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red lion pub, revised.

The first time I tried fish and chips I had been living in London, working as a newspaper intern. I don’t remember the pub. I remember I was on Canary Wharf and it was lunchtime. The norm was to go out, usually on Fridays, and order up a plate of beer-battered cod and thick-cut chips with a side of malt vinegar and a pint. Normally, this would put me right to sleep. But as the saying goes, when in Rome…

After returning to Chicago months later, Tim and I were out together one evening and passed this place, the Red Lion Pub. It falls along Lincoln Avenue and, with its vintage exterior, stuck out from the line of flashy college bars and places advertising buffalo wings. I remember thinking at the time: This looks promising. We went in. Tim ordered a pint and I ordered the fish and chips. Ale-battered, crunchy on the outside and flaky on the inside, and accompanied by the perfect side of chips. It was a rickety, unfussy, welcoming place to hang out.

The Red Lion Pub closed for several years shortly after we started going there. It just reopened, and is much more good-looking and stylish in a bookish way. The same friendly proprietor, Colin, welcomed us in. Once again, I ordered a plate of the fish and chips and it was as good as I remembered it to be. I definitely liked this place back when it showed its age, but the update is pretty charming–still casual and easy-going, and maybe even a little more grown up.

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