The Black Lion, Kilburn

Stick ya baguettes up your arse. This Sunday gone, I went to The Black Lion in Kilburn. Three lions on a…yeah maybe not.

Bloody French.

Again. First they wouldn’t let us join the European Coal And Steel Community, then they spent decades slagging off English wine, then they kicked us out of the EU, and now they’ve kicked us out of the World Cup.

You know, sometimes I read my old reviews back (very occasionally editing the odd attempt at humour that feels more 2010’s than 2020’s), and I wonder about the context working in the current year. For example, back in 2017 I said, “We all do things we regret. Like voting Labour. Londoners, seriously, wtf?”.

Such comments may have made more sense in 2017 when Jeremy Corbyn was in charge (granted some of you dear comrades will disagree) but if you read that in 2024 after Labour win the general election, without realising when I wrote it in 2017, you may be more questioning of my sanity – and the original context.

My point (this one anyway) isn’t intended to be political, it’s just an example of something I’ve written not having the same context many years later.

However, I fully expect “bloody French” to have context in 2, 4, 6 or 150 years time, when they’ve kicked us out of the next football tournament, or they’ve refused to allow us to go back into the EU or they will only let us back in without Maggie’s rebate.

Picture of a baguette in a toilet
Meme from Twitter

Bloody French

So I’ve just search for “baguette porn” on Google Images and it returns a rather greater variety of images than I expected from the internet. I’m not sure I’d advise it.

What did look more beautiful though, was The Black Lion pub in Kilburn.

Someone on Twitter suggested I took a look at their roast dinner a while back.

No, not that person. You know – if Twitter ever goes down, then this sentence will have no context either in future years.

Anyway, The Black Lion is absolutely stunning inside. Built in 1898, The Black Lion is a Grade II-listed pub, with a stunning ceiling, beautiful large windows at the front, and quite an ornamental decorative feel.

I declined to remember to photograph any of it, however I’ve stolen a few photos from their website. Hopefully they don’t mind, as the décor isn’t the only compliment they are going to receive in this review.

Fairly recently bought by London Village Inns, who have a small collection of other rather fine looking pubs, including The Jolly Butchers in Stoke Newington – I’m not sure what The Black Lion was like before they took over, but there are some negative reviews on Google prior to the last year or so, and it felt to me like London Village Inns probably knew how to run a pub.

Another compliment – a good beer choice. I ended up drinking a Hazy IPA, but there were a few beers of interest.

Bloody cold

It was a little on the chilly side inside, albeit on the coldest December day for some time – by time we were leaving the area, it was even starting to snow. Yes, Kilburn is in London.

Surprisingly chilly, considering all the other venues I’ve been in recently have been trying to bake their customers – the pub where I watched Harry Waddle blaze over the bar was attempting to replicate a French summer’s day inside.

And don’t get me started about the tandoori that blasted uber-hot air from one of those cheap naff heaters, but thankfully they turned it off just as I was about to down 660ml of cobra and go smash up a baguette shop. And now we are going on holiday to Bangladesh with the owners, apparently.

So what else is in my notes? Oh nothing. Except our scores. Guess I need to remember stuff.

Let’s take a look at the menu, shall we?

The Black Lion, Kilburn, Roast Dinner Menu

© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2024

You know how I was wondering last week if I’d seen the last sub £20 roast dinner? Well, clearly not. Granted Kilburn isn’t quite on the same chi-chi level as Marylebone, Park Lane or Kensington, sources of my three previous roasts. There were some interesting characters outside on the high street.

The Black Lion were selling chicken or pork roasts for £14.00, turkey (with stuffing) for £15.00, and beef sirloin or leg of lamb for £16.00.

I came close to ordering the turkey, but ended up choosing the leg of lamb at just £16.00. Maybe I might actually finish that “affordable roast dinners in London” article one day.

Bloody cheap

The Black Lion, Kilburn, Lamb Roast Dinner

© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2024

Starting with the carrots…because. Baby carrots this time, all roasted to a point of reasonable tenderness, some flecks of pepper and thyme, and they tasted even better in the gravy.

Then we had a handful of sprouts, which had a little bit of a crunch to them. And they tasted even better in the gravy.

A thankfully small portion of rather sharp red cabbage was supplied – with no infecting juices, just slightly stick red cabbage, not overly Christmassy in flavour. Unusually for me, I liked the red cabbage – though maybe the gravy helped.

The Black Lion, Kilburn, Lamb Sunday Roast

© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2024

I’m trying to put off talking about the gravy until the end, but I feel it is about time. Let’s talk about the gravy. Let’s talk about you and me. Let’s talk about all the bad jus, and the gravy, that we eat. Let’s talk about sex. Let’s talk about sex…sexy gravy.

Yes. The Black Lion provided proper OMG gravy. The correct thickness and consistency, gloriously meaty and would make even the worst roast of 2022 much better. But this wasn’t the worst roast.

Even the roast potatoes were a fair delight. OK, one was a little undercooked, but the other two were fairly fluffy on the inside, and fairly crispy on the outside. Some flecks of pepper and thyme once more.

Bloody good gravy

The Yorkshire pudding might actually have been freshly cooked. Merde de fou. It was a little crispier than ideal, but nothing the glorious gravy couldn’t handle, softening it to pancake texture and just providing glory.

Alas, the lamb wasn’t so great. There was nothing really wrong with it, but it didn’t seem the best cut, maybe it could have been slower cooked – it was advertised as medium to well-done, but seemed a bit undercooked to me, cooked quickly and undercooked. It still had a fair amount of flavour and the gravy improved it. Of course it did.

I had similar comments from my pork-eating accomplice, but the two turkey-eating accomplices were highly in praise of juicy turkey – and their stuffing. I’m assuming they mean the sage and onion stuffing, rather than stuffing a baguette up…

The Black Lion, Kilburn, Turkey Roast Dinner

© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2024

Finally the gravy. Oh, I’ve actually talked about that. Have I missed something?

Oh yeah, we ordered extra sides – two bowls of cauliflower cheese and two pigs in blankets, at £5.00 a pop, to go around 5 of us.

Not quite the same level of success here – the pigs in blankets looked like someone had forgot to take them out of the oven the night before – all possible joy had been cremated out of them. They belonged on one of the worst roast dinners of the year, not on one of the best. Encule.

The cauliflower cheese, however, was back to their standards – albeit perhaps some of the cauliflower seemed a tad undercooked, but it tasted of cheese, the sauce was thick, it seemed to have had a little flash under the grill – this was a good standard.

And a bloody good roast

Well, it’s been a long time since I’ve been that effusive about a roast dinner. I’m so happy that I could almost consider shoving a baguette up my ass. I’m so joyous that I even might consider admitting that I secretly admire the French.

There wasn’t much to moan about. The lamb could have been a better cut and/or cooked slower (or I could have been more Christmassy and ordered the turkey). The pigs in blankets had been cremated – but they were extras which I tend not to take too much into account when rating. Otherwise…it was a bit chilly inside too.

But the positives – fairly crispy roast potatoes, vegetables all on point and that gloriously gorgeous gravy. Not to mention an appealing beer choice, a wonderful venue, friendly service and ridiculously well priced for 2022.

Every Sunday should be like this. Every Sunday could be like this for you – if you follow my tips.

Scores from my accomplices were an 8.70, an 8.50, a 9.00 and a 9.15 – the latter two scores being turkey eaters.

My score is an 8.55 out of 10. Which makes it the second best roast dinner of 2022 and the 10th best roast dinner in London. Not bad, huh?

Next Sunday is the final roast dinner of 2022. There isn’t a plan yet.

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The Black Lion, Kilburn

Station: Kilburn

Tube Lines: Jubilee

Fare Zone: Zone 2

Price: £16.00

Rating: 8.55

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Loved & Loathed

Loved: The gravy. THE gravy. Gloriously thick, meaty and improved a very good roast. Roasties pretty crispy, veg good, and a gorgeous ceiling. Oh, and very affordable.

Loathed: Lamb was good enough but improvable. The pigs in blankets (which were a side) had been cremated.

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