The Lion, Cliftonwood: Review

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The Lion is another one of those places that has been recommended by friends in the past, but we hadn’t yet visited as it’s slightly off the beaten track. Cue a Groupon voucher for food and the lure of a quiz night and our first trip to the backstreet boozer.

A family-run pub on the corner of Church Lane and Argyle Place, The Lion is a 200 year old pub that has, as you’d expect, undergone much refurbishment over the years but still retains the feel of a traditional pub. I’d been told by friends who had previously visited that it’s ‘very much a local pub for local people’, and while we got the impression that most of the customers that night were regulars, we were still made to feel welcome. The barman and quizmaster were both very welcoming on hearing that we were Lion ‘virgins’, and we had the chance to have an interesting chat with some of the old boys before the quiz started. This chat took place outside the front door of the pub, where we were told about (and indeed, witnessed) the recklessness of some of the drivers approaching the crossroads – nightly entertainment, by all accounts.

We were also informed that while The Lion is now the only business on the crossroads, there used to be a pub on two sides and an off-licence on a third, making the location a perfect haven for those who enjoy a drink.

Inside, the pub features a front room and a back room, with the front room housing the bar – featuring a large number of wine bottles sitting alongside a large blackboard advertising ‘chips & burgers available to take away’.

Their wine list is apparently based on feedback from their customers, and The Lion also stock a wide selection of malt whiskies and spirits. Cider drinkers have Thatchers Gold on draught, and there is a choice of Becks Vier, Staropramen, Fosters and Pilsner Urquell for lager fans. There’s also Guinness on draught, and the ales featured when we visited were Tribute, Gem and BOB.

I’m told (again by our friendly locals) that The Lion do a great – but huge – Sunday lunch. We ordered from the main menu, featuring the likes of steaks, burgers, lasagne and fishcakes: ‘normal’ pub food, most of which is under a tenner. We were intrigued by the prawn burger, which the girl who brought us our food said was lovely, but which none of us had the courage to try.

Good to see that homemade is the order of the day, with our starters of Thai fishcakes and tempura king prawns certainly not coming out of a packet, and tasting very fresh indeed.

The Lion's Thai fishcakes

It was steaks all round for our mains, served with lovely crispy chips, mushrooms, onions and a choice of sauces, and we struggled to finish our desserts: an apple crumble and a chocolate brownie for my friends, and a beautifully gooey Bakewell tart for me. Unfortunately the custard was the one thing that didn’t appear to be homemade.

The Lion's apple crumble

The quiz was enjoyable, with multiple quick fire rounds plus pictures and music, and its strong attendance meant that there was a £50 prize on offer for the top team – not us, on this occasion!

If you’re looking for a friendly neighbourhood pub, this place is ideal. A decent variety of drinks, enjoyable food, a great quiz and – most importantly – a warm reception…we’ll definitely be back.

Find The Lion on the Bristol Bites Directory…

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