Been a while since I did any Fr M reviews of eateries aroud these parts. What reminded me was I realised yesterday I had had lunch out four times in a week. So here goes...
Easter Monday I was invited by friends in the parish to join them for a daytrip to eastern Monmouthshire. It hadn't rained for several weeks, so we knew it was a Bank Holiday because it was pouring. However we set off, getting as far as the pretty village of .Grosmont, with its castle and church with an eight-sided tower. Catch the village website here.
So lunchtime comes and ye olde pub, the Angel is SHUT. It was one of the first in Britain to be bought by the villagers and prides itself on being a VILLAGE pub, so I don't know if that means it's shut on a day when OUTSIDERS are likely to visit... Anyway, an open sign outside Gentle Jane's Tearooms attracted us, and we decamped a few yards down the street there. Lovely! Opened under new management just three days previously, they were anxious to impress, and were attracting local custom as well as visitors - a good sign. I had a Ploughman's with three tasty cheeses and good helpings. Gentle Jane? Fr M approves.
We've got roof/ceiling/electrics problems in Christ the King Church, and the bishop's office suggested we check out what they have done in the similarly-dated Catholic Church in Ledbury. This was where I was parish priest 1983-1986, so I know it well. Current pp Richard was wonderfully helpful in telling myself and three parishioners all about the excellent work they have done to their buildings, and left us with loads to think about. But soon it was lunchtime, so I took a risk on suggesting to the gang that we head for one of my old 1980s haunts - the Farmers Arms at Wellington Heath. Lunching out was not yet so popular in those days, but the Farmers was always packed, and it was there I learned to love trout. But twenty-five years is a long time... Well it's still there, rather quieter, but delightfully un-tidied-up, if you know what I mean. One of our group thought it was fabulous, two were quietish, but it grew on me, and I love a bit of nostalgia. The service warmed up after a while, but I wasn't too hungry so I had a chorizo ciabatta panino. I have to say the chorizo would have been transparent if it had been sliced any thinner, but I enjoyed the old place in its village setting with lovely view of a quiet valley. Fr M approves - just.
Fr T and I often pop out for a quickie pub lunch on Saturday, yet we'd never hit one of our two nearest places, so this week we popped into the Ty Glas, and had a very respectable All Day Breakfast. The place was half empty, tables slightly sticky, furniture just a tad tired, and had piped pop music, but with the common two for £10 or so, who's arguing? Fr M approves - at a push.
And so we come to Sunday. I was baptising an adult, David, at 9 o'clock Mass at St Paul's, and was invited to the celebration lunch later, at a recent Portuguese addition to Cardiff's restaurant scene, Almada, in Canton. Now you're talking... Opened by former staff of Casanova, the popular Italian restaurant in the city centre, I really liked this place. Thirteen of us settled down to scrummy nibbles while I waited for my salted cod fritters, or as we call them pasteis de bacalhau. Just enough to get the old taste buds going, in time for my Entremeada com lomba de porco - pork belly and tenderloin with chorizo mashed potatoes etc... heaven. Some scrummy Portuguese version of pannacotta with some crazily tasty orange stuff finished it all off, and with a drop or two of Portuguese wine and liqueur, it almost finished me off too, especially as I was due to celebrate six o'clock Mass, and got back at approx. 5.10... Almada's already in at number 9 in TripAdvisor's list of Cardiff restaurants, but who cares? What really matters is that Fr M approves - a lot.
I wouldn't want you to think that your humble blogger spends all his time out at lunch - it was a very uncharacteristic week. However, I have to say that I enjoy sharing a meal with friends, parishioners or my trusty fellow-worker here. What could be more pleasant? Thanks friends, thanks Gentle Jane's, Farmers, Ty Glas and Almada.