Sunday, 17 May 2015

Restaurant review: Llanerch Vineyard

It was my husband's 30th birthday in March and I wanted to take him somewhere special for his birthday meal. After several hours of googling and trip-advisoring (trip-advisoring should definitely become an official verb), I decided to treat him to Sunday lunch at Llanerch Vineyard.

Llanerch Vineyard is situated in Hensol in the Vale of Glamorgan, just off junction 34 of the M4. I'd never been there myself but I'd heard colleagues raving about it, and the reviews on Trip Advisor speak for themselves. I emailed the restaurant to book a table for Sunday 1st March and to order a gift voucher for a three course Sunday lunch for two. I thought it would be nicer to pay beforehand and to give Neil a voucher rather than paying on the day, particularly as he probably wouldn't let me pay for it all myself if I paid on the day! The restaurant staff were really helpful and made the whole booking experience very easy. Now all I had to do was keep the location a secret.

On 1st March, we got into my car and I drove to Hensol. Although Neil kept trying to guess where we were going for the entire journey, I knew he hadn't heard of Llanerch Vineyard so I was pretty confident that none of his guesses would be correct. I put some effort into my appearance for the occasion... definitely the best bun I've ever achieved!

The weather was unfortunately quite dull and dreary, but this didn't dampen the appearance of Llanerch Vineyard at all. The restaurant's surrounding areas were beautiful and I could have taken photos of all the different nooks and crannies for hours. However, I only took a few as I was hungry and didn't want to annoy Neil on his birthday with my incessant photographing. Also, as the scenery outside the restaurant itself was so lovely, I couldn't wait to see what the interior was like. 

The interior of the Cariad Bistro & Restaurant didn't disappoint. It was charmingly rustic but with a modern and fresh twist, and it felt like the perfect place for a nice Sunday lunch. We were shown to our table by a friendly waitress and were greeted by a daffodil on our table to mark St David's Day. 

I ordered the soup of the day to start, then the roast sirloin of beef Sunday roast for my main. I'm a massive fan of Sunday dinner and have had some excellent examples in my time, so this meal had a lot to live up to. My soup arrived promptly with a nice bread roll... 

The soup of the day was carrot and coriander and it was very tasty. I've always liked tinned carrot and coriander soup, but obviously this was ten times better. The roll (Swansea bread, apparently) was also delicious. I usually prefer white bread with soup but this roll was the perfect accompaniment. A good start! I cleared my bowl and sat back to wait for my main course. 

Wow. Just wow. The plate looked a lot prettier before I loaded my cauliflower cheese and vegetables on to it, but still... wow! Massive yorkshire pudding, honeyed roast parsnips, roast potatoes, sprouts, carrots, green beans, cauliflower cheese and the most succulent beef I've ever had. The meal was topped with a lovely rich gravy. I ate every scrap and absolutely loved every  bit of it. Neil doesn't like cauliflower cheese so I had a double helping of that which was a bonus. I also love a good honeyed parsnip and these were roasted just the way I like them. Neil asked for lamb as his meat of choice and said it was the best lamb he's ever had. Top marks from both of us for the main course! I was far too full for dessert, but we had a voucher for a three course meal so we obviously had to finish the meal off in style. 

I ordered the white chocolate and apricot cheesecake with butterscotch cream for my dessert... possibly the most decadent dessert I've ever had. And yes, I include my Italian holidays in that statement which makes it even more impressive. I didn't even know if I liked butterscotch but the little dollop of cream with cocoa dusting was just heavenly. The base was very thick and buttery and the filling itself was so rich and indulgent with just the right amount of apricot flavouring. Absolutely beautiful. I'm also a big fan of round desserts (no idea why) so this bowled me over on all counts. 

The rain cleared up while we were eating so we went outside for a wander after finishing our food. The vineyard itself is just a few metres from the restaurant, and there's a seating area outside ready for the warmer weather. Such a pretty setting for a Sunday lunch! I definitely want to go back during the summer so that we can have a longer walk around the vineyard. 

The restaurant at Llanerch Vineyard definitely lived up to all its hype. Every aspect of our three course meal was delicious and it really felt like an indulgent treat. I paid £45 for the voucher for two which is very reasonable considering both the quality and the quantity of the food. The service was excellent and the views were beautiful, even if the weather wasn't perfect on the day we visited. 

Have you ever visited Llanerch Vineyard? What did you think? We'll definitely be back!  

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