The site, based in a small rural spot of Surrey near Woking, took home the title of Admiral Pub of the Year after seeing off strong competition from within the company’s estate.
The Red Lion, run by Gary Tallent, is unusual for a small village operation, offering a high-end food and drink offer that refuses to compromise.
Gary likes to refer to his operation as like marmite, something you’ll either love or hate, but he certainly ticked the boxes for the judges who found his approach and site different but certainly appealing.
Team comes first
Service standards are fantastic with a small but well trained, organised and happy team on hand to look after guests. Staff are given two and a half days off a week and Gary is keen to encourage a career focus among the team, as well as incentives for senior staff with a percentage of the business after a number of years in service.
The outdoor space for the pub is well thought out, featuring beautiful gardens designed to be an edible space, with a vegetable patch, offering products for the pub’s kitchen, and borders feature herbs and edible plants. A particular centre-piece to the outdoor space are three flowing ponds in the middle, stocked with fat Koi Carp.
Food is a high priority at the Red Lion, with steaks a particular focus. The site does it’s own on-site butchering and even has a wall of himalayan rock salt in the meat fridge to help with maturation to create the perfect steak experience for guests. Sourcing is prioritised locally, with a focus on sustainability.
This is a pub that really stands out from the crowd, it’s quirky and a little different, reflecting the operators personality, but he’s unapologetic about that, and it’s certainly been a hit with the customers.