Chef Chat, Part 3: Craig Mallinson of The Red Lion
EOW: So if it were someone's first time to come to the Red Lion for a meal, what dishes would you recommend that they have to have?
Mallinson: That's a tough one. Right now, I am a vegetarian. So I would personally push you towards one of our new offerings right now, which is a Caprese salad, but we make it with black summer truffles, organic basil and organic vine ripened tomatoes served with a balsamic vinaigrette that I created myself. If you're wanting something more traditional, we have the best fish and chips in Texas, if not the best in North America. We've had, and I'm not making this up, people get off the plane from England, get in a cab, and come to this pub for the fish and chips. For something that's not traditional that I would push to try and hook you is the Tandoori chicken enchiladas. In a strange way, this mix of Indian and Mexican food works.
Mallinson: It just came from playing around in the kitchen and having some fun. When it's slow, I tell my guys to try and have some in the kitchen. When there's no fun in the kitchen, it shows in the food. So one day, my cook had his flour tortillas, I had my Tandoori chicken, we had some yogurt, Creole sauce, and chutney made from scratch. So we had all these things and we just put them all together and that was it. It wasn't like I shot straight up in bed one night and shouted, "Eureka! I've discovered a new dish." The enchiladas are pretty fantastic. However, since I'm not eating chicken now, I do miss it.
Mallinson: Freshness, obviously. A great batter; we make ours fresh everyday. We do have a secret ingredient in our batter that helps make it extra crispy and light. And when dipping the fish, you've got to make sure that you've patted it as dry as you can get it. Otherwise, when you fry it, it might be crispy on the outside but as you get inside, it'll be all soggy. So dry your fish as best you can. And finally, great French fries. We hand-cut our fries and fry them in house. They don't come partially fried by someone else. And I take a lot of pride in that.