A CHOBHAM pub has won a prestigious award two years after being taken over by new landlords who were prevented by the pandemic from fully revealing their transformation of the hostelry.

The Red Lion is the Admiral Taverns Pub of the Year in the 2021 Great British Pub Awards, after beating more than 1,000 other venues from the company to the title.

The pub – in Red Lion Road, on the outskirts of the village – was taken over by Garry Tallent and Sandy Masson in July 2019.

They embarked on a substantial renovation of the premises, including creating a terrace for outdoor dining. The emphasis of the pub was changed to providing high quality, locally sourced food.

Garry grew up in the Queen’s Head at Byfleet when it was run by his parents, and he has built on his experience of running a café, steak house, restaurants and a wine bar. His partner Sandy has a background in working in five-star hotels.

Their quest to attract people to the Red Lion with some unique touches was hampered by the lockdowns and COVID-19 restrictions but custom is now building steadily.

“I like to think we have put a modern twist on a local pub,” said Garry. “Pubs like this have to be food led nowadays or they will not survive, and we have adjusted to modern tastes and requirements.”

The kitchen now has a butchery where cuts of meat are prepared. There is a Himalayan salt chamber for dry ageing meat, meats are smoked and cured on the premises and the chefs make the breads that are served.

“We have our own take on menus and are dedicated to buying the ingredients as locally as possible,” added Garry. “The Red Lion now has its own version of traditional British dining, familiar dishes with our own style.”

There are lunchtime, a la carte and Sunday menus that change weekly as seasonal ingredients become available.

Some of the vegetables, herbs and salads used in the kitchen are grown in the pub’s garden and Garry aspires to renting an allotment in the village where he can grow more food crops in polytunnels.

The pub is now very much for adults only. Garry and Sandy feel many people do not to eat and drink alongside young children who have become bored and restless, but over-12s are welcome in the dining areas.

An area indoors is reserved for people who just want to enjoy the range of real ales, wines from around the world, cocktails and a selection of gins.

“We are here for people who want to go out together for an occasion, meet up with friends for a chat or call in for a drink after a walk on the common,” added Garry. “We are still an evolving business but lots of people have found us and keep coming back. Business is building nicely, so we must be doing something right.”

The Red Lion, which was once the home of the Rector of Bisley and became a pub in the 19th century, beat five other Admiral Taverns finalists from around the country to the top award. Its success over the past two years is also reflected in it winning Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards for 2020 and 2021.

Find out more about the pub at www.redlionchobham.com.