Add The One Bull in Bury St Edmunds to your eating out wishlist - and you won't be disappointed
There are those days when you fancy an evening out with a meal you can rely on. One you don't have to think about - one you just know will be bang on time after time.
Well readers, I have that venue. And it's in Suffolk.
Better still, it's in Bury St Edmunds and within walking distance of my home, so it ticks all the boxes.
It won't be a surprise to many that The One Bull, on Bury's Angel Hill, is my go-to for that evening meal with real pops of flavour, with service which others would do well to mimic and with an atmosphere that makes me feel relaxed every single time I book in.
We ate in on Friday night after a busy week at the office - and the place was buzzing. After-work friends chatting, couples, larger parties all spread out within the dining area and comfy sofas plus the bar.
That very bar was very different on one night in late 2017. That was when fire ripped through the Cycle King premises next door on Angel Hill in September that year - and spread to the One Bull, badly damaging the premises and the flat above.
Months of work later, the pub reopened with owners David and Roxane Marjoram thanking not only the public but the firefighters who saved the historic building that afternoon.
It was the same public who helped when another disaster struck in 2020 - one from which the hospitality industry is still reeling and which came in the shape of a virus.
But the One Bull bosses didn't just sit and gaze out the window, moping. Along came Vino Gusto, a wine shop operating from the Angel Hill premises during lockdown. I also recall seeing pictures of beer-lovers socially-distanced outside the craft brewery The Brewhouse in Ingham, waiting to get supplies of their favourite tipples as the ripple effects of Covid kept on coming.
But back to the food on Friday - and was it value for money?
We chose separate starters and mains, all in the name of research. The menu isn't massive but watch any of those shouty Gordon Ramsay shows, and that's one of the first things he always does...trim down the menu.
I opted for Jerusalem artichoke tart, with parmesan cream and truffle (£7.50). Aside from looking divine, the melee of flavours was clever and set the tone for later on. I always like a starter which has immaculate attention to detail and this one nailed that.
My partner opted for the special of smoked haddock croquettes with harissa aioli and coriander (£7.50). These were crispy yet velvety and packed with taste.
Neither of us are huge meat eaters and the fish dishes on the One Bull menu are always something else.
My partner went for the hake (£18), another from the specials board which was moist and filling. The star for us was a leek side dish (£4) which was topped with delicious crumbs and which set the fish off superbly.
My main was a triumph. As if the cod loin (£19.50) wasn't tasty enough, along came sag aloo, cauliflower puree, yogurt and pumpkin seeds to hit me with a double whammy of flavour. Divine.
The very reasonable cheese board (£8 and featuring Binham Blue) and the sticky toffee pudding with mascarpone and honeycomb (£7) were calling me, teasing me - but I came to my senses just in time and remembered the walk home so just reined myself back thankfully.
We did however manage a couple of coffees - the One Bull uses Bury firm Crude Drinks, which roasts all its coffee, and so you're always assured of a decent brew. That's crucial for a coffee-aholic like me.
The pub is one of the Gusto Pronto group, which includes among others the Crown at Hartest, the Fox at Bulmer Tye and the Beerhouse in Bury.
If you are after a bargain and want to support a local business, too, check out their Eat Out to Help Out scheme - eat there on Tuesdays or Wednesdays in February and get 50 per cent off your food (max £10 discount per person). There is also a multi-course pricing option of two courses for £23 and three courses for £29.