Kitchen-less, forlorn and in need of a Sunday lunch, I consider the options.
Some places are too posh for the simple pleasures I seek. Some are part of chains not known for their quality. Some are simply too dull.
But the Red Lion in the Jewellery Quarter promises to hit the target – an independently-run Victorian pub that’s been given a quirky modern twist and whose Sunday roasts have been much praised by those whose tastes I trust.
The pub has been spruced up since my last visit and the upstairs room is a lot more stylish and comfortable.
But the place retains its style – lots of original features intact and enhanced by contemporary artwork.
There’s lot of natural light in the front rooms and, at the back, a beer garden.
It’s undoubtedly still a boozer, but one in which both bushy-beared hipsters and grumpy old gits like me could happily sit.
There was no prevarication over the choice… roast topside of beef.
After a wait, a huge bowl is placed in front of me by the friendly French waitress who tells me that she’s also carving out a career as a stand-up comedian.
The beef itself is tasty, tender and generously carved.
There’s buttery mashed potatoes of impeccable quality alongside roast spuds that have crunchy coats and floury interiors.
Spring greens, broccoli, carrots and peas are cooked to perfection.
Braised red cabbage has just the right balance of sweetness, sourness and spice.
A large Yorkshire pudding is fluffy and the gravy has real savoury depth and is especially good when bits of potato accumulate and turn it into an irresistible mush.
For £12.50, it’s among the city’s great culinary bargains – food cooked with care and skill and served in whopping portions.
The cauliflower cheese ordered as a side for £3.50 probably wasn’t necessary, but was comfort food of a high enough order to placate a man bereft of his kitchen.
The waitress/comedian looked rather surprised when she returned to find the bowls empty after an indecently short time.
“My kitchen’s being re-fitted and I was so hungry,” I lamely explain.
“Yes, I make excuses like that,” she smiles, indulgently.
Sunday roasts include beef, lamb, pork, chicken and a vegetarian option.
They’re priced between £11.95 and £13.95.
Smaller roast dinners are served at £8.50.
There are other dishes on the menu.
The beer and wine lists are good.
The place is child-friendly.
There’s on-street parking nearby.
The Red Lion serves food throughout the week from breakfast, through lunch to dinner.
The Red Lion
95 Warstone Lane, Birmingham B18 6NG. 0121 233 9144.