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Red Lion, Leytonstone

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user reviews of The Red Lion, Leytonstone

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

Shabby sheek, I think they call it.

All I know is I chucked my bird a serious LENGTH in the bogs. Proper geezers boshing.

pissbehindthecupboard - 20 Jan 2016 17:47
'Some blokes' 'outside' 'pressganged' me into this pub. Ahem, 'your dignitaries'. What followed was almost a carbon copy of the history of the Royal Navy. Tragedy, trimuph, joy, more joy, an (forgettable) ascent of Nelson's column, dignitaries. And a 'hosing down'. Rule Britannia, indeed. If only I through otherwise I would be.
fostersfan - 9 Dec 2015 11:45
*Note this IS a review of The Red Lion, but with a lengthy pre-amble.

Had some plumbers round Tuesday and Wednesday putting in new central heating. They liked and early start – 8am prompt ffs. Which meant I had to get up even EARLIER – didn’t realise it was dark at that time. I do *not* like early starts especially with wine the night before.

They were a bit younger than me - and the apprentice seemed like a real dead-eyed dope. I kept mostly out of their way, but as is unavoidable in a flat, couldn’t avoid the white collar / blue collar clashes. I just gave them the odd bit of nonsense banter and avoided any questions about their work, and it was clear they wanted to keep ‘barriers up’ between the proles and the bourgeois.
At one point Mungo asked if he could move my desk in the box room. I said sure, and got up from my throne in the lounge and went in to help him lift it…..or so I thought. As I caught one end of the desk (quite solid and heavier than it looks) he stood at the other end completely slack-armed. He just watched as I awkwardly shuffled the desk with one end raised! ‘Gah, no Pontefract cakes for that churl at tea’ I thought.

They seemed to spend the entire time in the bathroom for some reason, and from the sounds of it were building a very crude time machine hewn from girders, so I was reduced to going to Tescos round the corner when ever I needed to ‘go’ - to avoid interrupting them. Using the Tesco customer toilets each time was like being in a condensed version of ‘One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest’. If you ever wondered where all the patients went from this building that was a former mental hospital…….’Hell-ooooww’ someone said in a slow lisp as I walked in.

I thought this would be a perfect day to try out The Red Lion for lunch as well to kill some time. I did a lap past The Olive, just to check out their lunch board (good prices, but a bit empty) and walked up towards the Lion. I toyed with what splendour I could dine in at The Walnut Tree (nearby Wetherspoons) for the same money I was about to spend, but reminding myself of the ‘plumber purgatory’ put the thought from my mind. Entering on my own, I immediately made a table of about 6 lunching mummies feel uncomfortable as I hovered near them reading the menu, which was not the utter ponce-fest I was expecting. I got the fish and chips with pea-something-or-other and was served by a very lovely young barmaid. I sat near the back so I could watch her work and also eavesdrop on four smug thirtysomethings (two couples). Mike Leigh would have shot his bolt at what I overheard… prices and ‘how we don’t have to worry about that any more, etc’; one of them having just returned from working in America – ‘they have loads of different accents over there don’t they?’ and their married neighbours who loudly argue about each other’s persistent philandering and call each other ‘c**ts’ at the top of their voices. The Alpha looked over at me as he said this, but I just smirked back at him with an expression saying ‘keep it coming….’

A nice fat cod fillet arrived with a decent amount of chips – think what you’d get if you ‘ate in’ at a chip shop – I was pleasantly surprised. Unfortunately the modern take on ‘peas’ was a strange affair – all fur and no knickers as Marcus Wareing might comment to a hapless Masterchef contestant. I enslaved the barmaid to bring me vinegar – and betrayed my humbler origins.

With the conversation dried up on Table Smug, I thought I heard Page’s bow and Plant’s wail (rumour has it Led Zeppelin played here) as I mopped up the ‘crivens’. I took my leave with a camp flourish.

Later that afternoon, I decided to vary my ‘p1ss routine’ and went into The Walnut Tree. The contrast from the Red Lion was not lost on me. As I stood at the urinal, I heard the inevitable clatter of crutches being dropped as someone was trying to open the door to the toilets (true).

senberbex - 27 Nov 2014 18:06
This pub has improved massively now it's reopened under its original name, and deserves a much higher rating than it got when it was Zulus.

The bar has ten or so hand pumps, all in use, plus a few keg beers and an enormous selection of craft beer in bottles. The food is definitely aimed at taking the place upmarket, and the burger I had was excellent.

At the back is a big beer garden with some zany spray-paint art on the walls, and a roofed passageway that seems to get used for events such as beer festivals. This gives the place a huge capacity when the weather's warm.

Definitely one of the better places for a pint and a bite to eat in Leytonstone.
fredfoobar - 8 Nov 2014 01:41
It's seems to be not only Saturday when you can't get a seat. Monday night is Quiz Night and all of the tables seem to be reserved, and as myself and three friends had gone out of our way to go to the Red Lion because of its beer range, we were not to impressed that we couldn’t get a seat, so instead of spending the evening here we drunk up and left.
But on the plus side the Sharp’s Cornish Coaster was excellent.

Freebeerforall55 - 22 Jan 2014 00:29
Large pub serving decent range of cask and keg beers. Good place to come. Good atmosphere. Large space out the back. Worth coming to even if not in the area.
SilkTork - 11 Jan 2014 13:10
Went here about a month ago (October 2013) prior to going to a party. We'd been before and like the place. A good selection of beers and a lively, convivial atmosphere both times with plenty of staff behind the jump so there's no hanging about. One minor caveat, however, are the prices. I asked for an a pint of Erdinger. I knew it wasn't going to be cheap but - sharp intake of breath - £7.00. Bloody hell. To be fair, the girl did let me know before she started pouring so I had a pint of Wit instead.
That said, if I lived closer I'd still use the Red Lion - side-stepping the Erdinger, of course.
Hoistafew - 11 Nov 2013 10:58
Since re-opening under it's original name a few years ago, the Red Lion has steadily improved. Perhaps because I'm now able to visit it on weekday afternoons, it doesn't seem to be quite the gastro pub it was a year or so back. You can't fault it's range of 10 well kept and imaginative real ales or the craft and bottled beers which rightly made it CAMRA's top local pub in 2012! Also, not to forget the discount on real ales on presenting your CAMRA membership card which makes it very good value! Plus the bar staff are usually excellent. The only downside to the Red Lion is that during weekend afternoons it tends to attract the "30 something professional couples" crowd with their giant buggies, who seem to allow their small children to run riot while they concentrate on putting the world to rights...
DaveE6 - 24 Aug 2013 15:08
I started drinking here early last year. A distinct improvement on Zulus. The beer quality and selection was top notch. The menu was varied and the food pricey but very good. The atmosphere was always relaxed and I've had a fair few pleasant Saturday afternoon's listening to reggae and blues while drinking my way down the bar.
In the last few months though I've found the quality of beer has gone down. Everything tastes the same and not overly pleasant. A big problem on a Saturday evening is most of the tables being reserved for diners,particularly when tables are empty.
A pub should be primarily for drinking and informal eating.
Suedehead27 - 16 Jan 2013 17:20
As previous reviewers have stated, this is now the Red Lion and a fairly good pub. The interior is large, dark and moody. A band was preparing whilst we were there last night. The clientele are young and fairly hip. 10 ales were being served - Summer Wine Brewery Rouge, Sweet Milk Stout, Espresso Stout, Hardknott Cool Fusion & Quality, Redwood American IPA, Roosters YPA, Kirkstall Pale Ale, Redemption Trinity & Windsor & Eton Canberra. There are also some interesting keg options and an excellent bottle selection. Sadly, there were no real ciders. Although again there are some bottle option. On the negative side, we did find the beer quality to be lacking a little. It is probably worth another try some time soon. By the way, watch out for the toilets. You seem to end up in the ladies before you know it. I did despite both of my colleagues warning me they had both ended up in ladies cubicles! The gents does not have any signage!
blue_scrumpy - 23 Dec 2012 14:02
Very pubby but also very modern, in the sense of the enterprising cask/keg selection and the astonishing rertro toilets (worth a trip just for those). Even got good advice from dark beers from a local. Leytonstone looks a decently pubbed town if the Birkbeck survives.
mtaylor40 - 16 Oct 2012 22:27
Thank heavens Zulus has gone - The new Red lion is 100 times better. It's got a wide range of beer and a relaxed and friendly vibe - the exact opposite of the obnoxious SAFA types that used to frequent Zulus.
kristianJ - 21 Apr 2012 15:49
If only all pubs were like the Red Lion. Best pub in East London and my favourite of all the Antic pubs that I've been to. Goes straight into my top 10.
CJohnson1980 - 11 Jan 2012 21:01

ZULUs shut down about two years ago, so this page needs updating.

It's now called the Red Lion again, as it used to be. Really nice 'Antic' pub, similar to their other long pubs. Nice shabby chic styling, loads of space, board games etc. Decent selection of beers, GREAT selection of really good wines.

Not a cheap pub, but no worse than most others. If you want cheap there is a Weatherspoons across the road. This place has loads of character and nice staff.

Went for the NYE party, was just 5 in,, and was great fun, didn't oversell tickets so wasn't too ramped, never waited to long to get served.

Best thing about this place is it's new bar billiards table, I love the game so it's great to see more london pubs with a table.

If you are in the area def drop in, worth a look.
crowcrow - 10 Jan 2012 14:02
Really disappointed. We went in today for a pub lunch for a special treat and an hour and a half later we were still waiting for our food despite being the first people in the pub and despite people being served who had come much later than us. We wouldn't have minded as much if they had been honest, as they had obviously lost our order, but they kept telling us that the food was nearly ready (repeatedly over fifteen minutes) without it ever turning up. We didn't like being treated as though we were being unreasonable when we finally decided to give up the wait as our two small children were starving. Again so disappointed as we really wanted this pub, our local, to be good.
What a shame.

kateroberts1 - 1 Jan 2012 15:39
As a fan of all Antic pubs I visit, this is by far the top of the pile. A vast selection of drinks on offer which spoils me for choice, but luckily has all of my 3 favourite uk brewerys on offer (which is quite a rarity).
Have only eaten here once so far, but am very impressed. I would happily have paid a lot more for my meal in a restaurant.
Great atmosphere too
Roydwin - 30 Oct 2011 18:04
As a fan of all Antic pubs I visit, this is by far the top of the pile. A vast selection of drinks on offer which spoils me for choice, but luckily has all of my 3 favourite uk brewerys on offer (which is quite a rarity).
Have only eaten here once so far, but am very impressed. I would happily have paid a lot more for my meal in a restaurant.
Great atmosphere too
Roydwin - 30 Oct 2011 18:04
Currently visiting a pub for every station on London Overground. Did this one for Leytonstone High Road. Excellent pub with 10 real ales on - quite a trendy pub with a rustic look. Beer was very good. Board games available. Definitely recommend.
hillzy - 7 Oct 2011 19:07
Regrettably there seems not to be a BITE team any more, they ignore comments or e-mails concerning changes or inaccuracies of which there are now plenty. I'll stick to visiting the Walnut Tree for now.
TiaMariaJim - 6 Sep 2011 11:42
I agree, breath should not be held.
I suggested the Toby Carvery in Keighley on 28-3-11, the Milton Head in Buxton on 16-11-10 and The Crown in Gayton, Norfolk, on 31-8-10, still no sign.
They have all been set-up on rival sites though...................................
Phantom_Pigeon - 6 Sep 2011 10:01
Don't hold your breath Number.6.
Tuna - 5 Sep 2011 23:49
Hi E17Bee, no reference to this pub but noticed your comment below, I've been waiting since early April for BITE to add a couple of pubs in Margate, they don't reply to the my emails asking why not added and also uploaded a photo over two weeks ago that still hasn't been added .... are the BITE team LISTENING ?? Get it sorted please BITE !!
Number.6 - 5 Sep 2011 21:50
Why is BITE still listing this pub as Zulu's? I told you guys three months ago it was now the Red Lion!
E17Bee - 5 Sep 2011 21:32
Now reopened as the Red Lion - thoroughly excellent it is too. Just one minor criticism - all the beers are served through tight sparklers.
E17Bee - 13 Jul 2011 13:10
Reopening June 8th after extensive refit.
Albert_Campion - 27 May 2011 13:19
Rumours abounding that this place has been bought by Antic, who run the Dogstar in Brixton and some retro-boozers around London. Another sign that Leytonstone's on the up.
Albert_Campion - 28 Sep 2010 23:18
Looks like your wish has come true, Resident10. Sign in the window to the effect that Zulu's is shut for the forseeable. At least the locals will enjoy the novelty of not waking up on sunday morning to find puke in their front gardens. Let's hope it turns into something decent.
Albert_Campion - 14 Jan 2010 12:01
Close this place down and open a good gastro pub in it's place. It's clear that no one likes this place including the South Africans it's geared to. What people want is a friendly pub with great modern decor and superb food. Charge higher prices to cover the additional staff costs, instead of excluding non-South Africans as the current place does, dissuade the undesirable locals by charging more and encouraging dining.

This a great location in the heart of Leytonstone, get it right and the business will flourish!
Resident10 - 15 Jun 2009 12:57
Without a doubt , the worst advertisement for south africa ever , even my SA friends avoid the place. truely a dump
kiwiphil - 24 Oct 2008 15:57
Zulu's is a dive, the bar staff are stuck up and don't even think about going there when the South Africans have been playing - in any sport!

I'd rather go around the corner to the North Star.
tw0106 - 10 Oct 2008 15:41
What a great shame! My brother, David Wylie, used to be head barman in this pub (when it was the Red Lion) 25/26 or more! years ago. Used to be a proper Irish, with a good sprinkling of Scots, pub. I used to work across the road and had lunch there most days.
Leytonstone High Road used to be a nice place with some good pubs, but on my last visit it looked very downtrodden and depressing.
dalglish - 6 Oct 2008 10:20
used to be a half decent boozer when it was the red lion.
now taken over by south africans.
don't go there.
full of lary,aggressive and ignorant south africans funnily enough.
not a good change for the area.
slurper01 - 21 Sep 2007 16:01
as the spitting image song said 'I've never met a nice south african'.

and you know, in all these years, I haven't. one other thing, it's yes, not yiss!
DavidWaspnest - 14 Sep 2007 16:19
Rough place. Be warned.

There's a lot of character to the place but please be aware and DO NOT bring your lady friend in with you, especially if she's dressed in clubbing gear. She WILL get harrassed by the drunk violent patrons.

Expect to find a fight outside and broken glass all over the street. Charming. Maybe the tough nut bouncers at O'Neils just up the road should apply for jobs here?
anonymous - 24 Aug 2007 11:29
A suprisingly friendly theme bar with the bonus of a late licence. Drinks are bog standard and averagly priced. Seating is good, including some ultra-comfy sofa's. There is a club bit upstairs, although I havent been and can only imagine the atmosphere up there from the scallies in the queue each night
Banner - 2 Aug 2006 12:58
Came home on the tube the other night. In my carriage were me, an asian man and two extremely drunk South Africans. The SA's were making blatantly racist comments about the Asian chap, who was obviously (and maybe wisely) pretending to be asleep. They got off at Leytonstone as did I, and I followed them out of the station and down to the High Road, where these two wonderful ambassadors of their country staggered into Zulus. I have no idea if they were typical of their clientele, but I have no wish to enter Zulus to find out.
anonymous - 29 Nov 2005 13:13
Full of horibble colonial people
vera_shaw - 24 Nov 2005 14:26
The lowlife who inhabit this pub and the chaos they cause in Leytonstone are the main reasons that I moved out of the area.

If you like to urinate in middle of the pavement, drop Snowdon-sized piles of litter, vomit in neighbours' gardens, racially abuse passers-by and occassionally beat up young women who have the cheek to object to any of the above, this is the place for you.

If, on the other hand, you're a normal, rational, nice human being looking for a pub with a great atmosphere and a friendly crowd, go the Sheepwalk instead.

Fiver_the_bunny - 27 Jul 2005 09:23
euro-fizz on tap, saffa fizz in bottle, the best of which is windhoek at 2.50 a bottle. volley-ball court outback. friendly enough if you get past the muzak, but don't expect atmosphere or ale.
roo_pie - 16 May 2005 09:33
Good pub during the summer, one of the best in London, but for some strange reason, Zulus and the cold English winter must make all the south Africans home sick, in the summer their friendly, funny and nice but in the winter they seem to get more aggie resulting in far to many police being called to sort it out, not such a good pub :-(
astonmartinmo1 - 11 Dec 2004 21:03
Die beste plek ooit!!!!!! Laat my dink aan Bourbon's in Potch. Go Pukke!
joaoman69 - 30 Nov 2004 10:50
It's OK if you are Afrikaans and 8 foot tall! The pubs decor is not bad. But obviously Paul had a few too many wifebeaters when he went, to make that comment!
Mick - 9 Jun 2004 10:26
Fit birds?

In Leytonstone?

Was here once, it was OK.
Matt - 7 May 2004 15:17
This place is fantastic. Great crowd and good service. Lots of fit birds. Lovely!
Paul - 22 Mar 2004 04:07
Not bad, this one. There's a bit of character here, a few good pubs bands. Nothing special, but very good for Leytonstone
Slipperduke - 11 Feb 2004 15:05
I can not believe this bar was rated as a 9.5/10. It's full of drunk antipodeans who just want to get their leg over combined with trashy bands playing the usual WalkAbout classics (Come on Eileen anyone). If all u want from a bar is to get legless and cop off - great! For the more sophisticated I'd stay well clear.
Dixie - 4 Feb 2004 15:09
I love this place. Friendly atmosphere, owners are lovely. Down stairs bar always packed and lively although a bit hot.

Upstairs wicked dance floor so much nicer than O'neils. You'll even spot a couple of S.A's doing the waltz to the music!
noodles - 21 Nov 2003 13:56
Yeah, this pub is pretty cool and a welcome change for the area...theres usually some decent eye candy in there for males and females alike...the choice of beers etc is cool, cheap VBs and tasty snake bites and the rest of the usual stuff...although the fact that they only take cash not cards has been a pain butt from time to time...theres good bands on at the weekends playing the a mix of Nivarna meets "Brown eyed girl" type can get a bit smokey, but its always got a chilled out, but busy atmosphere...havent checked the club upstairs out properley yet...but...its BIG up there...
Kellie Thompson - [email protected] - 4 Sep 2003 11:52
Agreed - a great bar, and a very refreshing change.

Distinctive decor, friendly staff, easygoing crowd, fun music, good prices. Plenty of space, and huge leather armchairs for those who want to chill out.

Recommended for laid-back people of all ages.

anonymous - 9 Aug 2003 14:11
This pub is a refreshing change from the usual dross around leytonstone and is finally giving people in the area another local option other than the most awful O' Neils on the planet.
Aribo - 8 Aug 2003 01:24
This is an antipodean pub with african decor (zebras, wood, masks etc) south african beers and snacks (such as biltong), although locals are welcome too and the guinness is also good.

The beach volleyball and barbecues in the back lead to a great atmosphere, and there is live music at weekends. There are also special offers throughout the week e.g. snakebite at weekends for 2 a pint, or 2 for 1 offers on particular alcopops.

As of 11 July 2003 they have a late licence at weekends and will be more of a club in the evening.

It's full of 20-30 year olds, mostly backpackers, and the atmosphere is similar to a student union bar, maybe a little more responsible but very welcoming and fun.

Highly recommended!
Flash Wilson - - 10 Jul 2003 17:06
Great atmosphere, live bands on Fri, Sat and Sunday, huge beer garden including volleyball court
Judell - 2 May 2003 17:06

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