The Bull's Head offers good food and a welcoming spot for a drink, in a venue that's famous for its live jazz music.
Looking out over the Thames, The Bull's Head is a short walk from Barnes station and stone's throw from the high street. The building has high ceilings and large windows, which help give a spacious feel to the place, even when it's busy. The central square bar offers a focal point for the 'pub' area of this venue. Drinkers have a large choice of seating, varying from wooden tables with the obligatory mismatched chairs, to comfier armchairs and sofas. The wooden tables run into the large dining area at the back of the venue, which – like the rest of the building – has a spacious feel due to high ceilings.
When there’s live music on the bill in The Bull's Head's jazz room, the bar can get particularly busy, with most tables being reserved from around 7.30pm. This new music room pays homage to the pub's heritage as a local spot for international jazz acts. The clientele is a mixture of young professionals and yummy mummies and daddies out for the evening - the majority of the people here give the impression of being local and bar staff are clearly happy to chat to regulars.
For a starter, the chicken liver and foie gras parfait with toast (£7.95) is tasty. However, this dish could do with a bit more toast to make it really satisfying. Alternatively, the pot roast quail with spinach, grapes and confit garlic (£7.95) has a full, gamey flavour and comes with a rich gravy - the sharp acidity of the grape cuts through the inevitable fattiness of this dish, but does make it a bit fiddly to eat.
Seared scallops with cauliflower and bacon (£13.95) sounds appealing as a main course, but unfortunately fails to live up to expectations - the scallops sadly lacking flavour. The pot roast collar of pork with baked apple and foie gras (£16.50) is a better option, since the portion size is generous and the pork is well cooked.
For dessert the pear tart tatin (£5.95) is again a disappointment – undercooked, the apples have an unpleasant bite and the accompanying pastry is soggy.
There is a good selection on offer for lager and ale lovers at The Bull's Head as well as an extensive wine list. Expect to pay between £4.10 and £5.70 for a small glass of white or red, and between £16 and £27 for a bottle. Watch out for soft drink prices in this riverside venue though - a pint of orange and lemonade will set you back £3.40.
The Last Word
Whether you are visiting The Bull's Head for the live music or just drinks and dinner, you could do far worse than this pleasant pub on the Thames. Just be aware that prices can be high in this out of town venue.