You’ve heard of this one, right? This week’s review is of The Bull & Last in Dartmouth Park…which to make it a bit less confusing is between Kentish Town and Highgate. And next to Hampstead Heath. The bit near Dartmouth Park.
The Bull & Last has been on my to-do list for ages. Ever since I launched this blog nearly 4 years ago.
The random number generator picked it a couple of years back, at which point I realised that it was closed for refurbishment until autumn 2019. Autumn 2019 came and went, and it was still closed for refurbishment. When did they finally re-open?
The end of February. Great timing, huh?!
Speaking of great timing, I feel that we should now dedicate this roast dinner review to Wayne Lineker.
Yeah I’ve no idea how that fits in either.
So the refurbishment has been worth the wait and it is quite magnificent inside. Not in an overtly posh way, but definitely in a relaxed yet somewhat upmarket kind of way. The whole place feels spacious, which is handy in a pandemic, but also gives you that feeling of being that bit more special that you would in a grotty low-ceiling pub (of which I do love).
Yet I don’t want to get too ahead of myself. I’ve been to these kind of places before, all beautifully decorated with a lauded roast reputation – then come away utterly unimpressed. I repeatedly heard prior to refurbishment how good the roasts are at The Bull And Last, yet I keep a skeptical mind.
Speaking of decoration, how about a bit more Wayne Lineker?
One of my followers is guaranteed to comment on those see-through trousers.
Wayne Lineker at last
Yeah, I’m just jealous. There are no women in bikinis in Harrow. And yes I have finally started looking for somewhere less shit to live. Though when I say started looking, I actually mean that I’ve looked at hundreds of adverts on SpareRoom and decided that nowhere meets my expectations. I’m sure my regular readers would be surprised to hear that I am difficult to please.
Anyway, if anyone does know of a very large double room with lots of kitchen storage within 45 minutes walk of Paddington, let me know. Or maybe towards Hampstead or Kentish Town at a push. You’d get to live with a fat ugly tosser that loves roast dinners. I’m annoying but I’m also an expert on trade.
Speaking of experts on trade…
At least you learnt one new Spanish word now, si? More than you managed on that Duolingo course that you signed up for during lockdown with all your new-found spare time that you proceeded to waste.
The menu at last
Let’s talk fish and chips. When walking into any pub for a Sunday roast, I always have a sneaky glance at any tables who have received their meals, to see if I can work out which meat looks tastiest. And my thoughts were that the fish and chips looked amazing. Put me in a fucking gulag, I might have had the fish and chips on a Sunday were it not for you lot. I did vaguely consider it…well at least more than I considered the vegetarian thing.
Why would you order a pea?
For me, the roast options were either beef or pork belly, priced at a slightly uncomfortable £23 and £20 respectively. Ahhh the new normal. Yet I’d rather pay £20 for a good roast than £10 for a shit one…so bring it on. I chose the pork belly…pretty much a toss of a coin in my head.
And I just want to give a shout out to the size of the fork. Look at the length of those prongs.
Yeah I’m going to say it…
More Wayne Lineker?
Oh crap, wrong photo. Well, I do have gay followers, so that one is for you. Don’t say I don’t do anything for you. Not like that…though that has been said to me before. I certainly attract more gay men on a night out than women. Well, the count of women attracted to me over the last few years is around zero so that isn’t too difficult.
Oh there weren’t any. Not on my plate – carrots and parsnips were for those having beef. I made do with seasonal greens. I don’t actually remember eating them…ooh maybe I should share a photograph of the roast?
Yes! Kale. Garlicky kale – it was really rather nice, I definitely remember this.
Need to think of heading name
Also for those eating pork came Choucroute. The what? I assumed cabbage with a bit of onion and also some form of sausage whilst eating – it turns out that Choucroute is actually sauerkraut with sausage. I assume they used sauerkraut, but I’m not sure I’m yet to the culinary expertise of detecting the difference between cabbage and sauerkraut.
The Choucroute was really tasty, the small chunks of sausage seemed along the lines of Frankfurters in terms of texture and flavour, though probably a more refined sausage in reality. Massive props to the kitchen for showing some imagination on a roast dinner…imagination on a roast dinner is almost as rare as good roast potatoes.
Also a first time for black pudding on a roast dinner. I don’t really understand black pudding (surprised 2020 hasn’t cancelled something called “black pudding”) and I didn’t get the point of it being here. I was fine with eating it but it just added nothing for me – my other pork-eating accomplice really liked it.
Roast potatoes were predictably repugnante (did you forget your Spanish from earlier?). Seemingly cooked before the pub closed for refurbishment, these were small, rubbery things featuring zero joy. A bit like my nob after taking drugs. Or a bit like my nob without taking drugs.
Cauliflower cheese was £5.00 per dish and was quite the delight. Guess what it tasted of? No, you are wrong. It tasted of cheese. Another rarity – cauliflower cheese that actually tasted of cheese. Golden on top with a sprinkling of herbs, cauliflower cooked to the perfect balance and a thick, cheesy sauce. I’ve had better, but not many.
Gosh even my photographs are actually half decent this week. And I can go one step further – so was the Yorkshire pudding. It was one of those big flowering pot jobs – the outside was a tad dry, but the inside had that fluffy pancake-like texture which seems so rare nowadays. Again, I’ve had better, but it definitely ranked “good”.
Getting meaty at last
I did try some of the beef, it was silky smooth kinda nice and very much on the rare side. However I made the correct choice in ordering the pork belly.
The crackling came separated as slightly twisted chunks of crispy, gluttonous fatty nonsense. Softened with a bit of gravy this was very satisfying.
Around 4 slices of pork belly were provided – the roast may have been priced at £20 but it felt like we really got our money from the quantity of food provided. I should add that a bottle of red wine was only £22 (I think…maybe it was £25 but I think £22) which seemed really good value for a gastropub. Gosh I hate that word but The Bull And Last really is a gastropub par excellence.
So the pork belly was super tasty and also so succullent too. I could have eaten this forever – and eaten with little chunks of the crackling ripped apart, along with the flavour of the gravy was just a delight.
Finally, the gravy. It was quite thin and watery – not every box has been ticked on this roast dinner. Yet it was very flavoursome in a meat stock kinda way and perfectly complimented the rest of the roast dinner.
Summarize The Bull And Last at last
Overall this was a really good experience. A classy pub without being inaccessible, good service from our waitress who did seem to have a lot to do (masked, alas, but I’m sure that is a reassurance to others).
Good beer, albeit at £6.80 a pint it did make my eyes water – yet as I mentioned earlier the Tempranillo seemed good value. I think I paid £47.00 in total which for a top notch roast dinner, half a bottle of wine, a beer and service didn’t seem too bad. Especially when you compare it to the £22 I paid for Eggs Royale and a fucking orange juice the other week in Marylebone…with just one egg too.
I say top notch, yet there was one moment of true crud which were the roast potatoes. Week after week I get crap roast potatoes and this was no exception. Yet it was the exception to the rule, I loved the succulent pork belly and the imagination shown, especially for the Choucroute.
One of our group, Chicken Boo, scored it around the 7, as she really wanted chicken which wasn’t available, and isn’t keen on beef being rare. The others scored 8 or slightly above.
I’m scoring it an 8.14 out of 10, which at the time of writing makes it the 20th best roast dinner out of 147 reviewed, and the 3rd best of 2020. With good roast potatoes it would have been in the mid to high 8’s.
I’ll be back next week. Well, probably. From me, Wayne and lots of young women in bikinis, keep on roasting. And maybe share my blog.
The Bull & Last, Dartmouth Park, North London
Station: Gospel Oak
Tube Lines: Overground
Fare Zone: Zone 2
Loved & Loathed
Loved: The succulent pork belly and the imagination shown, especially for the Choucroute. And the whole venue was glorious.
Loathed: Roast potatoes were total crud. Also, £6.80 for a pint. Ouch.