Competition is never a bad thing, right? For years, Antic’s Red Lion enjoyed a cosy monopoly as basically the only self-respecting made-over pub within walking distance of Leytonstone tube station. Then, last year, there was a new contender for its crown. You could say that feathers were ruffled – except this newcomer’s name is more of a reference to local history. The moniker is actually a nod to E11’s most famous native, ‘The Birds’ director Alfred Hitchcock. In due tribute to Hitch, the ornithological theme in The Birds extends through the pub, from the birdcages that form part of the vintagey decor to the picnic-bench-filled ‘Aviary’ beer garden.
There’s a constantly rotating selection of craft beers on tap, as marked out on a blackboard on the wall. Food-wise, we visited on a Sunday afternoon to try out the (glorious) roasts and there was a bit of confusion as to what we’d ordered. But when we told the cheerful staff, they promptly knocked one off the bill and brought us a round of free drinks as recompense. A savvy move: it’s stuff like this that will bring first-timers back in.
And when we did come back for the second time – on a Saturday night – there were DJs on the decks and the tables had been pushed aside to make space for dancing. The place was packed, and remained so until chucking-out time at 1am. A great lazy daytime spot? Check. A party destination? Check. Your move, Red Lion, your move.