Update: reopened in Oct 2018 under ownership of people behind the Hare & Hounds in Aberthin – review to follow in due course.
Update: As I understand it the Heathcock will close on the 12 March 2017 due to issue between the tenants and Enterprise Inns (the owners). No idea if and when it will reopen.
Update: The chef Lewis Dyer has left and is now working at the Longhouse. Not eaten here since his departure, so not sure what food is like now. Hopefully they have a comparable replacement in place.
The Llandaff food scene has been steadily improving, with the likes of Porro, the Pickled Radish, Jaspers and (perhaps to a lesser extent) the Malsters (I have always been slightly disappointed with food there, as I have with most SA Brains’ establishments). This has brought a certain vibrancy to the main drag (slight bigging up of Llandaff High Street there).
A little bird (Twitter to be precise) brought to my attention a potential new entrant to this list in the form of the Heathcock pub. It has a new chef (with a very decent looking CV having, I understand, worked at the Bunch of Grapes up Ponty way and the Kings Arms in Pentyrch – the latter as head chef) and, as a result, has what looks like a very interesting menu. A further bonus for me (as a dog owner) is they remain resolutely dog friendly. When I enquired as to whether they were still dog friendly the response was “oh yes, we actually quite often prefer dogs to people”. On the basis of that response alone they are clearly my kind of people.
I have been an infrequent visitor to the Heathcock since moving to Llandaff and also use to occasionally drink there as a student (eons ago), having been in halls close to it in my first year at Cardiff University. Can’t recall in all those years ever eating there.
On the basis of my previous visits it was an OK pub, but definately a boozer rather than a food pub, unless you count crisps and peanuts. This appears to have changed and food seem now to be very much in focus.
I checked it out during a week while Mrs. SF and the dogs were away. By the Wednesday I had got fed up with cooking after a long day in work (and had also forgotten to take anything out of the freezer that morning) and a wander up the road to have someone else cook me my dinner appealed immensely.
Whilst seemingly unchanged on the outside, the place seems to have had a bit of a makeover on the inside.
In the lounge, it is quite cosy with a mix of sofas, standard tables and chairs and high tops and stools. The resident dog (Bruno), a rather adorable chocolate point Labrador, gives it a somewhat homely feel.
I liked it and it is somewhere I would happily pop in for a pint with my dogs in tow.
Somewhat unusually for a pub these days it has a pool table in the bar area. Quite like that.
The main menu is quite short, being split into snacks and pub classics like fish and chips (but with a bit of a twist – cockle popcorn for example), burgers (meat and veggie) and superior sounding toasties. There was also a very nice looking set of specials on my visit.
On the snack/starter front, the pork quavers with smoked apple sauce (£2.50)
were seriously good and the curried scotch egg with lime pickle also appealed immensely to me (next time). Perfect beer snacks these.
On to the mains, whilst sorely tempted by the beef cheek special, I went for sausage and mash (£8.50) from the main menu.
This was a very superior sausage and mash dish, with 3 good size quality pork sausages. The mash, made with the inclusion of brown butter, was lump free with a nice nuttiness to it and came with the rather nice addition of shallots crisps. These had been fried so that they were crunchy and had a lovely caramelised flavour. There is a fine line with shallots and onions in terms of cooking them to a crisp – a couple of second over and they become very bitter. Here they were bang on the money.
The dish was rounded off nicely with a rich, glossy gravy. All in all a very satisfying and well executed dish. The fact that the kitchen is able to produce a dish like this with such aplomb suggests that they will also be able to deliver on the more complex dishes on the specials board. It all points to a kitchen that knows what it is doing. My only quibble was the addition of a somewhat superfluous watercress garnish.
I didn’t try the puds, but the selection on offer looked rather good.
They have a very decent selection of draft beers, including a couple from Sharps and Wye Valley HPA.
I went for the Sharps’ Atlantic (£3.50), a easy drinking pale ale which went down very nicely indeed. Good beer that was kept in good condition. They clearly know how to treat draught ales properly.
They also have a very diverse selection of soft drinks for non drinkers/ designated drivers, with stuff from Frobishers, Franklin and Sons and Fentimens. Nice to see more than lip service being paid to those not drinking booze.
I didn’t really get sight of the wines on offer, but noticed this behind the bar
This suggests a place that is more for the beer lover than the wine drinker. Shame that, as the food warrants some decent wine to go with it.
On a subsequent visit, I have noted a not half bad wine list.
So they now have decent wines (as well as beers to go with the lovely food). Result I would say.
From the meal I had and the beer I drunk, the Heathcock is clearly somewhere else in Llandaff which warrants serious consideration. The fact that this Summer is allegedly going to be a good one (yeah right) makes the place all the more alluring as it has a very decent sized beer garden. All in all a big thumbs up from me and somewhere I will be definitely take the dogs after a decent walk.
Prices are reasonable, ranging from £6.50 to £8.50 for mains on the standard menu and £9.95 to £13 for the specials. The 8oz rump steak at £9.95 looked particularly good value, as does their Sunday lunch offering (loving the sound of the Brisket).
Would I go back? Absolutely – good food, good beer, good value and doggie friendly. What’s not to like?
I have actually already been back (with Mrs.SF) and we had the Beef cheek (£13) and a brisket and beetroot curry (£10).
Both were absolutely lovely and washed down with a couple of very pleasant pints of Wye Valley HPA (£3.30).
The post title (from the frankly mad 1960s song “Surfin Bird” by the Trashmen – as featured in the film “Full Metal Jacket” and more recently an episode of Family Guy) poses the question, “Don’t you know about the bird?” If not, you really should check the Heathcock out – this bird is the word.
58-60 Bridge Street,
Website: click here to access their Facebook page The Heathcock
Kitchen opening hours