Old Red Cow

Tricia de Courcy Ling / Time Out
Tricia de Courcy Ling / Time Out
Tricia de Courcy Ling / Time Out
Tricia de Courcy Ling / Time Out
Tricia de Courcy Ling / Time Out

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. 

Venue name: Old Red Cow
Address: 71 Long Lane
Opening hours: Open Noon-11pm Mon-Thur; noon-midnight Fri, Sat; noon-10.30pm Sun
Transport: Tube: Farringdon tube/rail or Barbican tube

Average User Rating

3.5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:7
  • 4 star:2
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:2
  • 1 star:3
1 person listening
Mr Food
1 of 1 found helpful

Really disappointed with the Sunday roasts. Not satisfying at all. I won't be going back ever. Disappointed with Time Out for such a getting this recommendation so badly wrong!

Alison T

The worst Sunday Roast we have ever had in a London pub. We are quite local to this pub and following the Time Out review thought we would give it a go.....Some friends were treating us to lunch and this seemed an ideal venue. We were so wrong. The table upstairs was cramped by other tables making it impossible to move. The 2 waitresses were stressed and constantly panicking about getting people out of the pub so that the next people could be seated....if their service was more efficient this would not have been an issue. We ordered the £60 rib of beef for 2. Medium. It came rare and cold. The same gravey was provided for the beef and the pork!! Plates were cold. 4 small roast potatoes and a spoonful of green beans and some over roasted greasy root veggies. £60????

There was no atmosphere other than the stress of the staff.

Time Out have got this so very wrong. Overpriced and overrated. Will never return.

my friend chicken pie was ok and the roast pork was also enjoyed.....The main event should have been the beef.....We were unlucky enough to be served the last portion at 1 30pm.....no one else was eating beef when we arrived. The beef was of poor quality and fatty. Did I mention it was just 1 rib for £60.....

Michelle H

We live locally and thought we'd give this a go for Sunday lunch as the reviews were pretty good. Sadly a little disappointed i have to say. Decent food, but hugely over priced, paying extra for sides, so a pie with roasties ends up costing over £20...for a pub, with average service (a barman that waits on and a rather matronly

maitre d')...just didn't meet expectations i'm afraid. Good beer selection though and would probably head back for drinks only. 

John Garth

Went looking for the Hand and Spear after a great gig at the Barbican (John Prine). Unfortunately it is closed at weekends but Lady Luck smiled on us and we found this great little pub next door The Old Red Cow - excellent beers and friendly service - will definitely be part of any future Barbican night out !


Great beer and friendly staff, always willing to let you try a few. Which is a good thing because at those prices you want to try before you buy!


We had our christmas lunch yesterday for a team of 22 people and I have to say the food was outstanding. We had a private party upstairs. The 3 course meal is definitely good value for money. I recommend the leg partridge, beef & venison and the chocolate fondant is a perfect way to finish off a good lunch. Overall everyone really enjoyed themselves and loved the food! A great place to try out if you have not been there before.


I really enjoyed the vibe here. Though small and a little packed, you're spoilt for choice with the beers on tap and the service was really good, even though it was busy. I highly recommend the burgers; perfectly prepared and super tasty. Will be coming back when I'm in London again.


Hired the upstairs room at ORC for two of the recent EURO 2012 events. Large ceiling-mounted screen plus 4 corner speakers means you can see over the heads of tall people (although it offers only BBC & ITV). First event canapes were really tasty and plentiful. Second event curry evening (chicken or veg with yummy trimmings) had most people going for seconds. The onion bhajis are to be recommended. Staff very helpful throughout and, of course, the range of beers was a real bonus. Overall a great venue for a not-too-formal party for up to 45ish (standing) - most of the hosts & guests hadn't visited before and were very pleasantly surprised. Several have been back since.


When here with my boyfriend last Sunday for our first Sunday roast, after reading the reviews on best Sunday Roast Dinner from Timeout. Situated just round the corner of Barbican tube station, in a quiet sided street, which is very handy and quite well know. We got there just after 1.30pm and asked the staff if we could have a roast dinner but because we dinner reserve a table we couldn't in the dining area because it was fully booked. But I asked if its was OK to eat in the bar area, which it was. I had a pork belly and my partner had roast beef which was just a thick slice and 3 potatoes each (a little disappointing), the gravy and cauliflower and cheese was yummy. We could of done with more food on our plate, but it was tasty. The ales, larger and cider was nice and we played Scrabble until I won the game and finished our drinks. I would go back again and recommend it but book to avoid dissapointnent.


Been looking forward to a decent Sunday lunch in London for a long time...alas I have found it at The Old Red Cow! Great quality and best of all I didn't have to do the washing up! Excellent range of beers as well. Will be back soon.


This is definitely not one of the best places in London for Sunday lunch. I went last Sunday (1st April) for a friend's birthday lunch and the food was awful. We were a party of 10 and all ordered the roast. 2 of us had chicken (bland) and the rest beef. This all arrived together in one masive serving dish for the table swimming in jus (guess this is what you meant by ''large groups can dig into ‘family-style’ roasts''??!?) . The beef slices were tough, overcooked and grey. The vegetable sides were tasteless. The beers were great, particularly Diamond Geezer (Red Ale). Won't be going back for food. Maybe for a beer.

Michael Nuen

Had a fantastic night. You could do some serious dammage with the huge range of bottle conditioned and cask beers on offer. Our party ate and had the simple option of the Fat Cow burgers. They were, to say the very least dammed fine burgers.Pink ,juicy and smothered in cheese.You should also try their Aioli with goose fat chips !

Paul Schmeiser

This place has gone seriously down hill of late. Plates turn up looking like Jackson Pollock went loose with a squeezy bottle of ketchup and I don't know where the Chef procures his meat from, but it must be somewhere cheap as it's tough as ol' boots. The pork belly me and my brother shared was dry as a bone, served with lumpy, grey mash and greasy, flacid black pudding. Chef should concentrate on trying to cook properly rather than make the plates look like 1980s pop art.

alex & julia

We held our engagement party upstairs and had a perfect time, the venue is fantastic, the food was delicious and the staff were helpful, friendly and could not have done more. Oh and dont get me started on the beer..... I would highly reccommed the old red cow, especially the roast quail or crayfish scotch eggs! AMAZING!


I went here recently (Sept 2011). Decor wise the place seems to have lost a bit of charm since the revamp. On the plus side the staff are very friendly and theres a good selection of ales. The food however, was very poor. We ordered a selection of small dishes fropm the Bar Snacks menu. (£13 for a large meat platter which consisted of 4 slices of prosciutto and 3 decorative cherry tomatoes and sprigs of lettuce!?) For the money the portions were tiny - very little food, and done in a ridiculously over elaborate poncy gourmet style. This is a traditional kind of pub, the chef would do better to serve more simple, hearty fayre.

Kevin Davison

Fantastic homely venue. Went on the review from here with an open mind as am usually let down by most reviews. Excellent suprise, proper rustic feel with an excellent choice of cask ales. Decided to sample the menu which was difficult to choose from as all the choices sounded so mouthwatering. Went for the Rib eye steak which is sourced from Smiths accross the road. Came served with a large flat mushroom, half a beef tomato, hand cut chips in a basket and green pepeercorn sauce in a small Kilner jar. Presentation wise was top drawer and the steak just melted in the mouth. Service was helpful and polite. On a whole, even though she is new on the market, if the food stays at the quality i sampled and the ale selection and quality monitered, it wont take long for it to fill up with it being slightly small venue.