Hafod cheese, salsa verde, peas a la français, Alex Gooch sourdough; all are signs that a pub is aiming to knock out more than lowest common denominator grub.
Coupled with the above ingredients and the recommendations I’d received, we decided to book into The Red Lion at Pendoylan for Friday night dinner.
Despite the ambition of The Red Lion’s cooking, the menu is keenly priced. Starters average £6, mains £13 and desserts £6. Furthermore, they run a £20 3-course set dinner and drink on Wednesday and Thursday evenings and Friday from 6-7pm.
A nibble of Alex Gooch sourdough and Hay Charcuterie selection (£6) was the only genuine disappointment of the meal. One slice of bread, four slices of well-spiced dry-cured ham and a dollop of pokey chilli jam doesn’t really constitute value for money or a selection in my book.
Things picked up a lot with starters.
Pea, broad bean and runner bean risotto (£6) was super creamy and packed with verdant vegetables. But, it could have taken a bigger savoury hit of the billed Hafod cheese.
A golden-skinned fillet of sea bream (£6) served with a peas a la français was the biggest winner of the night. The al dente peas, lettuce and bacon pieces were enrobed in a luxurious level of cream.
A salad (£6) of enjoyably rare steak, tangy blue cheese, sweet heritage tomatoes and well dressed-leaves completed a clean sweep of starters.
Onto mains, and big hunks of medium-cooked tender lamb rump (£16) were served with golden balls of tempura cauliflower, raisin and apple flecked couscous, nutty hummus and richness balancing cucumber raita. This was a very tasty summer dish which would have been elevated further by a wallop of Moroccan spicing.
My beer battered hake (£12) was a handsome devil. The batter was gorgeously crisp and grease-free but the fish itself was a little overcooked. Brilliantly brittle and fluffy triple cooked chips were as good as it gets and chunky tartare sauce and smooth pea puree hit the mark.
Desserts were both delicious.
A vanilla pannacotta (£6) was perfectly jiggly and served with dainty pieces of sweet honeycomb and soft baked figs.
Sweet apricots (£6) were delicately poached in boozy amaretto and served with a dollop of ridiculously creamy clotted cream ice cream. This was an understated yet delicious pud.
We had a lovely dinner at The Red Lion. The food wasn’t without its faults but the ambitious yet good value cooking and excellent service meant we had a really enjoyable evening.
Address - The Red Lion at Pendoylan, Pendoylan, Cowbridge CF71 7UJ
Telephone - 01446 760690