The Old Bull’s Head in Woodhouse Eaves is the gastro pub equivalent of marmite. It elicits a different response from everyone I ask about it. Following my meal there last month, I’ve asked a lot of people what they think and it’s been straight down the line – excellent or pants. Take Emily, from Recipes and Reviews for example, she thoroughly enjoyed her meal there a couple of years ago yet other friends of mine actively avoid the place.
On a Monday night in June, myself and a couple of friends headed over there for dinner. We fancied a treat to kick start the week and didn’t want to drive too far out of Loughborough. From the outside, the Old Bulls Head ticks the boxes – a well kept frontage, classic yet modern branding and a picturesque location. On entering the pub, the good impression continues, I’ve always thought this was a great looking place with a lovely warm feel to it. The staff are excellent too – a big shout out to our waiter that night – we enjoyed a laugh or two with him and his wine knowledge was brilliant. This is a big space which is cleverly utilised to give areas for family dining through to intimate tables for two.
It’d been a couple of years since I’d eaten here and clearly, on seeing the menu, they’ve stepped up their game (and their prices) with a lovely sounding dinner menu. I apologise for the quality of the pictures – this trip to the Old Bull’s Head was every food blogger’s nightmare – we were sat under a spotlight!
To start, one of my friends went for the crayfish & crab pot bound in Devon crab mayonnaise & chives with toasted suprema bocata bread. We all agreed it was the best tasting of the three starters but for me, presentation let it down. the pot was a little to deep and narrow to easily get the pate out and as always, the world over, with these things, there wasn’t enough bread.
I went for the Bury black pudding potato cake with a poached free range egg and spinach & whisky hollandaise. I could not taste whisky in the hollandaise and again, felt that the presentation was a little sloppy. Sadly my egg wasn’t runny either – that dish was crying out for a runny yolk.
That leaves one starter – the maldon sea salt & dill squid with aioli and cucumber & spring onion salad. The squid was fresh and tasty and not at all chewy BUT we all agreed the batter could have done with a little more colour on it and the cucumber salad was far too salty.
So, round one and we were all left feeling a little deflated and looking forward to our main courses. I actually blame myself for making a bad choice with mine. Even as I ordered I think i knew it could go either way – guinea fowl kiev on an apple, courgette & sage rosti with a mushroom & spinach sauce. Really, guinea fowl is too delicate to be used for a kiev, it may as well have been chicken. The sauce was thin and didn’t add much but on the plus side, the rosti was tasty and the enoki mushrooms added an interesting dimension to the dish.