Saturday, 19 May 2018

Llanerch Vineyard, Vale of Glamorgan restaurant review

Over the last few years Welsh wine has been getting more and more airtime. Earlier this year, a feature on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch sang the praises of wines from Glyndwr, White Castle and Ancre Hill. 

Llanerch Vineyard is another of Wales’s best known wine producers. Located in Hensol in the Vale of Glamorgan, the vineyard also comprises a wedding venue, cookery school and the Cariad bistro and restaurant.

The restaurant has a lovely view out over the vineyard and Ely Valley beyond. 

Both wines that I drank surpassed expectations; they were excellent. A Cariad sparkling brut (£7.50) had plenty of citrus fruit and a smooth fizz. Even better was the Cariad medium dry white (£4.65) with floral notes and a delicate sweetness. 

The menu reads exceptionally well. Eye catchers include snacks of chicken crackling with pancetta salt and black pudding bonbons with truffle mayonnaise as well as a main of lamb neck fillet with sweetbread and apricot faggots.

A pair of nibbles kicked things off on a very good note.

Whitebait (£3) coated in golden batter sat on top of a chunky tartare sauce packed with capers and gherkins. 

Pieces of uber-creamy and soft buffalo mozzarella (£3) were bathed in a refreshing tomato essence and topped with a crisp fragrant sage leaf. 

Things took a dip with the starters.

Thinly sliced butternut squash carpaccio (£7) was marinated in a vinegar dressing which overwhelmed everything else on the plate - tangy cubes of feta, lovage oil and a punchy harissa mayonnaise. 

A pressed ham hock terrine (£8) looked the part but was dense and a touch dry. A quail scotch egg was also on the dry-side; a shame as the egg was perfectly runny and the crumb delightfully crunchy. Accompaniments of crisp chicken skin and a mild mustard sauce were on the mark. 

Things picked up again with the mains.

Tender and meaty monkfish goujons (£19) were coated in a fine crumb and served with top drawer polenta fries and delicately fragranced wild garlic mayonnaise. 

A pair of dainty duck fillets (£21) were cooked a precise pink and served with a deeply spiced bhaji of shredded duck. Buttery potato galette, smooth spiced carrot puree and richness balancing poached rhubarb were all good accompaniments but a piece of chewy and flavourless duck jerky had no place on the plate nor did a greasy bit of duck crackling. 

Desserts were both pretty good.

An enjoyably wobbly buttermilk panna cotta (£7.50) was creamy, not too sweet and twanged with vanilla. Slightly tart poached rhubarb and a warming crystallised ginger crumb were nice accompaniments. However, pea shoots, fresh berries, berry coulis and a sweet citrusy kumquat pate de fruit were a few elements too many. 

A Welsh cheese selection (£8.50) comprised a tasty yet dainty selection of Perl Las, Perl Wen and Welsh cheddar. It was joined by quince jelly, nifty dehydrated grapes on the vine, quality crackers, blobs of beetroot puree and chutney that was a bit heavy on the chilli.

Our dinner at Llanerch Vineyard was a bit of a mixed bag. Whilst there was some very good cooking, a few dishes disappointed and some ingredients baffled. But, the lovely wine and excellent service meant we still had an enjoyable evening.

The Details:

Address - Llanerch Vineyard, Hensol, Vale of Glamorgan CF72 8GG
Web -
Telephone - 01443 222716

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