“ 52 High Street, Egham, Surrey, TW20 9EW. Tel: 08721 077 077 „
Having found myself in "Historic Egham" at lunchtime with a work colleague, we decided we would go for a quick pub lunch. Both of us enjoy a pint of real ale, so we started by going into the White Lion (stick with me here - there is a logical progression to this!) After looking through the door, seeing no-one behind the bar or anywhere else, we left in search of a warmer welcome... and found the Red Lion in the High Street.
The outside looked promising (signs referring to Real Ales in the plural and Home Made Hot Food). We entered a 1970's time warp bar with three people having lunch in the corner. On reflection we should have followed any atmosphere straight out of the back door and kept walking. The barmaid looked positively disappointed when we wanted to order food (at lunchtime - I ask you!) and made no apology for the presence of a single ale on hand pump, despite an extensive list of tempting ales on a handwritten blackboard beside the bar. The pints were ok... (we both had to have the same don't forget!)
As there was a special offer on two meals for £7.99, we decided to give the food a chance and ordered a chicken rice and veg dish, along with a steak and claret pie with new potatoes & veg.
The service was prompt, although stunningly graceless ("cutlery's over there") which would be forgiveable if the pub had been busy - we were the only customers, so it really would not have been a great breakthrough in customer service to deliver two set of knives & forks the five yards to our table!
To describe the food as poor is giving it too much praise - I won't bang on but I have seldom eaten less appealing fare. For those old enough and brave enough, the pie was like a Casey Jones burger meal, only in gravy with what appeared to be a used trainer insole passed off as the 'crust', whilst my friend's chicken had no vegetables....... oh, or heat! Both meals had been microwaved, but neither had been heated properly.
In summary, I can see why there was no-one else in this bleak, soulless shell of a pub. Despite its great location and appealing exterior this pub is the kind of establishment that explains why so many pubs are closing - it gives the entire pub industry a bad name. The rating of one star simply reflects the fact that a) it was open and b) had a member of stafff in evidence. there is nothing else to commend it to anyone (except maybe the health inspectors).
Wow. I can honestly say I have never, ever paid for poorer food and service in my life. But I am getting ahead of myself.
From the outside, this looks a charming, village centre real ale pub in so-called 'Historic Egham". How wrong that impression is. The decor looks to be around 20 years old. Despite boards advertising a number of real ales, there was but one session ale (at 3.8%) on, and nothing else. When I asked, no apology was given. The ale was in decent condition, but was nothing special. They also served lager, and some wines, though not a huge selection, from what I could tell.
Before ordering food, I should have looked around. There was a grand total of one table occupied with diners. This was at 1.00pm on a weekday - surely a prime time to attract a lunchtime crowd. Sadly, I ignored the little warning voice in my head saying 'move on! move on!'
The woman behind the bar appeared uninterested, and the bloke wearing cooks' checks actually scowled when I misread a sign (thinking both rice and potatoes came with a meal). They do a lunchtime special - £7.95 for two meals. The meals wouldn't have been worth 7.95p. The Chicken Cacciatori I had was vivid red, came with rice but not the promised veg, and, worst of all, was cold in parts. It had been microwaved...badly. The chicken was dry, and the sauce bland. I ate some of the rice, and maybe three bites of the chicken, and couldn't stomach any more. I, however, was lucky. My friend got the beef pie. The beef resembled dog food more than it did meat from an actual named animal (it even appeared slightly green). The pastry was just bunged on top, and again, it was imperfectly heated.
The service was more than surly, it was rude. Bringing our food over, she just pointed randomly to a corner, where we were told we could fetch our cutlery. We had not been told this when ordering. When the barmaid came to take our plates, she did not enquire how the meal was, even though both plates were nearly as full when she took them away as they were when she brought them.
Because I was there for such a short time, I avoided visiting the toilets; if they were in the same state as the food, I may well had regurgitated what went down. However, I did not, so cannot really comment!
I have never been quite so grateful to leave a pub. I recommend you avoid this pub at pretty much all costs. Don't eat there, and don't drink there unless someone is holding a gun to your head.