Eating Pembrokeshire – Narberth, foodie heaven

Narberth High Street - Jelly Egg Gallery

Narberth High Street – Jelly Egg Gallery

I haven’t written much since we got home; we had a surprisingly mild winter and so we took the opportunity to work outside on the house and garden, then we had a beautiful spring and so we decided to continue to make the most of it and work outside on the house and garden, and then, against all odds the pleasant spring turned into a lovely summer and indoor work with no heavy lifting again got put aside to make the most of the weather. Typical, you move back to a country notorious for raining on you and anticipate productive weeks tucked up in your nice warm study whilst storms batter the windows and instead it produces wall to wall sunshine and all you have to show for five months is nettle rash, an aching back and a semi tamed garden.

Enough is enough, I need to write more, writing is habit and good habits are quickly lost.

It hasn’t all been back breaking work and choosing paint since we got back, we have managed a few days out and mainly these have revolved around food. Food matters and one of the joys of returning to Pembrokeshire is the chance to explore it all over again and discover new favourites amongst the local restaurants.

Narberth and the shops and restaurants there has been a very pleasant discover. When I left Pembrokeshire Narberth, a small town in South Pembrokeshire, was a rarely visited drive through off the A40 on the way to Tenby and Saundersfoot, now it is a foodie destination and along with a range of pretty individual shops and accessible galleries it has some excellent restaurants and delicatessens and a couple of really good butchers.

Narberth has become the poster place for Pembrokeshire, you wish every small town or village could be like it, if you want to remind yourself of what the high street used to be, you could do worse than go to Narberth.

Top of the restaurants and probably the best restaurant in Pembrokeshire at the moment (although their sister restaurant Coast near Saundersfoot could challenge that in the future) is The Grove a country house with rooms and cottages and a kitchen garden that supplies their excellent restaurant.

One of the weird things we noticed on coming home was that whilst eating out was interesting and chefs bust a gut trying to produce menu’s that were enticing and balanced they were being badly let down by their front of house teams. In short service kind of sucked. Not here. At The Grove it all works as a seamless whole – gorgeous old house, welcoming décor, motivated and professional staff and an extraordinary chef all come together to make this a wonderful place to eat.

This is memorable food, from canapés of salty home cured charcuterie and parmesan biscuits so light you expect to find an angel perched on top, to artfully arranged mains that are almost (ha!) too pretty to eat and which make me want to cry they are so beautifully balanced.

Head chef Duncan Barham is producing seasonal meals that sing and I’ve never eaten anything like it in Pembrokeshire and it was the kind of food I came home to find.

Nick and I called in there for a spur of the moment dinner a few months ago and yet I can still remember exactly what I ordered, and I wasn’t taking notes!

Amuse bouche of lettuce soup with tomato foam
Fois gras brulee with pickled rhubarb
Spiced monkfish with lentil dahl
Cheeses and biscuits

Sometimes something is so right, so balanced, so difficult to pull together at the last moment that it makes me want to never cook again because I can’t do this! I can cook, I can feed you and make you happy, but this is art and I’m not this good and I am, for one of the few times in my life, bloody jealous 

I’m taking my Mum and daughter there for a girly lunch next week, I’m excited about it, it’s that good, I can’t wait for them to try it.

I do miss the taste of the Mediterranean and so I shop a lot at Ultracomida in Narberth. They have the most amazing olives and olive oils and whilst being essentially Spanish (the clue is in the name!) a lot of the produce reminds me of Turkey and the food I ate for years, certainly in terms of freshness and depth of flavour.

Ultracomida - Delicatessen and Tapas

Ultracomida – Delicatessen and Tapas

Even my Mother, who spends half the year in Spain, is impressed by the quality of the tapas and the wines and oils. The bread is phenomenal too. In fact it’s all good, too damn good, I can’t stop spending here. The cheeses, the rustic garlic pate, the smoked ham, I could go on, just suffice to say it’s all excellent and the small restaurant in the back serves some authentically rich and tasty tapas.

If you don’t live near Pembrokeshire and still need your fix of flavours of the med you can visit their online shop here – Ultracomida

Also worth a mention in Narberth is Diablos a bar and restaurant tucked away at 13 Market Square. This small West Wales chain of restaurants has a lovely menu, really nice staff and at lunchtime you can choose three mini versions of main course choices for a very reasonable price £12.50 (brilliant idea). Normally those three small plates are enough for The Nome and I to share. Definitely recommended.

Writing about the places you like is one of the joys of having a blog, it’s good to share the nice stuff, and we’re looking forward to venturing all around the Pembrokeshire coast in the years to come to try old favourites and discover new ones. Just for info, you won’t find many, if any negative reviews here, I hate doing negatives, if I am driven to write something negative it must be because I am really hacked off, I prefer to only post good reviews, if I don’t like somewhere I just don’t go back and I don’t write about it, I stay happier that way.