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Ye Old Red Cow, Smithfield

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user reviews of Ye Old Red Cow, Smithfield

please note - reviews on this site are purely the opinion of site visitors, so don't take them too seriously.

This is a great pub, with good choice of beer – including a stout (Titanic) on hand pull. But it is made by the staff, who are the most professional and friendly I have ever found in a London pub on first visit – in the last 10 years at least. It is rare these days to find staff who can a) pull a good pint and b) remember what you were drinking. But one of them – Daniel from Cuba – lent me a bike lock (stupidly forgotten) totally unsolicited, so I could drink inside, instead of outside on a cold November night.
grumpy_old_owl - 11 Nov 2016 00:20
Excellent quality and range of beer, though some not cheap. Found the service a bit clinical though. Agree with Chelsea On Tour it's also very small so probably best avoided on Thursday/Friday nights.
mike_s - 1 Nov 2016 15:23
As oldtimer1955 said back in 2010, this pub is close to the Museum of London and open on Saturday afternoon - which is a good job because we were in desperate need of some liquid refreshment yesterday after several (interesting) hours in the museum. Now just known as the Old Red Cow, this pub's handpulls were Brockley's Red Ale and Wild Beer's Bibble with a further 11 "craft" beers costing up to £8.20 a pint. As such beers are not found in the provincial pubs in my part of the world, I thought it was time to move out of my real ale comfort zone so I went for a half of Siren Craft Brew's Smoke Signals at £2.90 - a "dry-hopped smoked sour Wheat Ale". I didn't really get any smokiness but I did enjoy the beer (as well as the real Orchard Pig Maverick Chilli and Ginger Cider) and the bar staff were very friendly and helpful too so a big thumbs-up from me.
paul_d102 - 22 Feb 2015 19:30
I reserved a table for the England game and arrived at 3 for the 11 o'clock kick off
The beer was great and nothing was too much trouble and when we eventually moved to our table upstairs it was table service.

I will be booking another table very soon for the next game i watch with my mates

Great beer, great pub and great bar staff.

mpalomar - 16 Jun 2014 08:16
Give it another go and actually managed to get a pint this time. Ale was okay and the place is reasonable though populated by the pretentious at times. Some may carp at the prices but it is a Central London pub charging Central London prices. You can always nip round the corner to the Sam Smiths pub for cheaper.
Snarling_Mallard - 19 May 2014 17:23
amazing beer pub. great saturday afternoon atmosphere on our visit. brilliant array of craft beers and ales. set right opposite the facinating smithfield market. quite small inside so it filled up quickly, which made having an exceptionally well stocked bar both up and down stairs a great touch.

this pub will have no doubt seen a lot of changes over its life, as the comment below mentions. in its current life its a very decent, trendy city pub, which has caught a hold of the craft beer craze that your average well off, 30 year old city type is into. great fun.
CHELSEA_on_tour - 19 May 2014 15:49
Decent beer but expensive. I can imagine this place years ago, when it would have been patronised by workers from Smithfield.
djw - 10 Apr 2014 00:17
on a walk with friends went in here, was busy people enjoying the atmosphere and eating .We had Harviestoun Bitter and Twisted very good but £4.50 a pint,they also had 9 more beers on a few more expensive ,we will return
william85 - 23 Feb 2014 11:28
Always good in here, nice food ,nice staff ,try and go on a quiet time as gets busy w/ends....the place to go to try a nice pint and read the paper
hullcityfan - 10 Feb 2014 13:34
Great little pub that serves locally crafted beers. Always a new taste experience. Love the place

BadShanker - 15 Dec 2013 09:23
Great pub with a fantastic selection of beers. Reminded me very much of a smaller, posher version of the Eusto Tap.

Well worth a visit.
tanky - 17 Apr 2013 15:06
Decided to give this pub a try when in the area on Easter Monday lunchtime. It's a small place with an upper floor that was possibly reserved for diners. Drinks are expensive. But the 3 real ales are supplemented by a good range of keg beers, bottles and a real cider. The 3 cask ales were Redemption Trinity & Rock The Kasbek and Saltaire South Island Pale. Keg options were Camden Ink Stout, Redlight Waltz, Redchurch Bethnal Pale, Harviestoun Bitter & Twisted, Williams Double Joker IPA, Kernel Ahtanium IPA, Camden Pale Ale, Maisel's Weisse, Stiegl Coldbrau & Old Red Cow Lager. The cider was Devon Red from Sandford Orchards. A good option if you like the modern range of craft beers. I would probably pay this place another visit if passing.
blue_scrumpy - 3 Apr 2013 20:40
A beer connoisseurs heaven!

This pub was heaving on a Thursday night, almost too packed but once I got to the bar it was well worth it, as there were at least a dozen ales on tap the night I came in.

The selection ranges from very local breweries to those much further afield.

Also a very good bottle selection, a mix of English and European on offer here.

Food menu looked very interesting but the dining room part was upstairs and I stayed in the downstairs bar.

Very good pub.

lezford - 1 Feb 2013 13:02
not being a ale drinker cant comment on quality but are all of these types of beer that expensive? nethertheless had a fine afternoon
becks007 - 12 Dec 2012 16:16
I was here at about 1.30 pm on a (wet) Tuesday lunchtime. I must admit, being someone who remembers the bad old days of keg, I can't quite make up my mind about this so called craft beer. They only had Titanic beer (2 different ones) on hand pump, very good but expensive. The pub was fairly quiet, both upstairs and down. Not sure that I'd search it out again, a bit soulless, but just a few mins from Barbican tube so worth bearing in mind.
Doob - 27 Nov 2012 15:48
Although I'm a died-in-the-wool ale drinker I do generally like this new breed of craft beer pubs. Have to say I was *slightly* disappointed on my visit as I found it very difficult to work out what beers were on and what were off. At least one of them seemed to involve the barmaid disappearing for a while upstairs to find it. As mcroyal says it's chaotically cramped and with hoorays hogging the bar stools is a nightmare getting served. But the range of beers - many available on draught through taps on the back bar - is very impressive. They just need a complete overhaul of the furniture/layout and a better way of publicising the range on offer.
Teddy_Boy - 5 Nov 2012 13:55
A new pub to me and well worth finding. It's pretty small inside but there is another room upstairs. Tiny bar counter which you have to struggle to get to as the tales are pushed up close to it and when the bar is full you really need to stay put or be prepared to push and shove a bit!! Having said that it was a great atmosphere and the beer was good (Sambrooke's and a couple of others). If you don't know the other drinkers you soon will do as it is "intimate" due to the size bbut it is well worth seeking out.. Recommended.
mcroyal - 4 Mar 2012 10:38
A new pub to me and well worth finding. It's pretty small inside but there is another room upstairs. Tiny bar counter which you have to struggle to get to as the tales are pushed up close to it and when the bar is full you really need to stay put or be prepared to push and shove a bit!! Having said that it was a great atmosphere and the beer was good (Sambrooke's and a couple of others). If you don't know the other drinkers you soon will do as it is "intimate" due to the size bbut it is well worth seeking out.. Recommended.
mcroyal - 4 Mar 2012 10:38
What an excellent pub! After watching the Lord Mayor's Parade we walked up to look for the Cartoonist Pub. The doors were locked and people inside gestured that they were going to remain that way. Another ten minutes walk and we came across the Old Red Cow. It was very quiet when we arrived but slowly began to (noisily) fill up. Four real ales - Dark Star Meltdown, Saison, Sandrocks Junction and Hewitts Gorilla. Excellent chicken sandwich and chips. Friendly staff and very good beer. Unfortunately shreaking women (OK they were talking at the top of their voices) caused us to move downstairs so we could hear ourselves talk. Mt favourite London pub.
Paul_Rochdale - 12 Nov 2011 23:22
Very good choice of beers from around the world and a few good real ales. Service was excellent. Only downside was price but i guess they are imported draft beers.
nobbythesheep - 25 Sep 2011 23:02
Went there onSaturday after Crown in C/well but a bit busy so went back Sunday ,had an interesting Sunday Lunch, starter Harviestoun's Bitter and Twisted ,maincourse was Camden Pale Ale and to Finish was Sierra Nevada Torpedo...not W/spoons prices but not that expensive was steady and upstairs was booked out so didn't see what it was like,much better than old version and guy behind the bar knew his stuff.......visit at a quiet time
hullcityfan - 24 Jul 2011 18:38
Was drawn in to this 'done up' gastro bar by the three unusual ales on the bar. However, my anticipation was short lived as after a 5 minute wait and then a scout aorund to find someone to serve me I gave up and went elsewhere. Can't comment on the quality of the ales but CAN mark it on quality of service (non-existent service = nil points)
Snarling_Mallard - 14 Jun 2011 20:34
This is sort-of an 'update'; the recent shut-out on Saturday was a one-off; a prior booking from before the refurb. The pub has settled down now, the furniture has been moved around to make room for the customers (a nice touch !!) and the kitchen is in full working order. I've never eaten here, but what I have seen come down looks good and plentiful. Four handpumps - my last visit had Sambrooks, Hophead, Redemption Hopspur (sic) and a very dark 'porter-ish' BrewDog beer from Fraserburgh. The beer-engine is working well, I usually have the Bitter & Twisted, which is a mix of lager and bitter from Harviestouns. The staff will always offer a taster, which is nice. Yes, you *can* pay 15 for a bottle of beer, if that's your thing, but there's something for everybody.


ThLoneBoozer - 27 May 2011 23:56
Went over on Saturday evening - another shut-out for a private party. I know they have to make a living, but I think I'll give this one a miss from now on at weekends.

ThLoneBoozer - 14 May 2011 23:03
Just called in on a Saturday evening, and although the decor is basic, it had a good range of uncommon beers on the bar: Redemption Hotspur; Darkstar Hophead; Sambrook Wandle; and Bristol No. 7. Definitely worth a visit.
Wandering_Star - 9 Apr 2011 20:07
Just re-opened on 6th April. I went in to have a 'nosey' on the way to somewhere else and was rather impressed ! The refurb is, in a word, drastic! However, despite my earlier fears it is still a real ale pub. The bar has been rebuilt and extended and now has five hand-pumps. (Hophead, Tribute, Sambrooks Wandle + 2)
The usual T-bar for Lagers etc has been replaced by a strange 'beer-engine' contraption on the back bar with a series of numbered taps and a blackboard with the various beers and lagers chalked up against the numbers.
The entire bar has been completely made-over, with new, clean floorboards, comfortable stools and little LED lights on the stairs. The 'Snogging Corner' with the settee under the up-stairs has gone, and the only niggle I have is the bloody great 6-seater table in the middle of the room which has to be squeezed round to get to & from the facilities. The bogs have all been renewed with new ware and even the hand-dryer works (after 2 years !) I shall probably go again on a Saturday to check my first impressions on what was a bit of a flyer, despite the long review above, as I only had two pints !
Also, I don't think the kitchen is working yet.
more anon.
TLB
ThLoneBoozer - 7 Apr 2011 12:50
Sign on the windows say it re-opens on 1st April. I hope that isn't a bad omen ;-) There is a new bar and back-bar, and the rickety stairs have been 'sorted' (I got a look inside as the fitters had the doors open. ) Will check it out after opening-day.

ThLoneBoozer - 27 Mar 2011 14:24
Closed for some kind of refurbishment at the moment.
Snarling_Mallard - 17 Mar 2011 21:52
The big advantage this has over the Hand and Shears is that it is open on a Saturday. It makes a handy stop if you're visiting the Museum of London on a weekend.

Very friendly bar staff, and a moderately well kept pint of Wandle, but the pub could do with a run over with a hoover. I didn't eat but the food I saw looked fine. I'd go back, but probably not if the H&S was open.
oldtimer1955 - 12 Dec 2010 09:25
Bizarre little place on two levels near Smithfield market. The downstairs bar is very small - certainly a lot smaller than the frontage on the photo suggests. There is a very tiny bar on the right hand wall - so small that the espresso machine sits on a shelf to the right hand side. The limited bar space also seems to restrict the drinks offered on pump/tap.

There are two pumps without clips and it was only when I got right up to the bar I could see that the beers were chalked on a board in flat in front of them. In fact it was both the Sambrook's beers - Wandle and Junction. Only three lagers plus Bulmers and none of the better premium lagers. All in all this sort of limitation puts me off places.

The seating (at least downstairs) was limited to 5 or 6 tables of varying kinds. Although I didn't go upstairs I have to assume it was somewhat larger as it extends over the alleyway on the left of the photo.

In the end this is not a particularly appealing pub and the fact that the Hand and Shears is about 10 yards away through the alley to the left means that it is very unlikely I'll bother returning here.
murgatroyd - 15 Nov 2010 09:01
Nice chilled out place to have a drink and some half-decent food at lunchtime or after work. Free jukebox, friendly staff, and the generally welcoming vibe are the main plus points. Stairs down to the toilets are a bit 'rustic' and the ladies are very dark, but overall you can do worse in the Barbican area.
anonymous - 1 Apr 2009 16:48
Good clean and tidy pub. Two ales , T/taylors l/lord, and deuchars. Worth
a visit.
fivedaysfiveshirts - 10 Nov 2008 11:49
had a looovely duck pie here for lunch the other day, inside is nice too - loving the golden ceiling!! not bad on price either...I shall return!!!
Megan79 - 4 Nov 2008 18:35
This pub opened this week and I went down there last night. It's been completely refurbed and is really lovely inside!

Larger and ale were both great (my friends and I tried it all out) and the new landlord and landlady are really friendly and have even installed a FREE jukebox with great music - what more do you want!

Food looks good as well, xmas much for under 30 which is a miracle in this area.
Jenny1980 - 26 Sep 2008 16:14
I have just seen that this pub is reopening! It looks amazing! Can't wait to check it out! :)
loveagoodpubme - 9 Sep 2008 16:32
Seems to be just about open as The Long Lane. The place looks similar to before - though the signage out front looks a little cheap. Inside the bar has a depressingly dull range of beers on - standard keg lagers, Guinness, cider plus Pedigree and Courage real ales. Blackboards inside advertise thai food.

Sorry, but this looks like a total waste of space. Smithfield Market now only has two truly decent pubs in the vicinity - the Sutton Arms and the Bishop's Finger.

STONCH'S BEER BLOG - stonch.blogspot.com
anonymous - 11 Jan 2007 11:26
Still closed. What a shame! Obviously people prefer to ply their uneducated palates with awful lager at places like Fluid and the Charterhouse.
nonecker - 23 Sep 2006 00:04
Just noticed it was closed this morning when passing - a shame as its the only pub in the area I had never been in for some reason.

The sign outside says the freeholder is selling up this "public house, wine bar or restaurant". Lets hope its the former and not either of the latter if and when it re-opens.
anonymous - 23 Mar 2006 10:48
Sadly now closed.
beer - 14 Mar 2006 16:45
Uncomfortable surrounding...eek!
simonbard - 31 Dec 2005 17:33
Good little place but decor is a bit too cafe like to feel to comfortable. Loved the 'finger' !!!
mitomighty - 9 Dec 2005 13:28
Good food, friendly service and well kept Shepherd Neame make this a good option for a lunchtime.
anonymous - 4 Feb 2005 15:53
Quite good, Master Brew was pleasant. They could do with a few more tables downstair. Went in with a couple of olds who couldn't manage the stairs.
MrScott - 9 Aug 2004 09:18
Good pub. Good beer. Top atmosphere and lovely and quiet sssshhhhhhhhhh
Joe_Cundy - 18 Oct 2003 15:13
True story. Went to the toilets downstairs, coming back up to the bar I held the door open for the person following me, trouble is, there was no one there. Then saw the sign about the ghost.
Mark the S - 25 Jul 2003 12:56
Excellent Shepherd Neame pub tucked away near Smithfields market & Barts. Bar staff very good. Usually quieter in the evening so no long queue for the next pint of liquid Kent gold. 8/10.
Darren in the City - 16 Jul 2003 09:46
A proper Pub Really well kept (Sheppard & Neame)Bitters. The food is excellent and great value. A good mix of traditional fayre
with friendly attentive service. The only drawback it is very popular so be early or you may face a slight delay at lunchtime.
Phil - 30 May 2002 15:23

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