MANCHESTER’S culinary loss has been Heyside’s gain as James and Heather Taylor have returned to their roots to revive the fortunes of a well-known village hostelry.
When the Bulls Head closed down last year, a takeover was the logical step for the couple and their business partner Richard Brown.
For one thing, Heyside-raised Heather and James – originally from Shaw – live next door.
Heather’s great-great-grandad William ‘Billy’ Thomas used to have his own seat by the fire and the pub has introduced a cask ale in his memory.
The couple’s daughter, Matilda, is a fifth-generation member of the family to attend Blackshaw Lane Primary.
So while it is a major change from running the acclaimed Beastro restaurant on the left bank in Spinningfields, the Bulls Head project is an exciting one for the trio.
The pub re-opened on Father’s Day after a three month renovation with a new look, new menu and promise of a convivial dining and drinking experience at non-Mancunian city centre prices.
Out went the pool table and dart board for a 28-cover dining room.
Chef James’s traditional and freshly cooked dishes are also available in the main room with its well-stocked bars, including ice cold lagers and independently brewed cask ales.
“As part of my misspent youth I spent one or two evenings in The Bulls Head,” laughed James. “But the old style boozers are just not around anymore.
“We heard rumours it was going to be turned into apartments or shops.
“So, we got in touch with the owner and said we would love to keep it as a pub because too many are shutting.”
Determined to offer more than a pie and a pint, James, Heather and Richard worked hard to create a welcoming environment for customers.
There is even a Thursday afternoon ‘knit and natter’ group to go with a Wednesday evening quiz and three times a week steak nights.
Beastro was famed for its meat dishes so when James talks about “quite possibly the most ridiculous deal in the world” your ears prick up.
“Buy a bottle of wine priced from £14 to £25 and receive a complimentary five-ounce sirloin steak each and home cooked chips for two,” he explained.
Then there is the desserts, including Apple Pie with a twist and Eccles cakes made by retired master bakers Frank and Jean Andrew, Heather’s mum and dad.
“We want to make really good food, using the best ingredients we can and not charge people a fortune,” said Heather.
“We want customers to come in during the day even if they only want to bring in a laptop to do some work and have a cup of coffee.”
• The Bulls Head is open Tuesday to Sunday from noon to 11pm. Food is served until 9pm apart from 7pm on Sunday.
• IF you are tempted by James Taylor’s dishes on the Bulls Head menu, you might be enthused to try out your culinary skills.
And if you want a cookbook with a local flavour then look no further than Manchester Cookbook, Second Helpings released in October 2018.
There are 55 different recipes and stories celebrating food and drink across the city. Several recipes were created by James and Bulls Head collaborator Richard Brown.
To be in with a chance of winning a signed copy of the book, email your answer to the question below to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Trevor Baxter, Shaw and Crompton Correspondent, Units 3-4, 45 High Street, Uppermill, Oldham, OL3 6HS.
What is the main ingredient of a Beef Wellington?