Monday, 26 September 2016

The Grove of Narberth, Pembrokeshire restaurant review

It’s been five and half years since Mrs G agreed to let me blog about our honeymoon in West Wales. With hindsight, I’m not really sure she knew what she was letting herself in for.

As a result, a precedent was set and I’ve photographed and picked apart pretty much every single meal out we’ve had since.

During our trip all those years ago we visited The Grove, a luxury restaurant with rooms just outside the beautiful market town of Narberth in Pembrokeshire. It was frigging awesome.

So, when I heard earlier this year that Allister Barsby had taken over as The Grove’s new Executive Chef, an imminent revisit was always going to be on the cards. Barsby was previously Head Chef at the 2 Michelin starred Gidleigh Park where he worked under Michael Caines. His arrival at The Grove is a bit of a coup for Wales.

Pre-lunch drinks were taken in the bar. A Green cooler (£6) lived up to its name – the brightly coloured mocktail combined the sweetness of pineapple with a refreshing lime, mint and cucumber twang. Mrs G ordered a deliciously potent Grove Classic (£15) champagne cocktail which would have benefitted from being a touch colder. 

They were served with lovely spiced nuts and plump olives.

The stonking snacks which followed set the standard for the rest of the meal. A delicate squid ink wafer was topped with smoky mussel puree, a daintily fiery wasabi cream and fronds of dill whilst a crisp crostini was dotted with black olive tapenade, aubergine puree, fresh as you like tomatoes and metallic basil. 

At lunch, The Grove serve three different menus, the 7 course tasting menu (£89), 3 course a la carte (£59) and the blindingly good value 3 course set lunch (£24). I ordered the set lunch whilst Mrs G went for the a la carte.

Bread was of the highest order. Crisp, warm and soft, a local stout bread was the pick of the bunch. It was served with beautifully light whipped butter. A mini loaf of cheddar and rosemary bread was also very good. 

An amuse bouche of creamy as heck celeriac velouté was topped with the crunch of nut. 

Mrs G started with perfectly caramelised wobbly foie gras accompanied by sweet roasted apricots, apricot puree, candied hazelnuts and a good drizzle of honey. The contrast of soft and crunchy, sweet and savoury, fruity and fatty was absolutely bob on. 

For me, light chicken mousse filled tortellini were bathed in a crystal clear mushroom consommé dotted with funky wild mushrooms and a blob of thwackingly savoury black garlic reduction. 

Onto mains and tender pink saddle of venison was served with cumin spiced carrot puree, jasmine fragranced juicy raisins, crispy kale, caramelised chicory and a cracking glossy sauce. 

My dish of a long cooked piece of spoonably tender beef short rib was garnished with sweet roast shallots, smooth and buttery potato puree, buttered spinach, crispy shallot rings, a killer shallot and horseradish confit and another awesome sauce. 

For Mrs G’s dessert, a lovely pistachio soufflé was joined by excellent pistachio ice cream and a viscous bitter chocolate sauce. 

My dessert was the pick of the two. A soft, seriously rich 70% dark chocolate ganache was balanced by cleansing milk granita, potent coffee cream, caramelised pecans and a crisp biscuit crumb.

We moved back to the bar area for coffee. Intense mint and chocolate macarons and soft and chewy fruit and nut nougat rounded off a hugely memorable meal. 

With the arrival of Allister Barsby in the kitchen, The Grove has taken up their luxury level another notch. Both mine and Mrs G’s lunches were absolutely cracking but the set menu is an unmissable steal at £24.

The Details:

Address - The Grove, Molleston, Narberth, Pembrokeshire. Wales SA67 8BX 
Telephone - 01834 860 915 

Saturday, 17 September 2016

The Discovery, Cyncoed, Cardiff pub review

When I called The Discovery to ask for details about the Dirty 30 it was a little bit embarrassing.

I’ll save you the blushes - if you visit The Discovery or another Knife & Fork Food pub (The Conway, The Pilot and The Old Swann Inn) on a Monday or Tuesday until 29 November and you order a main course then you get 30% of all your food.

This means their already well-priced pub food is now cheap by most people’s standards.

Crisp crumbed croquetas oozed ham studded bechamel (£3.85). They were a tad salty but balanced nicely by sweet garden peas in a cream sauce. 

A trio of finely minced curried swordfish fritters (£3.85) were deeply golden and paired well with salty samphire, garlicky aioli and over-oiled leaves. 

Onto mains and my burger (£6.65) was a handsome beast. A toasted brioche bun contained a whopping loosely-packed patty (requested medium but served a juicy well done) laden with tangy burger sauce, lettuce, tomato, red onion, a good slick of mild melted cheese and crisp thick cut bacon.

It was accompanied by very good thick cut chips. The Discovery’s burger can most certainly hold its head up high alongside Cardiff’s specialist burger gaffs. 

Mrs G’s dish sounded good on paper but unfortunately didn’t deliver on its promise.

A plump piece of cod (£8.40) flaked beautifully but lacked crisp skin. It was served with a chestnut “veloute” which was actually more of a lukewarm puree, a huge piece of roast cabbage which was frustratingly difficult to cut and lovely potato croquettes.

For dessert, a crisp tart containing sweet frangipane (£3.85) studded with soft pears and blueberries was paired with excellent stem ginger ice cream that packed a good punch. 

I haven’t eaten arctic roll (£3.85) in about twenty years so I ordered it out of curiosity. A thin layer of slightly wet and cold chocolate sponge surrounding smooth chocolate ice cream was joined by a very good punchy morello cherry sorbet, poached cherries and whipped cream. It was a decent dessert but it didn’t make me regret my last two decades of arctic roll free living. 

Despite a couple duds, the majority of our meal at The Discovery was very good. Throw in some cheap prices, friendly service and a good beer selection and I’d certainly head back for an early-week burger.

The Details:

Address - The Discovery, Celyn Avenue, Lakeside, Cardiff CF23 6FH
Web -
Telephone - 02920 755 015