Like most of London ’s major stations, Liverpool Street isn’t surrounded by fine pubs – they tend to be functional at best, perhaps mindful of the fact that a large proportion of their custom is just passing through. So it’s cheering to see somewhere like the Bull (re)opening with a more personal touch – it’s owned by the same people as the Fox & Anchor in Smithfield, a good-looking gastropub with a few hotel rooms upstairs. And that’s exactly what the Bull is too, although here the ‘gastro’ and ‘pub’ bits are separate enough to ensure customers just popping in for a pint won’t feel out of place (and vice versa – no one wants a row of drinkers’ backsides at eye-level when they’re sitting down to dinner).
The pub part now has a few London beers and classier versions of the classics – sausage rolls, fish and chips, bacon rolls at breakfast.
In contrast, the upstairs ‘gastro’ part, named The Hide, is an elegant and fairly formal restaurant where accomplished technique is applied to British ingredients. From a wintry menu, a starter of potted chunks of pig’s head (just flesh, fortunately) came with pickled cucumber. Mains are similarly rich: braised salt beef with dumplings, grilled veal with tomato fondue and truffle oil.
The dishes are expertly done, and served with grace and aplomb. But the lingering feeling is that it’s all a bit too expensive. A main course of puy lentils with golden beetroot and goat’s cheese – earthy and robust for a vegetarian dish – cost £17. When you add on a couple of glasses of wine, the bill mounts like a randy bull.
For a civilised drink near Liverpool Street, steer your way to the Bull. But unless someone else is picking up the tab, stay downstairs.
On the ground floor is our bustling pub The Bull, serving craft beer and wines, cooked breakfasts and daily lunch specials such as burgers, salt beef sandwiches and amazing home-made bar snacks.
|Venue name:||The Bull & The Hide|
4 Devonshire Row
|Opening hours:||Pub: 8am-11pm daily. First floor dining room (The Hide): noon-3pm, 6-10pm Mon-Fri; 6-10pm Sat.|
|Transport:||Tube: Liverpool Street|
|Price:||Meal for two with drinks and service: around £80.|
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