The Old Red Cow, Barbican

Our rating: FAP Rating 4 - Click for an explanation of our ratings      User rating: Community Rating 4 - Click for an explanation of our ratings   (8 reviews)
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FancyaPint?'s review...
FAP Rating 4 - Click for an explanation of our ratings
Apart from one disastrous incarnation (as the Long Lane) we've long been fans of the the Old Red Cow, it's a handsome, quirky, old building that's always had a cheery aspect to it. And we're in illustrious company as it was also a favourite the late, great Peter Ustinov too. It has recently enjoyed something of a revival, so when we saw it was closed up again and there were ladders and buckets of paint around, we feared another downturn was in the offing. An eagle-eyed FAP visitor emailed us to let us know it had reopened, so we popped in to take a look. The downstairs bar is a small room and was always a bit of a crowded space, but sensible furniture - high tables and high, cushioned stools - has made good use of this space providing an easy through route to the important bit, the bar. There are four hand pumps, serving real ales (although one was off on our visit) and they're a treat - Wandle, Hopspur and Hophead, all well-looked after, but it's behind the bar where it gets interesting. There are twelve numbered taps along the back of the bar and to the left of it a large numbered menu listing the products they dispense. And it's a very interesting range of beers - Camden Pale Ale, BrewDog punk IPA, Maisel's Weissbier, Schremer Roggen Rye and a rotating US guest beer for example, as well as Guinness, lager and Thatcher's cider. If you can't find anything to suit here, you're a very hard person to please indeed. And that's not quite all, above the taps are dozens of little metal compartments, each containing a different bottled beer, some of which, if not all, are also available for consumption - plus some bottles of decent wine and the usual spirits. The bar food looks simple, modern and reasonably priced and the service is friendly. From our first visit, the revamped Old Red Cow is onto a winner, we'll certainly be coming back very soon to do a countdown of the beer menu. Cheers to everyone involved!
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Reviews (9)
06 Sep 2012
Rating 5 - Click for an explanation of our ratings
Small so it can get cramped but there is a bar upstairs. Fantastic range of beers and a knowledgeable bar staff. they don't come much better than this if you really appreciate good beer and are prepared to experiment a little.
Reviews (0) Invites (2)
22 May 2012
Rating 5 - Click for an explanation of our ratings
I think it is difficult not to be gushy about a place that makes me wistful just thinking about it.
To start - the beer selection is varied - bottled is very eclectic and a good mix of Euro, World and US beers; Draught is similarly intriguing inasmuch as there are few beers from really well know producers - Windsor and Eton, Moors Beers feature on the handpulls and Ilkeley and others on tap provide the counterpoint in keg form.
But the point is that you will not find a better selection in this or many other parts of town. Upstairs Bar/Function room is also supplied with draught so no issue with bottles only, thank goodness.
The food menu is really exciting (if that's not too hackneyed a word to use...I suspect it is) and combines traditional old school favourites (Scotch Egg, Sausage Rolls) but given a new and home made twist, with more unanticipated dishes such as Mussels in curry leaf sauce or Steak Tartare with sourdough bread.
When writing these reviews it is always easy to contemplate the negatives - but I am happy to say that that is not possible with the Old Red Cow. It is my first 5 pinter and is richly deserved - a beer lover's paradise in Pub form.
Reviews (7)
14 Apr 2012
Rating 4 - Click for an explanation of our ratings
Paid an early afternoon visit on Saturday for lunch with our two kids. It's a friendly and pleasant pub housed in a nice naturally lit revamped old building. It stocks a nice small selection of real ales, and serves good quality food. Would be a nice place for either a quiet pint or to meet up with a small group of friends. We enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere- eating, drinking and playing chess. Will no doubt return again to sample more from the beer and food menu. London could do with more pubs like this.
Reviews (7)
14 Apr 2012
Rating 4 - Click for an explanation of our ratings
Pretty good.
Reviews (2)
06 Feb 2012
Rating 5 - Click for an explanation of our ratings
Went here Saturday lunchtime. Drank the Windsor Knot 4%. Quite simply one of the best pints of bitter I've had for years, and I've had a few. Hoppy and fruity. Well kept. Pub was very quiet. A few people downstairs, only me upstairs (sad git!) but it suited me. Big screen showing the Six Nations. Sadly I'm unlikely to be in the area again soon but would be happy if this was my local.
Reviews (7)
29 Oct 2011
Rating 4 - Click for an explanation of our ratings
As part of my Tour de Pubs de London with friends, we made a dinner (or supper, if you prefer to call it that) pit stop in the Old Red Cow. It was,
thankfully, not completely packed, so we were able to grab a table and camp out for a while. Notable notes:

Un: An upstairs and a downstairs and plenty of space to have small groups, large groups, couples, or a pint at the bar.

Deux: Live music upstairs! Good live music at that! Not at all deterring from the dining and drinking experience.

Trois: A full menu with a wide variety of foods. Not food that will blow your mind, but good pub food and generous servings.

Quatre: Free jukebox! Board games! Little details like this make a place memorable, nay, unforgettable, if one indulges.

Cinq: Wide variety of beers and ciders on tap, and a lovely blackboard for displaying them all.

Six: Good location, just round the corner from the Barbican stop for a quick ride home (given there aren't tube diversions).

All in all, an enjoyable dinner location. I could easily see myself setting up a weekly board game night just to have a good place to tuck in and have some fun.
Reviews (1)
02 Jun 2010
Rating 4 - Click for an explanation of our ratings
Great Pub, team behind the bar are friendly, small range of beers but interesting, upstairs is where the fun is with a great free jukebox. Lots of board games downstairs for the gaps between the world cup matches this summer!

Contact details
71 Long Lane, Smithfield, London, EC1A 9EJ
020 7726 2595
Opening times
Sunday - Thursday 12:00 till 23:00
Friday & Saturday 12:00 till 00:00
Please check opening times with the pub before making a special journey.
Events:

Quiz night - monthly quiz (Monday)

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oldredcow
Claimed 10 Jul 2011
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Overview

Situated on Long Lane in Smithfield EC1 our “local beer house” concept is attracting customers from all over London who have come to sample some of the best beers available in town.

Detailed Description

Our commitment to providing interesting and quality product is appreciated by both our regulars and visitors alike. Although beer is our first love, we also have developed a great wine list and sell quality spirits. Our food is freshly cooked and provides a selection of pub favourites as well as a number of “surprises.” Our ethos is built around quality, homely service and the love of the “pub” environment.

 

The local beer house idea was developed as a means to promote and serve “great beer” in a similar way to the beer houses developed in England in the early 19th century.

 

These were set up as an alternative to the gin houses of the time. Beer was considered much more respectable than gin and changes in the licensing law of that era allowed ordinary households to apply for a licence with a one-off payment of two guineas to sell beer or cider in their home (usually the front parlour) and even brew on the premises. So enjoy our 21st century parlour!

 

We have endeavoured to source products from a number of local breweries and feel we are committed to supporting these innovative people as well as sourcing quality product from further afield. So whether it be Camden, Redemption, Brodie’s or Sambrooks in London or Brew Dog and Harviestoun from Scotland or Stiegl from Austria we have a quality beer for every occasion.

 

So come and see us and enjoy all the Red Cow has to offer.
 

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July 28th Best of British Beer Festival