A faultless meal at the Bull at Broughton

High quality cooking with local produce the star

In 2009 Ribble Valley Inns added the Bull at Broughton to their stable of country pubs. It was the first Yorkshire pub for this company with deep Lancashire roots and a proud focus on great food locally sourced. The Bull has been turned into a true gastropub, more restaurant than boozer even though there are some excellent local real ales on tap. What I discovered was a varied menu, sumptuous cooking, fine ingredients, a warm welcome and a keen desire to increase the popularity of this venue.

A coaching inn dating to before 1844

A quick search showed me that the Bull at Broughton has been an inn for years. Since at least 1844. The Moorhouses had it then, rented, along with a farm, from the nearby Tempest Estate. When Thomas Moorhouse died in January 1845 his redoubtable wife, Martha took it over. She raised 6 children and 2 step children whilst running the Inn and farming 26 acres.

The Moorhouse family were the pub landlords for years, and it has passed through many hands since they relinquished it. The current owner, Ribble Valley Inns, is part of the Lancashire-based Northcote Group of Companies. So it now comes under the gaze of Nigel Haworth, Michelin starred chef and regular participant in TV’s Great British Menu. And its new General Manager is another ambitious woman, Rebecca Roberts.

A short drive from Skipton, but a warm welcome awaits

It’s been a while since I’d eaten at the Bull at Broughton, certainly before Ribble Valley Inns took over. But I’ve enjoyed the Great British Menu and I’m a fan of Nigel Haworth, so my wife and I thought we’d give it a go. I’m pleased we did.

The Bull is a little way out of Skipton along the A59 towards Gisburn. It looks like a traditional country pub outside, with a large car park and pleasant outdoor seating area at the rear of the building. Doors at the front and back lead into the main bar area and inside it’s bright and modern but with a traditional feel. There was even a crackling log fire. Framed photos of local suppliers adorn the walls – celebrations of local food suppliers used by the kitchen.

The welcome we received was warm and sincere. Apart from the bar there are a number of eating areas, a small room off the main bar and larger rooms beyond. Wooden tables and chairs rest on a stone flagged floor and are an eclectic range of styles adding to the homely feel.

The food is the star

It’s the food that’s the star at the Bull, however. There is no arguing with the quality of the menu and the superb cooking. The Bull is rightly proud of its excellent locally sourced ingredients and the menu is varied without being over-full. There is an interesting Char Grill section which features steaks and chops and burgers (think gourmet not McDonalds). The people opposite us ordered burgers and they arrived beautifully presented on wooden boards surrounded by chips, onion rings and dips. I was very tempted.

We started with the Smoked Haddock Free Range Scotch Egg, a golden round ball of fishy gorgeousness, the soft egg in the centre dripping yolk. Rather than the burgers, I followed this with Milk Fed Rare Breed Pork Chops with real chips deep-fried in dripping, while my wife chose a dish from the daily specials – whole plaice with shrimp butter sauce. The char grilled chops were large, thick, moist and bursting with flavour. As for the chips, well, there is just nothing like home-cut chips cooked in real dripping – crisp & full of flavour (they do offer a sunflower cooked option for the more health conscious). The plaice was soft and a good size, drenched in tiny prawns and a generous amount of sauce. The portions were a decent size – nouvelle cuisine is not something Yorkshire folk subscribe to as a rule – but not so large that we were over-faced.

Dessert was Yorkshire Oatmeal Parkin with butterscotch sauce and Tradition English Pancakes with lemon and organic sugar. The Parkin was deliciously gingery with a slight crunch provided by the oatmeal, and moistened by the flavour-rich butterscotch sauce. I’m not a fan of pancakes but I am told they were just like mother used to make!

The bill, when it arrived didn’t break the plastic. The prices are extremely competitive, with starters between £4.50 & £6.00, main courses starting at £8.50 and going up to £17.00. Puddings are all a fiver.

A superb, country gastropub

With the excellent local real ales in the bar, an impressive wine selection, a thoughtful menu and superbly cooked locally-sourced food, the Bull at Broughton is a real treat, whether you want a pleasant evening out or are looking for hearty meal after a long walk with the dog (they are happy to accept muddy boots and doggies).

The Manager, Rebecca Roberts, knows there is work to do to continue to build up the Bull’s reputation and clientele, and she’s attacking the challenge enthusiastically. I think great progress is being made. I’ll be going back. Maybe others should give it a go as well.

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