Vegan review: Plant-based fish and chips at The Red Lion in Deddington

Some of you may have seen over on my Instagram that I took a little camping trip away with my family in summer. We didn’t go far at all, in fact we stayed just outside of Chipping Norton. Despite living in Oxford for eight years now, I’ve explored very little of the county as I don’t have a car, so I was happy to get to pass through some of the pretty villages on the way out of town. One particular place of interest that I’d been eyeing up for a long time was Poggs and Bom, a plant-based food offering within The Red Lion Pub in Deddington. The pub offers a large vegan menu to eat in or takeaway, with a roast on Sundays. The thing I’d seen posted about on social media a lot was their vegan fish and chips, so it was the first place I suggested we go for dinner when I realised our campsite was only a 15 minute drive away.

White takeaway container lined with chunky potato chips, with a large 'fillet' of battered jackfruit sitting on top

Prior to lockdown, The Red Lion had transitioned to a completely vegan menu, though on reopening they’ve added cod and chips back in. I must admit I was surprised that a proper countryside pub was going fully plant-based, as there can’t be that many vegans locally (though I’d love to be proved wrong)! This fish was sadly a good bargaining chip to use with my Mum anyway, who was the one driving us to get dinner from there at my request. Hopefully one day soon it will be commercially viable again for Poggs and Bom to return to their completely vegan menu.

With lots of the traditional fish and chip shop offerings on the menu, I had to go for that Jack and chips. When I opened my takeaway box, the whole family were intrigued, and impressed at how realistic it looked from the outside. When I cut into it too, the inside was fairly similar to a fish fillet. It was the right colour and looked flaky. I’m just so curious as to how they’ve worked with the jackfruit to make it go like this! When you bit into it, it was a bit more mushy than fish would be. Because of that, although the top of my batter was absolutely beautifully crisp, the bottom was a little soggy. However, that could be in part due to the car journey and that we hadn’t tucked into it straight away. I felt the fillet didn’t have much of a fishy flavour at all, perhaps an extra handful of nori flakes would’ve worked well in there – though I appreciate that might ruin the aesthetics a little. Having tried a few different types of vegan ‘fish’, my favourite is still definitely tofu (when done properly) but all in all I was pretty impressed, and it felt so nice to enjoy the same meal alongside my family, just minus the animal cruelty.

White takeaway container opened up. On the left side are six vegan chicken nuggets and a battered sausage. On the right side are three smaller, round containers filled with three different sauces.

The portion size of the main course was very generous, particularly with the chips. I was a little concerned that there wouldn’t be enough as we’d usually order a big bag of chips separately, but I needn’t have worried – if anything I could’ve done with a few less as I was completely stuffed by the end of the meal! The homemade chip shop-style chips were well salted, and though sadly we had no vinegar for me to coat them with, they were just what I wanted alongside my jack.

Because I’m greedy, but under the pretence of wanting to give a thorough review, I’d also ordered a battered sausage and some vegan nuggets on the side too. Poggs and Bom use Fry’s products, so if you’ve tried their nuggets, made from rice protein and chia, you’ll know what these are like. I really liked them, and if you gave them to a meat-eater I don’t think they’d tell the difference. The battered sausage was also spot on – again in that deliciously crisp batter, and the sausage was a great replica for your usual fish and chip shop variety.

Front door of The Red Lion pub

It was great to be able to enjoy all of the trimmings alongside my meal too. The mushy peas were properly authentic – as in they tasted like they came out of a tin. For me that was a bit of a downside as I’m more of a gastro-pub style ‘smashed peas with a hint of mint’ sort of a gal, but I can see how they would hit the spot for many. The curry sauce smelled delicious and my boyfriend confirmed it was exactly the same as any other he’d had, going down a treat on his chips. Lastly, the tangy vegan tartare sauce was a must-try alongside my jack and chips. It also went down very nicely with those plant-based nuggets.

If you have the chance to visit The Red Lion in Deddington, I say do it. They have a handful of other options on the menu that I didn’t get to try, including a few different types of burgers, and of course that delicious-sounding mushroom wellington served up with roasties on Sundays. If I lived nearby I’d definitely be going back for that! It was pretty stormy when we went to pick up our meal, but the little courtyard at the side of the pub felt like it’d be a lovely place to enjoy a meal when the sun was shining. The takeaway option was really convenient though, as we didn’t have to pre-order, just turned up at their takeaway hatch and received a friendly welcome and very quick service. The prices are also a little cheaper if you take your food away too, which made our meal very reasonable value. The whole thing felt like such a treat, and I recommend giving it a go for something a bit different.

Author: Heather Grace

Eating my way through all the vegan food, one restaurant at a time.

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