Musings (more like rambling thoughts) of a Cardiff based lawyer obsessed with food and wine
With the sun finally making an appearance in this so far pretty grim spring, Mrs. SF and I headed down to the beach to blow away a few cobwebs and give the dogs a bit of a run.
Both of them absolutely love the beach – smell heaven it seems.
After a bracing (to say the least – we experienced, to our surprise, pretty much horizontal rain in our faces for the first hour or so, which was in sharp contrast to the rather lovely day before) two hour walk, the sea air certainly built up our appetites and we were therefore ready for a spot of lunch.
Needing a dog friendly place, we chose the Lamb & Flag in Wick (booking in advance is a must at the weekend at it get busy, with people being turned away at time of our Sunday lunch visit).
This country pub has been taken over by the people that run the excellent Arbennig in Cardiff and has got a rave review from a person whose opinion I trust on food and drink.
The fact that it is resolutely dog friendly sealed the deal for us and Sunday lunch at the Lamb & Flag in Wick it was.
Nice looking traditional pub on the outside, it has a bar and lounge/ restaurant area.
The lounge/restaurant is made up of lots of little nooks and crannies and has a cosy fire. We were put in the bar area (as we arrived early) to await our table. This is a bit more utilitarian, with a pool table and darts board and a carpet even my grandmother would think a bit fussy (I suspect it is on the list in terms of a makeover)
Whilst not having the charm of the lounge/restaurant, the bar had plenty of space and, with Oscar – one of our dogs – sometimes a little vocal,
we decided to stay put in the bar rather than going through to the lounge area (hopefully freeing up a table for someone).
The dogs were happy enough and we thought why move when they are settled. I think the lounge/restaurant area is much more salubrious, but we were happy enough in the bar.
With this place being run by the people behind the very good Arbennig, we went with high hopes on the food front.
The standard menu is full of pub classics, as well as more diverse/inventive stuff. It all sounded rather nice.
We, however, were there on a Sunday when there is a slightly pared back offering, including an obligatory roast (beef or chicken were the choices)
I had heard tell that the ham hock scotch eggs here are pretty doggone good, so it was a no brainer for me as to what to order for my starter. Even if I hadn’t been forewarned, I think the menu description of a ham hock scotch egg, curried parsnip puree and Serrano ham (£6.95) would have caught my eye.
This was a fabulous dish, with a beautifully light, oil free, crisp crumbed exterior and “bang on” seasoned, super tasty, ham hock surrounding a perfectly cooked runny golden yolked egg
Adding nicely to this was a generous amount of good quality Serrano ham, some pink pickled onions and a lovely, lightly, curried parsnip puree (with not a lump in sight).
Cracking dish, with a lovely balance of flavours and textures.
Mrs. SF hummed and harred over whether to order the pear, goats cheese and walnut salad or the soup. The latter won the day as she (wisely) wanted something warming after our soaking on the beach.
Funny thing soups on menus, with most people passing it off as the boring option. Personally I love a good bowl of soup and Mrs SF and I had the whole soup thing taken to the next level on a Michelin star gaff in Cordoba we visited recently.
The soup here was billed as a spiced roasted tomato number. Very satisfying with there being a lovely rich flavour and sweetness to the tomatoes. Not sure I got that much spicing, bit on heat at the back end perhaps, but it was nonetheless lovely stuff and just the ticket to warm the cockles
It came with a great piece of focaccia (heavily salted on the top, with a nice thwack of thyme) and some nice (equally salty) proper butter.
Very pleasing and a good size portion for the £4.95 price tag. Mrs. SF thoroughly enjoyed it.
On to the mains, despite my usual adversion to half and half (for non Welsh readers, half chips half rice with the a curry) I was sorely tempted by the chicken curry (coming as it did with triple cooked chips – which if they are only half as good as those at Arbennig will be awesome) which (with the added extras of rice, chips and a garlic naan) seemed very nicely priced at £9.95.
It was, however, Sunday and I felt the need for that quintessentially British dish – a roast (£11.95). Here there was a choice of beef (brisket) or chicken.
Both Mrs SF and I went for the beef, which initially came with gravy, roast potatoes and a decent sized Yorkshire pudding.
Sensing, perhaps, mine and Mrs. SF’s thought of “where’s the veg?” the waitress said we would need to make a bit of room for the 3 lots of veg. and extra gravy that would be brought in a sec.
Large bowls of new potatoes, peas, cabbage,
carrot, swede and turnip, as well as extra gravy, duly arrived.
The application of these resulted in admirably full plates (unclear to me what the garnish of watercress was doing on the plate if am honest, but heyho).
The beef was beautifully tender, with a lovely umami hit to it. Brisket can be tough and dry if cooked incorrectly, but it have been given the perfect low and slow treatment here. The extra gravy added a further meaty hit.
The yorkie was a good size and nicely puffed up, although both it and the roasties could (minor criticism) perhaps have been a touch crisper. The other veg. was nicely cocked (far from the mushy, overcooked, rubbish you sometimes get with a pub roast). Lovely buttery new potatoes and the crisp cabbage (with the peas) were the stars of the sides show.
All in all, a very satisfying plate of food that filled us up a treat and good value at £11.95.
Puddings did sound nice, but (whilst sorely tempted by the brownie sundae and sticky toffee pudding)
we both passed as we were already pretty stuffed.
On the booze front, as far as I could see (I was driving), the offering is somewhat limited.
It was unclear what the guest beers were and Hancock HB and Reverend James seem to be their standard draft ales.
Wine wise, by the glass, there was the usual suspects of Shiraz, Merlot and Malbec.
Having said that, Mrs. SF had a glass of a more than acceptable Malbec which paired rather well with the beef.
I had a bitter shandy and sulked 🙂
Not sure if there is a wider “by the bottle” wine list. Was a suggestion from the waitress that there was, but I didn’t catch sight of it.
A more ambitious beer offering would be nice, as at the moment it looks a little pedestrian for a free house establishment (unless I am missing something).
I rather liked the Lamb & Flag. With that supremely good scotch egg dish it managed to distilled the sophistication of its sibling, Arbennig, into a homely country pub setting. Whilst the egg was the clear star of the show, the other dishes were very nice and made for a very pleasant Sunday lunch.
The fact it is resolutely dog friendly is a real bonus for me. The staff not only tolerated our dogs, but spoilt them. They got loads of fuss and a few biscuits – which is the way to their hearts I can tell you.
We paid just under £44 for our food and drink. I thought this good value for the quantity and quality of what we got.
Would I go back? Definitely. Great for Sunday lunch and, if the Scotch egg is anything to go by, I think the stuff on the main menu should be pretty good. I look forward trying it on a return visit.
Address: On the junction of Church Street and Llantwit Road, Wick, Vale of Glamorgan, CF71 7QE.
Tel: 01656 880278
Website: Click here
Food served – Weds – Sun (can’t find exact opening hours details am afraid).
Both Southerndown and Ogmore beaches are within an short drive of the Lamb & Flag (and both are dog friendly beaches).