Hearty food in historic Leadenhall Market.
Gone are the days when most pubs in the City shut at 8 pm when the last stockbroker had headed back to Surrey via the Drain to Waterloo. The only choices in the mid-1980s seemed to be Dirty Dicks (still there) and City Limits wine bar (sadly no longer). A night out in EC3 is now a viable option and the Lamb Tavern, a Young’s pub in the historic Leadenhall Market, is a great spot to eat and drink.
There has been a Lamb Tavern on this site since 1780 and entering its doors you really do feel like you are stepping back in time. We headed past the after-work drinkers taking advantage of the waiter service offered outside the pub and went up a steep flight of stairs to the welcoming dining room.
The pub feels steeped in character. The upstairs dining-room walls are covered in prints of the area and its characters and these are well worth studying to get an impression of the market through time. Dark wood, black leather and faded green velvet all feature heavily and there’s a view out of the sash windows onto the covered market’s cobbled streets. A window table is a must here and our friendly, very helpful waitress recommended asking for one when you book.
We picked our white wine from the Crisp & Fruity section of the list and went for Viña Torcida Rioja Blanco 2018. Served well chilled, it was, as suggested, crisp with apple and pear notes and we both enjoyed drinking it.
My dining companion is one of those people who thinks you can get the measure of a pub by the quality of their Scotch eggs. She was a big fan of the Lamb Tavern’s Pork and Leek Scotch Egg served with rocket and English mustard, which she chose for her starter. The egg was just under hard-boiled, the coating crispy and the sausage-meat full of flavour. Her only complaint was that she wanted more.
I chose what I thought might be one of the daintier dishes on the starter menu but large portions really are the only option at the Lamb Tavern. My Pan-fried King Prawns and Old Tom’s Chorizo came on a chunky, lightly toasted slice of sourdough with a scattering of charred spring onion. This was good rustic food, the saltiness of the chorizo adding a savoury flavour to the dish.
My friend was very pleased with her Lamb Tavern Beef Burger. Served in a good quality brioche bun with French Fries, the burger came garnished with ale onions, cheese, pickle, lettuce, ketchup and mayo. The whole dish was declared fresh and flavoursome with particular praise given to the juicy meat.
I couldn’t resist another pub classic, Sausage and Mash. Well-flavoured, well-cooked pork and leek sausages came with a generous portion of smooth, creamy mashed potato and lashings of rich bacon and hispi cabbage gravy – all making for a lovely plate of comfort food.
Determined not to be defeated by the generosity of the portion sizes here, we shared the Chocolate Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream. All of the desserts on the menu the evening we visited were suitable for vegans and while the brownie was rich and chocolatey, the soya-based ice cream wasn’t as creamy as a dairy version might have been.
If you happen to be looking for an excuse to go along, every year on Shrove Tuesday, the Lamb Tavern hosts a Pancake Race in Leadenhall Market. This year’s event takes place on Tuesday 25 February, starting at 12.30 pm. Free pancakes will be on offer too – 500 will be given away over lunchtime. There will also be an opportunity to test your pancake tossing skills. The 100m relay course will see competitors race through the market, wielding a frying pan and flipping pancakes until the finish line. It’s free to enter and participants will have a chance to win the coveted Frying Pan Trophy, as well as a bespoke hamper full of amazing treats from local market retailers.
Entry is free and individuals and teams of up to four people can register to participate by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
But, at any time of the year you can expect big, hearty portions of traditional pub food, a very warm welcome plus a fascinating glimpse into the past at the Lamb Tavern in Leadenhall Market.
Lamb Tavern Leadenhall,
10-12 Leadenhall Market,
City of London,
Looking for something different? We’ve just reviewed The Botanist, Broadgate Circle, near Liverpool Street Station, a contemporary pub-restaurant. And, we loved Miyako, a Japanese restaurant in the heart of The City