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Golden Lion, Romford

I'm extremely proud to say that I grew up with the Lion as my first 'local.'

The Lion cradled me gently through my early youth and saw me confidently step into manhood. Like many, this was the place where I cut my 'beer' teeth and spent many a happy drunken night in my teens with college friends. In the late 80's/early 90's, the Lion was one of the finest bastions of student drinking in Romford. Friday nights were always organised around the Lion, often followed by the Cellar Bar for some sweaty Indie music.

The history of this place is pouring out of the walls and ceiling. If it could talk, 'Le Lion' could tell some spell-binding stories dating back nearly six hundred years. It was a stop off point for Royalty on the road to Colchester, Sir Francis Bacon drank there and may have penned a theory or two, and even local Romfordian and legendary reporter Roy Weal drank here regularly (all Lion regulars knew Roy - the brass plaque much like Roy himself, is unassuming and perched over the bar in the spot where he sat, on a stool at the end, watching the clientele come and go).

To me, the Lion is a bit like a favourite old leather jacket that you just can't bring yourself to throw away. Yes, it's a bit tatty in places, a bit worn out with little rips and unusual smells here and there; but there are colourful marks and stains which make it individual, and most importantly more than any other pub or bar in Romford, unique.

And in this market town with it's reputation for white stilettos, Tango fake tan and unnatural bleached teeth, God knows that Essex needs a bit of 'uniqueness.'

Viva Le Lion!

29 Aug 2011 15:26

The Thatched House, Upminster

This is a restaurant first, pub second. This is a Vintage Inn, so the main selling point is obviously the restaurant and not the beer. Like a lot of pubs facing financial crisis nowadays, that is where they make their money. On that basis you can expect the same business model as you would find at any other Vintage Inn in the UK. That said, this is one of the better Vintage Inns I have visited in south Essex (one of the less favourable being the Black Horse in Brentwood - a 2 hour wait for a meal anyone?!?) and have always found it to be popular. The front of house staff here are very efficient and friendly. The 'nice man' who seated us (maitre d') deserves extra credit for his organised style and personable manner. The two course 9.95 menu was good value and the sunday roast ample. The chocolate torte was rich and melted in the mouth. Even when I found a small bone in my turkey the 'nice man' was sincerely apologetic and handled it well. There were some decent beers on offer and was pleased to hear that there was a Summer Cask Ale Selection. You could do a lot worse.

29 Aug 2011 14:24

The Woodman, Stanford Rivers

Avoid this place. It is over-priced and run-down. The owners are clearly relying too much on the location and rural setting as a selling point for this place, which is a real shame. The Woodman could really be so much more.

Yes, the views from the garden are pretty, and you would be hard pressed to find a pub in southern Essex with such fantastic scenery. However this is where the positives begin and end. This pub should not use food as a selling point at all. The prices are totally ridiculous (5-6 per starter, 10-15 main) for the poor quality of ingredients used. The bar staff do not appear to want to be there other than to chat and gossip with the regulars upon which I dare say the owners so heavily financially rely. If they hadn't been in uniforms and been stood behind the bar, I would never have known that they worked there. Our plates were left to accumulate where we sat and no-one came out to the patio area to clear them away. No-one really cared whether we liked the food or not. They had our money and that appeared to be the important thing.

In terms of drink, there are the usual steadfast options of lagers and wines, and a few standard Shepherd Neame ales available, but nothing that stands out from the crowd.

29 Aug 2011 13:58

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romfromromf has been registered on this site since 29th August 2011