Sunday - 12.00pm till 5.00pm
A large group of us were meeting up for lunch and The Red Lion on Bishopgate seemed like a good option. They were able to reserve tables for a large group and offer a vegetarian and vegan option.
They're dog friendly and even brought along a small plate of meat at the end for Pixie, a canine member of our group.
The table was spacious and the tree made it feel festive.
With thirty of us there we had no end of things to talk about. Had the conversation run dry though there were plenty of boardgames available to play.
Behind the bar were chilli pickled eggs and black pudding snacks. I was saving myself for lunch though so just ordered some drinks for now.
The first of many beers!
You purchase carvery tickets at the bar at a cost of £8.95 for a main course or £13 for main course and a pudding. I also noticed that kids eat free (carvery only) with a paying adult.
It's the only carvery I've ever encountered where you don't serve yourself. I was slightly confused as to why but found the answer on their facebook page, according to them the reason is "We like to ensure our food is protected from people who may cough sneeze touch or pick at it while it is uncovered". To be honest I'm always really greedy at carverys so this was at least going to save me the pain of feeling so full up that I might explode!
To the left there was pork, Yorkshire puddings, stuffing, cabbage, peas and swede.
Over on the right lay the beef, roast potatoes, new potatoes and cauliflower cheese.
There was a hug pot of gravy and some horseradish and apple sauce.
On a shelf above the gravy was where you collect cutlery and condiments
I chose roast pork and decided to have everything on my dinner.
The pork was ok but a bit dry so I soaked it in apple sauce.
The Yorkshire puddings were amazing, great flavour with a crunchy edge and squidgy middle.
The roast potatoes were just what I look for with nice crispy edges.
Cauliflower cheese and swede are always welcome on my roast dinner and here they both tasted great.
The veg all seemed to be cooked for the just the amount of time, quite a rarity at a carvery.
Only one person on our table had been given stuffing so Monty went to investigate. Eventually a bowl of stuffing was brought over to us so we got stuck in.
We were also offered more Yorkshire puddings and roast potatoes, we accepted the kind offer as both were excellent.
The vegan option was a nut roast, my wife enjoyed it but said it was more like a spicy rice pie.
Equipped with my dessert ticket I checked out the dessert menu.
The treacle and ginger tart seemed like a good choice to me, a nice dense texture and heaps of flavour.
A friend invited us to the annual Christmas lunch and piss up which has taken place for many years, my wife and I have missed it on previous years but this year were able to attend. The venue was The Red Lion on Bishopgate, they seemed very accommodating for a group of thirty and were able to offer something for everyone at a reasonable price. With brollies in hand we made our way along riverside walk in the pouring rain, eventually the pub was in sight so after a quick exterior shot we stepped inside relieved to get out of the cold...
Upon entering - I've generally always sat outside The Red Lion during the summer months enjoying a cold pint beside the river so for me sitting inside was a first today. It was certainly nice and warm and the interior is very traditional. The pub offers a good selection of local ales and even served chilli pickled eggs behind the bar. It's dog friendly and kids eat free with a paying adult so it's quite an appealing option for families and dog owners. The carvery is available on Sundays, just buy a ticket at the bar and hand it in at the food counter when you're ready to eat. Just beside the food counter is where you can find gravy, cutlery, sauces and condiments. The staff serve the food so just tell them what you would like on your plate. As a venue for such a large group of us it seemed like a good choice to me. 7/10
Service - We spent a good few hours here so were served by nearly all the different staff. The young ladies serving behind the bar seemed helpful and efficient whenever we needed anything. My wife asked about the vegan option and was told somebody would come over to tell her when it was ready. We ordered drinks and bought the food tickets, a bit later as promised somebody came over to tell us when the nut roast was ready. At the food counter we were asked what we would like on the plate and the food was served in front of us. Somebody on our table mentioned stuffing which led to a few raised eyebrows as the rest of us didn't have any, a quick enquiry at the food counter resulted in some being bought over a bit later. We had finished our meal when it arrived but still had our plates on the table so tucked in. The lady bringing it over asked if we would like any extra roast potatoes or Yorkshire puddings too, a wonderful offer and appreciated by everyone at the table. She later brought over a small plate of meat for Pixie the dog, a lovely gesture which Pixie clearly appreciated! 8/10
Type of roast - Carvery served by the staff.
Meats available - Beef or pork.
Contents - Pork, stuffing, roast potatoes, new potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, cauliflower cheese, swede, carrots, cabbage, peas and gravy. 9/10
Vegetable portions - A reasonable amount of each vegetable is served on the plate and from what I could gather from others in our group it was ok to ask for more if you wanted. With there being a decent selection of vegetables they did fill the plate quite nicely. I was impressed to see cauliflower cheese and two types of potatoes. 8/10
Presentation - With a big queue of people waiting to be served and the different items being added to the plate quite quickly, presentation was average at best. The most important thing though was that the roast potatoes looked crispy and there was a decent amount on the plate. 5/10
The food - The pork was quite nice but a bit dry, luckily the apple sauce added some moisture though. Some crackling would have been nice, there was some there but I forgot to specify that I wanted any though. At the heart of a good roast dinner is decent roast potatoes and these were magnificent! Nice and big with really crispy edges and soft fluffy centres. Equally excellent were the Yorkshire puddings, a good mix of textures with crispiness outside and squidgy inside. I do love cauliflower cheese with a roast dinner and here it was delicious in a good cheese sauce with a brown crispy topping. All the vegetables were cooked for just the right amount of time and the stuffing was pretty good. The ginger and treacle tart didn't disappoint, dense and sticky with plenty of flavour. Nice work Lester, a pretty impressive Sunday roast! 7/10
Gravy and sauces - A nice rich gravy and plenty of it too. There was apple and horseradish sauce available, I'm very partial to both so dolloped plenty onto my plate. I also spotted some mustard but couldn't see ketchup which I love on a roast dinner, perhaps it's available on request though. 7/10
Veggie/vegan option - Nut roast.
Value for money - £8.95 for a main course and £13 for a main course and dessert. There was no doubt in my mind that it was well worth the money, especially as extras were brought over at the end. By the time I'd finished dessert I really couldn't have eaten anymore so definitely money well spent. 9/10
Overall - A couple of weeks ago I spent £25 for three courses at The Golden Star so I was interested to see how two courses here compared at roughly half the price. Having experienced both I think The Red Lion deal (although not a Christmas menu) was far better value for money. I had no problem with the fact the carvery wasn't self service, it's probably a better idea really as I always over eat when it is self service. The staff looked after our group well, catered for dietary requirements, and clearly made Pixie the dog feel welcome. My wife was equally impressed as I was and we'd most definitely return here for a Sunday roast again in the future. Thanks to Michelle for organising the event and Lester and the team for making it enjoyable and delicious. 7.5/10