Saturday 19 September 2009
Dylan Jones: 'The restaurants of Abergavenny display a genuine enthusiasm that is sadly lacking in less rural areas'
Talk Of The Town
While you weren't looking, the NP7 postcode has probably become the most gastronomique in all Britain. There are certainly enough great restaurants in London W1 to keep most critics entertained – but then the capital has always been spoilt. The NP7 postcode covers the Abergavenny area, home to three of the best restaurants in Wales, and they're all within a few miles of each other: The Walnut Tree, The Hardwick and The Foxhunter.
NP7 is Abergavenny's own Bermuda Triangle, a vortex of fantastically good cooking that will satisfy even the most demanding gourmand, a vortex that envelopes you without you really noticing. And while their proprietors would probably shudder at the thought, all three are unnervingly similar, both in terms of menus and surroundings, as well as service. All serve deceptively extravagant food in casually dressed rooms with the sort of enthusiasm that makes the customer actually think they might value their custom (which, frankly, is an alien concept in many London restaurants).
Specifically, Shaun Hill has reinvented The Walnut Tree, the restaurant made famous by the Italian chef Franco Taruschio over 40 years ago; The Hardwick is a more-than-charming country pub run by Stephen Terry, the man who once put Oliver Peyton's Coast in the A to Z; and The Foxhunter is the old railway stationmaster's house where celebrity chef Matt Tebbutt shows off his considerable skills. Having now been to all three I couldn't really put a cigarette paper between them – wouldn't want to, actually – as they all display a genuine passion that is sadly lacking in less rural areas. Not only this, they all serve you incredibly large portions, the sort that make you want to have another large espresso before you get back in the car. Which, if you enjoy deceptively extravagant food, is a good thing indeed. And finally, they are very close to my real favourite restaurant in the area, The River Café in Glasbury.
So, do you have postcode envy yet? If you're going to the Abergavenny Food Festival this weekend, you soon will.
Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'
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