15 Nov 2011

Head to Watton and Take Refuge at The Bull


Thank you Axis magazine for your great review in your November 2011 issue

'The much anticipated reopening of The Bull at Watton at Stone took place at the end of October, its new owners having refurbished the landmark village building to create a cosy pub and dining room. The pub’s origins date back to the 15th century and the story goes that Catholic priests hiding from Henry VIII’s guards during the Dissolution of the Monasteries would take refuge up the chimney of the huge inglenook fireplace at the heart of the building. Thankfully no such terror haunts the villages of Hertfordshire today – but come the winter months ahead, the pub, with logs burning in that historic hearth, will no doubt offer visitors its own form of welcome refuge from the outside world!
The Bull opens from Tuesdays to Sundays for morning coffees and pastries, leisurely lunches, light snacks, cosy evening suppers and traditional Sunday roasts. All this can be enjoyed in the bar or, if you prefer, in the more formal but still snug, restaurant. The menu offers a combination of traditional seasonal cuisine and historic British dishes with much of the produce sourced locally. For example when we visited we enjoyed the Label Anglais free range roast chicken (the well respected producers are based just a short drive away in Roydon) which was accompanied by butternut squash, black truffle potatoes, baby spinach, caramelized onions, crispy sage and salsa verdi. It was well cooked and presented and well worth the £14.95 price tag. We also ordered the Landlord Beer Battered fish and chips(£10.95) served with mushy peas and tartare sauce. Again, definitely recommended. Other main courses on the menu include a 12 hour slow roast pork belly (£13.95) with caramelized fennel, rosemary and garlic potatoes, sage and butter roasted apple; a Pan fried seabass fillet (£13.95) with green beans, new potatoes, black olives and salsa verdi and The Bull’s own burger (£9.95) with homecut chips and a selection of toppings. Starters, which we skipped, having opted for a dish of olives to sharewhile we waited for our mains, looked equally interesting and included a Crispy Duck Salad (£6.25) with agrodolce vegetables, baby spinach and roasted plums, Autumn Minestrone Soup with toasted focaccia (£4.95) and afabulous pub classic – either a pint or half pint of prawns (£10.95 or £5.75) served with lemon mayo and bread. For dessert we enjoyed a perfect vanilla bean panna cotta with seasonal fruit compote. Others (all £5.50) included Pear and Almond Tart, Limoncello Creme Brulee and The Bull chocolate pot with vanilla ice cream.
The bar is stocked with a good selection of draught and bottled beers and well kept ales and there’s a carefully selected wine list.
Alastair and Anna Bramley have succeeded in creating what is very much a warm and inviting village pub, yet with a quality of food and service you’d expect from a slick town-based restaurant. The amount of customers in on a midweek evening in its opening week says much about what they’ve achieved.
Get a table – while you can!'

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