Welcome to a roast dinner review of The Red Lion in Barnes – the first roast dinner review of an actual pub in 2021. Yeah, I’m back, I’ve got unfinished business and in a mood for revenge. Mwa ha ha ha.
Yes, as your preferred vacuum of sensibility, I decided for some reason to book a roast dinner in Barnes, which at the best of times isn’t the easiest place to get to from Harrow.
Not only was I on call this weekend gone, not only do I have to wear a mask on the tube, but I also had 3 tubes and 1 train to catch to get to Barnes – which I assume defied Jay Rayner’s acceptability criteria for food review travels.
Well, I had a vacuum of efficient options to get to Barnes – though one immediately discounted itself upon arrival at my local station, Rayners Lane, as the Metropolitan line had been suspended due to a signal failure. Oh really? One of those again? Piccadilly line it was…except that the Metropolitan line train was blocking the line.
Ahhh moaning about public transport. It’s good to have me back, right?
I know what we need to really celebrate my return.
Moron in a red t-shirt
Ahhh you know you’ve made it when you are featured in Roast Dinners in London, surreptitiously, as moron of the week, though to be fair, as proven by Nigel Farage, being an absolutely not at all racist moron is a credible way to…is a way to…become fairly rich. And be a moron.
So why did I choose The Red Lion? Well, 5 weeks ago, when I was ready to pretend to eat outdoors with my social bubble person – curiously the same week as when it was the height of evil to have a vigil against a murdered young woman, where the police had to drag away those evil women in case they spread covid to one person – because obviously 5 weeks later having thousands protest against a new football league and billions (aka roughly 10,000) of people protest in favour of spreading plague, this becomes absolutely perfectly acceptable.
So why did I choose The Red Lion? Well, 5 weeks ago, when I was ready to pretend to eat outdoors with my social bubble person, I realised that I had to get some tables booked pronto – so I span the random number generator. Well, I span it a few times – it wasn’t easy to find somewhere on my to-do list which had an outdoor area, and one which wasn’t already booked.
The Red Lion actually has a really large and nice outdoor area – so large that it hosts outdoor Shakespeare in the summer. Some seating at the front in the sunshine, then a very large area at the back – part under a large marquee, part under umbrellas, part in the sun. We were somewhat exposed to the chilly wind and under a large umbrella – though we had heaters so it didn’t really feel cold – I even had my coat off at times.
Menus! Yes we had a menu to look at which was such a glorious thought. Considering that I plan my home-cooked meals a week in advance of ordering my food shopping, and all my roast dinner meal kits during lockdown were ordered well in advance of Sundays – it was a joy to sit down and have options.
Just 3 options for me – sirloin of beef, loin of pork or chicken. I quite fancied chicken whilst I was pondering my many poor transport options during my extended journey – I wasn’t too keen on paying £21.00 for sirloin of beef, so chicken was my choice. Though the vegetarian actually sounds quite appealing now…in a way. Doesn’t it?
Reds under the bed
Our meals came fairly quickly – the staff were fairly efficient and one was never too far away when we needed extra drinks, extra gravy or la cuenta…sorry but not feeling sexy Spanish women photographs today so you can have a roast photograph instead.
Starting with the decoratively odd half a carrot – which caused quite a few comments on Twitter.
It was rather nice though, easy to cut through without being too soft, quite a silky feel and a slightly buttery taste.
The two solitary mouthfuls of cauliflower cheese were too soft and mushy. I thought fairly flavourless too – creamy, but I didn’t notice much in the way of cheese – my accomplice was more complimentary on hers.
Finally for the vegetables was the mashy puree or pureed mash combination of vegetables – I think swede, perhaps squash also but I wasn’t overly sure. It was good – had quite a sweet yet nuttyish flavour to it.
My accomplice isn’t quite as scared of peas as I am, so if you are thinking that the vegetables were ungenerous then perhaps that is more my fault – as there was a pea medley too. She got more gravy than me too. She always gets more gravy than me.
Red or Dead
The roast potatoes were small and actually quite good…but…you can tell that but from a mile away, can’t you? But, they were chewier than a text message from Boris Johnson. They were actually crispy on the outside – their chewy nature was odd – chewiness isn’t a standard complaint of mine on roasties so it is appreciated to have something different to say. And I still enjoyed them – my accomplice didn’t find hers chewy either.
I had noticed from spying at other roast dinners being sent out, that some people received massive Yorkshire puddings, a couple received somewhat burnt ones – mine was one of the smaller ones (perfectly fine by me) and a bit dried out, but only a bit. Decent but no more.
The chicken doesn’t look amazing, and wasn’t. Quite small in portion size – the breast was rather dry, though the leg was juicy, if a bit stringy.
Finally, the gravy. Which was the highlight of the meal. Woohoo! Not overly flavoursome, but thick like a proper gravy and really all I desire. Very drinkable. And they didn’t charge for extra…though that does bring me onto my next subject.
£7.25 for a pint of Soundwave.
Yes, this has broken the psychological £7.00 mark for a beer. I don’t mind paying £7.25 for a beer – I got used to paying over £5.00, I got used to paying over £6.00 and I will get used to paying over £7.00. I guess I’m lying there as if I didn’t mind I wouldn’t be writing a few paragraphs on the subject.
Barnes isn’t even Zone 1. Barnes is Zone 3. OK, Barnes is an upmarket area, but still, to pay £7.25 for a beer, £21.00 for sirloin of beef, £9.85 for a large glass of nothing special Rioja – it was a notable jump from what I would have expected to pay in a Fuller’s pub a year ago.
I’m not immune to realities – I know production costs are going up, pubs have been closed for the last 4 months and they have extra overheads thanks to covid regulations. Perhaps staff costs are higher or staff are harder to find due to the furlough scheme, and exodus of Europeans?
This and the price of beer in a few other pubs I’ve been to since the re-opening seems to suggest a 10% increase over the last year. Inflation is currently 0.7%. No, I’m still not over Brexit either.
Wet the bed
Also, I’m northern. I need to moan about the price of beer.
Back onto the roast dinner. My accomplice enjoyed hers more than I enjoyed mine. I did enjoy mine though at the same time I kind of felt underwhelmed.
The gravy was the highlight – proper thick gravy which is even more a part of my identity than moaning about the price of beer. I’d say the chicken was the most disappointing part – lightweight in volume and rather dry. The vegetables were ungenerous also, partly my fault for requesting no peas – but just two small forkfuls of cauliflower cheese was tight.
The Red Lion is a nice pub with a great garden – and even if you are not tempted by the roast dinner, they do have an excellent garden for drinking in. We did enjoy our afternoon here.
I’m scoring the roast dinner a 7.10 out of 10. My accomplice scored hers a 7.70 out of 10.
A respectable return to the roast dinner reviewing business – or a good return if you ask my accomplice. Though maybe I should have had the vegetarian. You may laugh…it will happen one
I’ll be back next week.
The Red Lion, Barnes, South London
Tube Lines: National Rail
Fare Zone: Zone 3
Loved & Loathed
Loved: Thick gravy - even more a part of my identity than moaning about the price of beer
Loathed: £7.25 for a pint of beer. Ouch. Also the chicken was dry, vegetables ungenerous.