~~ The Bull House ~~
It was the last day of our holiday and we always like to end our break with an evening meal, we decided to have a look around for a nice looking public house of restaurant on our travels for that day. We had not gone far from our campsite approx 2 miles in fact when we came across The Bull House on a busy junction on the A52.
What first attracted us was how pretty it looked from the outside with its Tudor style black beams across a white background and all the pretty hanging baskets and floral displays. It has two small sit down areas one at the front and a few tables to the side, these are integrated well into the whole ambience of the building. It also had a very large car park so I could never imaging parking to ever become a problem here.
When we are on the look out for somewhere to eat my hubby always stops and takes a look around, he even goes inside if it is open to ask about the meals and take a look at the menu. Today through the pub was not open, well it was only 10.30 in the morning, so hubby was just looking at the pub to see if they had a menu plaque on the wall outside, when a lady came to the window and spoke to him. She was very pleasant and friendly, she went away for a couple of minutes and came back and opened the front door to my hubby, she then gave him a 5 page, A4 size menu booklet for us to take away and peruse at our leisure, to help us come to a decision.
So far we were extremely impressed and cannot wait to look through the menu, which is a homemade A4 printout, the header page with a lovely picture of a single rose with the pubs name and address on there as well. The next four pages are taken up with a delicious array of main courses, which are broken down into sections.
The Seafood section: offers you a choice of six different meals, which include fish dishes such as Salmon, Sea Bass and Haddock to name a few.
The Poultry section: here we have a variety of Duck and Chicken dishes cooked in various styles and sauces; they even include a curry dish for all those curry lovers out there.
Pie Corner: offers some very appetising pies like Lamb and Redcurrant Pie, Fillet Steak and Ale Cobbler plus others making five choices in all.
Meat: This section covers Beef, Pork and Lamb giving you a choice of seven different meals (your steak and chips is not found in this section). You do get some lovely choices from a traditional Lasagne to a Beef Wellington.
Vegetarian Dishes: an area a lot of pubs usually only offer one or two choices, but here they offer four they try to tempt you with a Mushroom Stroganoff which is described as sautéed field mushrooms flambéed in brandy and finished with a creamy paprika sauce, doesn't that sound lovely.
We've not finished yet either, the final section in the adults menu is the Bull House Grill: yes, this where you can get your traditional Steak and Chips or a Mixed Grill, a selection of 5 steaks for you to choose from, as well as Gammon. If you are really hungry you can add scampi to have with your steak for an extra £2.50. This is the most expensive section on the menu with prices ranging form £9.50 for the Gammon to £13.50 for a 16oz T-bone steak.
All the other sections apart from the steaks price between £7.50 and £8.50 per meal.
Side orders are offered at £2.75 these are mainly different sauces that they have available to compliment your Steak. What really impressed me was the fact that they have highlighted Gluten Free choices. They also ask that if you have special dietary needs that have not been covered on the menu then just ask and they will try to cater for you, but they do regret that they cannot cater for people with severe nut allergies as they use nuts frequently and cannot guarantee not to come into contact with them.
Another thing I liked about their menu is that they offer a young adults menu catering for the over 10's, these are meals very similar to the adults menu, but slightly smaller in size, the prices are set at £5.50 per meal, they give a range of 13 main meals.
There is a children's menu (under 10's), but they are only allowed during lunchtimes, as they operate a strict no youngsters under the age of 10 policy during evening hours, unless by prior arrangement.
There were no starters at all and no dessert menu, the waitress comes to your table at the end of your meal and lets you know verbally what desserts they have on offer this day.
Is your mouth watering yet ours was after reading that delicious menu, which I have to say for a small country pub I was extremely impressed with both the prices and the vast choices they had to offer, not your normal unadventurous pub grub either.
~~ Our Experience ~~
Our search was over in the first 15 minutes of our journey, so all that was left now was to return in the evening. It was a Friday night so we decided to go around 6.30pm so that we could enjoy our meal in relative peace, plus we could also get a nice table. On opening the door we were not disappointed on the view that met us there was just as we had imagined it to be, with a large fire place and its copper canopy. There were beams on the walls and ceiling, brass wear and paintings on the walls, behind the bar was a large collection of different beer bottles, and it all looked very quaint and welcoming.
We bought our drinks and was ordered to our table, yes the barmaid definitely came across as if she was ordering us about, she really put my husbands back up he was seething and not help that he had forgot his cigarettes and the pub did offer smoking and no smoking areas.
As we had already seen the menu it did not take us long to make a decision I went for the Chicken, Leek and Potato Pie and my hubby choose the fillet of Beef Wellington, which is described as roast fillet of beef with pate wrapped in a puff pastry parcel finished with a red wine sauce. The surly barmaid came to our table we were offered a choice of chips or new potatoes and vegetables or salad. We both choose the chips, but I went for the vegetables and hubby had the salad.
After 25 minutes a very charming and friendly waitress arrived with our meals. First appearance they looked appetising, they looked like a good home cooked meal. The vegetables and the salad covered half the plate, the chips took up a ¼ and the main savoury took the other ¼. I don't normally describe the portion sizes like this, but it appeared a little lopsided to me, the pie and the beef Wellington appeared small. They say you eat with your eyes, so maybe that's why it threw me.
Mine first, I love my vegetables and they were cut big and chunky covering half my plate, I had large chunks of leeks, really long sticks of carrots, broccoli florets and cabbage. I have to say they were cooked to perfection slightly crispy and very tasty. Chunky chips were fine and now to the pie, I was a little disappointed in its appearance, it had fairly chunky leaks inside, slices of chicken (not chunks) and tiny pieces of new potatoes, again no consistency in portion sizing in the contents of the pie. These were covered in a creamy sauce and then the pastry. The pie filling was very tasty, but I feel it could have been better, due to the large cuts of leeks against the much smaller cuts of potato and chicken the flavours did not get the chance to blend and melt in your mouth. The pastry was also a little doughy and not crispy as it should have been, the meal was served with gravy even through the pie had a creamy sauce. I have to say I am pleased they added the gravy as it would have been very dry without it.
My hubby had the Beef Wellington as I mentioned earlier, like mine his savoury appeared swamped by the salad and the chips. There was so much in his salad there would be something in there that you would like, watercress, tomatoes, cucumber, radish, peppers red and yellow, spring onion, beetroot, mixed lettuce leaves and a wedge of lemon. My hubby assures me that the Beef Wellington was cooked to perfection with the fillet of beef being slightly pink in the middle, he says if had to be picky he would have preferred a little more pate.
Although our meals appeared smaller than we have had at other restaurants they were still very filling, but then again I do love my vegetables, so I was quite happy. Within a few minutes of finishing our meals the friendly waitress returned to take our plates away and tell us what desserts they had to offer tonight.
The desserts were not all inspiring, but they were traditional and old favourites, like fruit crumbles, chocolate fudge cake, bread and butter pudding etc. I do like a pudding after a meal when I am eating out so I went for the Apple and Blackcurrant Crumble. I was offered a choice of cream, custard or ice-cream to accompany it. I choose the ice-cream which turned out to be a wonderful contrast with the red-hot crumble. I did enjoy the crumble, which I felt was shop bought as the top was doughy and not crispy as it should be which you only seem to get with home made ones. I don't know maybe I'm too fussy.
Overall apart from the barmaid we really enjoyed our experience and felt that it was exceptional value for money. Two main courses, one dessert, tea can coffee came to £20.00.
~~ Location ~~
The Ball House
Off the A52
~~ Trivia ~~
The Bull House is a free house and run by David and Judy Phillips since 1991.
The cellar has for some time helped in the production of one of the best pints of Bateman's XB, XXXB and Bass in the area. (This has been taken from a leaflet that David and Judy leave out for the customers).
It also informed me that they had numerous entries into the Camra Good Beer Guide.
There is an extensive range of wines from around the world for you to choose from.
They hold theme nights throughout the year, not too many approximately 9 per year. There Christmas menu believe it or not is already our on the tables and they are taking your bookings.
They also do buffets from £4.95 per head to the gourmet range at £12.95 per head.
It was worth a visit, I will recommend it.
Thanks for reading