lion at Long Compton, which continues to be just as good as it was when Slow Cotswolds was first published, if not better.

    I visited this lunch time and, not having had the chance to get there for a while, I'd forgotten how relaxing a place it is. The staff are friendly and attentive, but not so over the top to be intrusive. And, for a Monday lunchtime, I was surprised at how busy the pub was with diners or those simply enjoying the atmosphere. For there really is atmosphere here - helped by the decor. As soon as you open the entrance door to be greeted with grey and white chequered walls you know you're arriving somewhere thoughtfully different. Step into the pub and you're next greeted by wallpaper decorated with sheep - the classic symbol of the Cotswolds. At which point you step downstairs into an open but snug bar with comfy armchairs surrounding the wood burning stove. Lit today, it was perfect for the howling wind and rain outside. Flagstone floors, rugs, wood panelling accompanied by a nifty use of mirrors all compliment the dark grey walls. Yes, dark grey. You'd think it dingy wouldn't you? Not at all. The neutral tone is perfect for showing off the Kilim-style bench coverings, cushions and commissioned artworks - sheep, of course. With nooks and crannies to tuck yourself away and a combination of soft chairs, benches and rustic tables, the ambience is spot on.

    But what of the food? Well, it's fresh, seasonal and delicious. There's a full a la carte menu together with daily specials - all using produce from local farms and producers, many of which are also included within Slow Cotswolds. Then, Monday to Friday from 12 noon until 7pm there's a Prix Fixe menu: two courses for a a very reasonable £13.50 or just a few pounds more for three courses. This has a choice of three to four dishes for each course; simple hearty fare with puddings to die for. Today, for example, included a ginger and pear pudding served with a top quality vanilla ice cream and cinder toffee sauce.

    Finding a pub that serves lunch on a Monday is not always easy. But the atmosphere here is such that you can turn up for coffee and cake in the morning or enjoy afternoon tea and still be welcome. Sadly, work commitments prevailed; would that I could have stayed and nodded off beside the fire with a lingering coffee!

    To make a day of it, there are some superb walks within the vicinity whether from the village, in nearby Whichford Woods or on the Cotswold ridge above, where you can visit the Rollright Stones and practice your strides from the King's Stone to view Long Compton below. Just as the Rollright Stones was once connected with witches (it was a witch that, legend says, turned the King, and his men, to stone when he couldn't see Long Compton from the ridge), the village of Long Compton was long connected with witches. You can read all about it further in Chapter 3 of Slow Cotswolds.

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