Bull's Head Pub 

On the plate of Reviewer No. 1

Through an empty fire-station-themed restaurant, up a wide set of stairs and past a bright-white art deco lamp, we stumbled upon a couple awkwardly clasping hands in a hallway. To the steady count of "1, 2, 3, 4," they moved their feet clunkily while a dance instructor looked on. In the room next to the Bull's Head Pub, our dinner destination, a wide array of other couples practiced their footwork, dodging chairs and the sharp corners of low bar tables at a weekly dance night.

The vibe inside the pub, which is linked to the adjacent nightclub space and the all-ages Bull's Head Station restaurant below, was authentically pub-ish--dark lighting, scratched wooden tables and long booths lined with brass rivets. Glancing around the room, my dinner date and I noted a peculiar lack of people eating. Uneasy, I flagged down the inattentive bartender and asked for menus.

Taking a swig off a coffee-laced Pipeline porter ($2), I noted a handful of influences on the menu--British (Shepherd's pie, $7.95), Italian (baked penne pasta, $12.95/$8.95 half), Asian (egg rolls, $7.95) and Southern American (baby-back ribs, $18.95/$14.95 half). While the appetizer menu had a few enticing selections--champagne mushrooms in a garlic-lemon butter ($6.95) and Red Hook-battered shrimp ($8.95)--we were ultimately lured in by the calamari ($6.95), served, oddly, with a marinara sauce.

Before we had pushed the menus aside, our calamari came flying out of the kitchen. As a childhood fan of mozzarella sticks and an adult appreciator of calamari, I had never before thought the two to be similar. But this dish, five long fried sticks huddling around a hot tub of marinara and classed up with a sprinkling of dried parsley, looked and tasted like a hybrid of the two. Mozzamari? Or maybe calimarella?

On the main course front, inspired by our environment, we decided to stick with British fare, ordering the cod fish and chips ($11.95) and shepherd's pie. My date's shepherd's pie looked savory enough--beef crumbles stuffed into a mashed potato crater and ladled with a dark red wine gravy and a layer of cheese. But on his first bite, he noted that even the rich gravy couldn't mask the dryness of the beef. He also added that, sadly, he had been hoping to excavate a few customary veggies--corn, carrots, peas--but his dig came up unsuccessful. My basket of fish and chips was equally disappointing. While the fluffy golden batter, again, looked inviting, the first bite revealed nothing more than bland white fish shrouded in a soggy sweater. The fries hanging out beneath the fish were better, but not particularly memorable. To add insult to gastronomic injury, when we got the check, my date's draft Newcastle turned out to be a wince-inducing $4.50 a pint. Ouch.

With our wallets $45 bucks lighter, and not much to show for it, we made our way past the adjacent room--now filled with crooning karaoke-ers--down the wide flight of stairs, through the mostly empty restaurant and into the sobering evening.

--Tara Morgan wants to star in the deep fried fairy-tale, Calimarella.

Boise Weekly sends two reviewers to every restaurant we review. Read what our other reviewer had to say about Bull's Head Pub.
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