The problem is, ever since I visited the Hare & Hounds near Cowbridge last September, I’ve wanted to eat there every week instead of trying somewhere new. Yesterday, I finally returned, and it was just as frigging awesome as the last time.
In order to sample as much of their food as possible, we once again ordered the tasting menu. There’s been a slight price increase (£55) and you’ve now got pay a £25 deposit in advance (due to the scourge of no-shows) but it’s still cracking value for money. All of the below was included in the price.
Prosecco with fruity home-made sloe gin was the perfect apéritif.
A tray of snacks looked like a meal in itself. A floaty light Hafod cheddar gougère and a golden pie packed with yielding steak cooked in Rhymney dark beer were my picks. A bread tart filled with a sweet and savoury mix of butternut squash and Caerphilly cheese and toast topped with duck pate and seville orange jelly were also lush.
Next up was a whopper of a rock oyster served with home-made chorizo. The contrast of ice cold mollusc and hot spicy sausage was lovely. Mrs G, a non-oyster eater, did even better with a plump scallop and a fine dice of the same chorizo.
You know you’re onto a winner when you’d happily fill up on the bread. Home-baked sourdough, focaccia studded with butternut squash and tender red onion, and tangy home-cultured butter were all exemplary.
I’ve only eaten snails once before and had a pretty bad experience; they were served cold and chewy on a salad bar. This time around was a different story. Soft, meaty and subtly flavoured, they were served like lollipops with a vivid parsley puree and crisp breadcrumbs seasoned with the warmth of roast garlic.
Light and tender lemon sole was bathed in fragrant and salty seaweed butter. The sea lettuce was freshly picked from a local beach.
A mainstay of the Hare and Hound’s menu since opening, the crisp crackling and unctuous flesh of pig cheek was balanced by punchy celeriac slaw laced with mustard and studded with cornichons and capers. A couple of slices of lightly pickled apple completed the plate.
Meaty brill, plump mussels, sweet brown shrimp, salty cockles, al dente broccoli, fragrant dill and a supremely good sauce of mussel liquor and cream were a killer combination. We requested spoons so none of the sauce was wasted.
If there’s an advert for quality Welsh produce then the lamb dish which followed was it. Grass-fed Torgelly farm lamb (located just a couple of miles from the pub) was as tender and flavour-packed as any lamb I’ve ever eaten. Served as a crisp-skinned chop and a piece of slow-cooked shoulder, it was accompanied by creamy butternut squash puree, meaty cooking liquor and a chargrilled spring onion.
With my waistband feeling the pinch we moved onto sweets. A palette cleanser of gin and tonic granita deftly balanced booze, sugar and lime.
A fluffy, fruit-packed plum soufflé was on the nail. And then it was made even better with a scoop of home-made vanilla ice cream plonked in the middle.
A plate of warm and addictive madeleines and super-rich and super-smooth chocolate truffles finished off the meal.
I love everything about the Hare & Hounds. The flavour-packed food, the local produce, the friendly service and the relaxed atmosphere. Go.
Address - Hare & Hounds, Aberthin, Cowbridge CF71 7LG
Web - http://hareandhoundsaberthin.com/
Telephone - 01446 774892