RESTAURANT REVIEW: A special place that comes at a cost

Brad Barnes dines at the Bull Hotel in Westgate, Peterborough.
Brad Barnes dines at the Bull Hotel in Westgate, Peterborough.
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I have always thought there is something quite special about the Bull Hotel in Peterborough city centre.

It is a glorious looking Listed Building, for starters, and is steeped in history - dating back to the 17th century - and you get a sense of all that when you walk in.

Brad Barnes dines at the Bull Hotel in Westgate, Peterborough.

Brad Barnes dines at the Bull Hotel in Westgate, Peterborough.

It has been tastefully refurbished, of course, and for guests at least, offers something a little different in the city - four star comfort and great hospitality.

As for diners, well the service and hospitality is there in abundance and there are a few food options including the relatively new brasserie menu, which was our reason for a Saturday evening dinner.

You are enticed with a message from the head chef suggesting it is a mix of traditional and contemporary dishes with some slightly quirky ones and some daring combinations of flavours and textures. For me, interesting without stretching any culinary boundaries.

From the starters you might include devilled mackerel fillet with red cabbage, chilli slaw and natural yogurt and Donna’s choice: carpaccio of beef with parmesan, truffle oil and pickled gherkin (£6.50).

Brad Barnes dines at the Bull Hotel in Westgate, Peterborough.

Brad Barnes dines at the Bull Hotel in Westgate, Peterborough.

The meat was very delicate with a great flavour to be fair, and certainly the Parmesan and truffle oil made a great contribution to what was an enjoyable and well presented opening dish .

Mine was little more par for the course - duck’s liver parfait on toasted brioche with apple and ginger compote (£7.50) on top.

The parfait was very smooth and mild, not too much of a coarse, livery taste on show here. I liked the “toasted” bits of the brioche and the compote was more apple than ginger but still a great addition to the overall enjoyment. For me, not enough bread.

Intrigued by the menu description I ordered the roast tenderloin of pork, black pudding farce, smoked streaky bacon with olive oil crushed peas and shallot gravy.

Brad Barnes dines at the Bull Hotel in Westgate, Peterborough.

Brad Barnes dines at the Bull Hotel in Westgate, Peterborough.

The tenderloin was just about moist enough and the flavour of the dish was enhanced immeasurably by the wrapping of the lovely smokey bacon and the layer of crumbled black pudding.

The gravy was a bit thin on the ground and the peas were nothing special. It was disappointing after spending £17.95 there was no veg, salad or potatoes unless you shelled out another £3.50!

Donna’s roasted supreme of corn fed chicken had a nice taste to it (the skin was beautiful) and it came with a crispy coated parsley croquette which was light and fluffy in the middle. The salad of wild mushrooms and al-dente fine beans worked quite well, too.

A reasonable bottle of Reisling pushed the bill close to £70 for just two courses, and while the meal was good - very good in parts - it just wasn’t that “special” I am afraid, certainly not special enough to add to the “must return to” list.

Brad Barnes dines at the Bull Hotel in Westgate, Peterborough.

Brad Barnes dines at the Bull Hotel in Westgate, Peterborough.

BRAD’S RATING: 8/10

RESTAURANT DETAILS: The Bull Hotel, Westgate, Peterborough, 01733 561364

FROM THE MENU: main courses

Whole grilled plaice on the bone, lilliput caper and brown shrimp butter £17.95.

Seared scallops, twice cooked pork belly, squash puree, spiced apple compote £16.95

Poached duck egg, asparagus, potato rosti and truffle hollandaise £13.95

Slow cooked shoulder of lamb, sage boulangere potatoes, celeriac puree and sweet mint sauce £17.95

Pan fried flat iron steak, fondant potato, glazed carrots, roast shallot gravy £17.95