The Red Lion & Sun, Highgate

This week I somehow managed to get to The Red Lion & Sun in Highgate. Yep – it was one of those journeys.

“Rwanda, Rwanda, ba ba ba Rwanda”. Stop the boats…and stop the trains…and stop the cars going too slowly outside of primary schools. Anyone miss Liz Truss yet?

“Celebrate no tubes, woohoo”. Two days before the weekend, TFL decided to announce engineering works which meant my local tube station was closed. Yay. No Metropolitan line, and no Piccadilly line – unless I walked 25 minutes to the next stop.

“The wheels on the bus…”. Yes, I had to get a bus, of which I have even more of an aversion to than this year’s only Prime Minister. The bus turned up. It announced that it was going to terminate two stops later. I got off the bus. The next bus turned up. It announced that it was going on diversion and went nowhere near the train station I was heading to.

Meme from Twitter

Still, it could have been worse – at least nobody questioned me unlike the poor woman in the photograph.

And then the train to Euston was rammo…yes…yes you are going to have to read about my travel woe YET AGAIN. And I will be talking about carrots. I might even mention Brexit. You could always read Nadine Dorries’ new book which I’m sure will be even more fascinating, if it ever gets past the lawyers.

And what is Euston station about? I followed the sign to the underground and ended up going in a loop without seeing any entrance to the underground. Somehow I turned up to the pub with a very grey left hand. After walking up a hill, with a hangover. 2 hours to get there. And no fucking engagement on my tweets…sorry x’s. Twitter used to be a place where most people didn’t blame Jews/Muslims (delete as per individual dumbfuckery) for everything, pre-Musk, right? I just blame TFL.

This Little Piggy Went To Market

So The Red Lion & Sun. It was on my to-do list, but then for some reason disappeared.

I’d eaten here twice during pandemic times – once I had the most amazing pie, with totally gorgeous red wine jus. And then a few weeks later, when Boris Johnson (sigh) decided that Christmas was cancelled, we had a Christmas take-away roast there which was a collection of Christ-mehs – nothing especially bad, but nothing joyful either.

The owner/manager of The Red Lion & Sun is quite a delightful character, so did I take it off my to-do list because I worried about giving a bad review? No idea. Who doesn’t like a man in a sequin dress singing outside a pub?

That is one of the downsides of being an honest reviewer, is that occasionally you have to give bad reviews to places you don’t want to give bad reviews to. Did I remove it from the to-do list as I didn’t want to risk doing it? I mean…hit me baby one more wine.

Photo from UK Government, used under license CC BY 2.0 DEED

Speaking of booze, my 6 day detox was over, and after my worst journey since…oooh…two weeks ago, I was gasping for a good beer.

The Red Lion & Sun, Beer List
© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2024

3 types of lager and a Neck Oil? Sigh. And then on the way (I was running 30 minutes late) one of my accomplices advised that they’d starting bringing the food out. Like…fuck off. I’m not sure if she was winding me up, as there was no food on the table when I arrived.

This Little Piggy Stayed Home, Because She Couldn’t Be Arsed With The Ongoing Transport Disaster In The UK

We had pre-ordered, as one of my accomplices was clever enough to notice that you could pre-order some sharing plates – such as Cote De Boeuf, shoulder of lamb or suckling pig.

5 of us wanted the suckling pig – it’s still one of the nicest cuts of meat I’ve ever had, and I still remember a dinner with the folks at…a place I have forgotten the name of in Reading around 10 or so years ago. Probably more than 10 years ago.

So we ordered two quarters, sufficient for 3 people at £90.00 each…so £36.00 each.

The Red Lion & Sun, Highgate, Roast Dinner Menu
© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2024

There’s a normal menu too – rib of beef at £25.00, the Cote De Boeuf was also on there, lamb shank at £26.00, belly of middle-white pork at £22.00 or a vegetable roast at £18.00.

You could say the choice was appealing. The hope was there. Then the quarters of suckling pig arrived – I think one was leg, the other rib – but I’m really not sure on that. We, of course, needed to do the work ourselves, but the women around the table got to work…voluntarily, I shall add!

The Red Lion & Sun, Highgate, Suckling Pig
© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2024

And then the jus came, to share between 5 of us:

The Red Lion & Sun, Highgate, Thimbles of Jus
© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2024

“Why, why, why…the thimbles”. The tiniest thimbles, half-filled. And then the plates were tiny, and really annoying to eat from.

Well, rant over.

This Little Piggy Had…Suckling Pig

The Red Lion & Sun, Highgate, Suckling Pig Roast Dinner
© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2024

When your blunt knife is longer than the plate, you know there is awkwardness ahead…but let’s start with the tenderstem broccoli, which was pleasant, blanched though a couple of them were a tad yellowing on the tips.

The carrot and swede mash was the only thing that was left over on the sharing plates. It was probably more than carrot and swede – I think I detected squash too. Something did taste a tad odd about it – I wasn’t sure if the jus didn’t pair well, or maybe one of the vegetables was a bit too tangy. I didn’t dislike it, but nobody went back for more from the sharing plate.

Business time already – roast potatoes.

The Red Lion & Sun, Highgate, Roast Potatoes
© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2024

And, fuck me rather than the Tory’s preference to fuck business, we were in business. Yes let’s cancel yet more of rail line that we’ve spent billions on, but don’t worry we are still going to Euston, as long as private enterprise pays for it, but if not, don’t worry, we are still going to London, just a part of London that not even Lord Gravy has had a roast dinner in.

And, also, don’t worry but we are going to do all these other plans to improve transport up north. Oh, I mean, we could do all these other plans. Stop the boats, stop the trains, stop the buses, stop the press – I’ve got proper crispy roast potatoes.

Crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside. Eh? These were close to perfect, a tiny bit fresher and they would have been perfect, but they are certainly up there with the best roast potatoes of 2023, if not the best. If only I kept notes.

This Little Piggy Had None, Because The Supposed Party Of Lower Taxes Is Taking A Record Amount In Tax

Guess what else?

The Red Lion & Sun, Highgate, Suckling Pig Sunday Roast
© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2024

The Yorkshire pudding was soft. Fine, it was a tad overdone, there was an element of burnt to the taste of the outer rim. But otherwise it was soft and pleasant – if not world-beating. Didn’t we have a world-beating government recently? Maybe, that isn’t a good standard to look to.

Onto the suckling pig – which as a reminder, you have to order in advance. It came in two parts – the rib and the leg (I think!) and both had distinct flavours. There was a lot more meat than I’m showing on the plate – remember we had small plates (pretty much the only thing I’m moaning about, bar the fucking Tories, yes I did vote for them in 2017…and 2015…and 2010…and 2005) so I couldn’t fit much more on.

The rib was the earthier – the flavour was deeper, and arguably more sexual. But then the leg was juicier, and from a texture point of view, more sexual too. And the skin was delightfully crispy. This really was banging – though if you weren’t clever enough to order ahead (thanks, if you are reading…actually, that better not be an if) then the rest of the menu looks great – and you get a proper sized plate.

The Red Lion & Sun, Highgate, Beef Roast Dinner
© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2024

One accomplice had the beef, which she described as really tender, if I remember correctly. And somehow had enough jus, despite the tiny thimbles the rest of us were served.

So. The thimbles of jus. Hit me gravy one more time. And one more time. And one more time. And still there isn’t enough.

I actually liked the jus. Weirdly, it aged well. At first I was unsure about it, but the more of it I had, the more I appreciated the depth and complexity – when quite often, I tire of it. By the end, I wasn’t in love – it wasn’t gravy – but I was enamoured, for sure.

And This Little Piggy Went…Wee Wee Wee, All The Way To The Red Lion & Sun

So what am I complaining about here? The Tories, check. Annoyingly small plate, check. Minimal jus amounts, check. Blunt knife, check. The Labour Party about to win an election and introduce compulsory vegan roast dinners for all…erm…check.

Tories stopping compulsory vegan roast dinners list

But there’s no moaning about roast potatoes – which were excellent, crispy and fluffy. There’s no moaning about the Yorkshire pudding, which was soft, if still just a tad burnt.

And the suckling pig was absolutely dreamy. Even the jus, I appreciated, more and more.

Easily one of the best roast dinners I’ve had…but how good?

Scores around the table ranged from 2x 8.00’s, though one was barely able to eat due to stag do duties, an 8.25, an 8.30 from the beef-eating accomplice, an 8.50 and a 9.00. Which doesn’t quite add up, as I had 5 accomplices and I’ve noted 6 ratings, but hey.

To me, it is well up there – if you impress with the holy trinity of roasties, meat and gravy (well, jus) then it’s a high rating. I’m scoring The Red Lion & Sun an 8.70 out of 10 – which makes it the 7th best roast dinner out of 268, at the time of writing.

I’ll be back next week, and it will be time to do some goodbyes. Don’t panic…much.

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The Red Lion & Sun, Highgate

Station: Highgate

Tube Lines: Northern

Fare Zone: Zone 3

Price: £30.00

Rating: 8.70

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Loved & Loathed

Loved: Roast potatoes were actually excellent, suckling pig was dreamy, the jus really grew on me - it aged really well. Great pub too.

Loathed: Small plates, tiny jus thimbles and blunt knives. Nothing about the food itself though!

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