Choosing this week’s venue, planning and booking was entrusted to Simone and David and they came up with Red Lion and Sun in Highgate Village near Hampstead Heath, not to be mistaken for the Red Lion and Sun Society of Iran, a precursor to the Red Crescent (the Muslim Red Cross) that looks after wounded Muslim soldiers and works with the displaced and affected by conflict.
A dog friendly pub they have frequented before, it offers a hog roast, as well as an extensive midweek menu that can be seen here, and is presided over ably by a French import as head chef, giving a little Gallic flair to proceedings.
What Other People Are Saying
Disclaimer. The views hereafter are not representative of the Quest for a Sunday Roast or any member of the Quest team.
“Really great food and wine and the odd celeb but a tad bit devoid of atmosphere and bland insipid decor that has inspiration or cohesion.”www.qype.co.uk ”Nice ambience, and location but food not quite what the prices would suggest.” www.qype.co.uk ”Quality pub, friendly barstaff – talked us through a selection of whiskeys with a decent level of knowledge on each one. Good place to end up in at the end of an evening!” www.beerintheevening.com ”This is no longer a pub – it’s a restaurant, complete with breast-feeding mums in the bar on Sunday lunchtimes.” www.beerintheevening.com ”Walked in then walked straight out again.” www.beerintheevening.com ”Aloof, borderline rude staff. Their menu has some really lovely dishes and some crazily priced, not particularly generous salads. Not a bad place but they could do with a little humility and friendliness.” Google.
A lot of the reviews seemed to follow the theme that the Red Lion and Sun has been recently refurbished from being a traditional pub, that apparently allowed smoking outside under the roof and had televisions and therefore more of an atmosphere. Not that I can believe that last fact as, other than having loutish football fans screaming obscenities at it, there is no way a TV can create an atmosphere, rather it sucks the life out of any room.
Also, the largest chain of reviews on this topic include such a lengthy and detailed diatribe from a supposed customer of the new RL&S that it can only read as being from one of the staff, or the management of the pub/restaurant/whatever it claims to be. I saw this a lot with the last review, of the Public House, where reviewers seemed to have such inside knowledge that it can only be seen as “vanity” reviewing, namely, they are reviewing themselves favourably.
Addendum : Having since spoken with the management of The Red Lion and Sun, it has become apparent that they did not post any “vanity reviews” and this was indeed posted by a well informed customer. Having refurbished into the wonderful, light and airy gastropub we enjoyed Sunday, a smear campaign from regulars of the old RL&S covered the review sites and the pub fought back. Good on them, I say.
The menu does look good though and does not seem expensive, even for the leafy setting of Highgate Village and those sampling the wares are Simone, David, Melinda, Suma, questing virgins Ana, Yuko, Sharon, and a rather hungover Phil, Francoise and Darren. Let’s eat like big dogs!
We, being Francoise and Darren, arrived early and were asked if we wanted to sit inside or outside, given the changeable nature of the British weather. The table inside was for 8, and we were to be 6 at the original time of booking, but with the inclusion of more and more questing chums, we ended up being 10. The very friendly staff chatted with us, and pulled the tables together for 10.
There was a nice number of tables out front under awnings, and in the back garden, as well as several tables inside. We chose to sit outside and were joined over the next hour by the rest of the group, with the cute as a button waitress (Melinda and Darren agreed she was almost too cute) giving us as much time as we wanted but warning us that there were other large tables booked and we would have to wait if our order was put in after them.
From left to right (Fois Gras – Darren, Simone, Yuko, Razor Clams with Chorizo – Ana)
From left to right (Beef – Simone, Phil, Lamb – Yuko, Pork belly – Darren, David, Ana, Sharon, Salmon – Francoise, Suma, Poussin – Melinda)
From left to right (Brownie – Sharon, Buttermilk pudding – David, Praline Terrine – Suma, Pavlova – Darren, Ana)
Observations – Individual and Collective
- Given option of indoor or outdoor space, lovely open space. Have to counter the argument this is a restaurant masquerading as a pub, but rather it is a pub masquerading as a restaurant.
- Wasps annoying and around ankle height. David is not a fan of wasps and would often race off when the critters encroached.
- Really friendly staff discussed seating options.
- The toilet doesn’t flush in the ladies – Sharon.
- There is a Dyson Airblade – Melinda. Although it turns out that the gents and ladies were poles apart. The ladies had l’Occitane hand wash, and a Dyson Airblade. The gents had Boots hand wash, smelled of urine, and no Airblade. To quote David. “It was like a school toilet.”
- Accommodated 7 to 9 then 10 people with Suma’s arrival.
- Waitress was as cute as can be – Melinda.
- We should bag her and take her home – Darren.
- Everything’s good – Suma.
- I’m missing my drink still. 45 mins after ordering it – Sharon missing her cider.
- Really tasty fois gras, and love the brioche over the normal toast – Darren.
- Great heavy steak knives, better than spreading knives at prior places – Darren and Suma.
- My beef was 5 out of 5 – Simone.
- Only comment about the potatoes: they tasted like they were previously cooked and reheated – Simone.
- Loved our table. Only annoying thing were the wasps but I guess there isn’t much anyone can do about it! – Simone.
- Foie gras was yummy – Yuko.
- Lamb for main which was lovely but the mint sauce could be better – Yuko.
- No bread so could not dip in sauce for razor – Ana.
- Actually there was no bread offered at all for the table, not that I could fit anything else in. I am so full I am distended – Darren.
- I am so happy with my dish (pavlova) I am not going to share – Ana.
- Really tasty pavlova – Darren.
- My fave place so far – Melinda.
- Loved the back terrace and garden, even with the wasps. So gorgeous! – Melinda.
- Service was considerate and patient – especially considering it took us an hour to all arrive - Melinda.
- Food was exceptional. Chicken perfectly prepared, Yorkshire pudding, potatoes and veggies: again, perfect – Melinda.
- It was delicious – Ana. Simple and to the point.
- Beautiful beer heathen surrounded by great pants – Ana. Although I think we can blame that on T9. I think she meant that it was heaven being surrounded by plants.
- Sunny, quiet… Feels like luxury holidays – Ana.
- The Red Lion and Sun is in a delightful location and it was a great relaxed atmosphere outside,minus the wasps! – Sharon.
- Pork belly was very tasty and the crackling was cooked to perfection.I have had better,so it won’t get the highest score! Could be more generous with the apple sauce. Chocolate brownie was brilliant-flaky on the outside and moist on the inside-just as brownies should be! – Sharon.
- I love this place, the courtyard out the back is delightful and especially good on a sunny day. However, if you’re afraid of wasps, be warned -Sharon.
- No Dyson in gents. More like school toilets – David.
- Service staff were attentive and friendly – David.
- Roast pork was a little dry but has amazing crackling, excellent potatoes and crisp Yorkshire pudding. Buttermilk pudding was basically a pannacotta – not what I was expecting and not what I would have ordered but the Pavlova was excellent – David.
- Toilets like something from my primary school – David.
- Good service – Suma.
- My salad was alright – I had major food envy, should have gone for the pork belly. For dessert I had the praline and chocolate mousse with coffee syrup, which was interesting, good interesting – Suma.
- The beef was spot on, pink and tender, not too much fat and tasty gravy. The potato’s were pretty crunchy, perhaps a bit deep fried-esque. The Yorkshire pud was thin and very oily – a little disappointed – Phil.
- Ambience and general feel of the place made up for the slightly oily food. Would come back I think, perhaps without a hangover – Phil.
- Lovely garden, the l’Occitane hand soap and Airblade in the bathrooms got a thumbs up – shame the gents didn’t feel the same – Franc.
- Salmon nicoise was a nice summer option – Franc.
- Service was nice – Franc.
- We were given plenty of options as to where to sit, despite the ever-growing size of the group and was glad to have made the choice of sitting outside rather than in – Darren. Although the wasps did annoy. We ended up killing quite a few, with the wasp equivalent of Pol Pot (Suma) opening a can of whoop ass on the winged fiends – Darren.
- The waitress was very cute, and very patient with us all – Darren.
- The menu has too many dishes, and looks like the weekday menu, mixed with evening meals – effectively an “all in” menu – Darren.
- No bread? – Darren.
- Loved everything, the pork, the fois gras, the pavlova. Was so full I left some of my veg with the main and half a beer – Darren.
- A really lovely space, great company and great food – Darren. I highly recommend it.
- I want to be critical, but I can’t – Franc.
This was a great pub, and a wonderful Sunday roast with lots of new friends. Juggling a table of ten can be hard, but the waitress did so effortlessly, the only faux pas being the 45 minute delay in bringing Sharon’s cider. The food was excellent and several people scored this very highly, high enough to make the top 5, without going that extra yard and leapfrogging The Gun or the Harwood Arms. Would I go again? Absolutely!
And to counter the reviews, as I did for Public House last week, this is still a pub. You do not have to eat there. Sure, before the refurbishment it may have seemed like more of a watering hole, or old man’s pub, but you need to move with the times. The food and staff at The Red Lion and Sun were all excellent, they were not rude or aloof in any way. The food was not expensive either, and hit the average price point of the pubs we have visited.
A 4.175 average is the highest we have had in over a year, well done all! Although, PS, the boys loos should be the same as the ladies in terms of cleanliness and facilities, and something needs to be done about the bugs, unless you want to employ Suma to kill them for you full time.