Now after a certain number of years with your partner (months if you’re a celebrity), the romance may well fade slightly and, come Valentines Day, the onus is on the least romantic partner to pull their socks up and prove that they still know how to show their loved one a good time.
If you are a parent and the number of babysitters in your area is somewhere in the region of zero to one, this rekindling has to be done with the kids in tow.
|Ieuan is still firmly in his Harry Potter phase|
Luckily for the Husband, we were invited to review our local Beefeater Grill, the Walston Castle in Wenvoe in the Vale of Glamorgan.
Conveniently situated next door to a very reasonably priced Premier Inn, the Walston Castle is just a stone’s throw from Dyffryn Gardens (National Trust) and just a short drive away from Cardiff and Cowbridge with its designer boutiques and shops.
Founded in 1974, Beefeater is one of those brands that has been around for so long that I suspect it may not always be first choice when thinking of somewhere to eat, particularly given the competition from other food chains like Cafe Rouge, Prezzo, Zizzi and the fast food companies. It had been such a long time since we had eaten at a Beefeater, we weren’t quite sure what to expect.
The large car park is well sign-posted and it is possible to park close to both the hotel and restaurant entrances – always a bonus if you have prams or wheelchairs to think about.
Once inside, we found the restaurant to be spacious, clean and well set out. There was also some quirky artwork on the walls to give the place a more personal feel.
|Don’t worry it’s true. Ieuan’s checked.|
Ieuan’s first question to Jane, our server, was whether it was indeed possible to eat there until the cows came home. Cue a discussion about what time cows come home. Nipping a discussion of modern dairy farming methods in the bud (since we stayed at Hollings Hill dairy farm last summer, Ieuan regards himself as an expert), we took a look at the menu.
As you might expect, steak is a speciality of the Beefeater, although there are some vegetarian options such as the Veg-Out Burger (£8.99) or the Baked Veggie Enchiladas (£9.79). We found the menu to be extensive with something for everyone. You can check the dietary elements of each dish on the Beefeater website which is very handy.
There are a number of choices that are ideal for sharing with your date. There’s Sharing Potato Dippers (£7.99) – potato dippers with melted cheese, spring onions, tomatoes, jalapeños, sour cream & chive and red onion. Or how about Freshly Grilled Tear & Share Flatbread (£4.49) in Chimichurri, Garlic or BBQ Pulled Pork varieties and the Ribs & Wings Combo (£14.49) – sticky duck wings, spiced chicken wings, bourbon BBQ ribs, chunky slaw and chilli & lime seasoned mini corn on the cob with piri piri and blue cheese dips.
On the basis that foregoing a starter entitles you to dessert the Husband ordered the 8oz fillet steak with chunky chips (£19.49) and a herby Chimichurri sauce on the side. There is a good choice of sauces, for an extra 99p.
|The husband was in far too much of a hurry to get to his steak to take a decent picture for me!|
All Beefeater steaks are served with half a slow roasted tomato, grilled mushroom, lamb’s lettuce, salad and unlimited triple cooked chips or skinny fries. There is no excuse for not sharing your chips and a very good excuse for your partner to help you clear your plate.
Each steak is hand-cut each and aged for 21 days and Beefeater trains all of their chefs in their very own steak academy.
I ordered Smothered Chicken Melt (£11.29) – chargrilled chicken breast glazed with smoky BBQ sauce and loaded with streaky bacon and Monterey Jack cheese. It came with triple cooked chips, chunky slaw and a side salad.
I was also tempted by the Signature Slow-Cooked Beef Chilli (£9.49) – slow-cooked beef in a mildly spiced chilli sauce served on a bed of basmati rice with spring onions, red chillies, guacamole, sour cream and crisp corn tortilla chips and the Oven-Baked Seabass (£14.49) – seabass fillet steamed in a pouch with courgettes and cherry tomatoes and served on a bed of thinly sliced potatoes with a crunchy Greek salad.
For the children there is an extensive Mr Men inspired menu from £4.49 with plenty of choice. There’s also a 16 page activity booklet to keep them quiet whilst you reminisce about your great romantic highlights.
Caitlin and Ieuan had strawberry and chocolate milkshakes and they both had garlic bread to start.
For their main course, Ieuan chose Mr Perfect’s Popin Chicken with chips and baked beans and Caitlin chose Little Miss Trouble’s Tomato Penne Pasta. I particularly liked that there is a range of items you can substitute the chips and beans for (although good luck with that) such as an option to have mashed potato or peas.
Having cleared our plates we turned our attention to desserts – and there is a fabulous selection – many just right for sharing. The Husband is always wary of sharing a dessert with me because he claims he only ends up with about 20% of the pudding. I refute this absolutely.
Anyway, he chose the Raspberry Bakewell Tart with custard (£5.49) – a slice of bakewell with a light pastry base, raspberry jam, pistachios and almond flavoured sponge, served warm with custard.
I had the Warm Chocolate Brownie (£4.59) – served with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce.
Both were delicious and I must confess, not a lot of sharing occurred. There is a large selection of sundaes though which are just right for two spoons.
From the Kids’ Menu, Ieuan chose Mr Jelly’s Wobble Jelly and Ice Cream and Caitlin picked Funny Face ice cream which came with mini smarties and strawberry laces.
|Probably not ideal date behaviour|
We really enjoyed our meal at the Beefeater Walston Castle. The food was fresh and was piping hot. The restaurant was clean and the atmosphere nicely relaxing – no blaring disco music to ruin the intimacy. The staff were friendly, attentive and good with the kids. (Big thanks to Jane and Eddie).
Our meal came to £75 for 4 which included a sparkling water, a large glass of Malbec wine (I don’t care what the Daily Mail says), two Costa coffees and an extra milkshake each for the kids.
The Husband often visits steak restaurants when working away in London and was favourably impressed with the quality of the steak he received at Beefeater.
|Save money on Valentines Cards – get the kids to make them.|
We thought the meal was very good value and we would certainly consider going there again. It’s a great date-night venue. Beefeater Grill is certainly back on our list of places to eat out.
Now if only I could find that babysitter …..
Further information about your local Beefeater Grill is at www.beefeater.co.uk. For the Beefeater Walston Castle, telephone 02920 593896 or you can book a table online.
There is also a reward club where you are entitled to a free meal on your birthday, 5 points for every pound spent and 300 points on activation of the card.