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The Bull Inn, Limpsfield

Saved from an uncertain future by an enterprising group of local investors, this historic pub is now at the heart of Limpsfield village life. Food's darn good too.

THE LOWDOWN

There’s a lovely story to tell about The Bull Inn – a story of local residents pulling together to buy their pub after it was put up for sale and faced an uncertain future. The group of ambitious residents formed Enterprising Limpfield, a community-minded business offering a local investment opportunity.

More than 200 investors got involved and the business raised enough money to buy the pub and embark on a major refurb. Several months and a lot of hard work later, the 400-year-old pub reopened – in November last year – as a stylish, quirky and sophisticated new look gastropub that’s at the heart of this community. They’re calling it a pub-hub.

THE LOCATION

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.

THE VIBE

While the outside is staunchly traditional, the interiors wouldn’t look out of place London Town 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.

The pub is sprawling, with lots of different spaces. Although none are particularly huge, each ‘room’ flows through to the next and the Insta-worthy decor flows with it. The main front door leads into a bar area, which flows into the main restaurant area and beyond that are adjoining lounge areas. There are also private dining rooms upstairs in two adjacent rooms called the Pink Room and the Blue Room, as well as the Grain Store, a beautifully converted barn.

SCOFF & QUAFF

Let’s dive into the menu shall we? As well as a grazing menu, there’s also one offering smaller portions, and of course the traditional Sunday lunch. So whether you’re after a drinkie and a bar snack, light lunch or the full three courses, you’ll find a good selection here.

I went on a Friday and ordered from the Grazing menu which offers a selection of starters, sharing platters (good for a starter to share, or a main on its own), mains and classics. Mr M and I started with a walk-the-plank sharing platter, a gorgeous combination of beetroot-cured salmon, tempura baby squid, chilli king prawns and scorched mackerel with homemade bread and flavoured butters. We demolished it in no time, leaving not a morsel on the board. Good start.

Moving on to mains, I went for the roast turbot, while Mr M went all classic with the line caught ‘Helles Belles’ battered fish. I was tempted by the chickpea and three bean curry, but the New Orleans-style clam and cockle chowder that came with bathed the turbot won me over. And it was a good choice. Aside from the sublime taste, it’s also one of the prettiest dishes I’ve eaten in a while.

Puds? Why not! I went for the poached pear which came with a whiskey caramel and oat crumble and a pear sorbet, while Mr M – true to form – went for the Hay crème brûlée which comes with a homemade Jammy dodger. Nice! And they both were too!

KID-FRIENDLY?

There’s a distinctly 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 kids’ in tow. The smaller portions menu includes things like macaroni cheese, a small Bull burger, artisan sausage and mash, and fish and chips – perfect for the younger palate but without compromising on the quality.

OUT & ABOUT

The village itself is worth a wander, but if you want to go a bit further Limpsfield Common, part of the National Trust, is not far. 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: Fun nights out with the gang, after work drinks, lunch with family, lunch with the girls, date nights. The private dining spaces and lounge areas also lend themselves beautifully to special-event gatherings. A group of girlies were booked in for afternoon tea in one of the lounges on the day we visited, and I’ve already booked the the Grain Store for a large get-together with friends.

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 £6-7 mark, with scallops at £10.95; sharing platters are around £12; most of the mains are around the £15 mark, with steaks and turbot at £28. Puds are mostly around £6.

The Bull Inn, High Street, Limpsfield, RH8 0DR. Tel: 01883 713 469. thebullinnlimpsfield.com

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