Saturday, 25 May 2013

Llanerch Vineyard

Brace yourselves my foodie friends I may well find myself running out of superlatives on this one.

Llanerch Vineyard is a small hotel and restaurant situated in the Vale of Glamorgan near the village of Hensol just off junction 34 of the M4 about twenty minutes from Cardiff.

I have to say I have been looking forward to this visit for some time and to put it mildly I was not disappointed. Set in the grounds of the vineyard the Cariad Restaurant is beautifully laid out but not over the top. Most of the tables occupy a spacious conservatory with views of the vineyard.

Enough of the place though lets get to the real reason for the visit, the food. They offer a set menu of two courses for £20 or three for £25. However you can mix and match from the a la carte menu for a small additional charge.

So to start very nice oil and balsamic with fresh bread and an amuse bouche of finely shreaded apple and pork crackling dust. I could have eaten a plate full instead of a spoonful, but hey you've got to pace yourself sometimes.

Starters look very appertising and I went for the rillette of pork with black pudding, crackling powder and watercress (£2 supplement).

Rillette of Pork

The texture of this was sublime with the softness of the shreaded pork complimented wonderfully by the black pudding.

The sneaking little addition of the a mustard and pepper sauce brought a stunning dimension to the flavour combinations.

If I were to be hyper critical I would have to say I think the crackling powder was lost, which was a shame because as I said earlier it tasted lovely.

Anyway I wont criticise this becasue I can honestly say I have not tasted a starter like it before.

Presentation was fabulous and if I had not been with friends I think there is every chance I would have run my fork straight along the plate and scooped the whole lot up in one go. Had I been my usual piggy self though I would have missed the subtlty of the dish and as I have already said the marvelous flavour and texture combinations.

My dining companions chose the soup of the day which was a vegetable consume with pistacio and poached duck egg. I was told it was very good however they had both demolished it before I had a chance to sample it for myself.

Soup de Jour
Our other companion chose the asparagus which she enjoyed just as much as the rest of us. I could have taken photographs of clean and empty plates but then one empty plate is pretty much the same as another in my book.

So on we go to the main event of the evening.

I went for the Duo of spring Welsh lamb, braised shank suet pudding & roast pink rump served with dauphinoise potatoes & a mint purée. There was an £8 supplement on this but I would have gladly paid £18. Boy can this chef cook. The lamb was just on the rare side of medium and absolutely melted in the mouth.

Duo of Welsh Lamb
Now this was the point in the evening when I really began to struggle with how best to describe the dish.

I came up with devine, delicious, superb, phenominal but in the end decided that best thing to say about it is you have simply got to go and taste it for yourself.

For those of you who have followed me on my food journey you may remember me raving about the lamb in a thrice by Annan George at the Purple Popadom.

Well if this doesn't beat that it definitely comes darn close.

The flavours were exquisite and how the chef managed to get the amount of taste into something as simple as dauphenois potatoes is simply beyond me.

The fresh mint puree was gorgeous and compimented (yes I know I've used complitmented already but I did warn you at the outset that I might struggle) the lamb wonderfully and I think I could have demolished a serving dish of the potatoes without any problem whatsoever.

I was very tempeted by the Gressingham Duck breast with textures of pineapple, Parmentier sweet potatoes & raspberry spherification and so you can imagine my greedy little eyes lighting up when one of my companions chose this for their main course.

I am not a lover of pineapple and that was the reason I did not choose this for myself but the duck was cooked perfectly and the flavour again cannot be adequately described in words, it is another one of those go try it moments.

Gressingham Duck
For those of you of the vegetable persuation (this place might convert you) my friend chose the beetroot cannelloni and declared it very nice indeed (he is a man of few words).

Beetroot Cannelloni
As some of you will be aware I am not a great lover of pudding however the ice cream and sorbet desert was tres bon. Chocolate with very generous pieces of chocolate hidden inside finished my evening perfectly.

This will not be the cheapest place you ever visit, just shy of £180 with wine for five is not too bad. However when you are eating food of this calibre the cost is not going to be the issue.

I was sorely tempted to award Llanerch Vineyard 5 T's but because I couldn't taste the crackling dust in the starter.... oh stop being so pedantic. This place is fabulous and well worth a visit. Do not take my word for it get along there yourself and I dare you to tell me I was wrong.

Happy eating.

Llanerch Vineyard
Vale of Glamorgan
CF72 8GG

01443 222716

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