The Bull Run, in Shirley, MA, turns out to be really good! My two boys and I just went for lunch. I’ve been wanting to go in there for years. Built in 1740, it's been a tavern ever since, and has, obviously a long, storied history, enthusiastically and unashamedly embellished on their entertaining Web site.
My lunch was French onion soup and a blackened chicken/spinach salad with various interesting things, for just $10. Merlin had a burger and fries; Forrest had fries with a side of chicken fingers. From the bar, Merlin had a Roy Rodgers, and Forrest had the locavore-correct Shirley Temple, which were included in their $6 kids meals, along with ice cream.
It was good! And this might come as a surprise to some, because I guess when a place has been around for 270 years, the kitchen has its ups and downs. People who have been in the area for several decades might remember periods when the food wasn’t particularly inspiring. I’m pleased to confirm the more recent word on the street, though. The current powers that be (same family, new generation) have significantly improved the menu. Food is sourced from local farms and thoughtfully imagined and prepared. I could nitpick; the coffee and the ice cream could stand to be upgraded. But the food was good, overall. It’s unpretentious tavern fare, and our experience confirms that of the regulars I’ve spoken to: the quality is predictably solid and tasty.
The wonderful historic atmosphere makes it someplace I’m especially eager to go back, with its wide plank floors, exposed timber framing, and enormous hearths, where there are some couches to hang out on, for a change of scenery.
The antiquity of the place makes it special. I mean, the Bull Run was built when George Washington was Merlin’s age (8). Not only could George have slept there, he could have been forced to take a nap there. Plus, they often have live music, including regional artists and also some household names stopping by on tour.
Just ask the egopantis.
The Bull Run
215 Great Road, Shirley MA 01464
978.425.4311 or 877.536.7190