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Time Out (Sunday Roast Review)

A proper pub with a proper Sunday roast, if that's what you'e after. Located near Smithfield meat market, the emphasis at the Old Red Cow is - quite fittingl[...]

A proper pub with a proper Sunday roast, if that's what you'e after. Located near Smithfield meat market, the emphasis at the Old Red Cow is - quite fittingly - on meat. We had a couple of top-notch Sunday roasts on our visit, with free-range chicken and well-hung beef bought from just over the road. Large groups can dig into 'family-style' roasts - by carving the meat themselves at the table. The rest of the menu is solid British pub grub - ham hock terrine, beef burger, fish and chips - but with vegetarian options such as buckwheat and cider pancake. The Old Red Cow is also a proper beer-lover's pub, with three hand pumps to keep the real ales flowing and a selection of 14 changing keg beers.

Sunday lunch served noon-3pm. Sunday lunch for two with drinks and service: around £45.

To view our Sunday Roast menu, please click here.

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Time Out

The old red cow herself, if she wasn't apocryphal, probably didn't have a pleasant visit to this pub's manor - Long Lane was an ancient cattle route to Smith[...]

The old red cow herself, if she wasn't apocryphal, probably didn't have a pleasant visit to this pub's manor - Long Lane was an ancient cattle route to Smithfield meat market.

You can see the cupolas, domes and reliefs of London's temple of butchery through the front windows of this refurbed Victorian site, which no longer uses its antique 'Ye Olde' prefix and has turned its focus to serving very good beer.

New owners haven't mucked about with The Cow's exterior, and the decor inside comes from the modern beer bar school of austerity, which is no bad thing: vintage European advertising plates liven up the plain walls, and there's a lot of worn-in wood.

Seating space downstairs is limited, but there's a bigger, wood-clad dining area upstairs.

We had a couple of top-notch Sunday roasts on our visit, with free-range chicken and well-hung beef bought from just over the road. The rest of the menu is solid British pub grub - potted ham with piccalilli, beef burger, steak and oyster pie - with a few more interesting-looking specials.

On a blackboard, an Inspiral Carpets-style cow proclaims: 'I love beer'; whoever puts the drinks menu together clearly does too.

The back bar sports a row of taps which dispense 14 changing keg beers. In late July there was the amber 5am Saint from Fraserburgh's Brew Dog - much beloved of forward-thinking beer buffs - beside Schremser Roggen, a complex, fruity number made in Austria with organic rye, and the clean, hoppy Veltins pilsner.

There are also three hand pumps on the front to keep Camra happy, with a clean sweep for London breweries - the golden Redemption Trinity, Sambrook's Wandle and Camden Pale Ale. Bottles aren't as plentiful as they are in other new beer bars, but it's a carefully curated selection, helpfully arranged by style rather than country of origin (pale, amber, dark, Trappist, etc).

It was good to see Harvieston's fabulous Ola Dubh ('black oil' in Gaelic) 40 Year Old, a devil-black porter aged in malt whisky barrels and worth trying (once) even at £11 a bottle.

Although service never quite struggled over into jovial, the barman knew enough about what he was pouring to make educated recommendations, and samples were proffered and quaffed.

With a selection like this on draught, perhaps third-of-a-pint tasting glasses might be a good idea too? Even without, this beer pub is still one of the best in its field.

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Fancy a Pint

Apart from one disastrous incarnation (as the Long Lane) we've long been fans of the the Old Red Cow, it's a handsome, quirky, old building that's always had[...]

Apart from one disastrous incarnation (as the Long Lane) we've long been fans of the the Old Red Cow, it's a handsome, quirky, old building that's always had a cheery aspect to it. And we're in illustrious company as it was also a favourite the late, great Peter Ustinov too. It has recently enjoyed something of a revival, so when we saw it was closed up again and there were ladders and buckets of paint around, we feared another downturn was in the offing. An eagle-eyed FAP visitor emailed us to let us know it had reopened, so we popped in to take a look. The downstairs bar is a small room and was always a bit of a crowded space, but sensible furniture - high tables and high, cushioned stools - has made good use of this space providing an easy through route to the important bit, the bar. There are four hand pumps, serving real ales (although one was off on our visit) and they're a treat - Wandle, Hopspur and Hophead, all well-looked after, but it's behind the bar where it gets interesting. There are twelve numbered taps along the back of the bar and to the left of it a large numbered menu listing the products they dispense. And it's a very interesting range of beers - Camden Pale Ale, BrewDog punk IPA, Maisel's Weissbier, Schremer Roggen Rye and a rotating US guest beer for example, as well as Guinness, lager and Thatcher's cider. If you can't find anything to suit here, you're a very hard person to please indeed. And that's not quite all, above the taps are dozens of little metal compartments, each containing a different bottled beer, some of which, if not all, are also available for consumption - plus some bottles of decent wine and the usual spirits. The bar food looks simple, modern and reasonably priced and the service is friendly. From our first visit, the revamped Old Red Cow is onto a winner, we'll certainly be coming back very soon to do a countdown of the beer menu. Cheers to everyone involved!

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Beer Culture with Des de Moor

The next venture from the people that brought you the Dean Swift in SE1, this 'local ale house' reopened following refurbishment in April 2011 and quickly es[...]

The next venture from the people that brought you the Dean Swift in SE1, this 'local ale house' reopened following refurbishment in April 2011 and quickly established a keen following. Well located by the southeast corner of Smithfield Market, within sight of the Barbican and in an area rapidly developing a dense population of good beer venues, it is obviously cut from the same cloth as the Dean but adapted to a different space and location. The small bar downstairs has the cask pumps and high stools around tall communal tables; upstairs is a keg-only bar and more space, with smaller tables and long padded benches.

Big mirrors, old German beer posters and quirky wallpaper create a pleasant environment in which to enjoy drink and food that also follows the Dean's lead. The cask taps pull local ales from Redemption and Sambrook's, with BrewDog and Dark Star also popular choices. There's a good choice of German and Austrian kegs including Maisels Weisse, Schremser, Stiegl and Veltins, plus Camden Town and changing Belgian and US guests. Highlights of the well chosen bottled menu are Brooklyn East India Pale, Odells 90/-, Sierra Nevada Torpedo, Harviestoun Ola Dubh, Hirter Privat Pils and Trappists from Chimay, Orval, Rochefort and Westmalle. Imaginative food might include gourmet sandwiches with chips, Welsh rarebit soldiers, whitebait, mussels in cider, premium burgers and sage dumplings in tomato sauce.

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Favourite Pubs and Bars in the City of London

Just noticed that we made it into the 'Top Four Favourite Pubs and Bars in the City of London' as voted for by the discerning readers of the Londonist. It's [...]

Just noticed that we made it into the 'Top Four Favourite Pubs and Bars in the City of London' as voted for by the discerning readers of the Londonist. It's always nice to be appreciated!

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customers

"Hi - just wanted to say how much we enjoyed ourselves last Sunday when we came for lunch. Thank you, the food was delicious, excellent selection of beers and wines and great service. What a gorgeous little friendly place with loads of atmosphere. Thank you all. We will be back xx" Ann

"I'm writing to say that my friend and I spent a perfect afternoon in The Old Red Cow. All the staff were incredibly accommodating and kind and I can't praise them enough - especially lovely Mircea. Thanks so much for giving us a perfect day. Best wishes, Kathy " Kathy N

"We had a fantastic roast lunch yesterday with relatives visiting from Colombia. They had not had a roast dinner before and thought the food here was outstanding. Lovely atmosphere too.☺" Diane

"I visited the Old Red Cow last Sunday, after seeing a review on Time Out. The food was perfect, sooo good, I'm still thinking about it!!! Possibly the best roast in London, knocks the socks off other..... Will be back soon... N.B. My dog loves the beef bone we took home for her" Alexandra

"Great place, Anchor Steam by the bottle and a fab sausage platter with fresh bread for nourishment. Super. Well done." Paul

"Mmmmmmmmmm Homemade Scotch Egg and Chips with Aioli. Best pub grub in London." Mark @peel_acres

"Possibly one of best rendezvous in London - great service, beer to die for and fabulous food. Kernel brewery\'s Galaxy IPA just one of many wonderful beers. Heaven." Don McCrimmon

"If not the best pub in London then a very close second (but don't know to what!). A fantastic selection of beers - any beer lover won't want to miss this place. " Dave

"Celebrated my 40th birthday with 30 friends upstairs in The Old Red Cow. We had a relaxed night, plenty of chatting, amazing food and great beers. I would really recommend this pub for a quick drink, meal for 2 or meal for plenty. Get down quick before someone reserves your seat!" HELEN PATTERSON

"After a glorious 6 hrs finally leave the @OldRedCow. Would recommend it to anyone." @JohnGill789

"Having been obsessed with black pudding for some years now, it came as an unexpected joy to see that The Old Red Cow shared my enthusiasm for the Lancashire delicacy - and last Friday I enjoyed my first Black Pudding Scotch Egg! How I had missed this all of my life is beyond me. The best I came up with was a Black Pudding bap from my local greasy spoon! Goes very well with a Kernel too!" J Taylor

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