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Since going independent earlier this year, The Red Lion in Icklingham has been able to use local foods and ales, better reflecting the fruits of Suffolk.

Since going independent earlier this year, The Red Lion in Icklingham has been able to use local foods and ales, better reflecting the fruits of Suffolk. (Photos by Geoff Ziezulewicz/S&S)

Since going independent earlier this year, The Red Lion in Icklingham has been able to use local foods and ales, better reflecting the fruits of Suffolk.

Since going independent earlier this year, The Red Lion in Icklingham has been able to use local foods and ales, better reflecting the fruits of Suffolk. (Photos by Geoff Ziezulewicz/S&S)

ICKLINGHAM — Chain restaurants are an inevitable part of our modern lives, often offering cheap eats that don’t always win out in the flavor department. As a result, quality food can end up coming at a price.

But sometimes eateries manage to mix quality with affordability. Take the Red Lion in Icklingham, a 10-minute drive from RAFs Mildenhall and Lakenheath.

Since gaining its freedom from the Greene King pub retailer earlier this year, the Red Lion has been born anew, like a leonine phoenix rising from the ashes of cookie-cutter corporate bleh.

And it’s been able to do it without jacking up its prices. Lunch generally runs between 6 to 8 pounds, while unique dinners featuring a variety of courses run about 16 pounds per person.

When the Red Lion belonged to the Greene King chain, drink and food ingredients had to be purchased via the conglomerate, but with the new "free house" status, everything from ale and produce to meat can be acquired fresh and locally, according to Ed Lockwood, the Red Lion’s chef and landlord.

"We are now able to source everything in Suffolk," he said of the restaurant’s revamped menu.

This has led to grub and ales that reflect what this area has to offer, not some factory-style menu, he said.

"The only thing we don’t make here is the bread and ice creams," said Lockwood, a "Bury born-and-bred" entrepreneur who also runs the Bailey’s 2 lounge in Bury St. Edmunds.

Aside from the menu, the Red Lion is pushing a renewed connection to Icklingham village, setting up community events and a darts team.

"I grew up in pubs where you knew the locals," he said. "That was lost here."

Adhering to an old-time Catholic-style tradition, the Red Lion pushes its fish and chips every Friday, which comes from a local monger and features homemade, fresh batter, resulting in "a completely different experience" than what the corner chippy offers, Lockwood said.

The food lives up to the hype. Burgers and other entrees were served with thick-cut chips garnished with coarse salt, while the burgers were fresh and not overly firm, like a patty you’d form with your own hands at home.

And while the menu strives for new takes on classic pub fare, Lockwood avoids the trendy "gastro-pub" label that adorns so many pubs that try something novel.

"We’re just a real pub," he said. "Our buzzword is real. "

The Red Lion

Address:The Street, Icklingham, Suffolk, IP28 6PS

Phone:01638 717802


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