What can you tell me about The Walnut Tree
If you're heading to Abergavenny, then a visit to The Walnut Tree is inevitably going to be high up on your list of things to do. This Michelin-starred restaurant is one of the highlights of a visit there.
Who's in charge?
It's headed up by legendary chef Shaun Hill whose long and illustrious career includes stints at The Capital Hotel (under Brian Turner), Head Chef at Gidleigh Park and The Merchant House in Ludlow. If you love what modern British chefs are doing with local and seasonal produce while being influenced by global cooking - then know that those chefs owe a lot of that to Hill.
What's the place like?
For a Michelin-starred restaurant - or at least our expectations of one - it's pleasingly down to earth. It's billed as an inn - and it really does come across like that, as a country inn with one hell of a menu.
We'll assume you're already in Abergavenny at this point (if not - see more info about getting there in our Abergavenny Food Festival guide). And from the town it's about a 5-minute cab ride.
What about if we fancy a quick pre-dinner drink?
There's a decent sized bar at the restaurant if you want to grab something while taking a look at the menu.
And the food?
As you'd expect in a restaurant whose reputation precedes it, the menu reads very well indeed. While the prices edge into standard Michelin territory (around £12 for a starter and £25-£30 for mains) the portions are very generous and you won't need to add any sides.
The cooking is everything we wanted from the place. Wonderful seasonal ingredients, much of which is locally sourced, has been elevated by Hill's cocoking into some truly wonderful dishes. Of what we had on the night - our favourites were:
- The steak tartare with chips - and there's us thinking that steak tartare was a dish that couldn't be bettered.
- The veal sweetbreads with sauerkraut and caper dressing - a classic dish from Hill
- The loin of Berkshire pork with cheek and sausage roll - because who couldn't be won over by a Michelin-starred sausage roll?
We had what was easily one of our desserts of the year (and it's been a prime bunch so far) with the caramel fondant with sorrel ice cream. We've had a fair few chocolate fondants of late but this beats them all. Just look at that picture above and tell us you wouldn't want that in front of you right now.
How about drinks?
You can grab a classic, well-made cocktail at the bar and the wine list is very reasonable indeed with over 10 bottles under the £30 mark.
Over the years we've received many a recommendation to visit the Walnut Tree - and there's always a worry that great expectations will lead to something of a letdown. But that's clearly not the case here - a restaurant that's certainly worth travelling halfway across the country to get to - which mixes extremely accomplished cooking with a wonderfully comfortable and laid back restaurant. Best of all, you'll almost definitely find Hill cooking in the kitchen here - something that's not a given with many other restaurants with such illustrious chefs in charge.
Hot Dinners were invited to the Walnut Tree. Prices are correct at the time of writing.
The Walnut Tree is at Old Ross Rd, Llanddewi Skirrid, Abergavenny NP7 8AW. Find out more.