The Bull on Bell Street in Henley recently reopened after a major refurbishment. Bitten was lucky enough to be invited along. The makeover was devised by Brakspear’s in-house design team and from the second I walked in I was taken aback by how beautiful it was. The green and coral colour scheme felt warm and inviting – perfect for the Summer season we’re heading into. In the courtyard there’s a water feature and an open fire allowing guests to dine alfresco whatever the weather.
My companion was driving so we stuck to non-alcoholic beers and soft drinks, however, the cocktail and wine list sounded very inviting and featured a wide array of drinks to suit all tastes. We particularly liked the offering of non-alcoholic beers available that were different from the standard options at other establishments.
We started off with the asparagus and poached egg to share between us.
Asparagus is in season at the moment and you could really taste its freshness. It was cooked just right, still retaining its vibrant green colour with a slight crunch. The egg was beautifully poached, oozing out as the knife slid into it. All this lay on a bed of bright red Romesco sauce, its garlicky-ness punching through the dish and slightly warming the tongue. I’m going to need to make jars of this sauce at home because now I want to smother it on just about everything. You can tell the asparagus had not travelled far and this is one of the many lovely things about The Bull; they source the highest quality of ingredients of which are predominantly found in UK and try to feature seasonal produce where they can.
Next I had the quinoa grain bowl which was delightfully nutty and earthy. The flaked almonds added crunch and texture and the roast vegetables brought a freshness to the dish, the whole thing felt light and nourishing, yet also comforting. The only thing this could have benefitted from was pickling of the cucumber ribbons on top to add some acidity. But it was still a lovely lunchtime dish nonetheless. We also opted for the king prawn and crab linguine which arrived in a deep bowl and was a generous portion, to say the least. The pasta was al dente and was laden in a pesto sauce which brought a saltiness, a nice contrast to the fresh tomatoes and seafood. The Bull didn’t skimp on the prawns and crab and so we didn’t have to rummage around to find them. It really felt like a proper seafood dish with the right balance.
We were undeniably full by this point, but everyone knows there’s a separate stomach for dessert.
So, we gracefully accepted the offer to look at the pudding menu and each ordered something. I opted for the coconut pannacotta which was smooth and silky and melted in the mouth. This was accompanied by the most delicious passionfruit sorbet I’ve ever tasted. The passionfruit seeds that were sprinkled on top burst and exploded in the mouth like little bombs of flavour.
We also ordered the dark and white chocolate mousse. It was so delicate and airy yet rich and indulgent at the same time. The honeycomb ice cream worked well with this as it was sweet and made the whole thing less bitter. It reminded us of a levelled-up crunchie and made us feel nostalgic. We polished these off with coffees from the Honeycomb House blend which had delicious velvety notes of chocolate and nuts.
The space, the service, and the food were impeccable.
We both agreed that we’d return on our own time and bring family and friends here. The people working here couldn’t have done more to make us feel welcomed and comfortable! All the hard graft and effort that has gone into the renovation has definitely paid off and I have no doubt that this will not only be a haven for those living in Henley, but will bring in people from all over to enjoy.
The Bull on Bell Street
57-59 Bell St, Henley-on-Thames RG9 2BA