Eating. Drinking. Walking.
They’re three of the simplest pleasures in life.
But, whenever I go our for a meal, the emphasis very much tends to be on the former.
All too often I visit restaurants where there’s exciting food but the booze offering doesn’t extend beyond macro lagers, a traditional ale pretending to be craft beer, and a boring wine list.
And it typically involves a pleasant yet very familiar walk through Cardiff city centre to get there.
However, there’s a place near Cardiff which combines three of my favourite things very well.
Named CAMRA pub of the year for Cardiff for two years in a row, the Gwaelod y Garth Inn is located at the foot of the Garth Mountain on the edge of the city.
It means that before you sit down for a meal you can work up an appetite with a brisk walk up the mountain and take in stunning views of Cardiff and beyond.
Then, when you’re gasping for a drink, there’s an excellent rotating tap list which includes modern craft beer, well kept real ales, and Welsh ciders.
On our most recent visit we enjoyed delicious hazy beers from Glasshouse and Crafty Devil (Cloudwater and Deya were due on soon); a corker of a cask American pale ale from Thornbridge; and a fruity and funky Hedge Kipper cider from Llanblethian Orchards near Cowbridge.
With the option of eating either downstairs in the pub or in a dedicated upstairs restaurant area, the Gwaelod’s menu combines pub classics such as beer battered cod and chips and steak and ale pie, as well as more ambitious bistro dishes such as tournedos rossini and grilled salmon with cockle and laverbread sauce.
To start, a bowl of rust coloured Provencale fish soup (£9), had a great savoury intensity. It was served with the traditional accompaniments of a salty cheese topped crouton and a pokey pot of rouille.
A quartet of hyper-crisp crumbed chicken croquettes (£8.50) were served with a creamy and tangy cheese puree, green leaves, and shavings of parmesan. The only issue with this very tasty riff on a chicken Caesar salad was that it was a little on the dinky side.
Home boiled ham egg and chips (£14) was so close to glory. Thick slices of tender ham had a lovely honey-like sweetness and were topped with a pair of fried eggs which were semi-runny and semi-fudgey.
Mrs G raved about a special of huge trout fillets (£19) that were wrapped with thick cut crispy bacon and oat crumb and bathed in a decadent lemon butter sauce.
But it was the retro sherry trifle (£6.50) that caught my attention.
Served in a mammoth glass chalice, it was dominated by warming booze and fruit soaked sponge and whipped cream. It was a very tasty pud but it would have been better with a more obvious balance with layers of jelly and custard.
An excellent slice of white chocolate tart (£6.50) combined crisp pastry filled with a white chocolate ganache twanged with the warmth of Penderyn whisky and flakes of white chocolate.