Saturday 18 April 2009

The Bull Hotel, Bridport, Dorset

Housed in a fine early Victorian building, the Bull Hotel is a stylish inn with an elegant function room upstairs. Although its upmarket cooking isn't really in keeping with the charity shops and chain stores of Bridport, on a weekday evening, the Bull still pulls in enough punters to muster a buzz. Inside, much of the furniture and many of the walls are white, broken up by the occasional panel of swirling wallpaper, the odd duff print on the walls and modern sofa benches in the bar area. If you want some privacy, head for the table with sofas and cushions enclosed in an alcove.

Cooking of the highest order
A squadron of well-trained girls run the bar, which has the pleasant malty Otter Ale (£3 a pint) on tap, and wait on the tables. They bring over three varieties of mouthwatering speciality bread rolls, served with a choice of pesto and olive flavoured butter. The modern European menu has a heavy emphasis on fish and varies according to the day's catch. The well-presented hake fillet (£14.50), served with cabbage, a cassoulet of beans and chorizo in a creamy sauce with a quirky topping of guacamole, is a rich and delicious combination - cooking of the highest order. Chive mash, chips, green beans and other side orders are available for £2.50 apiece. The kids' main courses (£4.50) are generally good value with the exception of the small bowl of fresh pasta awash with pesto. Much more substantial is the fine fish in batter accompanied by piles of skinny chips and peas. For £2.50, the kids can also get three scoops of excellent ice cream or sorbet in appealing flavours such as cherry or pistachio. 8/10