Musings (more like rambling thoughts) of a Cardiff based lawyer obsessed with food and wine
As the sun (oh how we have missed you) finally decided to come out to play last weekend (rather fortuitously carrying over to a Monday off work), Mrs SF and I decided to blow away the cobwebs by taking our two dogs down to the beach at Newtown near Porthcawl. Actually I wanted to stay in bed being a little ‘tired’ due to a Sunday afternoon over indulging on the rather nice real ales on offer at the New Conway pub in Pontcanna (part of the excellent Knife and Fork and Food Ltd group of pubs) watching England winning a first triple crown since 2003 (as an Englishman having lived in Wales for 20 + years now, I cannot pretend this did not make me very happy having had to endure a fair few years of misery recently, particularly the kicking handed out by Wales in the corresponding fixture last year). I have embraced most things Welsh and love Cardiff, but still support England at rugby and still don’t get half and half (for non welsh readers this is a portion of half chips and half rice eaten with a curry?!?)
After a rather lovely walk on the beach, we had built up quite an appetite. It was therefore time for a spot of lunch.
Having two dogs in tow can make it difficult when you want to eat out (more pubs should cater for dog owners – we are quite nice and have money, honest) and it is nice to find a few pubs in the Vale of Glamorgan that are dog friendly (Cardiff take note – more dog friendly pubs please)
One such pub is the rather handsome looking (and interestingly named – it is a heraldic thing I believe ) Pelican in Her Piety in Ogmore-by-the sea, whose website refers to “well controlled dogs being welcome in the lounge and bar “.
Mrs SF and I entered on this basis with some trepidation as while Pip (our 5 year old border terrier) is very well behaved and not food orientated (I would say fussy), Oscar, our new rescue, border pug (and gawd knows what else – he is a little cutie mind) cross was an unknown quantity in a pub environment. He is a food obsessive and total pig (much like me) and would probably have a go at eating me if I sat still for too long. He has a particular liking for foam ear plugs! How he would react in a pub environment was a cause of some concern.
The place was packed and after squeezing ourselves into a corner table, Oscar proceeded to inexplicably whine and whimper so we decamped to a table in the sun outside (before we were lynched by our fellow diners).
The Pelican in Her Piety is clearly a food orientated pub, with a menu comprising mainly of tapas dishes (the usual suspects – croquettes, tortilla, jamon – all being present) and various baguettes. These were supplemented by a large number of special displayed on the wall
They had a few good beers on draft including Doombar
and Wye Valley HPA (both beers I enjoy – I was regrettably driving)
Mrs SF said the Doombar was a nice drop (as I looked on enviously whilst nursing my small expensive pepsi). I promptly decided to get a pint of bitter shandy (which turned out to be a very good, but expensive, move – more on that later).
On the food front, I ordered that old pub faithful ham, egg and chips (can’t go wrong with that I thought) and Mrs SF went for moussaka (both specials).
Mrs SF pronounced her moussaka as tasty and not half bad. I was allowed a small try of it and it had a good flavour with a nice hit of oregano and welcome use of cinnamon (and nutmeg I think). There was a lack of aubergine in the dish, of which a plentiful amount is for me essential to a good moussaka. Otherwise it passed muster.
The moussaka came with a side salad (usual suspects of tomato, lettuce, onions and peppers) with a balsamic dressing. The other thing on the plate was advertised as garlic bread. If there was garlic on it, it was so faint as to be undetectable and the end result was just oily bread (and the oil used was a touch bitter). Not nice.
Overall (the bread aside) this was not a bad dish, but for me it was a little on the pricey side at £12.95.
As for my dish, I really do love a good plate of ham, egg and chips. Crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside chips dipped in a lovely runny egg topped off by good quality ham. It is one of those dishes which when done well brings a smile to my face. This dish was, I am afraid, a bit of a disappointment.
The problems were threefold :
° The chips were pretty anemic and were not very crispy on the outside and a bit pappy on the inside. They were frozen chips and for the price (see below) I would have expected them to be hand cut and triple cooked (in truffle infused oil) and ideally brought to the table by Kylie Monogue. I ate them, as I was hungry, but with no great joy.
° The two eggs were overdone. Whilst they were a bit runny in the centre of the yolk, the yolk had started to solidify around the edge. One chip dunk in each egg was my lot. The multi chip dunk is one of the joys of this dish and I felt a bit cheated.
° The ham was overly salty. Now I do like my food properly seasoned (get this from my Grandmother who liked a pinch of food with her salt), but this was too much for me. Judging from the look of the meat I think I got the very end of one ham and the start of another (one bit looked very different from the rest). I really needed my pint of bitter shandy to slake my growing thirst from eating some of this.
The end result was an unfinished plate, which caused Mrs SF to double take and then ask me if I was ill (it is a very rare occurrence).
This dish was £10.95 , which is very pricey for ham, egg and chips. For that price, it needed to be absolutely bang on the money and it was a very long way from that. I should probably have complained if am honest and given them a chance to explain the ham and I hold my hand up for being too lazy to do so, but Oscar was being a bit of a handful and it was a nice day and I wanted to get back to the beach.
Maybe I was unlucky with my choice, as Mrs SF’s dish was alright (bread aside) and it is certainly popular, being packed on a Monday lunch time. My dish just wasn’t very good I am afraid and ham, egg and chips is not really that hard to get right. Looking at Tripadviser, it would seem I am not alone in my disappointment as to the quality and price of what was provided.
The bill (with drinks) came to £31, which I thought was an awful lot for what we got. We could have had the two course lunch at the Potted Pig in Cardiff for that price, which I know would have been much better.
It is a nice place to sit and have a drink, after a stroll on the beach, and it has some good beers on draft. The service was good, even though they were very busy and they are also very dog friendly which is big plus in my book. I really wanted to like it more.
Would I go back? Maybe to see if my dish was a one off (hope so), but I certainly will not be in a hurry to do so and for me the price to quality ratio was way off.