Applied Linguistics graduate and freelance writer. Visit my twitter: @heyclairemarie
Published February 17th 2013
Situated across the road from the Houses of Parliament, the Red Lion pub is perfectly located for a quick drink or a bite to eat after a day's sightseeing. The pub feels like the kind of place that Charles Dickens might have ducked into in order to have a pie, whilst pondering the plot line of his next novel. Indeed he was familiar with the pub; it was used by him as the inn where David Copperfield requested "a glass of Genuine Stunning" ale and it was given to him with a kiss.
Positioned right next to the Cenotaph and with a fabulous view of Big Ben, you can expect this pub to be busy. It is a magnet for tourists who visit and never come back, as well as being a watering hole for politicians. But when we made our visit, on a cold Saturday evening, we found the dining room to be busy but not crowded.
The pub was taken over in 2009 by Fullers, but not a lot has changed within in the last 600 years and it still retains its traditional ambience. The decor is very traditional, with decorative glass and mirrors, interrupting the panelling and images of politicians gazing down on the clientele. It is also the Prime Minister's local, being the closest pub to Downing Street. Apparently, the bell at the Red Lion is rung to summon serving MPs (Members of Parliament) to the House of Commons when they need to vote.
There isn't a lot of choice on the menu, probably something else that hasn't changed in the pub's history. Typical dishes include burgers, fish and chips and caesar salad. We decided to take a gamble and try the 'Leek and Stilton Crumble'. And this is where the negative bit comes in. I have never gone to a restaurant and not liked my meal. I am not a fussy eater. Heck, I have never disliked a meal. Not for years anyway. But this was the first time. However, a lot of the other meals being served to the other diners looked quite delicious, especially the hamburger, and fish and chips. So if we visit again, we will definitely be trying another dish.
The food is also moderately priced, which is quite surprising for somewhere located in that area. This is what makes it a place to check out anyway, if you're in the area. Bear in mind, if you plan to make a visit that the dining room closes at 8pm, so don't get there too late.
So in conclusion: the Red Lion in Parliament Square is worth a trip, just to see whether the other meals on the menu are worth eating. Pay my regards to the Prime Minster whilst you're there.