Sunday, 2 March 2014

Llansantffraed Court, Abergavenny restaurant review

Oi Abergvanny, what’ya playing at?

Can you please just stop hogging all the best restaurants.

It’s a testament to Abergavenny’s embarrassment of restaurant riches that up until late last year I’d never considered a visit to boutique hotel Llansantffraed Court.

However, the appointment of Mike Hendry as Head Chef (Hendry was Sous Chef during James Sommerin’s Michelin starred reign at The Crown at Whitebrook) and the restaurant’s subsequent award of Best Small Restaurant in Wales at the National Tourism Awards gave me cause for a rapid change of opinion. 

Llansantffraed Court is now boshing out high-end grub, using cracking local produce and vegetables from their kitchen garden, which showcases the best Wales has to offer.

Whilst there’s a 3 course set dinner menu available at £27.50 and an a la carte offering mains around £20, I found it impossible to resist the siren song of the tasting menu; Llansantffraed’s 6-courser weighs in at a rather reasonable £50.

After a 40 minute drive from the ‘diff, a pre-dinner half of lager and a killer trio of canapés by the fireside helped me take a load off; a flaky Sunblush tomato and pesto tart, a cone of crisp and salty cockle popcorn and an ethereal parmesan gougere were all mega. 

Having relocated to the dining room, a tastefully inoffensive space, we got going with the meal proper.

First up was a clean-tasting and pretty arrangement of white crab meat, foraged leaves and cucumber, paired with the warmth of finely diced red chilli. 

My only concern about the dish’s lightness was the infinitesimal dent it made to my appetite. I really shouldn’t have worried…

A breadbasket yielded a warm, crisp wholemeal sourdough and herb and olive oil rich focaccia. Both were smothered with liberal amounts of fluffy, salty butter.

The first meat dish had me making Egg Wallace-esque moans of satisfaction.

It was hard to find fault with the combination blushing pink pigeon breast, crisp parsnip crisps, earthy beetroot puree, complex wild mushrooms and a gleaming meat sauce.

Another stunning plate of hunky halibut, tender octopus, light truffle sauce and a trio of artichokes (Globe, Jerusalem & Crosne) had the richness of a meat rather than a fish course. 

The best dish of the night had me planning a day-trip to The Welsh Venison Centre.

A whopping piece of lightly-smoked, uber-tender, hyper-flavoursome, perfectly-pink venison was celebrated by its pairing with sweet heritage carrots, celeriac puree, butternut squash puree, wild mushrooms and another phenomenally meaty sauce. A delicately sweet empanada of unctuous, slow cooked venison was the cherry on the cake.

If the first dessert was the last course of the meal, I would have returned home a full and happy man.

Wobbly honey-infused panna cotta, crunchy honeycomb pieces and sweet white chocolate crumbs were balanced by zingy plum sorbet and tart poached plums. 

The final dish, a cute DIY play on a cappuccino – an uber rich, gooey chocolate fondant, topped with light milk foam, crisp cookie crumbs and a boozy shot of Pedro Ximénez - ensured I barely had the appetite for a McMuffin the next morning.

Dinner at Llansantffraed Court was one of the finest meals I’ve ever eaten in Wales. 

Friendly service, top-notch produce, pretty yet gutsy food, and a super-talented chef mean Abergavenny is now home to another of Wales’ best destination restaurants. 

I was invited to Llansantffraed Court - all food was complimentary.

The details:

Address - Llansantffraed Court, Clytha, Llanvihangel Gobion Nr. Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, Wales NP7 9BA
Telephone - 01873 840678


  1. OMG Ed! we've tried lots of your recommendations and never been diappointed. However, this excelled! We went on Monday for the set lunch. Canapes of cockles anf cheesy profiteroles like you, palmeirs over the tart. Amouse bouche was smoked haddocck with sweetcorn and a quails egg wrapped in potato vermicelii deep fired. Focaccia was to die for

    Starters of mackerel with cucumber and shisho and a potato skin veloute

    mains , I had the venison and he had sea bass with octopus cooked to perfection

    I had no room for desert but he opted for rhubarb, lemon and pistachio

    three pints and a large wine all came in under £50

    faultless food, unbeleivable value

    please keep up the good work x

    1. @Anonymous - So pleased you enjoyed it! Glad my recommendations have been useful :-)