The Old Bulls Head, Woodhouse Eaves

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.

Gingey Bites review of the Old Bulls Head in Woodhouse Eaves

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!

menu at the old bulls head

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. 

bury black pudding cake at the Old Bulls Head

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.

Gingey Bites review of guinea fowl kiev at the Old Bulls Head in Woodhouse Eaves
My friends opted for much better dishes; both pork! Patrick chose slow-cooked pork belly and seared scallops with sticky ginger beer glaze, crackling, Bury black pudding, mashed potato, green beans and apple & vanilla ketchup and Charlotte went for pan roasted pork loin with garlic new potatoes, baked tomato, blue cheese mushroom, green beans and a red wine jus. 
Both dishes were flavourful and well cooked. The belly pork was soft and cut easily – don’t you hate it when you get a rock hard top and then mush underneath? I’ve tried vanilla mash / salt / ketchup before and am not convinced by the flavour combo but it was so subtle on this occasion that it didn’t offend in the slightest. The dish from the specials was really nice – we thought that the jus was probably the same as the main menu dish but not a problem seeing as they both featured pork. The tomato also needed a bit more baking as the centre was still quite raw. But overall, both nice dishes.
Gingey Bites review of the Old Bulls Head in Woodhouse Eaves
Gingey Bites review of pork belly and scallops at the Old Bulls Head in Woodhouse Eaves
For pudding we shared the house sharer which had a salted caramel chocolate pot, passion fruit tart, creme brulee and an ice cream cookie sandwich on it. Everything was yummy but the crème brulee had a soft top (not ‘tap tap’ enough to impress me!) 
The House sharer pudding board at the Old Bulls Head in Woodhouse Eaves
My issue, I think, with the Old Bulls Head is solely the price. I like the place and the food is not bad. I would return and I would probably be happy if it wasn’t so expensive. This is good gastro pub food served in a great gastro pub setting. It feels at odds with itself, like they are trying to run before they can walk. 
Don’t get me wrong, food wise this is definitely a step above the Quorndon Fox but in my view, a step below The Manor House (both of which are very close and offer similar style dining).  The average price of our three mains was £15.75 and the whole bill came to £132.65. That included three starters, three mains, one pudding, a bottle of wine and 3 cocktails plus a couple of soft drinks.  Now its over to you blog reader – I want you to test my marmite theory – have you eaten there, what did you think? Am I being too harsh? 
*I paid for my meal in full and the pub did not know I was planning to review their food*

Leave a comment

  1. 6th July 2015 / 12:32 pm

    From the looks of the menu this pub is part of the premium country dining group from Mitchell and butler- there's a few near me with the same menu currently and the standard varies greatly I find from place to place and from visit to visit!

  2. 6th July 2015 / 4:47 pm

    Looks delicious. I do love good pub grub. Finding duck on a menu isn't very common – and a good choice for a difference to chicken so thumbs up from me. Shame about the price though, but good food often comes at a price!

  3. 7th July 2015 / 8:04 am

    Looks like a fantastic place – comfortable with good eats – a winner there! 🙂

  4. 7th July 2015 / 8:23 pm

    I actually really like it there most of the time and when I reviewed it I was positive (I luckily DID have a runny yolk on my egg). However I have had one bad meal there which was a steak – it just wasn't very well cooked and quite fatty. It also annoyed me that they had a stack of steak knives on the side but didn't actually bring me one with the steak. I guess they must have bad days now and again x

  5. 7th July 2015 / 8:39 pm

    The dishes all SOUND lovely. It's a shame they all seem to have a little something wrong with them.
    A non-runny poached egg is definitely not a little something though!

  6. 8th July 2015 / 1:37 pm

    Thankyou for all your comments – you're right Helen, it really sounds delicious at first read. And yes, Emily/ Roz, you're right everywhere has good and bad days so perhaps I need to give them another whirl!

  7. 6th December 2015 / 9:36 am

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