The Bull and Lettuce

“Never mind love, have a cup of tea.” favorite British saying

Ok, The Bull and Lettuce may only be what we had for dinner last night (steak salad with horseradish cream), but it would be a GREAT pub name!  If the Brits can have The Butt & Oyster (what?!?), why not the Bull and Lettuce?





Enjoy this short history of British pub signs (

British Pub Signs – a short history

Signs From The Spirit World

By Elaine Saunders

Lord Nelson pub sign
Lord Nelson sign

Everyone loves an “Olde Worlde” pub with its oak beams, horse brasses and roaring log fires. Nevertheless, no matter how old the pub itself, the name on the sign outside is probably the most historic thing about the place.

The idea of the pub sign came to Britain at the time of the Roman invasion. Wine bars in ancient Rome hung bunches of vine leaves outside as trading signs but when the Romans came here, they found precious few vines in the inhospitable climate. Instead, they hung up bushes to mark out the inns and the names Bush or Bull & Bush still survive.

What’s in a name?
It would be centuries before the first recognisable pubs opened. Religious houses ran the earliest true inns to cater for pilgrims and knights on their way to the Crusades in the Holy Land. Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, whose cellars are carved from the rocks beneath Nottingham Castle, is just such an example. Established in 1189, it claims the title of the oldest pub in England and was a stopover point for forces on their way to meet with Richard the Lionheart. Other signs on this theme are the Turk’s Head, Saracen’s Head and Lamb & Flag – the lamb representing Christ and the flag the sign of the crusaders.

Even after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th Century, some of the names denoting religious connections survived, such as the Mitre, the Ship (symbolising the Ark) and the Anchor (the Christian faith). However, many of the landlords thought it more politic to show allegiance to the monarch and hastily adopted titles like the King’s Head or the Crown. Henry VIII who ordered the Dissolution is, unsurprisingly, the most popularly depicted monarch.

Heraldry has been a recurrent theme, the Black, White, Red and Golden Lions have formed part of the royal coat of arms since the time of the Norman Conquest. The Unicorn was in the Scottish arms, the Red Dragon in the Welsh and the White Horse in the Hanoverian. The Rising Sun was the badge of Edward III. Local gentry often had pubs on their land named after them or parts of their cognizance were taken.

Anyone who caught the public imagination was likely to be immortalised such as Lord Nelson or Wellington and even loveable rogues like Dick Turpin get a mention.

Marquis of Granby pub sign
Marquis of Granby

One of the most affectionate tributes is reserved for the Marquis of Granby, Commander in Chief of the British army. After the Battle of Warburg, he bought pubs for all his non-commissioned officers. His generosity ruined him however and he died in 1770 leaving crushing debts of £37,000!





Steak Salad with Horseradish Cream

Grilled Asparagus

Pan-Seared Fingerling or Honey Gold Potatoes (or your favorite small potato)

Raspberry Gallette with Vanilla Ice Cream





Horseradish Cream

  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3 T horseradish
  • 1 T chopped fresh chives
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar (I used pomegranate red wine vinegar)
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • fresh ground pepper, to taste

Whisk sour cream, horseradish, chives, honey, and vinegar in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper.

Place large saucepan of salted water on to boil; place potatoes into boiling water using a slotted spoon; cook for 10-15 minutes, just until fork tender. Drain, set aside. Wash and trim asparagus, set aside.



Steak Salad

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 lb rib eye or London broil
  • 1/2 of an English cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 6 radishes, cut into wedges
  • 3 cups salad greens (I used a mix of baby lettuces, red leaf & spinach)
  • pickled red onion, see recipe below

Heat 1 T oil in large grill pan; season steak with salt and pepper (keeping it simple!). Cook over medium-high heat, 5-8 minutes per side (med-rare) for rib eye, 12 minutes per side for London Broil.Once you’ve turned your steak, place asparagus beside it to start cooking.  Transfer meat to cutting board and let rest 10 minutes before slicing it into thin ribbons.

While steak rests, heat the remaining oil in pan. Toss in the potatoes to sear, move them around gently so as not to break them up; season with salt and pepper.

Plate greens on plate sprinkle with cucumber, season with salt and pepper; place sliced ribbons of meat over top of greens, then spoon on horseradish cream and pickled onion.  Serve spears of asparagus and 4-6 baby pan-seared potatoes on the side.

*NOTE:  I didn’t have any meat, and the horseradish cream was most excellent over my greens!  And the potatoes might have enjoyed a few trips through the residual pool, too, or at least, I enjoyed them!







Pickled Red Onion

  • 4 T balsamic vinegar
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

bring vinegar, sugar and salt to a gentle boil; remove from heat, stir in onion slices.  Set aside to cool. Serve with or on the side of salad!

2 Comments Add yours

  1. chef mimi says:

    Fascinating! Loved the article. I’ve always enjoyed the pub names in the UK !


    1. Me, too! Living there was fun… We picked up a nice collection of “retired” pub signs while there!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s