The Raging Bull
Prior to Nicole getting the Groupon, I'd never heard of Bull Branch and couldn't find much information about it online, since they don't have a website. The extent of my eating in Lynchburg has been in the strip around Liberty University (Moe's, Five Guys, Cracker Barrel, etc.) and I'd never really spent any time downtown. The restaurant was located downtown and it's one of the only things the center of Lynchburg had to offer. There wasn't much happening or many people out, which is unfortunate for a downtown, especially on a Friday night. Though I don't mind having an easy time finding a parking spot.
When we arrived at the restaurant, it was full of people. However, that is relative. This place is a tiny dining room with around 10-15 tables tightly positioned in different spots across the room. Not much space at all. There is also a small bar as you enter the door. If I could use one word to describe the atmosphere/layout/ambiance of Bull Branch it would be...weird. The layout is weird. The lighting and art is weird. The concept is weird. Even the front door is weird. It feels like they are trying to create an urban, modern, artsy, hip atmosphere, but most of it came across as forced and tacky to me. And since I'm quickly becoming an 80 year old grouch, I didn't like that it was too dark to read the menu and too loud to be able to have a conversation with Nicole. I'm awaiting my AARP card.
The service was also a bit weird. Although we had reservations for 8:00 and arrived on time, we were told our table would not be ready for another 15-20 minutes and that we should just wait at the bar. No offers for drinks or appetizers and no real interest from the bartender. I was confused as to why we made a reservation? After we were seated, our waiter did a relatively good job. Aside from the awkward greeting of, "Do you guys want some booze?" He was friendly, knowledgeable and provided good service.
The food is what won me over to Bull Branch. We weren't too interested in any of the entree selections, so we decided to share a variety of appetizers. We ordered the wagyu kobe beef burger with fries, seared sea scallops, goat cheese & tomato salad, and the baked goat cheese with tomatoes (we went a little overboard with the goat cheese & tomatoes). 3 of the 4 appetizers were delicious. The burger was cooked to a perfect medium well and was juicy and flavorful. The melted cheddar on top of the burger was excellent as well. The scallops (although small) had a nice, peppery crust and were very tender. And the baked goat cheese with tomatoes spread wonderfully on the small crostinis, similar to a bruschetta. I wasn't a huge fan of the goat cheese and tomato salad because I thought the cheese was overpowering and really took over the pallet.
In terms of value, I have mixed thoughts. For us, the value ended up being good because we were able to use a Groupon. We paid $20 for a $40 coupon, and then paid for tax and tip. Without the coupon, I don't know if I would return. The food was good, but I don't know if it would justify paying $12 for appetizers or $12 for a burger. Again, it feels like Bull Branch is trying to be a hip restaurant in a big city and price themselves accordingly, which just doesn't seem to fit in this region. Overall - not great, but not bad. And definitely weird.
109 11th Street, Lynchburg, VA 24504