Restaurant reviews - The Bull's Head, Mobberley
PUBLISHED: 20:46 11 July 2012 | UPDATED: 21:37 20 February 2013
The 19th century Bull's Head in Mobberley is gimmick-free and no frills, offering good food and drinks in unpretentious fashion. And therein lies its charm REVIEW BY RAY KING
Cheshire Lifes restaurant reviews are conducted incognito. We book and pay for meals as ordinary diners do, so as to experience the same treatment as any member of the public.
If we are ever guests of a hotel or restaurant, the review will mention that.
1812 and all that...the United States declared war on Britain; Prime Minister Spencer Perceval was assassinated in the Lobby of the House of Commons and Napoleon began his retreat from Moscow, commemorated 70 years later by Tchaikovskys famous 1812 Overture. Oh yes, and the Bulls Head opened in Mobberley.
I first came across this elongated village, strung out for a couple of miles along the back road between Alderley Edge and Knutsford as a young child living on the other side of Manchester. Mobberleys horse chestnut trees provided a treasure trove of the finest conkers.
As one gets older, however, one gets to appreciate the place for other reasons, not least for its treasure trove of welcoming pubs, each helpfully signposted from the main road (apart from the Bird in Hand, that is, which IS on the main road).
Tucked away down leafy lanes are the Church Inn, the Frozen Mop and, almost opposite each other in Mill Lane, The Roebuck, which sadly closed in March on the expiry of the lease, and the Bulls Head.
It looks like fortunes have been reversed in Mill Lane, for when the Roebuck was in its pomp some years ago, the Bulls Head was, in the words of its new owners, a dying pub. Not any longer:both the pub and its pretty terrace garden, given a new Dunham Massey, Tatton and Weetwood with produces house specialities Mobberley Wobbly Ale and Bulls Head Bitter.
There are also 65 whiskies on offer, a decent wine list and a Great British (pub) Menu thats a far cry from the Olympian flights of fancy featured in the BBCs latest television series of that name. The fare, much of it produced from locally sourced ingredients, is as traditional as comfort food gets and served in decent portions. The style, though the dishes vary, is now shared with the Cholmondeley Arms, which is under the same ownership.
I began in the simplest fashion with wild mushrooms sauted with white wine and a touch of cream and served on crusty toast (5.25); uncomplicated and tasty. Mrs K opened in similar rustic style with warm Cheshire smoked duck salad with soused cherries (6.75). The duck was pink, delicious and plentiful and the attention to detail, despite the simplicity of the dish, saw the mixed leaves drizzled with an excellent mustard dressing and crunchy walnuts hiding in the undergrowth
with those lovely cherries.
Main course choice features the likes of slow-cooked stew, cod with cannellini beans, lamb shank casserole and the legendary hand-raised homemade steak and Wobbly Ale pie and chips. The sausages for the sausages and mash come from the Rhug estate near Corwen, owned since the 1700s by the prominent Wynn family (the Lords Newborough) with which Mrs K claims ancestral links.
Just thought Id throw that in because despite the alleged history, she didnt go for the S&M (sausage and mash! I mean, really!), but chose instead grilled free range pork chops with melted Cheshire cheese, apple and cider sauce, chips and red cabbage (12.95). It was a monster portion and, having enjoyed one tender chop, slipped the second quietly into a makeshift doggy bag for later; I, faced with my 10oz prime 28-day aged rib-eye steak, chips and vine tomatoes (19.95), was in no position to help out.
The steak, sourced from Quality Assured farms across Lancashire and Yorkshire, was very good indeed: tender and full of flavour under its knob of tarragon and shallot butter, and the chips were exemplary. To finish (or, as they put it, to take the Bull by the horns we shared old English sticky toffee pudding enlivened by a slug of one of those many whiskies and a scoop of good vanilla ice cream (5).
We drank a fresh, zippy Chilean sauvignon blanc (15.50) and I followed up with a glass of compatriot merlot (3.95) with my steak.
The Bulls Head, Mill Lane, Mobberley WA16 7HX. Tel: 01565 873395. www.thebullsheadpub.co.uk