Dining out: Friendly service made us feel like locals

The Bull's Head, Clipston
The Bull's Head, Clipston

The success of a meal out doesn’t just rely on the quality of the food.

It’s about the company, the place and the overall atmosphere, and sometimes a meal at a locals’ pub can be more enjoyable than one in a fancy restaurant.

Ade and I, and our good friends Dave and Alyson, went to the Bull’s Head in Clipston on a Thursday night for a meal, lured by the pub’s reputation for real ale and a friendly atmosphere.

The pub was crammed with people but the staff had time and a smile for everyone, and although it is obviously a pub that has lots of regular customers we were made to feel at home immediately.

After the lads had made the difficult decision of which beer to choose and we’d cleared up the confusion about whether it was pasty or pasta night, we stood and chatted surrounded by the sound of people enjoying themselves, before going to our table.

The menu has starters, tapas, main meals and light bites, and includes pub standards such as fish and chips as well as more “interesting” options.

Dave and Ade opted for the home-made hot smokies for a starter.

This was a generous portion of hot smoked haddock in a cheesy sauce served with bread.

Being something of a bread fiend myself I chose the bruschetta from the tapas menu.

I had been tempted to choose another tapas as well as sometimes they can be small but this came as a large portion of thinly sliced bread with a delicious topping of onions, herbs and feta.

Very moreish and more than big enough to set me up for the main course.

I had been dithering about whether to choose the fish and chips, especially after seeing other diners eating it, as it looked lovely, but in the end I went for the chicken jambalaya from the light bites section.

It was a wonderfully moist, tasty bowlful of rice, chicken and vegetables, with a delicious smoky flavour and just the right size for me.

Dave and Alyson had the Louisiana chicken, which came with chips served in a mini-frying basket, peas and salad.

The chicken had a barbecued sauce and was topped with cheese and got the thumbs up from both Dave and Alyson, although halfway through her meal Alyson was worried she wouldn’t have room for dessert.

Ade decided to have that pub classic gammon, egg and chips.

The gammon came with two fried eggs (he could have had pineapple instead), chips, peas and salad.

Ade said he thought the salad was unnecessary but said the gammon was juicy and tasty, with the eggs cooked just the right side of runny.

After a respectable wait to let our main courses digest, Ade and Alyson were tempted to look at the dessert boards, and then were tempted by what was on offer, Ade having the home-made trifle and Alyson the tiramisu sundae – a mountain of ice cream and sauce.

Both, again, were rated highly.

The Bull’s Head doesn’t aim to be a gastropub, it’s a proper country pub catering for people who appreciate good quality food at a fair price served by charming staff in a friendly atmosphere.

If you’re looking for food with frills, it’s not the place for you.

If you want a companionable night out in a place that is professional yet charming, good value and very friendly, book a table now.

VALUE: Excellent

FOOD: Good quality

SERVICE: Extremely friendly

DISABLED ACCESS: Possible

PARKING: Own car park

COST OF OUR MEAL: £58.95 for the food only

JANET’S STAR RATING: 8/10