A proper Smithfield pub with an emphasis on meat and a changing roster of over a dozen keg beers.
The old red cow herself, if she wasn’t apocryphal, probably didn’t have a pleasant visit to this pub’s manor – Long Lane was an ancient cattle route to Smithfield meat market.
You can see the cupolas, domes and reliefs of London’s temple of butchery through the front windows of this refurbed Victorian site, which no longer uses its antique ‘Ye Olde’ prefix and has turned its focus to serving very good beer.
New owners haven't mucked about with The Cow’s exterior, and the decor inside comes from the modern beer bar school of austerity, which is no bad thing: vintage European advertising plates liven up the plain walls, and there’s a lot of worn-in wood.
Seating space downstairs is limited, but there’s a bigger, wood-clad dining area upstairs.
A proper pub with a proper Sunday roast, if that’s what you’re after. Fittingly for a place located near Smithfield meat market, the emphasis at the Old Red Cow is on meat. We had a couple of top-notch Sunday roasts on our visit, with free-range chicken and well-hung beef bought from just over the road. The rest of the menu is solid British pub grub – a sausage plate for sharing, steaks, burgers, fish and chips – but with vegetarian options such as a tomato tart with rocket and pesto.
The Old Red Cow is also a proper beer-lover’s pub, with hand pumps to keep the real ales flowing and a selection of 14 changing keg beers. An imaginative selection of bottled brews completes the picture, making the Old Red Cow one of London's best for those seeking both range and novelty.