The Blue Lion knows exactly who its audience is and caters for them very well. This isn’t the place for a wild night but if you’re looking for a post-work watering hole with good food and good prices, it’s well worth a visit.
Set halfway down Gray’s Inn Road, The Blue Lion does a really good job of standing out and looking quite pretty in an otherwise non-descript area. With hanging baskets adorning the windows and the cream and blue colour scheme, it definitely looks inviting.
Inside, it has the feel of an old pub with a large, fairly impressive ornate bar dominating the centre. Towards the back there is a pool table, and outside they’ve cleverly put two long benches alongside the back, allowing for a fair amount of people to sit down without having tables taking up space.
The pub feels warm but spacious thanks to its low leather sofas and high ceilings. There are traditional pub features like an exposed fireplace and a lot of photos of what look like old movie stars, but there are a few eccentricities dotted around too. Fairy lights and brightly coloured vases and ornaments adorn the shelves and mantelpieces.
There’s a very chilled atmosphere made up of people having a few drinks after work, while some eat or play pool. The age range is probably anywhere from mid-twenties upwards and there is no defining feel to the ‘types’ that come here, so no one should feel out of place. The music in the background - unimposing old soul songs on a recent visit - adds to the relaxed feel.
The menu is probably the most impressive aspect of this pub, and it is definitely the feature which should pull people here over competing eateries. Certainly adopting the quality-not-quantity approach, the menu comprises of about nine meals which are all quite creative, priced between £4.75 (French onion soup, the only starter-sized dish) to £9.50 for the confit of duck. There are also four variations of burgers (one veggie), quite a few side dishes and sandwiches, and home made ice-cream for dessert.
The lamb, chickpea and chorizo pie with creamy mash, buttered peas and real gravy is a great choice. The pie isn’t huge but is an unusual mix of flavours which works really well. The mash is done to perfection and you get your own little gravy boat to distribute as you please – a nice touch.
The veggie burger is fantastic. Made up of leek and Caerphilly cheese with mustard mayonnaise, it tastes great, and the home-made fries are really well done. The most impressive thing about the menu is that it changes weekly, presumably so the lunchtime and evening regulars don’t get bored. Also, veggie alternatives are available for pretty much all of the meals which is a rare – and welcome – sight.
Drinks are pretty well priced for the area, with pints starting at £3.25 for the cheapest, such as Carlsberg, to close to £4 for Peroni. They also serve a couple of real ales. A spirit and mixer is only £3.25, and a small glass of house white is only £2.90. The wine list isn’t huge, with eight different whites, seven reds, one rose and a few champagnes costing somewhere in the region of £13-£26 a bottle (of vino).
The Last Word
A pub that’s only open on weekdays (like this one) means one thing – it’s there for out-of-office hours. With lots of space, a pool table, affordable drinks and an impressive, varied menu, The Blue Lion serves this purpose really well.