Bull & Gate

Bars and pubs , Gastropubs Kentish Town
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • 4 out of 5 stars
(5 user reviews)
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Boulogne Bar
1/5
Boulogne Bar
2/5
Boulogne Bar
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Boulogne Bar
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Boulogne Bar
5/5

This legendary pub music venue reopened as a gastropub in April with a cocktail bar, the Boulogne Bar, upstairs.

Young’s clearly doesn’t worry about competition. They’ve turned Kentish Town’s venerated Bull & Gate – formerly a music venue that hosted some of the biggest acts in British music – into a ground-floor gastropub with a cocktail bar upstairs. The competition? Two outstanding subterranean cocktail bars (Ladies & Gentlemen and Knowhere Special) mere seconds away.

The Boulogne is different in one crucial respect: it has windows and a great view. It’s also a more obviously ‘done-up’ place, one large room and one small one kitted out to look like a gentlemen’s club, and a baby grand piano where a singer performs Wednesday through Saturday.

Various things didn’t work right. Waitresses cruised the room but didn’t seem to know quite what to do: we had to place our own order at the bar. The proprietors are trying to sell the place as a sophisticated cocktail bar, but booming noise from downstairs (and full-volume hip-hop when the pianist wasn’t on) kind of spoiled the effect. And the cocktail list tried too hard to be inventive.

But we had a good time sipping a well-made Negroni and Martini. The piano player creditably covered ‘Billie Jean’. A heaving Friday crowd of wage slaves morphed into weekenders before our eyes, and the staff was dead-friendly. The Bull & Gate is a pleasant place to spend an hour or two and a welcome addition to the Kentish Town boozing scene.

And the name? For a few centuries, the pub was a coaching inn called the Boulogne Gate. Boulogne became Bull and. Now we’re back to Boulogne. Europhobes will wince. 

Venue name: Bull & Gate
Contact:
Address: 389 Kentish Town Rd
London
NW5 2TJ
Transport: Tube: Kentish Town
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Average User Rating

4.3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:2
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|5
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Photosbysooz
Tastemaker

Wowsers, talk about fancy-pants-ing up; I mean, seriously, if you want to demonstrate the very essence of gentrification, this is it! The question is, do I love it or hate it? I think, I'll perhaps have to admit that it's really a bit of both. On the one hand I walked into the pub, said 'wow' and thoroughly enjoyed my newly furnished surroundings, ashamed slightly that it surely means the loss of a local for some who can no longer afford to drink there. I mean, I can barely afford to drink there myself - a medium glass of Sauvignon Blanc for £6.50! 

On the other hand I found it a little over opulent and rather cold, it certainly wouldn't feel like a local to me, if, indeed it was my local pub, which, thankfully (due to the prices) it isn't. It's large and grand and has a certain feel to it that you don't get in a nice cosy pub with a fireplace......even though, I think, this one may have had a fireplace. Crikey, it probably had two of three, given the grandeur of it all.


However, on a grey Saturday, it was a lovely place to spend the afternoon with a group of friends as we slipped easily into evening time. The large windows overlooked the hustle and bustle of Kentish Town, there was no big football screen on and if there was any music, I don't remember it, which means it was totally unobtrusive and chilled. The staff were friendly, there was posh water on tap (ie, a big Kilner drinks dispenser filled with cucumber!) and the people frequenting the place, looked like rather pleasant souls.


Overall a nice addition to the high-street and I'll definitely be popping back in, though more likely when my cash flow is in the right direction!

Genie
Tastemaker

The refurbishment has given this place a new lease of life! The decor is gorgeous and what I look for in a London pub (I seem to be obsessed with loos at the moment and this place is pretty cool...!)


The downstairs is a mix of pub corners for drinks and a restaurant which is lovely but the upstairs is a cool, slick cocktail bar with a piano and plush sofas! We somehow gate crashed a party but until the whole party turned up , we were allowed to sit near the bar and they moved us to another table which suited us perfectly.


I love Gin and this place didn't disappoint so if you want a pub trip out one evening, get yourself to the Bull & Gate in up and coming Kentish Town!

Slash

Absolutely love the Boulogne bar! So stylish, amazing decor and laid back feeling about it. I could sit in there happily most weekends with a cocktail or 2. We were fortunate enough to time our visit with live music, piano player/singer who was fab. Can't wait to go back. Staff were friendly and accommodating.

Ben C

Popped in to the Bull and Gate last night (14.4.15) for a drink to check out the refurbishment. There are some good points and some bad! The refurb is very nice and the whole space has been opened up and is bright and emphasises a lot of the original fixtures and fittings. The drinks selection is great - both beers and wines - with 4 (!) beers on tap just from local Camden brewery and many others. I chose the Young's 'Special', which was excellent and then the Camden Pils (always sublime). Wife had a glass of Chablis, which she enjoyed. However, the prices for drinks are pretty steep - e.g. Camden Hells is £5 and the wine is between £4.70 up to £7.50 (ish) for a small glass! Anyway, the food looked very tempting so we decided to stay and try it out. Hmmmm, is all I can say. My monkfish was just rather weird and wrapped in rubbery, over-salty bacon type stuff, resting on a large pile of very wet but crunchy fennel and random bits of orange - not good. Wife had apparently good grainy squash salad thing. Desserts - I had a (hot!) lemon tart which was a surprise but actually quite nice (though served with ice cream, not crème fraiche as advertised), wife had crème brulee which was pretty awful - scrambled in places, much too heavy, did not taste of cardamom at all (as advertised) and the sugar on top wasn't even properly bruleed! Prices were reasonable if the food had actually been good. Service was good throughout, with staff still obviously learning the ropes, but coping fine. Generally promising but drinks prices will have to drop and food quality will have to increase markedly if it's going to do well. I'd give it 2.5 but I'll go for 3 as it's sunny.