The Bull Inn, nr Bruton
From the people behind international art gallery Hauser & Wirth and the Roth Bar & Grill, this trad Somerset pub is family and dog friendly with top notch pub classics on the menu and a plethora of games and activities in the sunny gardens
The newly relaunched Bull Inn may be part of the international art gallery Hauser & Wirth’s growing eat-drink-sleep empire and sister to the renowned Roth Bar & Grill but there’s not a single Louise Bourgeois spider or other installation artwork to be seen in this good, honest, family – and dog – friendly local pub.
Tucked away down a winding lane near Kingsettle Hill, South Brewham, close to the Wiltshire border. You feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere but it’s only a hop, skip and a jump (well, three miles) up to Bruton, some say Somerset’s coolest town.
Traditional Somerset country pub through and through, complete with brasses and beams, Windsor chairs and wood-burning stoves, pints, patterned carpet and a pub garden.
Though there are a couple of quirky, even slightly surreal, bits and bobs – take these stuffed ferrets in an old bread oven.
On a sunny day head outside to two garden areas. Drinks only across the road.
A largeish beer garden behind, with a shelter to eat al fresco, whatever the weather.
Lots of little nooks to hide away.
A big box of goodies – giant dominos, Connect 4, art gubbins – to occupy little kids …
… and big kids.
SCOFF & QUAFF
It might be a local, serving up pub classics (and more) but it’s got the Roth Bar & Grill trademark focus on top quality, West Country ingredients. So stuff like Cornish line-caught beer battered cod, chips and homemade tartar sauce; Wiltshire gammon, free range egg and triple cut chips; steak sandwich with caramelised onions on toasted sourdough; light bites like baked camembert soup of the day and pancetta and mozzeralla croquetas, as well as an interesting a la carte which goes beyond trad grub but still isn’t poncy.
First, some light bites: big and juicy Szechuan pepper black tiger prawns with a fat dollop of aioli and rocket salad. Heads off already so no messy fighting with the prawns (phew).
Pan fried halloumi – chewy but not rubbery – with a spiced tomato sauce and tenderstem broccoli.
Mains from the a la carte. Super succulent and crispy skinned sea bass fillet on top of a pile of rainbow chard (and maybe broccoli too?), pea shoots, and delicately flavoured yellow saffron cocottes, with a drizzle of piquant lemon and caper butter.
Scallops? Nope, pan fried gnocchi with baba ganoush, mild fennel and a red pepper and tomato sauce which was smokey with a dash of garlic.
Desserts were sublime. What else to have on a summer’s day but strawberries (from Cheddar) with thick clotted cream and a Pimm’s jelly? The little tendrils of crystallised lemon on top gave a zesty frission.
Quick, before it melts, take a look at the colour of the raspberry sorbet sitting atop chocolate crumb and lemon posset.
Booze: small and carefully chosen wine list from Europe, South America – and Somerset – mostly available to slurp by the glass as well as the bottle. Good range of beers and ciders.
OUT & ABOUT
Head five mins up the hill to Alfred’s Tower on Kingsettle Hill, which is part of the National Trust’s Stourhead Estate – the views across Somerset, Wiltshire and Dorset from the top of the 49m high folly tower are spectacular. The Palladian mansion and world famous landscape garden and lake are just down the road.
Good for: A really good, long and lazy lunch with the whole family plus dog (welcome inside and out). You could settle in for the duration. Takeaway fish and chips Weds–Fri 6pm–7pm.
Not for: Anyone expecting a minimalist interior with a menu to match (portions are generous).
The damage: Not at all bad. On the pub classics menu: light bites from £5.50; mains/grill £13–£19.50. A la carte: starters £8; mains £12-50–£17.50. Desserts £6.50 and £1.50 for a scoop of homemade ice cream or sorbet. Little Bull Menu: burgers, fish and chips, bangers, etc plus ice cream/fruit salad £7–£8.
Opening hours: Lunch 12pm ‑ 3pm; dinner 6 ‑ 9pm; Sunday roast: 12pm ‑ 4pm. Drinks and snacks available all day from 11am.
The Bull Inn, Hardway, Kingsettle Hill, Bruton, Somerset BA10 0LN. Tel 01749 812200. thebullinn-bruton.com