First Pint Nerves

You certainly need cojones grande to open up a pub in today’s economic climate, so props to Antic Ltd for taking a punt on our corner of London. Leytonstone has long suffered from a lack of decent ale pubs. There’s the excellent North Star, the wildly variable Walnut Tree ‘Spoons … and er, that’s your lot. So, anticipation of the resurrection of E11’s iconic and neglected Red Lion has been huge. After several false starts the doors were finally opened last wednesday evening. So, what’s it like?

He’s a big lad, is our Lion. Soaring ceilings held up by original iron pillars and big windows to watch the good people of  ‘stone. The interior designers seem to have taken what Time Out called the area’s  ‘shabby chic’ as styling cues – and they’ve been down the reclam yard for chandeliers and shelves of 50s crockery. It has something of a ‘pop up’ event feel, with your mates bringing round their spare chairs. Walls are stripped back to the bricks and there are bare, distressed floorboards. It reminds me strongly of  back-in-the-day TIW favourite Canteloupe.  Apologetic signs admit that the place is a work in progress – the toilets need finishing and still to come is a kitchen, garden (with beehive, allegedly) and a ‘ballroom’.

On pump there was Purity Mad Goose, Redemption Urban dusk, Truman Summer Runner and Doom Bore. Meantime Helles and Brewdog IPA from keg. In the fridge there was Duvel, Stiegl, Vedett and – hello stranger – Delerium Tremens.

Even after 25 years of hanging about in pubs, I still cringe a bit when I have to return a beer. The Goose pulled into a dimpled mug was opaque and flat. So was the next one. The friendly barmaid apologised and replaced it with a Truman. Much better, lots of fruit, a pinch of hops and a clinging, thin head helped by the sparkler serve. If i’m honest, it was on the cold side of cool – and there was a chill haze. £3.10 a pint has no complaints from me – I’ve paid more up in the Dales – though a Duvel will cost you £3.90 a bottle.

Our visit was a short one – and early doors on a saturday lunchtime is never the best time to judge a pub, but on first impressions it’s definitely looking good for the Red Lion.  More good news is that Antic are moving into brewing, having reportedly bought Meantime’s old kit. Nice to have a new place run by people with imagination and ambition. It’s all very good for our ‘hood.

About teninchwheels

Designer, photographer and Vespa-fixated pub bore. Born in Yorkshire, living in that London these past 20 years. Get in touch at, especially if you'd like to send me some free beer.
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10 Responses to First Pint Nerves

  1. Affer says:

    It does look like a proper pub, not a yuppie bar! I guess a few iffy pints on opening day can be forgiven. I hope the shift into brewing might mean on the premises….we need more of that German style of micro-brewery. I suppose a lot of the big Kolsch places in Cologne might fall into that category – except they are hardly ‘micro’ – but my fave is the Drei Kronen in Memmelsdorf, near Bamberg.

    Meanwhile, Good Luck to the Lion!

  2. I think the brewing’s going to be done at Antic HQ in Peckham. Rumour is that it’ll be £2.50 a pint!

  3. Brady says:

    I feel like an ass, also, when I send beer back, but you can tell when a beer hasn’t been poured out of the lines all day, and it’s no good at all.

    Saturday afternoon is indeed a good time to hit the pubs, a bit of sun, a bit of beer, and a good plate of food is an excellent way to damage the second half of the day.

    Behind Bars – Motorcycles and Life

  4. Chris W says:

    Paid my first visit to the Big Cat on Saturday and was impressed with the range on offer. Particularly pleased to see some US bottled offerings like Anchor Steam Beer available, I’ve a soft spot for West Coast craft breweries…

    The Mad Goose went down rather nicely too!

  5. Adey Jarvis says:

    This is my local. Completely devoid of the fat, retarded footie twonks and the local unemployed. Fantastic and long time coming in Leytonstone. Proper hipster cool, not hipster comedy…

    • Thanks for dropping in, Adey.

      Having lived and worked for many years in Hipster Ground Zero before moving to the ‘stone it’s definitely a cut above the self-conscious hipsterdom of EC2. Very inclusive with a good range of ages. and so far it’s fulfilling the wishes all the locals had for it.

  6. Adey Jarvis says:

    Punk IPA and Brooklyn Lager are my tipple in The Red Lion. Cheers ;-D

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