Guest poster Davida reports on a recent London Sunday lunch:
The Bull and Last pub and restaurant, a grade 2 listed building idyllically situated opposite the Dartmouth Park entrance to Hampstead Heath has been said, by Giles Coren among others, to offer the best roast dinners in London. Living just a short stroll away and after a particularly boozy night out the evening before, my boyfriend, two food fanatic friends and I decided it would be the perfect remedy for sore heads and hungry tummies, so off we went.
We had to book a table 2 weeks in advance as Sunday’s are manically busy but when we arrived we certainly had the best table in the house, a spacious corner spot with a great view out the window of the Heath and its scores of runners on one side, and the pubs selection of Bull’s heads staring out at us from the other.
Service was speedy, but not rushed and we ordered tap water a diet coke and a glass of red wine from a jazzy shirted waiter to settle us in. The menu’s starter selection read like a something from the ‘I’m a Celebrity get me out of here’ menu de jour, but set in a British Barnyard, offering such delights as trotter wontons, pigs ears and on the charcuterie board - a pig’s head! We opted out of the starters as we were all too keen to get stuck into our mains but we did order a bread basket which was typically ‘gastro’ enough to impress.
My boyfriend Adam and pal Bridie both ordered the roast Partridge served with mash and a selection of veg including red cabbage and chestnuts, although Bridie commented that some green veg would have been a welcome addition and the bread sauce was a bit flavourless. Still, a fully flavoured bird and cooked to perfection. Matt ordered the Roast beef which came out looking more like an under done steak to me, but I was assured it was tender and delicious and was presented sitting atop a giant Yorkshire pudding served alongside green beans, and what we thought may be yellow carrots (exciting unusual veg spot!) but we remain unsure if we’ve guessed correctly. I decided to opt out of the roast option and go for the mushroom risotto, an extremely generous portion which included at least 4 different types of mushrooms. My only complaint was that I thought it was very buttery/oily but none the less, pact with flavour and perfectly cooked.
After convincing ourselves that the detox was going to start on Monday, we then proceeded to choose a cheese board and some ice cream, although Matt was very virtuous and just ordered a coffee. Adam and I shared the cheese board and chose 2 types, a goat (the best we’ve ever tasted) and a lovely creamy blue, served with oat cakes, grapes and spiced onion chutney. Bridie was bitterly disappointed that the last scoop of Honeycomb ice cream had just been licked, but she was assured by a friendly waitress that the chocolate and orange sorbet was every bit as good – although we had our doubts it was light and refreshing and a good end to the meal.
All in all I’m not sure I’d agree whole heartedly with Mr Coren’s opinion that they serve the best roast in London, stiff competition even against just North London’s variety of boozers, but the culmination of excellent service, a great location and good grub certainly made it a fantastic place to spend a lazy Sunday, perfect!
N.B – Cost about £80 all in all for four diners –but we only ordered one alcoholic drink.