Hampstead Heath, London
A place with a good reputation for its food, but refreshingly pubby - go upstairs to dine in quieter and cooler surroundings than the bustling ground-floor bar.
For a place with such a good reputation for its food, the Bull & Last is refreshingly pubby: heavy wooden furniture, velvet drapes, stuffed animals and old prints decorate both the bar and the upstairs dining room. The latter is a calmer and cooler place to eat than the ground-floor bar, and allows diners to focus on dishes such as king scallop carpaccio with pink grapefruit, crème fraîche, coriander and vinaigrette or pig’s cheek with watermelon pickle, basil and sesame – both fabulous ways to start a meal. Pea salad with pea fritters, ratte potatoes, shallots, pea shoots and cow’s curd (available in starter and main course sizes) was light, fresh and packed with flavour. By contrast, truffoli pasta with fresh tomato sauce and mozzarella wasn’t bad, but was more workaday (and overpriced at £14.50). Order was restored by peanut butter parfait with peanut brittle and caramelised rum banana (the perfect pudding for the sweet-toothed), and the ice-creams are good too – we particularly liked the Kernal stout one. There are (big) roasts at weekends.
There’s a changing selection of beers and ciders from small breweries (Redemption, Hackney Brewery, Cornish Crown) and a decent wine list, and service is lovely – unfussy but adept. As well as a cross-section of locals, the dog-friendly pub also attracts walkers (it’s on the edge of the Heath).
|Venue name:||Bull & Last||Contact:|
168 Highgate Road
|Opening hours:||Open noon-11pm Mon-Thur; 9am-midnight Fri, Sat; 9am-10.30pm Sun. Breakfast served 9-11am Fri-Sun. Lunch served noon-3pm Mon-Fri; 12.30-4pm Sat, Sun. Dinner served 6.30-10pm Mon-Sat; 6.30-9pm Sun|
|Transport:||Tube: Kentish Town tube/rail then bus 214, C2, or Gospel Oak rail then bus C11|
|Price:||Main courses £14-£34|
|Do you own this business?|
Average User Rating
3.2 / 5
- 5 star:7
- 4 star:7
- 3 star:3
- 2 star:1
- 1 star:8
I am a very lazy reviewer, not writing outstanding reviews where they are due, and not highlighting the negatives in certain restaurants to warn potential future customers from the horrors I have experienced, but the Bull & Last horror was so bad, I simply cannot let this one slide!
Just to draw-up some context, myself and my partner are real foodies, we love discovering and trying new places, these span from Michelin-starred restaurants right down to the takeaway food trucks, the only requirement we have is great food (and preferably good service, but we can let this slide in the name of a delectable meal). The point here, is we are not concerned with the fluff, and can appreciate quality food, which unfortunately we did not find at the Bull & Last.
The Bull & Last, was on our forever expanding list of places to visit, and so the miserable Sunday weather of the 10th of August (2014) prompted us to seek out the comforts of a cosy local pub, with what we believed was going to be a party for our bellies, so much so that on arrival, I declared how much I love that we reside in North London because we are fortunate to have such wonderful places as our 'local eats' (this was before we had even walked through the door).
We settled somewhere half way by a window, perfect for people watching and taking in the decor (don't let this fool you). Our menus arrived with one decorated with a questionable stain, it could have been baby-food, it could have been adult food-splatter, who knows, but undeterred I pushed the stained menu (a double-sided A4 sheet of paper) away and suggested we share, who needs individual menus anyway?
We settled on an Organic Sea Trout Salad with Marsh Samphire, Cucumber & Crispy Hen's Egg (£9) to share. Credit where it is due, this was absolutely delicious. Fresh, full of flavour and did a great job of wetting our appetite for the mains. North Essex Shorthorn Roast Rib of Beef with Yorkshire Pudding, Roast Potatoes, Carrots & Horseradish (£20 each) was our choice of mains. We had seen this travelling past us to the neighbouring tables, and it felt just right for a Sunday!
On arrival, the mains looked incredible, we had certainly waited for them log enough and without hesitation we began to devour what we hoped would be the answer to the the Sunday-blues. Can I just point out, at this point we were still not asked if we would like anything to drink, though a bottle of water was placed on our table during the routine table set-up/napkin and cutlery placement. This is the exact point where the worms began to climb out of the woodwork, not literally, however that would not surprise me much either. Not long into the main course, and my partner questioned the meat " Darling, how is you meat? Mine appears to be undercooked, look..." pointing to a bloody piece of limp meat which was hidden under the enormous Yorkshire pudding, less amusing now that we were questioning whether the meat was sufficiently cooked. I inspected mine, yes it did appear rather 'rare', but as I am not averse to a little bit of redness in my meat, this did not put me off, completely. My partner did not eat the meat. I was weary that we were neither presented with a choice of how we would like our meat cooked, neither were we advised that this is served rare (raw). At this point it is probably not necessary to talk about the potatoes, but these were, ironically, over-cooked, hard and not very fresh.
Our plates were collected and the routine half-question half-statement was muttered "How was your food...?". I did not hesitate to point out that the meal was disappointing, and the untouched meat on my partner's plate was clearly raw. The waitress apologised, and said she will pass this on to the kitchen. She offered us up the dessert menus, which at this point appeared to be nothing more than flowery words with an unjustifiable price-tag, we opted for coffees. These were the final disappointment of the afternoon, or so we thought, but I will come back to this part of the story last. Our bill was honoured with a measly deduction of my Bloody Mary, and our total was still £61 with both £20 mains inclusive, I found this to be a very poor excuse for an apology!
We had gone in to the Bull & Last with such optimism, only to leave feeling cheated. Cheated is what I wish we felt this morning, clutching on to our stomach in agonising pain. I will spare you the details, but we all know the symptoms of food-poisoning, if not, you can refer to the NHS page on this. Today is a Monday morning, we are unable to attend work and this is undoubtably worth far more than a cost of a Bloody Mary!
Do not bother, unless you are looking for a reason to be out of action!
Simple: over-priced, over-rated, with indifferent food and service and a decided lack of comfort (a 'traditional' pub feel just an excuse for broken down old wooden chairs and wobbly tables). Save your money.
Used to be pleasant but now seems to be trading off its name, rather than delivering good food with friendly service. There are now plenty of good gastropubs, and the Bull & last is just not delivering to same standards.. It's certainly not worth making a trip for. And tip for staff: if a customer waits 40 mins for food to come and asks why it's taking so long, the correct response is not "it hasn't been that long, we're very busy".
Tucked away between Tuffnell Park and Kentish Town, the Bull & Last offers a cozy step gastro pub experience with a delicious array of choices. The friendly staff were a joy to chat to and it almost made me want to offer them a seat at our table. The crispy butter milk chicken is a definite winner (I do not need to describe this because if you do not know what butter milk chicken is, I am not going to spoil it for you with my mere words. I shall let your taste buds speak for themselves). The side order of chips was lovely. Crispy, crunchy exterior which a steamingly powdery potato interior which appears almost at odds at each other until they combine in salty goodness on your palate. With a gastronomically delightful starter and side, the Bull & Last did let me down somewhat with the Dedham Vale rump steak. For a rump steak I expected a strong meaty kick but what I got was a slightly chewy & bland tasting slab. A good dash of coarse sea salt during the grill and perhaps a little more attention to the charring would have been much appreciated. Perhaps it's my personal preference but I do enjoy the good macho bitter kick of char on my steak.
Went on a normal wednesday night, lively but not too busy. Having read about all the negative comments about their service I was surprised that the waiter was actually super helpful. I guess it really depends on how you treat others in the first place. Loved the food, simple and honest, and of course the ale choice. Would prefer Anchor and Hope though.
Shockingly rude and ignorant and stuck up!!t. The staff have the attitude that they're too good to be working in a pub. We left. And we won't be back.
We had Sunday lunch - a very underwhelming experience at best. Bf's beef was overcooked around the edges, the gravy had too much garlic in it, and the Yorkshire pudding was burned! The batter on my fish was too thick, and the chips were so overcooked that you couldn't even bite into them - they were dry in the middle as well. The mushy peas were cold and didn't have any seasoning. The only good thing about the dish was the tartar sauce and the pickle, that I had to pay an extra £1 for! This is considering the prices between £15 and £20 - completely unacceptable for a gastro pub of this caliber that some others likened to a Michelin starred establishments. I can get better fish and chips from my local chippie in Angel for about £5. Not impressed at all. Definitely not cominig back
This place serves really excellent food - mains are between £14-22, starters the £8 mark and desserts about the same or less. Everything I had was good, but the dessert really stood out - peanut butter parfait. On the subject of the staff, which is what most of the people who've commented here have talked about, they were a little awkward - although it has to be said, it varied - but certainly not outright rude in the fashion described by others. Some of them could probably have been a bit less standoffish, but to rule out a pub serving such excellent food on those grounds would be perverse. Anyway, if you do have a bad experience, go to the Southampton Arms, just down the road and the best pub in London.
Service was so bad that we left before ordering. We had booked a table for dinner. On arrival, we were seated at a very small pub table for two, next to the kitchen area. The table is not designed to hold a meal for two, so we requested a normal size table by the window. It was quarter past six on a Monday evening so the place was almost empty. "Can we sit on those tables by the window?" "They are reserved." "We have a reservation" "Those people booked a long time ago." "Those tables and this table are set for 2; what's the difference?" "You can have this table, or 2 seats on the end of the table for 6." "Why can't we sit on that table?" "Those people booked before you did." If my custom is going to be treated as less valuable than that of others arriving later, then I will take it elsewhere. North London is blessed with many local pubs and restaurants, so don't eat somewhere where the staff refuse the simplest request, without apology. We left immediately, and enjoyed a meal at local favourite Bistro Laz.
I am very surprised by the negative comments posted below. I went to the B & L last month with a group of friends and had the most wonderful food, drinks, and service. Particular stand outs were the pea salad, mentioned in Time Out's review, the cote de boeuf - cooked to perfection - and the ice creams which are to die for. This place is well worth a visit, don't listen to the naysayers!
Waiting for an hour or more to get a simple charcuterie board. Told if I wait perhaps the kitchen will have time to make it. Another drink later and apparently the kitchen is too busy to make it. A cold platter, sliced meat and cheese is all we want. Willing to let a group of paying customers sit hungry rather than be accommodating. If you can't handle so many people then have less tables. Shoddy service...
The staff here are always in a massive strop. The food is not high quality or value for money. £9 for a minuscule crab spaghettini starter full of bits of shell. Roasts are particularly bad - big sloppy, sinewy chunks of barely cooked roast beef, mountains of over-cooked veg and all yours for an eye-watering price.
Love this place. One of the best places to get proper British food. Ambience and ales were likewise excellent. For more exotic bitters, just down the road is the Southampton Arms which has loads of handpulled ales from microbreweries around. A really good experience!
We had the Roast Guinea Fowl and Lamb Rump and they were cook perfectly. The Chocolate pudding was slight over cook. Otherwise it would be perfect. The food is much better than lots of restaurants.
Always packed for a very good reason - the food is superb. I'd recommend you book, especially at the weekend. Good selection of ales & family friendly. Ok, it's not really a pub anymore, more of a restaurant but if they keep churning out quality good like this then so be it. If you want a real boozer pop around the corner to the Dartmouth Arms. Our American chums might expect bigger portions but that's why they on average they're 50% more person that us lot in Dartmouth Park
Had a lovely lunch here on Saturday. It's more expensive than many gastropubs, but the food definitely justified the price. Very generous portions and delicious. We hadn't booked but the friendly waiter suggested we order a drink at the bar while they sorted out a table and sure enough, it was ready five minutes later. Food was a bit slow to come out, but no more than any decent restaurant. Shared a gorgeous beetroot salad to start, looked lovely and tasted fantastic with yummy little fried balls of beetroot and feta cheese. For my main I had cottage pie with cavolo nero. I hate it when a menu states the veg with the dish then serves up a few pathetic leaves. This dish came with a huge mount of perfectly cooked cabbage that went beautifully with the cottage pie. Only disappointment was not having room for a scoop of homemade ice cream, which I've heard is very good. I've eaten here two or three times before and enjoyed it, but would have previously said the food at The Stag (in South End Green) marginally pipped them to the post. However I think they've upped their game - it was a really great meal. And the starters are always excellent so don't scrimp!
The service was very chummy, ,the food beyond expectations . Don't be put off by the odd disgruntled punter.
Managed to get a table on a Saturday night out of sheer luck as the place was fully booked - some tables are not bookable. Had a great meal & fantastic bottle of wine, which I've now bought a case of, highly recommended.
Amazing Sunday lunch, had the pork belly and it was delicious. Also a really nice surrounding, helped by the fact we were allowed to bring our dog inside to sit with us while we ate. Good, quick service too. Maybe a little more expensive out of the pubs in Highgate but definitely worth it. A great place for a Sunday lunch with the family.