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Wrotham (pronounced root-em) is a tiny village in Kent just south of London. The small town with a population of less than 2,000 has three pubs all within a hundred yards of each other, one of which is The Bull Hotel. We were lucky enough to get an invite for dinner and an overnight stay. The perfect date night and getaway from London.
The Bull dates back to the 1300’s as a coaching inn offering respite to weary travelers along the Pilgrim’s Way.
“With an eclectic past, including being the headquarters of a renowned gang of smugglers, as well as a favourite watering hole for Battle of Britain pilots, the 600 hundred year old Bull is now a beautiful four star country retreat as well as a gourmet dining destination with an AA rosette for culinary excellence. “
We were greeted at reception by the proud owner Martin Deadman. He and his wife Lygia purchased the 14th century coaching inn in 2008 and have lovingly refurbished the historical building.
Our room was absolutely adorable. Pretty in pink with exposed beams and a hardwood floor that slanted just enough to add some charm. I’ve declared that leather loveseat as the comfiest couch in England. Our en suite had a nice big tub.
I counted three fireplaces in the heavily beamed ground floor restaurant and bar area. The space is open and clean but still maintains the charm of a historical pub. Before dinner, we took our books downstairs to the bar and found a sofa to snuggle up on for a read. Between the warm fires, the decor and the friendly bar service we were quite cozy.
Soon it was time for dinner prepared by the head chef, James Hawkes. James has been with Martin from the beginning and they really want people to visit the Bull for the food. They offer a modern British menu using locally-sourced fresh ingredients. The service was friendly and casual, without pretension, but with much pride. It was obvious that they were happy to be serving us great food.
My appetizer was Poached Pear, Stilton and Walnut Salad. The sharp, rich taste of the cheese went perfectly with the crunchy candied walnuts and sweet pears. I could have easily ordered a second serving.
My dinner companion chose the Ham Hock Terrine, Piccalilli and Toast as his appetizer. Piccalilli is a pickled relish of chopped cauliflower and other vegetables with spices.
I’m definitely a meat and potatoes girl so for my main I chose the steak with lemon garlic butter, served with chips and a salad. The steak was perfect, tender and juicy. The salad was topped with roasted peppers which I’m not too keen on so my friend finished it off.
My partner’s choice was the Fillet of Line Caught Cod, Braised Leek with Fennel Seeds, Tarragon Crushed New Potatoes and Mushroom Puree. That’s quite a mouthful for a simple and elegant dish. The fish was firm and flaky and the flavors were spot on.
We shared two scrumptious desserts, the Zesty Lemon Posset with Winter Berry Compote (not pictured) and the Dark Chocolate Flourless Cake with Blackcurrant Sorbet (topped with honeycomb). Both perfection.
Our lovely dinner was accompanied by a few glasses of wine from their extensive wine list. After dinner we spent some time in the bar people watching. They often feature live music and it’s obviously a very popular place with the locals.
We had a great night’s sleep and woke to the lovely sound of church bells. Breakfast was included with the stay and was fine. Not as special as dinner, the choice of a cooked to order breakfast or a few cereals and yoghurts just seemed a little limited after our fine dinner the night before. Then it was time to head back to London refreshed from our little getaway.
The perfect date night just a few miles south of London.
The Bull Hotel