The Bull and Last, London: “I love their food and it’s a date” – restaurant review | Food
The Bull and Last, 168 Highgate Road, London NW5 1QS (020 726 7 3641). Starters £ 4 to 12, main courses £ 10 to 34, wines £ 26
When Jay Rayner asked me to step in and take care of his dear chronicle for a week, it was as if he gave me the keys to his sports car or told me to breastfeed his. first born. The most confusing work in business requires only the answer to one big question: What restaurant gives me joy?
Well, I scoured the Michelin map of Great Britain, deliberating on food and cafes. I threw ideas for train trips to country cottage kitchens and chic dining rooms in distant towns, but ultimately I boiled it down to another question: where do I really want to eat. ? And there, down my street, is the honest answer: the Taurus and last.
It’s a pub – according to those who care about pubs. Plus, once a week is a shining light for quiz lovers. More recently, it has opened six lavish rooms to stay in, and even offers picnic baskets for local walkers. But I go with my 20 year old husband (he is not 20, marriage is), because I love their food. It’s date night and Jay Rayner is definitely not invited.
We are given a table early as they are like gold dust – and I am not the first to discover this 300 year old hostel tucked away on a busy bus lane on the east side of Hampstead Heath, north London . The east side being on the wrong side of Hampstead Heath, according to local author Hunter Davies and Suckers paying double the price for a house of the same size just two roads west.
The appeal of Bull and Last is not only the oak-paneled open bar and restaurant, but also the warm and familiar welcome from the staff. It’s almost like they know you. And, let’s face it, that’s the skill of a benchmark front-of-house. I’d rather assume they saw me on TV or admired my cooking on Instagram, but the truth is they can just pretend to remember me. Asking how the family is doing is vague enough to cover itself and welcome me with regular special treatment. I don’t care anyway, because I know there’s a chocolate brownie with my name on it and a second session expected in two hours.
So without wasting time, I order a spin, to share. My husband looks at me like he’s about to get lucky. I tell her that a gimlet is not a sexy Victorian-era underwear, but a cordial gin and lime appetizer. Homemade lime cordial with a sprig of rosemary was found to be sexier than everyday underwear. I’m on a cheap date so at this point I’m already drunk. I also need the courage of the Netherlands as we bravely decide not to order the same thing we go for every time we come here. See, it’s their Buttermilk Chicken that I’ve had a food business with for several years, but we both know it’s time to sow our seeds elsewhere, and I’m trying to eat less meat and no fish. Yes, I saw the same documentaries as you.
So when my tender charred broccoli entree arrives, adorned with roasted pistachio dukkah, garnished with pomegranate seeds on a sweet tahini lining, I swear I’ll never stray from my new vegetarian mission. Unfortunately, my husband’s fried chili and black pepper chipirones with aioli have other ideas. Little crispy squid nuggets sent by the devil, well, from the kitchen that makes me sure there should be rules to this new way of life. The first rule is that if I haven’t ordered it, I can eat it. Squid in a pub may be the smoothest and chewiest deception of all, but dear god of squid… (I can’t use the word octopus because I’ve seen this documentary too). Here is such a good seafood kindergarten, I’m starting to plan our next visit even before our main course arrives. All washed down with a crunchy French rosé on the rocks, ranging from a £ 4.50 drink to a £ 27 bottle. My husband quietly orders a beer that can only be enjoyed by Bull and Last customers: So Solid Brew, a 4.4% lager that is apparently both pale and ale. I was icing a bit during the beer chat because I only drink rosé, a sexy gimlet shared aside. FYI, this alcohol rule kept me out of AA due to the lack of a good pink option when I want it, especially during the winter months.
Usually at this point, on a rare evening for two, I’d be happy to pack my bags and come home with some stretchy clothes and a box, but the excitement of not picking the buttermilk chicken for the day. first time makes us want more. . Their main courses are known to mirror the heads of stuffed and mounted animals watching us dine; they were the first nose-to-tail pioneers, and I’ve certainly had a pig’s ear or two here in the past. But changing tastes and passion for the ingredients show up in the middle dishes, which range from £ 15 to £ 34, offering classics of fish and chips to pies and steak.
However, I have my eye on one of two vegetarian options, both with celeriac at the heart of each dish. I lie and say I’m so full I couldn’t put on another piece of it, suggesting I might need something light. It arrives as an image of peas and zucchini adorning a roasted celeriac steak in salt over a sweet bean relish. Hearty but delicate, it confirms that I was right to get out of my box of chicken. It’s like eating a garden.
My husband, a meatier all together guy, has a sirloin steak and three times cooked fries to rival anything. The products and suppliers are the key to the success of this place and it elevates every dish that comes along. I’m a confident cook who enjoys being in my own kitchen, so I have to walk away from a night out knowing I couldn’t have done better. Well, I couldn’t, and it is confirmed with the arrival of the hot chocolate brownie and the soft vanilla ice cream. I mean, what genius allows me to enjoy my childhood favorites at Michelin starred taste levels? You don’t have to order a scoop of Malteser ice cream but damn it is date night and seeing as these good people have brought the Bull and Last back to its hospitality roots, as my kids suggest. often, maybe we’ll get a room after all.
Jay Rayner is absent