The Bull at Burford Bulletin
23 Aug 2018
New menu of delights for the autumn
In my last Bull Bulletin I celebrated the fact that the Bull at Burford had been welcoming guests as a Cotswold inn since 1610! This time is slightly less grandiose but I wanted to let everyone know that our head chef Pablo has published a new menu this week, featuring many of the old favourites as well as some new wonderful dishes.
So what would I eat? A couple of my favourites from the lunch menu would be the sharing platter of whitebait, bravas, crispy aubergines and chicken skewers and also the fish platter of smoked salmon, dressed crayfish, pickled herring, mackerel pate, smoked gravlax and salmon tartare.
A lot of our lunchtime eaters go for the fish and chips, which is excellent with homemade tartare and chunky chips, and also the selection of sandwiches, which are all served with mixed leaves and also French fries.
On the dinner menu, among the starters I love the fish platter, which I could eat every day, the scallops and the beef cheek croquettes and from the mains I often go for the fresh fish, which comes in from Brixham every day.
Something a bit special
If I were to go for something a bit different, especially as the autumn draws in, it would be the venison which is wonderful. The steak is always good too and we’ve had great compliments about the curry, although I must admit that I’m not a big curry eater so I just smell the lovely aroma as it wafts past.
I’m not a big dessert eater either, but we get compliments on those all of the time! In fact someone ordered three last week!
What I can guarantee is that there is something to suit everyone’s taste and budget, including gluten free and vegetarian options right through the menu, which we’re also proud of.
We look forward to welcoming you in our bar, reception lounge or restaurant, or even outside if the sun comes out again. And remember, you can get even better value on our food by taking us up on one of our Cotswold Special Offers and our Burford dinner bed and breakfast rates.
25 Jul 2018
Celebrating 408 years of history at the Bull
I find reviews fascinating. The vast majority of people who come and stay with us know what they’re going to get: a warm friendly welcome, great service, accommodation comfortably in the 3-star bracket, lovely food probably a bit above that and the odd creaky floor befitting a building first officially documented in 1473! Their reviews of the Bull and of Burford are based very much on those expectations.
Every now and then we welcome a guest who is clearly more used to ‘modern’ than ‘historic’! Usually they leave days later totally won over by the charms of our historic coaching inn, but for others floors and walls simply need to be at a right angle, and I can’t do anything for them!
Did you know: we moved in 1610!
I recently stumbled over some historical dates and information and thought I’d share them. A house is first documented at 105 High Street from 1473, when the prominent Burford merchant John Pinnock left it first to his son and granddaughter, and then to the parish church.
Having been used during the reformation as a butcher’s shop, in 1610 John Silvester moved the existing Bull Inn from 111–113 High Street to 105 High Street and set about renovating certain parts of the building, including the 17th-century fireplaces and panelling.
So as an inn, the building has been receiving guests ever since 1610 – that’s 408 years! Famous visitors have included Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton (the Trafalgar Suite is named in memory of their stay) as well as King Charles II and his mistress Nell Gwynne. And a few more in recent years.
The only red brick building in Burford
The striking brick and stone façade (the Bull is the only red brick building in Burford High Street) was added in the 18th century, probably around 1715 by the innkeeper William Tash. Half a century later, in 1768, £196 was spent on further building work.
The inn was sold by the charity trustees in or after 1820 and by 1910 was owned by Clinch & Co. of Witney. The building suffered a fire in 1982 but it remained open as an inn until it was condemned for fire and safety reasons in 2007, at which point we bought it and took on and completed a major renovation project!
Nine years after we re-opened it, the Bull is now once more a thriving inn with a friendly welcome, comfortable rooms, wonderful food and happy guests. But remember, no building over 600 years old doesn’t have the odd squeaky floor!
20 Jun 2018
Remembering Fawlty Towers and a terrine to die for
This time of year always reminds me of Fawlty Towers and the Wooburn Grange in Buckinghamshire. Not many people know that the outside of the hotel used in the famous sitcom was not in Torquay but the Wooburn Grange, and at the time I was manager there!
This little quirk of history recently produced a funny moment for my oldest son while working at a sporting event. Standing by the side of a pitch, he was chatting with the television floor manager Tony about his first jobs in TV. Tony was about my age and explained that one of his first jobs in the 1970s had been on Fawlty Towers for the BBC.
He and a few of his colleagues turned up at the venue, the Grange, on the wrong day and were greeted by a young Frenchman who offered them a drink and explained it was no problem still to take a look around. After telling this story, Tony was amazed when my son replied: “Tony, that Frenchman was my dad!”
It was early on in my career, having only recently arrived from France, and I still remember back very fondly to those times, especially in the spring and summer months. Fortunately, none of the Fawlty Towers chaos rubbed off, BUT guests who stay with us and eat in the restaurant will sometimes talk with our head chef Pablo and get to sample his English accent, which is a little reminiscent of Manuel, Andrew Sachs’ immortalised waiter from Fawlty Towers!
Pablo’s Recipe & Top Tip
For this Bulletin, Pablo has offered up one of his favourite recipes, his salmon and crayfish terrine currently on our menu, and don’t miss the top tip: these ingredients will make a terrine to serve 12. Once you’ve put the ingredients together and made the terrine, the magic tip is to leave it in the fridge for at least eight hours before serving and eating. Happy cooking.
• 300g crayfish, sliced
• 200g fresh spinach
• 15g unsalted butter
• freshly ground black pepper
• 200g salmon fillet, cooked and flaked
• 200g prawns, cooked and chopped
• zest of 1 lemon
• 3 tablespoons lemon juice
• 3 pinches cayenne pepper
• 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
• salt to taste
• 4 level teaspoons powdered gelatine or use 4 or 5 sheets of gelatine
• 250ml double cream
Amazing Summer Deals
Remember to check out our amazing deals on mid-week stays and Sunday Lunch-Sleep-Breakfast, plus unbeatable prices for B&B and Dinner B&B.
08 Jun 2018
Summer specials at the Bull
We’re entering into a really busy part of the year when the Cotswolds area, including Burford, receives thousands upon thousands of visitors. The staff really enjoy this as there’s nothing better than a busy hotel and our Manager Kali and Head Chef Pablo have put together two really great offers, both of which have hidden benefits!
The Sunday Stroll
I love this deal and wish other hotels would do it. Arrive at the Bull for a delicious Sunday lunch, with the additional benefit of an early check-in. If you feel up to it you can then head out for a walk in the country – and remember dogs are very much allowed and welcome at the Bull.
Then come back to us in time for a light evening meal, for which you receive a voucher towards the cost. Then a good night’s sleep and a delicious breakfast on Monday morning to set you up for the week! At £74.50 per person, based on two sharing, I think this is a great deal on a standard room, or you can upgrade to a superior for a little more.
3-night Midweek break
If you want something a little longer, and can get away during the week, our three-night stay could be just for you. This is available from Sunday to Thursday assuming three consecutive nights stay, bed and breakfast, with TWO nights’ dinner included in our restaurant or bar. And to get things off to the best possible start, you also have champagne on arrival.
Knowing how good our food is, from £199 per person for the three nights including the two dinner allowances, I think this is great value and again I wish more hotels would do something like it!
Book one of these offers now! We hope to see you soon.
Jean-Marie Lauzier, owner, Bull at Burford
24 Apr 2018
5-star guests leaving 5-star reviews
I am very proud of our staff, who work very hard to make your stay at the Bull as comfortable, enjoyable and delicious as possible, so naturally it’s extremely gratifying for all of us to hear that you’ve had a great time.
In the past week, for example, we’ve had a review by ‘Inspector1’ (whose name immediately got the pulse racing) who announced on Tripadvisor that he had enjoyed “an excellent stay at The Bull” and wrote of “a pleasantly warm and well equipped room. A hearty dinner, too, followed by a substantial breakfast. A quintessentially English experience!”
Another guest from Wales wrote: “So glad we chose the Bull. Weather was not so good but room was warm, welcoming and very comfortable. Bathroom had warm towel rails with huge fluffy white towels, lovely toiletries. Meals were exceptional especially the breakfasts which had such a variety of choices, one of the best we’ve ever had.” That was nice to read as we pride ourselves on our breakfast.
“Worth the drive from Yorkshire every time”
Trudy from Birmingham commented: “Can’t recommend the hotel highly enough. Lovely old room with bathroom, excellent restaurant and friendly, helpful staff.” Trudy, I must apologise if the central heating sounded like a ‘motorbike’ at times – thanks for letting us know, we will definitely look into it!
Meanwhile, on Facebook (where we average 4.7 out of 5 in reviews) Faith Harvey recently wrote: “Our favourite place. We keep coming back here because of the amazing staff and service, as always. Worth the drive from Yorkshire every time.” We are extremely proud and pleased to have so many return guests, and many are taking advantage of our special spring offers.
Reviews like these warm the heart and also make us want to improve even more. We don’t turn a blind eye to the occasional negative comment: parking is at a premium at the rear of the hotel, as pointed out by some reviewers, but in 99% of cases this is easily overcome, either by parking on the street outside the hotel or in the free public car park a couple of hundred yards away.
And finally this time, as a dog lover, I can confirm that we DO welcome dogs at the Bull and our charge of £10 per night for a dog to stay is relatively low compared with other hotels. Understandably, dog are not allowed in the restaurant, however we can always set our guests up to dine in our bar, which has recently undergone another transformation!
We look forward to welcoming you at the Bull – we have a number of special offers currently on for staying and eating, which you can only book direct through our website. Please take a look, get in touch with our friendly staff and hopefully you’ll be the next to leave us a 5-star review!
One last thing: for all our latest offers and news, sign up to our newsletter.
Jean-Marie Lauzier, Owner
08 Mar 2018
A perfect Cotswold Mother’s Day treat
I have just been reliably informed by our manager Kali that we still have a few tables spare for Mother’s Day, which can only mean that not enough people have heard about our special menu!
Head Chef Pablo has just changed the dinner menu for springtime, and at the same time he came up with a lovely Mothering Sunday menu, either two or three courses. You can take it from me that any of these choices will leave you – and more importantly your mother, daughter, wife, grand-mother etc – extremely happy with whatever you eat.
And for an extra-special experience, why not treat that special person to a night away too?
For this, you can either ring us up on 01993 822220 and ask about availability for the Saturday and/or Sunday night (I’m sure our reception staff will also do you a good package including the Sunday lunch), OR you can look at the Sunday Stroller that we already have in our current special offers.
If it were me, I would start with the fantastic fish platter, which I wrote about in my last Bulletin, and then I’d either go for the salmon or the pork. Or maybe the chicken, or the beef. Or the risotto! And I am not really a pudding person so would go for the cheese board, but all the desserts are made in the kitchen and absolutely delicious.
Make sure you ring soon or you’ll miss the last few tables..
24 Feb 2018
The perfect spring starter
I love Burford in the springtime. The trees, shrubs and hanging baskets that line a large part of the high street come into full bloom and the hustle bustle returns to the town.
Outside the hotel our tables and chairs become very popular with people wanting to stop by for a morning coffee, lunch or a drink from the bar and the whole place just starts to feel alive again.
In the kitchen it also typically brings a new emphasis and our head chef Pablo will be bringing out a new menu in the next week or so for lunch and dinner in our restaurant and bar.
One of our more popular starters at this time of year – in fact it’s popular all year round – is the fish platter, pictured above. It’s a lovely combination of flavours: four peeled king prawns cooked in sweet chilli sauce, gravlax, smoked salmon, herring rollmops, red apple, crayfish in marie-rose sauce and tartare sauce.
The two sauces make all the difference so here’s a tip from the kitchen: For the Marie-Rose you need ketchup, mayonnaise, brandy, tabasco and Worcester sauce. And for the tartare, Pablo uses mini capers, smoked salmon, cornichons, gherkins, red onion, mayonnaise and a dash of English mustard. The taste combinations are wonderful and it makes for the perfect spring starter.
Keep you eyes peeled for our new menus and also our latest offers for weekend and midweek stays, with dinners included. Our guests have been raving about them all winter!
05 Dec 2017
Four incredible Winter Warmer offers
It’s been a little while since my last Bull-Bulletin but this is exciting because I bring news!
We have four amazing offers on at the hotel at the moment to warm the cockles through the winter, until the end of March.
2-Night Midweek Winter Warmer – From Sunday to Thursday have two nights in a standard room Bed and Breakfast with a £50 allowance towards one evening meal in our restaurant and a complimentary drink on arrival. All of that for only £199.00 for two people, or upgrade to a superior room for £249.00 for the two of you. I’m interested! >>
3-Night Luxury Midweek stay – If you want a touch of luxury in a Superior room and two full days to explore the surrounding Cotswolds, then this package is for you: three nights’ Bed and Breakfast between Sunday and Thursday with two evening meals in the restaurant allowing you to enjoy even more from our menu (£50 meal allowance). With a bottle of champagne in your room on arrival, this amazing three night, two dinner offer is just £399.00 for 2 people, when you book direct with us through the website. I’m interested >>
Weekend Wonderland – If you want a weekend break that takes care of everything, leaving you to simply relax, then book our Weekend Wonderland: Friday and Saturday night in a Superior room with a delicious dinner both nights (£30.00 per person per day food allowance) and our award-winning breakfast in the morning. £349.00 for two people, or £299.00 if you’re happy with one of our slightly smaller standard rooms. I’m interested >>
Sunday Stroll – I love this offer, it’s the kind of thing I wish I had done more in my life! Picture this: You arrive with us in time to check in to your superior room and join us for a delicious Sunday lunch, followed by a lazy afternoon relaxing in our lounge or bar, or exploring Burford. When you’ve built up enough of an appetite you have £10 per person towards a light evening meal. In the morning there’s one final culinary delight with our award-winning breakfast. All for £159.00 for two people, or £149 if you prefer a smaller standard room. I’m interested >>
All of these offers are only available if you book direct with us through our website and not surprisingly they’re already proving popular so get in there quick!
Our head chef Pablo has also just published new lunch and dinner menus, so you can rest assured that all of the meals are seasonal and utterly delicious.
We look forward to welcoming you to the Bull!
12 Oct 2017
The most perfect fish dish
We’ve had a lot of positive feedback to the last couple of Bull Bulletins where Pablo gave his tips for how to cook a poached egg and how to make a hollandaise sauce, so I thought I’d share one of my favourite recipes from growing up in the south of France.
When I was a young boy in the early 60s my mother (pictured) used to work on the fish market in the middle of Montpellier. It was hugely popular and people came from far and wide to buy their fresh fish.
It’s difficult to believe now, but in those days monkfish was cheap and hardly anybody wanted to cook it. On Saturdays I would often walk all the way to the market to wait for my mother, who’d been there since 05:30, and walk home with her for lunch. I vividly remember her boss often telling her to take some monkfish home for Sunday lunch. Money was tight, so funnily enough we had Monkfish most Sundays!
My mother had developed her own version of ‘Bourride de Lotte’, which did not involve expensive ingredients and was very easy to cook. Obviously these days buying monkfish tails is a bit more expensive, but you’ll never eat a more delicious fish dish so I wanted to share the recipe.
The perfect monkfish recipe
To cook this for four people you’ll need monkfish tails for four people, ideally with the bone in (buy a couple of medium sized pieces of fish per person). And for the all-important sauce you’ll need 6 large tomatoes, 1 large onion, 4 leeks, 4 cloves of garlic, some parsley and a bouquet garni (you can buy these ready-made in the supermarket).
1. Steam the 6 large tomatoes, peel them and cut them up to remove all the grains, then chop them up into small pieces.
2. Finely chop the large onion, the whites of four leeks and four cloves of garlic, and some parsley, equivalent to two full table spoons.
3. Prepare a fresh 2-eggs mayonnaise (do not use shop-bought mayonnaise!) Let me know via a facebook comment if you need help with this and we’ll do it next time!
4. In a large casserole, put a glug of olive oil add first the chopped onions, the leeks and garlic, then the tomatoes and finally the parsley and the bouquet garni.
5. Season all that with salt and pepper and cook on a light heat for 20 minutes, tasting to make sure the seasoning’s right.
6. When this garnish is cooked, add in the fish pieces and cook for a further 20 minutes, again on a low heat, making sure the fish is covered by the sauce. (The monkfish will release quite a bit of water, that’s normal and good!)
7. When cooked, remove the fish, put into a serving dish and keep warm.
8. A little at the time, add your homemade mayonnaise to the sauce and stir in. When the sauce is ready pour over the fish and serve.
Take it from me that this is delicious served quite simply with boiled potatoes – that’s all we had back in those days – and if you want add some large croutons. (For the croutons: take slices of a baguette and cook lightly in olive oil. Not the healthiest addition but delightful with this dish.)
13 Sep 2017
Autumn offers and Pablo’s perfect Hollandaise
August was very busy, which is one reason I haven’t written in a while, and September looks to be the same. With 18 bedrooms that guarantees a lot of hustle bustle at the Bull and our staff love it when the hotel is busy, foremost among them our assistant Kali and head chef Pablo, pictured.
One thing we can never quite set our clock by, though, is how busy the restaurant will be and I have a theory that this comes down to human nature.
Burford is a picture-perfect town in the heart of the Cotswolds. It’s a great place to wander and pass the time and it also offers a lot of different places to eat, so in many ways I can understand why clients sometimes end up ‘eating out’, even if it means they’re missing out on the best food in Burford!
It all comes down to taste of course but I think our food is hard to beat and the dinner, bed and breakfast rate we’re offering is tough to find anywhere else. Click HERE to see what I mean.
Eye for a photo?
One thing we’ve been missing is some nice pictures of the food we serve. Our chef Pablo recently took some photos of a selection of dishes, which are on our Facebook page, but he’s no David Bailey!
So I am offering someone the chance to ‘win’ a meal for two at the Bull, in return for coming in and taking some beautiful photos of Pablo’s best work. If you’re local and a budding photographer – ideally with experience of photographing food – send some examples of your work to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we could invite you and your camera into the kitchen, in return for a meal for two!
Pablo’s Perfect Hollandaise!
Finally, in my last Bulletin I shared our tips for the perfect poached egg. You’ve been asking about the hollandaise sauce to go with it, so here is Pablo’s recipe. Read this with a strong Spanish accent if you can:
1. It all starts with your eggs and I like them to be fresh! Separate two eggs, the whites and yolks into separate bowls.
2. Melt about 100g of unsalted butter in a pan and transfer to a jug.
3. Bring a pan of water to a gentle boil and put the bowl of egg yolks over it, adding a tablespoon of tarragon-infused vinegar and a bit of mustard. Whisk all of that in the pan over the gentle heat.
4. From your jug, add small splashes of butter to the bowl with the yolks, still whisking, until you’ve added all the butter. You should have a smooth sauce?
Some top tips: add a bit of white wine vinegar if the mixture has become too tight. Also, when adding the butter if the mixture starts to split add an ice cube and whisk – this might help! And use the egg whites to make meringues – the kids will love them.
Next time… Bearnaise sauce!