The Red Lion in Kidlington has previously had a poor reputation for being a bit rough and definitely not where you would go for a family meal. However, with the recent refurbishment just completed and a pizza kitchen now installed, this could well be set to change.
I've visited a few times now. The first time I ventured in with a friend, a toddler and two small babies. We thought it best to have a coffee and some dough balls and check out the changes before committing to a meal.
Inside the Red Lion is surprisingly roomy with seating thoughtfully arranged so you don't feel like you're drowning in one big space. The checked woollen covered seating, tables and decor all have that lovely new feeling and the pizza theme is not too overpowering. There's plenty of space between tables to fit in a few pushchairs if you're meeting the girls for a catch up. The set up doesn't alienate just drinkers either with a bright bar area and small snug areas to read the paper.
Pleased with the friendly service, space for pushchairs and dough balls with plenty of garlic butter, I returned for lunch with a friend a few weeks later. The pizza kitchen is open to the pub with pizzas being made to order from 100% fresh hand stretched dough. They don't scrimp on the mozzarella cheese or toppings either which is always a bonus.
The 6" Americana was good value at £3.99 and I enjoyed the fresh addition of slightly peppery rocket sprinkled over. My friend had the Smoky BBQ Chicken with pancetta, peppers, Taw Valley mature cheddar and a smoky BBQ sauce. I was surprised by just how tasty it was and the genuinely smoky flavour rather than a hip description on the menu. There are lots of pizza choices as you would imagine from a pizza kitchen from your standard favourites to more unusual options like the Thai Sweet Chilli.
If you're not a pizza lover, the menu also includes burgers, salads and quesadillas. The children's menu also looks good with mini pizzas and healthier options like chicken breasts, carrot and cucumber sticks. Nice to have a change from chicken nuggets and chips.