Does the Red Lion at Cricklade deserve yet another award? STEPHEN WEBB investigates...

THE RED LION, 74 High Street, Cricklade SN6 6DD . Tel: 01793 750776 . Open: Food, seven days a week – noon-2.30pm and 6.30-9pm Monday to Thursday. To 9.30pm Friday and Saturday. Noon-3pm Sunday CRICKLADE feels like a much-loved location at the moment.

It was only a few weeks ago that the Thames-side town was crowned national Britain in Bloom champion.

And now the popular Red Lion pub, a regular winner of real ale accolades, has just been named Wiltshire Dining Pub of the Year.

And what better reason for us at the Adver to test whether the judges at the Good Pub Guide got it right?

The Red Lion is a warm and cheerful little pub at the bottom end of the High Street – just a few strides from the river – that is celebrated for the range and quality of beer that it serves, and fast acquiring a reputation for its food too.

Its small but comfortable restaurant is welcoming and informal, and the menu, while not having a wide range of dishes, still has plenty to tempt you, and emphasises that the food is locally sourced. If you fancy some beef, that comes from registered rare breeds up the road at Butts Farm; you can thank Leonie and her family from Great Farm in Whelford, 12 miles away, for the free range chicken; Dave at Gryphon Lodge Farm in Cricklade supplies duck eggs; and “radishes, carrots, apples, cucumber, tomatoes, herbs and salad leaves are from our back garden”. The Red Lion even encourages local people to forage and donate fresh produce – the rear of the menu reads like the credits at the end of a film.

So, having taken all that in, it was time to tuck in to my starter – local air dried ham, fried local duck egg (that’s from Dave, remember) and cheddar shavings (£6.95). With some beautifully home-made bread and butter, this was a delicious opener – and yet so simple: it’s ham and eggs, and the flavours were fabulous.

There were also contented murmurings from across the table, where my wife thoroughly enjoyed her Red Lion tea smoked salmon, pickled cucumber and home-made brown bread (£6.95).

This set things up nicely for the main course. I chose roast free range pork, crispy potatoes, black pudding, braised red cabbage, sprouting broccoli and mustard sauce (£12.95). Again, a fairly basic dish elevated to something sublime. The slab of pork was juicy and full of flavour, but the crowning glory of this dish was the black pudding, which complemented the meat superbly.

Also complementing it was the recommended beverage. Rather than a wine recommendation with dishes, this menu suggested certain bottled beers – and the one that goes with the pork caught my eye: it was called Stone Oaked Arrogant Bastard, and I couldn’t resist asking for that. Naughty sniggers aside, it was a remarkable tasting beer.

A glass of innocent sounding red wine accompanied my wife’s dish of local free range chicken and foraged wild mushroom pie, which came with smoked mashed potato and watercress sald (£12.50), and was declared to be one of the best chicken and mushroom pies she has ever tasted.

Dessert was a struggle, but duty called – a most satisfying treacle tart with a dollop of clotted cream for me (£5); two scoops of home-made damson ice cream (£1.65 a scoop) for the wife.

And so, full and content, and with an hour or so still to go to closing time, we adjourned to the bar to agree with each other what a great meal that was, and with the judges who awarded the Red Lion its accolade.

See if you do too – and order a bottle of Stone Oaked Arrogant Bastard while you’re there. I dare you.