Website? - http://www.thebullandbear.com.au/
Reviewers – Emma, Fridge, Lee, Matt, Nikki, Stefo, Tony [/info]
I've said it a few times before, but I've got a thing for underground pubs. I don't mean "underground" in the slang term, I mean literally underneath the ground - Something about sipping beers below street level just tickles my fancy-bone (and we've been to a couple in the past, such as the Turf Bar and the Sherlock Holmes) - So when I heard about the Bull & Bear, a pub that offered not one but two underground levels I was on board faster than a cat on a ship full of tuna.
We arrived, got primo parking right out the front and entered the pub's ground level - a standard lounge-bar type setup. Wood panelled walls, comfy chairs. Cosy. It was good, but I wanted to get underground, so we descended the stairs to the bistro ... and was met with bitter disappointment. All the lighting in the bistro was off, It was closed. "Fair enough" I thought and turned to go down to the next level, the "pool and pinball" room as touted by the website. More darkness. Everything was shut off and closed down - Only the top level was open. We trudged back up the stairs and took our seats, I looked around at the quite busy room and yearned to be underground - but we resigned to eating at street level. Disappointing, but it happens.
We checked the menu for our target ...
And placed our orders at the bar, grabbed a pint, sat and waited.
and waited. and waited. I think I was about two pints in before our meals arrived, about 45 minutes wait - I know they say "good food takes time to prepare" but the 2/3rds of the pub being closed followed by a 45 minutes wait for food meant our expectations for the meal were pretty low when they arrived...
Which is why it was nice to be pleasantly surprised. The schnitzel wasn't great - it was kind've small and painfully dry, but it was unprocessed, very thick chicken with a respectable crumb thickness. A slight overcooking, however, landed it with a few crispy-bordering-on-burnt edges as well as the aforementioned dryness.
The toppings were a mixed bag - The cheese was rather rubbery, possibly due to some of the parmas spending a little time under the heat lamps during the 45 minute waiting time. The napoli proved fresh, flavoursome and was bolstered with a peppery kick. There was ham on the parma, but it didn't quite add anything to the flavour spectrum, and served only to act as a barrier between topping and schnitzel, causing the toppings to slide around the parma when cutting due to lack of grip.
The chips were okay - plenty of them, mine were decently cooked but there were reports of some undercooked spud around the table. set beside the parma and well seasoned. They weren't anything exciting, but they served their purpose.
I like my salad swimming in dressing, so the garden salad accompanying the Bull & Bear parma was right up my alley. Standard garden salad of lettuce, cucumber, tomato, onion & carrot - absolutely drowned in balsamic dressing. I see this as a positive - you might see it as a negative. Quite enjoyable.
For $20 I doubt I'll be back for the Bull & Bear's parma. They advertise a $15 parma n' pot lunch deal from Mondays to Wednesdays, which is more of an acceptable price in relation to the dish. If you work in the area it might be worth popping to try on your lunch break (there are pre-order forms on the website if you want to get in and out quickly) but other than that I'd probably steer clear.
Don't get me wrong, there's nothing particularly bad about the Bull & Bears parma, it just feels like wasted potential - which I feel is reflected in the pub itself. The Bull & Bear is in prime position - mere meters from Elizabeth Street, yet I had never heard of it before last week. It has three separate levels, massive rooms and what feels like the intent to promote and old school, friendly pub feel. Yet the place is empty. Two thirds of the pub sits in darkness while everyone else crams into the top room.
Nobody visiting your bistro on a Thursday? don't close it - Put on a ripper parma, perhaps even extend your parma and pot deal to dinner and you just might find bums on seats! The decor of the pub feels a bit dated, especially the rear projection TV sitting in the bistro which makes the place feel particularly nineties. A lick of paint, a bit of an update and a shake up of the menu and the Bull & Bear has potential to be one of the greats - Until then, its just okay.
- Thick, unprocessed chicken breast
- Tasty napoli
- Not tight with the salad dressing
- Dry, overcooked chicken
- Long wait for food