After Hours: Upscale details, meals separate the Olde Bull
Stars and Stripes June 20, 2007
BARTON MILLS — There’s something about the image of an actual aging bull that makes the Olde Bull Inn seem sort of inviting.
It suggests a certain languor at an old, overgrown farm, lamplight and dark ale next to a warm fire. And steak.
There’s no shortage of the latter at the combination inn, restaurant and pub just off the A11 in Barton Mills, a mile or two from RAFs Lakenheath and Mildenhall. It’s a slightly more upscale version of each kind of establishment, with waitstaff in black-and- white uniforms, folded napkins in the restaurant and a classier feel than is typical of a pub-grub-and-lager venue.
The most telling details are in the menu, where prices for meals edge into the 7- to 10- pounds range for standards, such as burgers, pies or bangers and mash, and the Brussels pate is on the appetizer list.
Its “fine dining” section brings the beef into play, with no less than three steak dishes leading the charge, bearing names such as “stuffed filleted steak,” which comes packed with Stilton cheese, or the surf and turf — a steak filled with shrimp.
Rack of lamb, beef stroganoff, chicken supreme — they’re items not normally found on a local’s list of dishes, and the extra sophistication will cost you a little more. Dishes in the “fine dining” section run from about 10 pounds to a little more than 17 pounds.
If it’s drinking you’re after, however, the Olde Bull has plenty of selections in the Bull Dog Bar, where four types of real ale are on tap, supplemented by lagers, Guinness and even a Coors Light tap.
An expansive establishment with 14 rooms for rent, the Olde Bull is laid out like an old coach station, in a horseshoe arrangement with a central courtyard now used for outdoor dining.
And while the Bull may be Olde, the place is due for some new features in the coming months and years, said new owner Cheryl Hickman.
Hickman and husband Wayne took over management of the Bull in May, after separate careers in local government work and asbestos removal. The first thing to get a revamp will be the kitchen, Cheryl Hickman said, where there’ll soon be a new chef and a new menu, though the fare will continue to be “proper, honest English food.”
Other changes are planned for the decor of some of the restaurant, pub and entry areas, and events such as quiz nights may be in the works. Their first live-music event will be July 7 with the band Rebel Rebel. The Sunday carvery will continue in the meantime, she said.
For a slightly more cultivated experience than the average corner pub in the towns around Mildenhall, but with standard items still on tap and on the menu, the Olde Bull can serve.
The Olde Bull Inn
Location: The Street, Barton Mills, MildenhallFood: Full menu with burgers, a barbecue grill section, appetizers and a “fine dining” portion.Drinks: Four ales on tap (Ale fresco, two Adnams, and Greene King IPA) plus Caffrey’s, John Smiths, Guinness and a suite of lagers.Ambience/clientele: At a recent lunch were an elderly couple, a daily-regular retiree, two middle- age couples and a pair of men in ties, served by waitresses in black and white.Web site:www.bullinn-bartonmills.com.