Bull & Last
168 Highgate Road London NW5 1QS
The Bull & Last is the best gastropub in Highgate – or Hampstead, come to that. It’s located bang opposite Hampstead Heath, so it’s a perfect spot for a beer after a walk – and in looks, it seems at first a solid Victorian boozer, with stuffed bull heads hanging behind the bar, scuffed furnishings and a well-selected range of real ales. However, it’s the food that stands out. First, there are fabulous bar snacks, including what may be the best Scotch eggs in existence – soft-centred and warm – and top-of-the-range grazing platters of homemade fish and charcuterie boards. Then there’s a serious gastro menu, prepared from the best of British ingredients and served up by a tiny but ambitious kitchen. Brown crab macaroni or slow-cooked ox cheek with snail risotto reveal the high aspirations of the chef, yet dishes like lamb hotpot or haddock and chips have the wow factor too, believe it or not, as do the veggie dishes (their beetroot salad is a masterpiece), and Sunday lunch is a treat, featuring Yorkshire puddings like chefs’ hats. Of course, fame has its price: reservations are recommended at all times – and are essential for dinner and weekends – and some diners have reported so-so service. But even if they’re full, try a pint and a bar snack. And if you’ve got a dog, take it along; they get their own bar snacks (bone marrow or pig’s ear).