The Bull at Great Totham is one of those Essex country gastro pubs that you wish you'd known about years ago. Being an Essex-dweller myself, I'm always on the look out for a great gastro pub that doesn't involve me taking a train journey into the city. There's nothing quite like hopping in the car, throwing the convertible roof down and enjoying some local(ish) fare.
We went for a great Sunday lunch and even took our 11 month old baby along for the ride, which is a bit of a feat of engineering I’m never too keen on. But the staff were very welcoming of families and little nippers and a high chair was summoned. My daughter tucked into a very bland looking jar of baby food while we tucked into a very tasty Sunday lunch.
The Willow Room is the name for the fancy part of the pub but the same food is served. We sat in the pub bit and with the fire going and the bar within grabbing distance, we settled down for some top nosh.
We started with some excellent potted shrimps, which started hubby on a debate about whether they should have been hot or cold. They were cold. Accompanied by some crunchy English muffins, hubby requested much more on the crunchy carbs front as there wasn’t enough to spread the shrimp over.
I had chicken liver parfait, which was excellently soft and accompanied well by toasted brioche and plum chutney for a really good mix of flavour.
We both plumped for the Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding with a mix of veg. The beef was beautifully cooked and very thinly sliced. It went down a treat. Sadly the Yorkshires could have been softer. They were too crunchy to eat and I mourned their loss greatly as I’m a Yorkshires fan born and bred.
Other delights on the menu included haunch of venison and béarnaise sauce and caramelised shallot tarte tatin.
The hubby opted for spiced plum fool and shortbread and it was sweet with a hint of sharpness in the right places. I am a stickler for chocolate puddings with an element of stickiness to them to I went for Hot chocolate mousse, salted caramel ripple ice cream and honeycomb . The mouse was just perfect and exploded with oozing chocolate. The salted caramel ice cream was the particular highlight and I swirled my pudding around it about a dozen times before each mouthful; perfection.
Top Tip: Go for Sunday lunch, but go for the early sitting. The car park was rammo so you want to get there nice and early to enjoy a tipple before your meal.
By Lorna Strickland-Cook