Lamb and Lion
Reviewed by Sean Dodson
Character is something that is hard to define. You have either got it or you’ve not. The Lamb and Lion is York has got it in spades. Established as a pub as far back as 1867, and adjoining one of the city’s medieval gates, its character hits you the moment you step through the door.
True, it's not the most organised place. It was elbow room at the bar when we arrived early on Friday night. But once we had edged our way to the front, the bartender led us up a small flight of stairs, around a corner and into a delightful snug of a room – the top parlour – with a window out to the lane outside and beyond that, the city wall.
The pub is a jumble of styles, but naturally so, all pictures of stags, art nouveau chandeliers and an open fire very welcome in the corner. The staff are forward and full of character too. Ready with a joke, or a recommendation and if they don’t know something, they tell you. With their help we opted for Smoked Mackerel Pate (£5), smooth and sweet, served with crisp ciabatta and a watercress salad; and a passable plate of sweet potato and beetroot salad (£6.25). For mains, the braised oxtail (£12.95) was sublime, as rich as the city’s history, with a broth of puy lentils and a massive beef tomato. The beef and stilton pie was generously filled and the accompanying basket of chips were thick and fluffy. Indeed all of the food was character full, some of it brilliant, some of it less so, but all of it reasonable value. The deserts were bit of both, the dark chocolate tart a little on the heavy side but the selection of ice creams was amazing. The shandy sorbet is worth the trip to York alone.
Bags of character in the food, the building and not least the serving staff and that is perhaps the most prized aspect of all.