Great Pub Grub at the Bull Inn
I love a good pizza, so when the opportunity came up to visit The Pizza Pub it was a no-brainer.
Situated just north of Henfield, it is about a 20-minute drive from Brighton. Family-friendly, dog-friendly, just all round friendly, it’s no surprise this a popular pub. We were greeted by the lovely Toni, whose infectious smile and genuine warmth put us in a good mood before we’d even sat down. In fact, all the staff were great and the pub had a really cosy, relaxed vibe. We were sat near one of two open fires, which was just the ticket on a cold autumn day, and our dogs (one of whom is not terribly lovable) were fussed over and supplied with a big bowl of water.
The décor is traditional but not stuffy, with bare brick walls and wooden floors and furniture including the odd re-purposed church pew. It was well lit and there were candles and a little potted flowering plant on each table and, when we went, it was decked out for Christmas so was especially festive and sparkly. The music was audible enough to add a little extra atmosphere without making it difficult to hold a conversation. There is a big beer garden with a children’s play area for those summer months, a function room for private parties and even, apparently, a skittle alley!
Lots of choice
As soon as we were settled we ordered a large Pinot Grigio and a pint of Harveys and set to perusing the menu. Stone-baked pizzas are what it’s all about here and there is a great selection to choose from. However, if you don’t see exactly what you want on the menu then you can create your own or if you’re torn between two then you can opt for a half and half. Don’t panic if pizza’s not your thing though, as the “Donta Lika Pizza” section also includes pasta, salads, burgers and meat and fish dishes and don’t forget to check out the specials board. There are a couple of vegetarian options and a dedicated children’s menu and, if you’re lucky enough to live nearby, they also provide a take-away service.
For his starter, Andrew decided to go for the homemade chicken liver and brandy pâté. The pâté was rich and smooth and served with plenty of lightly toasted brown bread and a generous amount of butter, with a fresh, crisp, side salad and little pot of crunchy, tangy, red onion chutney.
I had the crispy potato skins with melted mozzarella and bacon, which were served with a sour cream dip. The potatoes were lovely and fluffy with crispy skin, topped with stringy mozzarella and pieces of salty bacon. Scrummy dipped in the cool, refreshing, sour cream. It was very moreish but I can’t help thinking it would have even been better with a good strong cheddar instead, especially as I knew I was going to be getting plenty of mozzarella on my pizza.
A barbecued rack of ribs is one of Andrew’s absolute favourites so it didn’t take him long to find it on the menu. The meat was succulent and fall-off-the-bone tender and was coated in a rich, dark, glossy, sticky, bbq sauce, which was sweet and smoky. The ribs came with a good portion of crispy, golden, French fries and a healthy dollop of crunchy, sweet, creamy coleslaw.
I decided to try the hot and spicy pizza; pepperoni, spicy ground beef, fresh chillies, jalapeños, onion, mozzarella, freshly ground pepper and tomato sauce. The pizza dough was a little different to your traditional pizza, slightly lighter and softer with a hint of sweetness, but it was still delicious, with fantastically crispy base and edges. In fact, I’d have to say, it was dangerously easy to eat. Thankfully I went for a small (9”) which filled a good-sized dinner plate and was a perfect portion.
I was gratified to find that my pizza was good and fiery, as promised, with plenty of jalapenos and red chillies. There were just the right amount of yummy toppings and they were perfectly cooked, with the slices of sweet onion still retaining a bit of crunch. A serious grinding of black pepper finished it off perfectly. Perhaps not the most “authentic” Italian pizza I’ve ever had but still hand made with love and properly tasty!
For pud, Andrew pipped for another firm favourite, an honest to goodness fruit crumble, juicy, stewed apples and raspberries with a sweet crunchy topping sitting in a veritable moat of, if I am not mistaken, Devon’s ambrosia custard, he was a very happy boy.
I had a chocolate and nut sundae and was also a happy camper. A traditional sundae glass filled with chocolate ice cream topped with an utterly obscene amount of whipped cream, chocolate sauce and crunchy, toasted, slightly salty nuts. Accompanied by a decadent glass of Baileys, because, well, why not?
Colour me stuffed, I thought, as I said my goodbyes and wrestled the dogs to the car!
In summary, it was proper tasty, unfussy, comfort food eaten in lovely surroundings, served by lovely folk.