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The Old Red Lion, EC1

418 St. John Street

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Pub Type

Punch Taverns

Reviews (Current Rating Average: 6 of 10) Add Review see review guidelines

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Rex Rattus left this review about The Old Red Lion

This pub had five ales on - London Pride, Doom Bar, Sharp's Atlantic, Hobgoblin, and Woodforde Wherry. The Wherry wasn't good - drinkable, but not much more than that.

The pub is still as decribed by the previous reviewer. It's clearly been much altered over the years. The bar counter has been altered (replaced?) and resited over the years; the Victorian etched and cut glass glazed screen on the right as you enter has clearly been resited (although it is still a nice piece), and the vestibule entrance that would have been inside the entrance has gone. The bar back is inter-war - if you look closely you can see the old Carrington's signage even though it has been/varnished over.

This pub was just a little too red for my liking. The history of the place over the centuries is depicted graphically on the left hand wall, but it's now a mere shadow of its undoubted former glory. But it clearly serves a purpose as a bar for the in house theatre. I doubt whether I'll be rushing back, although it's worth a look for the Victorian glazed screenwork.

On 17th April 2018 - rating: 5
[User has posted 2606 recommendations about 2520 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Tris C left this review about The Old Red Lion

When we popped in the other night, this had been my first visit since my only other around 1993. For some reason I had remembered this place as being a bit of a glorious heritage pub, saved as the highlight of our evening, but it seems that the passage of time and consumption of ale had dulled my memory somewhat as you know on entering that it's going to be a traditional boozer as you can smell the stale beer from the carpet as soon as you put your nose around the door.
The pub dates from 1415 but was last rebuilt in 1899. It's a very spacious, sparsely furnished place with a part full-height glass screen separating the front, which has a grey laminate floor and dated black vinyl bench seating and seats; the rear floor is covered in a red and grey 1980s'-style patterned carpet with flock wallpaper above. The walls and ceiling (Lincrusta?) are very red and there are sofas to the rear. There was a retracted projector screen and multiple TV screens showing boxing with the sound down; muted music played.
Service was very friendly and only three ales were on with two pumps, clips reversed: Sharp's Doom Bar, Fuller's London Pride and Woodforde's Wherry at a reasonable £2.00 a half and fine.
This really isn't a great pub - soulless and with few customers. As mentioned, it could do with some money being spent on the décor and furniture - the carpet could do with a good clean too. Worth popping in out of curiosity but the Charles Lamb is just around the corner...

On 29th November 2017 - rating: 4
[User has posted 2009 recommendations about 1975 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Moby Duck left this review about The Old Red Lion

A nice old pub, yes a little touristy I guess but a comfortable place for a beer from one of five handpumps although one was redundant on my visit,the selection was more than a little pedestrian, Doom Bar and Atlantic from Sharps ,Pride and Woodefordes Wherry which was in excellent condition . Not a pub I would rush to again given the beers on but it was a lot better than I was expecting.

On 2nd May 2016 - rating: 7
[User has posted 1889 recommendations about 1862 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

john gray left this review about The Old Red Lion

Nice traditional feel about this pub.Tourists would like it.Busy and a good atmosphere..three cask beers on Landlord.Sussex and Pride.If i don't need to name the brewers the beer list is pretty dull imo..

On 27th October 2014 - rating: 6
[User has posted 1023 recommendations about 1009 pubs]

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hondo . left this review about The Old Red Lion

Pub and theatre serving 5 real ales. Big screen for fitba.

On 19th March 2014 - no rating submitted
[User has posted 2896 recommendations about 2833 pubs]

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Joe Devine left this review about The Old Red Lion

This is such a wonderful pub. Under new management as of August 2013 and doing well for it! A lovely mixture of patrons, including the theatre audience from upstairs and some very kind locals downstairs. There's a lot of football shown at this pub also, including many 3pm games on Saturday. They do these football events like live podcasts in the theatre and comedy commentary where comedians talk over the live games. Lovely beer, five ales - all looked after well.

On 25th November 2013 - rating: 10
[User has posted 1 recommendations about 1 pubs]

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Just a quick pint, then I'm off left this review about The Old Red Lion

Large single-bar pub with an interesting frontage and signage emphasising the building's joint use a theatre. Once inside, the high ceiling gives a distinctly cavernous feel despite the area being divided into two with a part-height glass panelled screen. Other features to note are the little box office at the back of the room near to the way up to the theatre and the small patio beer garden in the alleyway beyond. Nothing very special about the seating, and not really enough of it either given the underused space and number of standing customers. Four real ales available on handpump, including a so-so pint of Harveys at £3.10. Overall, quite an interesting place in some respects, but it all felt a bit soulless.

On 6th November 2010 - rating: 6
[User has posted 8159 recommendations about 8159 pubs]

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Steve C left this review about The Old Red Lion

The Old Red Lion is a Theatre pub with regular plays occurring upstairs and there are pictures of actors on the walls in the main bar area, but the décor is quite sparse with horrible red painted walls. The front seating area by the windows that look out onto St John Street is screened of from the main open plan area and there are TVs for showing Sky Sports in each part. There is also a huge projector screen, but funnily enough this was not in use during my 23:00 visit on a Saturday night three or so weeks ago, although there was some random background music that was playing at an acceptable level for a Saturday night. The pub wasn’t very busy considering the location, but the limited seating was mostly taken up by the twenty-something crowd. Like all the other pubs in this area there is a late license and there were still people coming into the pub when I left just before midnight. The bar is stocked with plenty of draught options and the four hand pumps were drawing Abbot, Landlord, Doom Bar and Harveys Best. The Guinness was on good form and the service was quick and polite.

There is a small enclosed area out the back that has some picnic tables and a BBQ. There is a large Red Lion mural hidden behind some small potted trees and also a very good painting of World Cup Willy is scratched into another wall.

Apparently the first local historical reference to this pub was in 1828 when it was mentioned that Tom Paine wrote part one of the Rights of Man in here in 1791.

I wasn’t that taken with this pub and it could certainly do with a lick of paint and maybe some new furniture. I think that there are far better options in this area and I cannot see myself returning in a hurry.

On 8th October 2010 - rating: 5
[User has posted 5303 recommendations about 5271 pubs]

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Danny O'Revey left this review about The Old Red Lion

Signs outside advertise this as the Theatre, which is apparently upstairs of the bar area.

The bar is on ground level and is wedge shaped, there is a long bar against the right hand wall.

Its a little bit run down and has the look of not having been looked after as well as maybe it could have been. The seating is rather off putting being snooker table green.

It has real ale, but nothing spectacular.

Its all rather average in my opinion.

On 11th March 2010 - rating: 3
[User has posted 1456 recommendations about 1434 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Quinno _ left this review about The Old Red Lion

Theatre pub (the theatre in question being upstairs – shows on most nights). A handful of mainstream beers on the go, the most interesting of which (TT Landlord) tasted fine. Interior-wise, it’s a bit of a strange one, really. The partitioned wood panelling and glasswork at the front of the bar is well worth a bit of anyone's time - you don't see much of this any more. However it all kind of stops rather suddenly, leaving a large empty space further on. Someone elsewhere suggested that they had decided to restore it to a partitioned Victorian alehouse and then stopped and changed their mind after doing the front bit – I suspect in actuality that the whole place had the half-height partitions back in the day, but the rear area was ripped out. The pub in general could do with a spruce up, the seat covers weren't great and the place felt generally felt a bit unloved and needed a lick of paint. Atmosphere was a bit lacking on a Friday afternoon, I suppose it’s reliant on the evening crowds for trade. Worth a look for the tick-box value, but the Argyll Arms off Oxford Street is better example of the interior style.

On 25th June 2008 - rating: 6
[User has posted 5185 recommendations about 5168 pubs]