The White Bull Alston was well stocked with pleasant, rosy-cheeked staff; friendly in that uniquely rustic manner. One amicably escorted me a pleasingly thick wooden table with shiny cutlery, set in a tasteful aubergine dining room. The perimeter was lined with multi-coloured wine bottles, reminiscent of undergraduates (and alcoholics), proudly paraded bottles on window ledges, like the Last of the Summer Wine gang lived there ironically with The Young Ones.
I opted for The White Bull Alston’s thrifty Set Menu, providing two courses for a very reasonable £10.95. The options were unsurprisingly severely restricted from an otherwise extensive menu; in London, £10.95 gets you a pint and packet of McCoy’s – I was grateful regardless. The White Bull Alston’s menu focused on British cuisine, being mostly very safe but perfectly appetising. The extensive wine list wasn’t extortionate, but I went down the real ale avenue of refreshment anyway.
To start, the curious ‘Curried Parsnip and Banana Soup’, promptly arrived with a hunk of wholemeal bread on steroids, with a slab of salty butter. Unless insane, you won’t often eat parsnips and bananas; but, you should. The piping hot murky soup looked like harbouring pond life; fortunately, it was heartily seasoned, and the earthy and exotic balance of flavours were well executed. I became conscious of eating tropical baby food; however, apparently variety is the spice of life, and the steaming soup stirred the senses that winter evening.
For mains, I got ideas above my station and ordered a bowl of mussels in parsley and cream sauce. A generously sized bowl arrived without delay; although, I was forced to confiscate an adjacent table’s spoon. The mussels were fresh, having the good grace to arrive akimbo; but, cried out for some carbohydrate-based life partner. Mercifully, I covertly stole my partner’s chips without regret, allowed me to consume the delicious, otherwise wasted, buttery sauce.
Give it a try.
The White Bull Review Summary
Atmosphere 7 Cost 10 Quality 7 Service 8