Dining Out: The Bull Inn, Gristhorpe
Standing beside the main road that runs past the many white-coloured houses in the quiet village of Gristhorpe, the equally white Bull Inn is large but fairly unassuming. Un-bullish, in fact.
Inside is all dark wood and white plaster, with old farming equipment and horse brasses, faded photos of the pub and village, chunky furniture – a real country pub.
It’s a bit rough round the edges but has a friendly atmosphere, and on our visit was very busy with diners. And the reason ... its reputation for good food, and large portions.
I’d heard about that reputation, and it’s easy to see why several of the people there, on finishing their meals, were asking at the bar to book in for Sunday lunch a few days later.
The menu is fairly extensive, and I was impressed at the number of vegetarian options in the mains section; so many places have a token single offering. The Bull’s veggie section has a choice of four dishes, including nut roast dinner in small, medium or large.
From the choice of six starters we plumped for battered button mushrooms, smoked haddock melt fishcakes and tempura battered king prawns. My fishcakes were packed with fish and oozy cheese, while the mushrooms were succulent and the prawns pleasant enough; all three dishes came with a small side salad.
Often in these country pubs, with good old British home-cooked food, I like to sample the steak pie, a particular favourite of mine. This – a steak in Cumberland ale pie, although it was a tough choice between that and the steak and Stilton pie – was the finest I’ve had for a while. The thing was gargantuan, pushing the chips and peas aside to dominate the plate. It could probably have fed three people, though I did manage to conquer it myself. The plentiful meat was tender and tasty, beneath a chunky pastry lid.
My wife’s chicken tikka masala was just the right side of spiciness – not too hot – and came with rice, chips and a good-sized naan. My son opted for the Hunter’s chicken, which was equally satisfying.
Like the other courses, the desserts on the blackboard were classic pub fare, ranging from chocolate and cherry cheesecake and deep filled apple pie to sticky toffee sponge and lemon cheesecake.
We decided to share just one, as our appetites had been well and truly sated. The gooey hot chocolate fudge cake and ice cream was a delightful finale.
The staff were chatty and friendly, and when a chef comes out to take your order and asks if you want various sauces and the like you know personal attention is to the fore.
It might benefit from a lick of paint and refresh in places, but there’s no denying that the Bull serves up some decent nosh at reasonable prices, and plenty of it.
Rating 8 out of 10.