The Bull on Bell Street has reopened after a stunning refurbishment that is set to make it the top spot in town for al fresco dining and drinking this summer and beyond.
The makeover, devised by Brakspear’s in-house design team, has created a large outdoor space behind the pub, now called The Courtyard. With luxuriant plantings, a water feature, outdoor fireplace and plenty of relaxed furniture, it’s ideal for chilling out in the sunshine and, thanks to the new retractable roof (which closes in just 15 secs!), the al fresco fun can continue – whatever the weather!
Inside, a beautiful and warm colour palette of sage green and coral tones are used across the painted woodwork, bold floral and botanical wallpapers and soft furnishings. Plants and flowers are placed throughout, and particularly in the Conservatory, creating a seamless link between indoor and outdoor spaces.
A rowing boat, paddles and nautical stripes are a nod to Henley’s rowing heritage, while designs featuring bees and honeycombs are a reference to Honeycomb Houses, the group of Brakspear managed pubs to which The Bull belongs.
With the new design comes a new all day dining offer, with a selection of tempting dishes for every occasion, produced from top quality ingredients sourced primarily from the UK. From opening at 10.00 am, there’s a tasty Brunch menu that offers a great start to any day. Later, main courses include steaks, fish, burgers and sourdough pizzas, as well as vegetarian dishes, while lighter options include salads, filled ciabattas and sharing boards. A changing specials board offers a selection of dishes created from seasonal ingredients, while the Sunday Roast menu offers four meat and one veggie options. Children can choose from their own menu, and keep busy with an activity pack.
We were invited to have lunch last week and my guest and I enjoyed the rosemary and garlic studded signature baked camembert to share to start with which came with a delicious red onion marmalade (a perfect accompaniment) and a large, warm, light and airy tearing brioche. Our main courses we chose were the King Prawn & Crab Linguine and the Avocado and Sourdough Toast. The Linguine again was a generous portion and came with a plentiful amount of prawns and a flavoursome tomato, pesto, shallots, garlic and white wine sauce. The sourdough toast was crunchy, loaded with two large fresh poached eggs that were cooked perfectly and ran when you cut into them and the tomato salsa with chive and olive oil complemented the dish well. The desserts didn’t disappoint either. We chose the Coconut Cream Panna Cotta which was really smooth, light and you could really taste the coconut and it was topped with a passion fruit coulis, oat crumb and was accompanied by mango sorbet. Our other dessert was the Belgian dark & white chocolate layered mousse cake which was sublime. The mousse and cake was light and airy and the ‘cherry on the cake’ was the large shards of delicious honeycomb. It also came served with honeycomb ice cream and chocolate sauce.
Coffee lovers will love the new Honeycomb Houses blend, created by artisan coffee experts Wogan Coffee. A delicious and invigorating 100% Arabica blend with notes of chocolate, sugar and hints of fruit and berries, it doesn’t just taste great, it’s also doing good, thanks to a partnership with Teach a Man to Fish, a charity equipping young people in the developing world with vital life skills.
Celebrations at The Bull just got better, with a new private dining room that’s perfect for birthdays, anniversaries or other special occasions, as well as business meetings or dinners. With stunning floral decor, exposed beams and feature furniture, the room can accommodate up to 22 guests.
Guests wanting to stay overnight after an evening at The Bull can book into The Doll’s House, a townhouse behind the pub with four boutique bedrooms and its own garden terrace – ideal for a lazy breakfast. Further accommodation is opening this summer in The Old Coach House, with five bedrooms and a secret back door entrance into the pub.
Live acoustic music will take place in The Bull regularly, with a new baby grand piano in the bar area ready for some of the talented performers set to entertain guests.
The Bull’s general manager Jeremy Du Plessis said: “We’re delighted with the makeover, especially the new Courtyard, which we think is the best al fresco space in Henley. The new interior looks sensational and the menu takes our food and drink offer up to a new level.
“The Bull is now a haven, away from the bustling High Street, offering guests a unique space to enjoy brunch, coffee, a bite to eat, a pint after work or a special occasion meal. It’s a great place to chill out with friends, or bring your laptop and work from our beautiful space instead of your home for a change.
“The whole team, including the new members who have joined for the reopening, have gone through extensive training on the new menus and customer service, so guests can be sure they’ll have an amazing time with us.”