The White Bull Tavern Charges into Historic Blackstone Block

Posted February 10, 2018 by Cheryl Fenton in Dining Downtown: Restaurant Reviews
White Bull Tavern

Taking over the former Purple Shamrock space, White Bull Tavern opened just a few weeks ago in historic Blackstone Block. History lesson time – Rev. William Blackstone was the first European settler in Boston. It’s legend that he rode into the city in 1635 on a white bull named Jupiter. Because why not.

Owner Jeff Baird and wife Alissa took this glimpse into the past to heart and gave the new site an old timeĀ feel, hitting countless antique shops and fairs to stockpile for Dave O. of At Absolute Zero Design’s decor. There’s everything unique and antique – custom gas lamps, wrought iron mermaid hooks, an antique Singer sewing machine-turned-table, a giant cluster of refinished chandeliers, and long yellow banquets you might remember from the Theater District’s now-defunct Stage nightclub. For the finishing touch, there are more than 12 variations of custom wallpaper covering the interiors. And the raw bar is under guard of a vintage mermaid sculpture with views of Blackstone Square. Despite the everything-old-but-the-kitchen sink vibe, it somehow skirts past being your grandma’s house and goes straight to Colonial cool.

The upstairs is full of reclaimed barn boards from across New England and perfect for hosting private parties. If you need a conversation for your guests, peep the walls covered in pages of books from the 1800s and the building’s original brick walls whitewashed to a more modern vibe.

White Bull Brussel Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts, mixed with applewood smoked bacon and roasted garlic. Photo Credit: Cheryl Fenton

Every element at White Bull Tavern might have a story to tell, but we wanted to hear what the food had to say. The open kitchen serves familiar tavern faves like skillet bites, salads, and artisanal pizza.

The Skillet Bites were easy intros, so we ordered a bunch, such as the perfectly roasted crispy Brussels Sprouts, mixed with applewood smoked bacon and roasted garlic, and their signature White Bull Wings, tossed in a mild spice rub and baked. Secret: We have on good authority that a menu tweak might translate to a duck fat fry for these little gems. The seared grass-fed Lollipop Lamb Chops were an instant favorite, served in a bath of warm mint jelly and topped with greens, while the veal, pork and beef Homemade Meatballs were a close second, sporting a sweet housemade red sauce and fontina cheese.

Although almost every menu item eventually goes into the traditional Wood Stone oven, a gold-foiled mound reminiscent of a certain State House, The White Bull’s focus is pizza. Guests can create their own artisanal pie with over 20 toppings (you’re limited to three, not sure why) or choose no-brainer master combos.

White Bull Pizza

The White Bull Pizza. Photo Credit: Cheryl Fenton

The eponymous pie (The White Bull) was on our radar, with a garlic olive oil base, mozzarella, prosciutto, caramelized onions, sliced golden delicious apples, drizzled with a balsamic glaze and topped with arugula. Although tasty, it did need a little bit more…something. It wasn’t the raging bull of flavor we expected. The Vegetarian was tasty – their signature cheese pizza with asparagus, mushrooms and flavorful sun-dried tomatoes – but our favorite by far was the Buffalo Chicken, with chunks of spicy buffalo chicken topped with a four-cheese blend (we indentified some bleu cheese tang) and garnished with chives.

There are no desserts, but that could change. Until then supplement your meal with one of their 24 draft beers or craft cocktails served in creative vessels like antique tea cups and vintage briefcases. A word to the wise: leave your bull at home. Because cocktails and cattle don’t mix.

The White Bull Tavern is located at 1 Union Street.