The Old Bull & Bush, Hampstead

Please note that due to Copyright Trolls, all images have been removed until I can manually review them, one by one, and ensure credit is appropriately displayed. So if the story suddenly makes no sense, then...well...soz.

This is a long process, so please bear with will likely take until the end of 2024 until all images are reviewed and displayed correctly. Sigh.

Please note that this review is from March 2, 2022 and may be out of date...restaurants sometimes get better, get worse, employ a new chef or end up with new management.

Part of me wondered during the week whether my upcoming roast dinner at The Old Bull & Bush in Hampstead would be the last roast dinner before nuclear war broke out. And just after I finished eating, I saw that Putin had put his nukes on high alert.

You’ve had the Frankie Goes To Hollywood track in your head this last week, right?

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh how the hell am I going to write this review. Given the invasion of Ukraine, it kind of needs to be sombre yet resolute, but I still need the wit…well…attempted wit of a normal post. I want to take the piss out of that execrable pudenda in the Kremlin, yet it needs to be done without disrespecting those on the receiving end.

You might argue that I should just ignore the war, but this blog is kind of half-assed political satire mixed with burnt Yorkshire puddings – and the abhorrent invasion of Ukraine is taking up much of my mind-space. I managed to write a whole 4 paragraphs before I checked Sky News again.

OK. Concentrate, Lord Gravy. So this Sunday gone I had a roast dinner booked at The Old Bull And Bush in Hampstead. After an Anglo-Indian roast dinner last weekend, and a Caribbean roast dinner the weekend before, I was looking forward to getting back to normality.

A normal pub. A normal roast dinner. Normal gravy. Boris Johnson even scrapped masks for our return to normality.

And…and the Metropolitan line had a signal failure for me. If that isn’t the world returning to normal, then I don’t know what is.

Nay, thou art not dead, Ukraine, see, thy glory’s born again.

Of course, I wasn’t really going for a roast dinner this week. I definitely wasn’t going for a roast dinner this week. Yeah I might have booked a table but I had no intention of going. It is all western media hysteria. I had no choice. NATO made me go for a roast dinner. I have a very small dick.

Russian Warship Go Fuck Yourself Jumper

Ahh the beauty of capitalism. Half-tempted to buy one. Maybe a donation to UNHCR might be better?

Serious moment. It’s kind of strange, we all feel so powerless – at least I do and those I have spoken to also do, yet somehow everyone in the world (almost…sigh…Farage/Trump) seems galvanised to oppose Putin. Protests and the might of social media does seem to be pressuring governments and companies to take action…perhaps in a week or two maybe we’ll be able to say that we’ve seen the first global people power movement that has contributed to stopping a war?

Granted, I say that with hope and not expectation – we have to avoid nuclear war and persuade a crazy dictator to withdraw – finding an exit ramp so that he can pretend he’s won. Or hope someone in his inner circle deposes of him.

And that feels as far away from reality as Hampstead did from Soho when we started walking on Sunday morning. Yes, we walked from Soho to Hampstead. It was a really nice walk in the late winter sunshine, daffodils poking through in places, fragments of blossom on trees in Regent’s Park, row after row of absolutely gorgeous housing that I will never be able to afford. And some seemingly ever-lasting hills. We even took our coats off.

So imagine our delight when we found that our table was next to the fire. Again. Why does this keep happening? I’m from up north! I might start putting wood fires in the allergies section when booking a table. Plus they are bad for your health and the environment. Oh but old people like them.

Not only that, but the chairs were those slouchy leather types and the table was low – the space behind me was very small and waitresses kept walking by with hot drinks and food right next to my head. It wasn’t the world’s most comfortable setting.

That said, we got settled in and looked at the menu. Life could be worse than coping with slouchy chairs.

The Old Bull And Bush, Hampstead, Roast Dinner Menu

It was a surprisingly affordable roast dinner for this area of town – sirloin of beef, half a chicken and pork belly were the options – after our long walk I wanted to maximise food intake so went for the pork belly at £14.95. Plus it came with stuffing and bacon.

And the skies, O brethren, upon us smile once more!

The Old Bull And Bush, Hampstead, Roast

It feels like a strange way to present it with a lump of dried crackling as the centrepiece, but hey.

There was a carrot – one solitary small baton of carrot and it was fine, a tad crunchy. Is this carrot shortage due to a lack of Ukrainians applying for visas to pick vegetables…looking at you Kevin Foster. Minister for…sigh…do you really have to be our Minister For Immigration? I guess never waste the opportunity of a crisis…to remind me which party I won’t be voting for until they apologise for Brexit. And become devoid of wankers. Well, relatively devoid – this is politics we are talking about.

Tory MP being a cunt

Anyway, the cabbage was kind of fine, a little more blanching would have helped soften it up more. It was there. I was fine with it being there.

However, as welcome as a Russian infantry brigade, was the invasion of not one, but two stray peas. Don’t worry, I repelled them and they were squashed – by people walking past. FUCK PUTIN. FUCK PEAS.

The Old Bull And Bush, Hampstead, Stray Pea

Can I get away with that? If it was my country being invaded then I’m sure I’d have a dark sense of humour to go along with it, whilst being on the front line with our Prime Minister. Boris Johnson would be on the front line and not in a fridge? Right?

The cauliflower cheese was very creamy, which I think is a plus, but a lack of cheese to taste detracts from that. At least the cream was thick enough not to pollute the gravy, the cauliflower was soft but held its shape – just that lack of cheese flavour. And it isn’t like The Old Bull & Bush is unique there.

The Old Bull And Bush, Hampstead, Cauliflower Cheese

Things didn’t improve dramatically with the parsnips, which though tasty, were a bit undercooked – they really needed more roasting.

And you know what else needed more roasting? Yes, Putin, ideally in the ICC a la Milošević. Yes, anyone in the Russian army committing war crimes. And yes, the roast potatoes. They were edible. Sometimes soft inside, though one was a bit too al dente – there no evidence of crispness on the outside.

As in Springtime melts the snow, so shall melt away the foe

The Yorkshire pudding was alright. Too large, too much of it and I gave up on it – the outside a bit too crispy, the bottom quite nice.

The Old Bull And Bush, Hampstead, Sunday Roast

Onto the pork belly – there were three slices. Taste-wise it was enjoyable, though in terms of texture it was a tad dry and tired – not too much, just a little past peak. This was probably the best part of the meal.

The crackling, however, was puffed-up, dry and in places tasting burnt. I couldn’t finish it. Some mouthfuls tasted good (once softened enough to crunch), but this was a waste of crackling.

Then the gravy. Well it was a return to normality in that it was a gravy of sorts – a middling consistency, verging on the thin, quite rich in taste but also with an aftertaste that just had a mild edge of burnt yuck. My accomplice liked it – I wasn’t keen.

I’d left the pig in blanket to last – forgetting that it was actually stuffing wrapped in bacon. So that was a surprise. The stuffing felt undercooked (not the first thing on the plate I’ve said this about), the bacon was nice – but bacon is nice no matter how under or over cooked it is. Did I just say something controversial?

And we shall be masters in our own home.

Well, I’m reaching a conclusion to this review – I dearly hope we can say the same about the invasion of Ukraine very soon.

This wasn’t the best roast dinner, was it?

To be fair, nothing was horrendous. But most things could easily be improved. Lots of undercooking – cabbage, roasties and parsnips. Gravy was passable but a tad yuck and what the fuck happened with the crackling? Pork was the highlight – though that was still a tad tired.

No qualms on the quantity or price, service was reasonable, especially considering that the pub was very busy – the late winter sunshine likely driving a few locals out of their homes. I also really liked their idea of mini desserts with a hot drink – I don’t remember the charge but it was south of £6.00.

My gravy-eschewing accomplice thought her chicken was dry (erm…maybe use some gravy?), my regular accomplice enjoyed her beef but not to any exception. Their scores were respectively 6.50 and 6.90.

You could argue for a score in the upper 5’s, but despite being a bit meh, I didn’t come away especially disappointed. Nothing was that bad. My score is a 6.11 out of 10.

Next week I’m going even more normal than this. There will be watery gravy. There will be undercooked roast potatoes. There will be a burnt Yorkie left under a heat lamp. Well…unless we’ve been nuked. You’ve checked the government preparedness guidelines, right? Oh hang on, they haven’t been updated since 1980. I’m sure we’ll be fine though, all that British spirit, just like in the pandemic.

Maybe just use the American guidelines. They were updated recently. 25th February. 2022. Day after Putin invaded. Hmmm. Bit too recently updated?

Map of Russia and Not Russia
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The Old Bull & Bush, Hampstead

Station: Golder's Green

Tube Lines: Northern

Fare Zone:

Price: £14.95

Rating: 6.11

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Loved & Loathed

Loved: The pork belly tasted good, though a tad tired.

Loathed: Under-cooked roasties, parsnips and cabbage, gravy slightly yuck, and fuck Putin.

3 responses to “The Old Bull & Bush, Hampstead

  1. We need to discuss Putin’s excessive use of botox and how his head is now perfectly round and smooth, much like a very large (not green) pea! One more thing about him to not like in case the list has not reached several pages already.

  2. What is happening with the roast potatoes in your country? I can’t recall the last time you were served a decent roastie. Its craziness, I tell ya.

  3. As always I take the controversial view on recent ‘news’, I do not believe for one minute a real war is occurring in the Ukraine, I think it is a global elitist false flag operation for the simple purpose of making the planets rulers, the so called ‘Illuminated Ones’. I’ve yet to see an actual battle, there seems to be a distinct lack of air force operations by either side, just a bit of shelling and mortar attacks, I’ve seen more violence outside a nightclub in Ilford on a saturday night.

    As for the roast it looks awful. What the hell is ‘smoked beef dripping’, I’ve never heard of such a concoction, nor would I be rushing to try it either. The potatoes look boiled! By the way stuffing, assuming its vegetable ie: Paxo, doesn’t have to be cooked, just tastes better if it is.

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