Since opening, The Famous Lion has become a favourable addition to Stoke City Centre’s sparse pub scene.
It is a fine example of a modern pub and a sharp contrast to The Wheatsheaf Wetherspoon across the road.
This former furniture shop has a smart exterior, whilst a spacious bar area welcomes you with its comfortable leather couches and non deafening plasma screen. The interior is contemporary, innovative and extremely well kept with plenty of distinctive touches. Whether it be the themed artwork, unusual fireplace, or stained lion head glass windows, a great deal of endeavour has gone in to creating a unique experience. To the side, the bar expands in to a surprisingly sizable drinking and dining area with a pleasant beer garden at the rear. Comfortable, rather than spectacular, it’s impressive how the space has been utilised. Although a lengthy distance involving a steep staircase, the toilets befit the commendable effort elsewhere.
Customers were a little short in numbers during the review period, although we’re reliably informed that the weekend discos are popular. Suits from the local offices frequent on weekday lunchtimes, although it was concerning being the only customers there during Saturday lunchtime. Maybe it was owing to the food, which is unremarkable pub fare, being non existent due to illness. Reputable punters create a livelier atmosphere in the evening. Thankfully this isn’t the kind of venue to attract mindless ruffians so don’t expect youths downing shots and flirting outrageously as a predominantly middle aged crowd gather.
The beer on offer was the one significant cause of disgruntlement. The sight of three handpumps is encouraging but during our visits only one was in use. The fact that the ale available is a changing guest offers some consolation but the dissatisfaction lies with the unused handpumps by its side. The lack of ale leaves you with no alternatives other than identikit lagers or bland spirits.
The Famous Lion exceeds expectations and is thoroughly worth a visit. It’s vastly superior to many of the other City centre’s offerings and deserves respect for it’s sophisticated appearance and ambience. As mentioned, it’s a sharp contrast to its nearest competition in The Wheatsheaf and Last Orders, and we urge you to give it a try.
Drink – **
Atmosphere – ***1/2
Surroundings – ****
Staff – ***