In the current circumstances, a restaurant with a decent outside space holds a trump card.
Even more so if they’ve got shelter from the rain and outdoor heaters to boot.
In fact, I predict the hottest restaurant guide in 2021 will be "The UK’s best restaurants with outdoor seating".
A dead cert for inclusion will be the Gaff in Abergavenny which is located in a pretty courtyard just off one of the town’s main streets. It’s a calming idyll and a lovely place to enjoy a leisurely lunch on a sunny weekday in August.
The Gaff has been on my to do list since before they even opened last year. Owned by a former head chef of the legendary Walnut Tree in Abergavenny, it was always going to be my kind of place (much like Parva Farmhouse, which is also owned by a former Shaun Hill acolyte).
Their menu of small plates is divided into snacks, fish, meat and vegetables - everything sounds delicious with interesting international flavour combinations strewn across it.
As we were on holiday, Mrs G sank a glass of citrusy and floral Nyetimber Blanc de Blancs English sparkling wine (£9). I enjoyed a juicy and piney Tiny Rebel Cali pale ale.
We kicked off with a couple of snacks.
A plump, light-battered oyster (£3) served with parma ham, chilli mayo and lime was comforting yet full of zip and zing - as far as first mouthfuls go it was a very good indicator of things to come.
A bobbydazzling scotch egg (£5) combined an uber-crisp crumb, well-seasoned juicy sausage meat and a perfectly oozy golden yolked egg.
Accompanying triple mustard mayo delivered a sinus warming kick.
The richness of meaty, fatty and sweet lightly-soused mackerel fillets (£6) was balanced well by the acidic hit of pickled carrot, radish and onion.
Onto the mains where we were veg-focused dishes in our ordering.
Tender, crisp-battered cauliflower pieces (£6) were bathed in an addictive as heck bang bang sauce of well-judged sweetness, saltiness, savouriness and spice.
A lightly-charred tranche of hispi cabbage (£7) had just the right amount of bite. Joined by the classic Caesar accompaniments of a poky dressing, crisp bacon lardons and croutons, and a dusting of parmesan, it made for a compelling interpretation of the celebrated salad.
Crisp and cleansing courgette shavings (£7.50) were luxed up by a liquid-centred burrata and a fragrant dressing packed with mint, first rate oil and a whiff of chilli.
A juicy buttermilk marinated chicken piece was coated in a crisp and intensely seasoned Southern fried crumb. A creamy mustardy slaw, a light and citrusy red cabbage slaw and perky pickles were a trio of delicious sides. But, at £14 for a single chicken leg it was the only dish in the meal that stood out as poor value.
Last up, an overflowing pot of seriously chunky duck fat chips (£6) were joined by a lightly-spiced ketchup.
Sharing puds are always the kind of thing which grab my eye - I still think longingly of the trifle for two we had at Rochelle Canteen.
The Gaff’s sticky toffee pudding (£15) was no exception. A hillock of light, sweet and sticky sponge was joined by jugs of thin creamy vanilla-fragranced custard and toasty dark sugar and salt-twanged caramel sauce as well as scoops of thick, subtle banana-flavoured ice cream.
Why argue about whether custard or ice cream is better with a hot pud when you can have both?
Mrs G and I had a cracking meal at The Gaff. With it’s flavour-packed small plates and lovely courtyard setting, it’s another great addition to Abergavenny’s culinary riches.
Address - The Gaff, Unit 4 The Courtyard, Lion St, Abergavenny NP7 5PE
Telephone - 01873 739310