Easily spotted opposite Christchurch cathedral by its colourful facade, the Bull and Castle is a medieval style timber-beamed and stone-floored ‘gastro pub’ with various ground floor seating areas, and a more open plan ‘Beer Hall’ - complete with tables stretching almost the length of the room – above.
Both sections, however, offer a very wide choice of food and beers.
Although visitors expecting the high food standards associated with the English ‘gastro pub’ could be a little disappointed, the menu offers a wider selection than typical ‘pub grub’, and is of good quality.
With daily specials and various set menus offered during the day, and also bar snacks such as chicken wings, all combinations and sizes of meals are possible.
Typically, Irish dishes such as a reasonably priced beef and Guinness pie or lamb stew are well prepared and presented, but there is something for everyone on the wide-ranging menu including steaks from the FXB butchers and restaurants chain (of which the Bull and Castle is a member).
However the real appeal of this establishment is its oustanding choice of beers, including cask conditioned (i.e. delivered to the pub and served from the very casks in which the beer was conditioned), beers from Irish ‘micro-breweries’, and international beers ranging from classic commercial German Weissbeers to artisan Belgium fruit beers.
Mainstream beers, Irish and international, are also available, as is a reasonable selection of whiskeys (including a tasting tray) and of wines.
Some foods are paired with suggested beers on the back of the menu - a good idea that encourages people to try unusual beers.
Helpful and well-informed staff have a good knowledge of the beer list, so the best course of action is to discuss your preferences and enquire about the beers available or suggested, remembering that special beers which may not be on the main menu are offered each month.
Service is friendly but, in keeping with the pub environment, less formal, and perhaps less efficient for food service than in other more structured restaurants.
Reservations may be necessary at weekends during the summer.