Saturday, 20 April 2019

The Hollybush, Draethen, Newport pub review

When I heard that Barnaby Hibbert was running the kitchen at the Hollybush in Draethen I promptly booked a table.

Barnaby was the former head chef and owner of the excellent Gallery in Barry, three time winner of Wales’s most sustainable restaurant. I know I wasn’t the only one who was a little bit gutted when he put the place up for sale a few years back.

Just a fifteen minute drive from Cardiff in the direction of Newport, the pretty Hollybush pub is the kind of place where you could happily spend a night sat by the fire tucking away a few pints of Timothy Taylor’s Landlord or Wye Valley’s Butty Bach. 

On the Tuesday night we visited, the place was packed with locals getting ready for the Tuesday night pub quiz and a rather tasty sounding quiz night curry special. 

The Hollybush’s dinner menu focuses on rustic pub food with a few flourishes. Steak burgers, beer battered cod and sirloin steak are all present and correct. But, if you’re looking for something a bit different there’s pan roast pigeon with beetroot and pickled mushroom or three bean cassoulet with bacon wrapped chicken, crispy kale and gremolata. 

A bread selection (£2.50) included a warm and soft soda farl dotted with salty nuggets of bacon and a squidgy flatbread drenched with punchy melted garlic and lovage butter. 

Starters were both lovely.

Warm smoked mackerel fillet (£6.50) was accompanied by a light and creamy dressed salad of crunchy apple and new potatoes, crisp lettuce leaves and lovage oil. 

A generous plate (£7.50) of al dente pappardelle was topped with an uber-tender 12 hour cooked rabbit ragu with a light tomato sauce. A big flavoured pesto and curls of savoury cheese added an extra dimension. 

Mains were both very tasty but not quite at the same level as the starters.

A trio of venison sausages (£12) were enjoyable gamey but a touch chewy. They were joined by a thick gravy dotted with tangy red currants, nicely caramelised red onions and thick, smooth and buttery mash twanged with garlic. 

A gargantuan portion of beef bourguignon (£14) was loaded with tender meat, sweet baby onions and mushrooms coated in a beefy and winey sauce which could have had a bit more body. Accompaniments comprised cavolo nero cleverly dressed with butter and richness balancing citrus, thick mash, and crisp shards of bacon. 

Our shared dessert was killer. I’m a little bit gutted we didn’t have room to order the spiced banana bread with rum sauce and mocha ice cream or the sticky toffee pudding.   

A sherry trifle (£6) was a bowl of treats including golden cinder toffee with a compelling delicate bitter note, fresh raspberries and blackcurrants, smooth custard, barely set raspberry jelly, thick whipped cream, soft sponge fingers and a good hit of booze. 

We had a lovely meal at the Hollybush. If you’re looking for hearty pub food cooked from scratch just a short hop from Cardiff then it’s well worth a look.

The Details:

Address - The Hollybush, Draethen, NP10 8GB Newport
Web -
Telephone - 01633 441326

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