WE thought by turning up for lunch at 12.15pm we would be well ahead of the crowd.
Not a bit of it.
By that time on a Saturday lunchtime, the Red Lion pub in East Bergholt is already heaving.
The lounge area was full of regular diners already installed and eagerly waiting for their lunches.
They were choosing from the classic and comprehensive menu which offered something for everyone and arguably you could comfortably eat your way through it entirely.
We waited our turn which wasn’t long due to the speed and attention of the staff.
I started with coated prawns with a sweet chilli sauce and they were delicious - light and soft.
My husband, Steve, went for potato skins with bacon and cheese, a real winter warmer and he ate them heartily.
We deliberated for a long time over our choice of main course.
Steve went eventually for pan fried tiger prawns cooked in cajun spice on a bed of rice while I decided to pick the steak and mushroom ale pie.
I flatter myself to have eaten enough steak pies in my lifetime to be something of a connoisseur.
Steve’s tiger prawns were sublime - tasty, light, moreish.
But the ultimate test would be the steak pie.
It passed with flying colours.
The pastry was light, the gravy rich and tasty and the meat melted in the mouth.
For dessert Steve chose a white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake which could have been too rich but was delicate and delicious.
Mine was a Sicilian lemon pudding with red berries. The cake was moist, infused with lemon drizzle and sweetened with the berries.
As we sat nursing our happy and full bellies, we watched the other customers go up to the bar to pay.
The staff shared a chat with each one, many of whom they knew by name.
They had obviously been many times before.
There was a sense of warmth at the Red Lion, of community, friendship even.
The pub is undoubtedly traditional - the brown tartan carpet was certainly a throw back to the 1980s and the customers were definitely in their twilight years. The tables were well worn, the menus decidedly retro.
But if ever there was a way to spend a relaxing Saturday lunchtime, it is in the company of the Red Lion pub.
Good food, good service, good company. Who could ask for more?
The Red Lion The Street,
Coated prawns £6.95
Cheese and bacon skins £6.45
Tiger Prawns in cajun spice with pilau rice £11.50
Steak and mushroom ale pic £9.95
White chocolate and raspberry cheesecake £4.25
Sicilian lemon cake £4.25