When The Red Lion opened in its new location late last year, it’s fair to say we weren’t bowled over. Yes, the wooden bar from the original pub (established in 1979 and knocked down in 2012) had been lovingly installed and those trademark muted burgundy tones had survived the rebuild, but having known its previous incarnation so well, the new Lion all seemed a bit cavernous and characterless.
Oh, how our feelings have changed.
Served up on a Saturday (leading right into the first Premier League kick-off of the day, no less), arriving at this pub’s brunch is like walking into a classic British carvery on a Sunday lunchtime – the scent of roasted meats (and, oddly, burgers) wafting across the room from beneath the orangey glow of their individual heat lamps. Quite unlike the local high street carvery, however, The Red Lion also has chefs on hand to whip up made-to-order omelettes or fried eggs to go with a breakfast spread of bacon, hash browns, baked beans and mushrooms.
While we may have climbed out of bed late, this is brunch, and cravings will always trump convention, and so our first meal of the day is a plate of build-your-own nachos, piled high with what turns out to be a searingly (brilliantly) spicy chopped salsa.
We’re swiftly back at the buffet for round two – a thick wedge of buttery beef Wellington, with a side of barbecue ribs and a small sausage roll. While the latter is predictably poor (a desperately rigid beef hot dog in pastry), the Wellington is tender and the pastry firm, and while we end up wearing most of the sauce from the ribs on our cheeks, they too are declared a success.
Onwards to desserts (via a quick mushroom omelette and a ladelful of seriously moreish stew), and the apple crumble is every bit as sweet, sticky and sickly as your grandma’s. It’s impossible to eat more than a few spoonfuls, but even then we’re already happily transported to our custard-smothered childhood.
But remember those heat lamps? We can’t help but wish someone would make it so that they actually, well, keep things warm. Everything, from that tasty stew to the super-succulent roast chicken, is well flavoured, but almost every bite of every dish is tepid at best. None of which is helped by the fact there are no warm plates, so each time we get back to our table with new spoils, things have cooled down even further.
It’s a real shame, but something that the team should be able to quickly and easily fix. And when the deal is this good value (and this perfectly timed, for football fans), you’re really going to hope they do.
Dhs159 (soft drinks), Dhs269 (house beverages). Sat 12.30pm-3.30pm. Metropolitan Hotel Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 343 0000).
The bottom line
A great-value end to any weekend.