The Bull Inn, Limpsfield
This community-owned 16th-century pub is the heart and soul of Limpsfield village life. And with great food, a friendly vibe and super-stylish interiors it's one to add to your list.
The Bull Inn is a 16th century village pub that is very much at the heart of the local community. In fact, it’s pretty much owned by the local community – a group of more than 200 investors who clubbed together to save it from an uncertain future when it was put up for sale towards the end of 2017.
After a brief closure and a massive refurb, the 400-year-old pub reopened just over a year ago with a stylish and sophisticated new decor and a renewed purpose as a prime pitstop for a bite to eat or a pint and a ponder.
The 16th-century pub is in the middle of the High Street in Limpsfield, a largely medieval village between Oxted in Surrey and Westerham in Kent. The village itself is a mix of timber-framed cottages dating from Norman times, classic Georgian village houses and beautiful Arts and Crafts homes.
There’s a small carpark adjacent to the pub, but it fills up quickly. Other than that there’s a small amount of parking on the narrow high street, or just around the corner on Detillens Lane.
From the outside this Grade II listed pub is a traditional coaching inn. Step through the front door though, and the interiors wouldn’t look out of place in London all stylish mid-century furnishings in velvet and leather, walls peppered with cool and quirky art and kitch knick-knacks dotted around. It’s the height of grown-up, glamorous and fun. But this hip hangout isn’t just the preserve of adults – there’s cool relaxed vibe and families are welcome.
There are four rooms which flow throughout the ground floor – and the Insta-worthy decor flows right along with it. The main front door leads into a bar area, which flows into the main restaurant area and beyond that are two adjoining lounge areas. There are also private dining rooms upstairs in two adjacent rooms called the Pink Room and the Blue Room, which can be hired for meetings or private functions, as well as the Grain Store, a beautifully converted barn. Outside is a decked area which has heated umbrellas.
SCOFF & QUAFF
The menu here is an interesting mix of pub classics like fish and chips, burgers and fish pie, as well as more fancy options like beetroot gnocchi, guinea fowl with wild mushrooms, liver parfait and celeriac puree, and venison fillet with truffled Jerusalem artichoke gratin, girolles and cavallo nero. And the price points – ranging from £12 to £28 – makes it a versatile pub in terms of dining. Want a fancy date-night meal? No problem – there’s plenty of choice. Looking for a quick mid-week dinner because you can’t be bothered cooking – plenty of well-priced options here too.
It’s a very tempting menu – I struggled to choose between the sharing platters and the starters menu. In the end, the non-sharing option won out and I went for the lobster and scallop ravioli with lobster bisque and sea-herb and parmesan crisp. The bisque was rich and lovely, and balanced well with the seafood ravioli which had much lighter flavours. Mr M chose the Silent Pool cured salmon tartar with a tonic gel and dill mayonnaise. Big thumbs up all round.
Mains produced a similar conundrum, but the man fried cod fillet with squid ink linguine, salsify puree and truffle salt won the day for me, while for Mr Mr it was the Himalayan salt cured rib-eyed steak with brisket-stuffed bone marrow, sun-dried tomato butter, a chanterelle mushroom ketchup and rosemary salt chips. Both were divine.
We decided to share a pud – and after a little debate agreed on the banana soufflé with salted caramel ice-cream. I’ve never cooked a soufflé, so I’m always mightily impressed when they arrive all puffed up and happy swelling from the ramekin. This one was super – warm and gooey, delicately tasting of banana, and the perfect partner to the ice-cream.
There’s a grown up feel to the Bull Inn, but the vibe is relaxed and family friendly, and I wouldn’t have a problem going back with the teenagers in tow. The Grainstore is a great option for families with smaller children. The smaller portions menu includes things like macaroni cheese, a small Bull burger, and fish and chips – perfect for the younger palate but without compromising on the quality. And on a Sunday they do a cracking roast dinner.
OUT & ABOUT
The village itself is worth a wander, and the bottom of the High Street you’ll find Titsey Place and Gardens, one of the largest surviving historic estates in Surrey which dates back to the mid-16th century. If you want to go a bit further Limpsfield Common, part of the National Trust, is just outside the village. There’s an extensive network of footpaths through open heathland and woodlands that are carpeted in bluebells in the spring.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Date night, fun nights out with the gang, lunch with family, lunch with the girls. The private dining spaces and lounge areas also lend themselves to special-event gatherings.
Not for: Nothing starchy about The Bull, so if silver service and pressed linens are how you roll it might not be your bag.
The damage: Really good value, I’d say – for the quality of food you’re getting here. Starters are mostly around the £6-£8 mark; sharing platters are £13.50-£15.95; the mains start at £12.50 and rise to £28.95 for the Rib-eye steak. Puds are mostly around £6.
The Bull Inn, High Street, Limpsfield, RH8 0DR. Tel: 01883 713 469. thebullinnlimpsfield.com