Alternative Meats

Alternative MeatsSome people still disapprove of those of us who enjoy eating veal, but the days when you could only buy it if you were willing to accept the cruel manner in which the animals had been reared are long gone and I believe we can all eat British Rose Veal with a clear conscience. That is, always provided we can find a source! I’ve tried our local suppliers over a number of years but still am not able to source veal from our Farm Shops or Butchers, but I have just found a good online supplier in Alternative Meats. They won’t be going into my recommendations pages just yet – one delivery isn’t enough to go by – but I’m already telling my friends about them. So if you’ve been searching in vain for Veal, Wild Boar, Suckling Pig, Welsh Wagyu Beef, a good range of game birds, or something a bit more exotic like Crocodile or Kangaroo, give them a try. Ordering was easy and my delivery arrived vac-packed and well insulated so that I could just transfer it to the freezer ready to use when I like. I haven’t had a proper Osso Bucco for years – now I can!

Brunel Cafe Menu Update

On our way back from picking up a Christmas tree and some new lights we stopped off at the Brunel Chandlery & Cafe in Neyland Yacht Haven (SA73 1PY 01646 601667) for a late brunch. It’s always a favourite with us but today was particularly good – scrambled eggs with smoked salmon had been added to the menu! Now it’s really Christmas! If you really want to push the boat out there is the option of having a glass of fizz with your order, but I prefer to stick with my latte. Fortunately HI’s favourite bacon and egg baguette is still available so we both made our way home feeling very happy.

Bethesda Update

After not having been there for quite some time we found ourselves in Narberth today and looking for something to eat. The obvious choice was probably Liz’s coffee shop, but the high street as we passed through was particularly busy so we opted instead to drive on to Bethesda and go to Sian and Geraint’s brilliant farm shop and cafe. We were not disappointed! The welcome was as friendly as ever and the portions as generous. The forecast heatwave had not come to pass (surprise surprise!) so we were able to sit very comfortably in the conservatory and tuck into eggs, bacon, mushrooms etc and – in my opinion – the best fried tomatoes in Pembrokeshire. Long may their thoroughly deserved success continue.

Change isn’t always a good thing!

Today we went to Vincent Davis’ department store just outside Haverfordwest, which used to be a favourite of ours as much for its restaurant as for the shopping. We came away very disappointed. The pick’n’mix breakfast no longer appears on the menu and has been replaced by a sorry offering including my pet hate – soggy tomatoes from a tin which invade everything else on the plate with their juice. To make matters worse, the raised central seating area and the room dividers which used to help to reduce the amount of noise have been removed. Someone described it as “like eating in an aircraft hangar”: I couldn’t agree more. Sadly, Vincents has now been crossed off our list of recommended places to eat.

Nothing to Write Home About

I go to No40, in Pembroke, about half-a-dozen times a year to meet friends for a Latte and a gossip, and it’s always comfortable, clean and friendly. Today, for a change, we decided to try a lunchtime snack. The verdict? Adequate, but nothing to write home about, to be honest. The best part of the toasted cheese and ham sandwich was the bread. The ham was generously thick but came with an equally thick edge of fat down one side which, when served warm, was not welcome, and the cheese was nicely stringy but totally lacking in flavour. As I said, adequate, but nothing to write home about. No40 will remain high on my list of good places to go and enjoy a Latte, but I’ll probably stick to eating elsewhere.

Tudor Lodge Hotel & Restaurant

The winter is a good time for trying out new places to eat here – that’s not to say that they aren’t still busy but the atmosphere is different and there are fewer children around. With that in mind we decided to try the Sunday Roast at the Tudor Lodge, in Jameston, last weekend – and we were very pleased that we did. Tudor Lodge is a hotel which has some very good reviews on TripAdvisor, but the restaurant is open to all and most Sundays when we have driven past the car park has been full to the point of overflowing, so we made a reservation. After being served drinks in one of two attractive bar areas we were shown to our table in a light, airy restaurant where we found the menu to be brief but varied enough to suit most tastes; a choice of 4 starters, 3 roast mains with a fish dish as an alternative, and various desserts. There was also the option of a roast “platter” consisting of a generous portion of each of the 3 roast meats on offer. The yorkshire puddings, which come with all of the roast meats, were gorgeous, the vegetables were perfectly cooked, and extra gravy was provided. I tried the horseradish sauce, and it had just the right consistency and level of heat (for my taste, yes). The service was friendly and unobtrusive, the bill was very reasonable, and overall we were very happy customers. We booked our table for 1 o’clock and, judging by the number of other customers eating at the same time, this was earlier than most people choose to eat. This was probably a good thing as the Tudor Lodge seems to be popular with large groups and the restaurant area – with its low ceiling – could, we thought, become quite noisy when full. We were able to eat in peace and quiet, drink our post-meal coffees, and head home to our crossword perfectly happy!

Nash Farm Shop & Cafe

We’d been meaning to visit the Farm Shop & Cornmill Cafe at Nash for quite some time and finally got round to it this week. The shop is part of a working farm and sells a great range of meat, some produced right there on the farm and some bought in (venison, for instance). We bought some Barnsley Chops which cooked up a treat. There is also a good range of jams, pickles and chutneys as well as home-made cakes. One thing I particularly appreciated was that you can buy half a cake if you want to. The upstairs cafe is warm and comfortable – the tables aren’t too close together – and the poached eggs on toast were perfect. You’d have to be very hungry to finish the Farmer’s breakfast – both fried bread and toast in combination with the huge home-made sausages was a mountain that even HI couldn’t climb! After 11:30 they switch to a lunch menu; soups, pies, and you can even choose a steak from the Butcher’s counter and have it cooked to your liking. We’ll make a point of going back at a warmer time of year, the outside seating overlooking the lake looks great. Overall I’d say well worth a visit, but if you’re going to eat make sure you have a very healthy appetite!

The Old Kings Arms

You can read about the Old Kings Arms, in Pembroke, in my Recommendations pages. We had Sunday Lunch there yesterday, so here is a quick update.
Yesterday we both ordered just the one course, the main, and we both chose the Beef. The meat was slightly less melting than the last time we ate here, but that may be explained by the fact that I believe it was a different cut (topside, whereas if memory serves me correctly it was brisket last time). Nonetheless, you certainly couldn’t say it was either underdone or tough. The Yorkshire Pudding was light and puffy, and the parsnips and mash which arrived on the plate were both very good. I was a bit less impressed by the roast potatoes, whose insides were nicely soft and fluffy but whose outsides proved very difficult to cut. A side dish of vegetables provided us with a choice of two types of cabbage (with a token dressing of bacon) plus a carrot and swede mash. The Horseradish Sauce shown on the Menu didn’t arrive; we weren’t bothered, but I noticed that diners on other tables had to ask the waiting staff for it too.
My only slightly niggling point is that we had to ask for the bill twice before anything was done about getting it ready, but my irritation was soon quelled by the entertainment I got from watching the waitress holding the credit card authorisation machine up in the air trying to get a WI-FI connection. It was like the early days of indoor TV aerials, when we invariably found that the best picture was obtained when the aerial was being held up in the air in a position where it couldn’t possibly be fixed!
Most of the tables in the restaurant area were reserved, and the bar was busy too, so I’d still recommend booking in advance even though it is no longer tourist season.
You can click here to open a copy of the current SundayLunch Menu (this document was produced by the Old Kings Arms, not by me).

The Scrambled Egg Test

Chefs go by omelettes, I know, when they are testing people’s skills, but I prefer to try their scrambled eggs on toast. I’ve eaten them in the humblest of greasy spoons and the proudest of hotels and found them to be a very good indicator of how good the rest of the food will be. In one particular high-end hotel in Cornwall the offering was swimming in so much water you could have wrung out the toast like a wet dishcloth and this proved, sadly, to be a pointer to the lack of attention to detail with the food service overall. However, I am happy to say that in the very small resort of Dale – here in Pembrokeshire – the combined cafe and shop on the seafront gave me one of the best plates of scrambled eggs I’ve eaten for a long time! We’ve tried the pub/restaurant, the Griffin, here before and to be honest found it all a bit too fussy, so it was great to find that the cafe is good – Dale is a great place to go but there aren’t many places to eat nearby. We’ll be going to this cafe again.

Breakfast at Coast

We were keen to try Will Holland’s new restaurant, Coast, at Coppet Hall, Saundersfoot. We’d seen it being built and had stopped to take a look, but not to eat, not long after it opened. So, last week having been a bit of a trial, we decided to treat ourselves to breakfast at Coast on Saturday. The day was overcast, but if we always waited for a perfect summer day we might never leave our house, so we just chose to sit inside rather than using the balcony. The location is fantastic, the decor is beautiful, the ambience is welcoming, the food we ate was fine, but oh dear all of that matters not a jot because the staff simply haven’t received enough training. They know how to use their tablets to take orders, but the staff member who took ours wasn’t able to tell us what the “Welsh Breakfast” consisted of without going out to the kitchen and asking. On her return she carefully regurgitated the information that it was called a Welsh Breakfast because everything on the plate was sourced locally, and she told us what would be on the plate. We confirmed our order for one Welsh Breakfast and one Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon. A different staff member brought our plates to the table and promptly asked “Whose is the full English?”, at which point I looked determinedly out at the beautiful view so as to avoid meeting the eyes of Him Indoors which, had I done so, would probably have caused both of us to burst into gales of laughter. So, overall, we’ll try Coast again, after all everybody can have an off day and they’ve not been open long, but our initial experience reminds us that it doesn’t matter how great the Chef is, if the front-of-house staff aren’t on-message he may well be wasting his time.