Tel: +44 (0)20 8819 8903
Address: Unit 1033, Westfield Shopping Centre, W12 7SL
Cuisine Type: British
Geronimo Inns must be one of the fastest growing pub chains of late. They opened their first venture in 1995 and now have 26 pubs across London, plus a couple more in the Country. Their philosophy is ‘great food in delicious surroundings’ but they’re careful to call themselves ‘food pubs’ rather than jump on the gastropub bandwagon.
It’s a name much more fitting of their simple menus of British favourites, which it’s nice to see varies from pub to pub. The Bull is one of the newcomers, as pristine and shiny as is fitting for its location on a terrace surrounding the mammoth, dazzling designer maze that is Westfield in Shepherd’s Bush.
On entering, first impressions are that the central circular bar, grey wood walls and wall-hugging benches are on the one hand stylish, but on the other just a bit too Wetherspoons. Prejudices aside, there’s an impressive buzz for a mid-week evening, even without any sport being shown on their plasmas, and a friendly local-pub kind of an atmosphere – something I wouldn’t have expected given its location.
So, in the pub and on to drinks. All the usual beers, spirits and soft drinks are in place, but the wine list is where it gets quite impressive. The Bull’s menu details around 40 bottles of white, red, rose, and sparkling, grouped by style and many with helpfully descriptive tasting notes. All but a very few are available by the glass, while prices range from around £13 a bottle up to £50 a bottle, but with most very reasonable at under the £20 mark.
Pubby and predominantly British, the food menu offers an eclectic choice spanning roasts, sandwiches, burgers and pasta. Starters range from £5 – £6 and feature generous (sometimes quite un-starterly) portions of macaroni cheese, eggs Benedict and chicken liver pate. Equally tempting, though, are the bar snacks on offer. These range from olives to oysters and include some surprisingly delicious crab rarebit soldiers – literally crabby cheese on toast.
Main courses are again pleasingly hefty, though strangely all seem to come served on wooden boards – even when gravy’s involved. If style rules in the crockery stakes, though, the food itself is all substance. Half pot-roast chicken (£10.50) is tender and juicy and comes accompanied by ultra-crispy roast potatoes as well as a jug of gravy. It’s nothing showy, just homely comfort food done well. A Grilled Dexter burger (£10.50) follows suit. The quality of the beef is clear, and the accompanying chips are crisp and fluffy – proper chips rather than fries. Though a selection of salad and vegetables are available as sides for £2.50, the dishes are all self-complete so there’s no obligation. In fact, in the name of sampling the impressive array of puddings, it may be best to stay clear!
Chocolate brownie tart (£5) is dense and indulgent, made with dark chocolate and accompanied by a scoop of chocolate ice-cream. A treacle sponge and custard (£5) is a tad lighter, but generously steeped in golden syrup. A large jug full of custard is a necessity with a sponge but so often lacking in restaurants, but The Bull’s homemade, vanilla-rich custard is a definite triumph and a fitting way to round off a large and hearty meal.
I couldn’t imagine anyone leaving The Bull anything but full and content – it’s a proper pub, but with food a notch above standard pub fare. Don’t be put off because it’s a chain, there really isn’t a J or a D in sight…