[Mottram St Andrew, Cheshire] Bull's Head

We always enjoy lunch here. The food sits somewhere between “pub grub” and out-and-out gastropub. They successfully bring together a menu that can include a classic fish & chips and a Mauritian spiced goat curry.

Starters were both bang on. One focussed on a gazpacho pannacotta, packed full of tomato flavour. To enhance it, a scattering of oven dried cherry tomatoes, a spoonful of tapenade and a slice or two of marinated artichoke. The other was an overly pricy scallop dish, just three scallops sat on a pea puree, topped with samphire and a scattering of nice enough ham fritters (which wouldn’t have been harmed by more ham). Flavours were fine but not worth the twelve quid price tag.

I don’t think I’ve ever been to one of Brunning & Price’s pubs and not seen a braised lamb dish on the menu. It’s not always the same dish, though. Here, it’s a braised shoulder, literally falling apart under the fork. There’s just wilted cabbage, a carrot puree and a slab of dauphinoise potato, all set off with a flavoursome gravy. From the “Light Bites” section, came a steak sandwich – rump cooked perfectly to rare – smeared with a Dijon & tarragon mayo and a small handful of fries.

Good lunch.

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SEPTEMBER REVISIT

Ham, egg & chips is a staple of Brunning & Price. Although menus change from pub to pub, there a few constants – like a braised lamb dish or a burger. This time, it was taken without the egg – so, ham, chips & salad. Three slices of thick cut ham, decent chips and a handful of salad leaf. It just needed a good shake of vinegar on the chips.

Steak & ale pudding was a belter. Thick suet pastry, although not overly thick, encasing flavoursome, long cooked beef. Good, non-sloppy mashed potato. And excellent mixed greens – cabbage, kale and mangetout. A slightly industrial gravy moistened everything up.

We both went with summer pudding as a dessert. Fruit hitting the balance of sweet and sharp, rightly on the slightly sharp side. A couple of extra spoonfuls on the side. And a quenelle of clotted cream. What’s not to like?

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Lunch.

Steak sandwich for one of us - chunks of tasty rare rump on a ciabatta roll, with Dijon/tarragon mayo. And a few chips.

Brasied lamb shoulder, still on the bone, for the other. Delish. Came with dauphinoise spuds, mixed greens, carrot puree and a slightly fruit gravy.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold