The Bush Inn at St. Hilary in the Vale of Glamorgan has long been one of our favourite places to eat. It was built in the 16th Century and retains much of the style of the original with bare stone walls, flag stone floors, original oak beams and a large inglenook fireplace. It has been offering hospitality for over 500 years.
The Bush Inn at St Hilary near Cowbridge is one of a handful of family favourites, including The Fox & Hounds in Llancarfan, Summer Palace in Llandaff and The Royal India in Dinas Powys, as well as our local, The Star Inn. And then, of course, we are spoiled for choice with the variety of restaurants in Cardiff Bay and the Cardiff itself. It is great to see the return of the Bayside Brasserie, although we miss the Pearl of The Orient.
These days, it’s a lot easier to book if you do so online, for example at www.bookatable.co.uk which will connect you with loads of local restaurants, as well as showing you recent customer reviews and available offers to save a bit of cash – always welcome in the long summer holiday. Simply enter the town you are looking or your postcode to find restaurants near you. This is especially useful if you are on holiday and need to feed the kids fast! Note, however, that The Bush still relies on the telephone or email for bookings.
It was a beautiful balmy evening and the little village of St Hilary was peaceful as usual. The pub is situated next to a pretty church and its thatched roof and, in winter, roaring log fire, add to its appeal.
Last night was so warm, however, that the restaurant doors to the enclosed pub garden were open. There you’ll find not only wooden benches and tables but also a place to play boules. Just ask behind the bar for the boules set.
The Bush’s menu specialises in home-cooked rustic food and the place is well known for its pies, Wellingtons and vegetarian menu. During the day there are fresh salads, ploughmans lunches and sandwiches to choose from whilst grills and the specials menu are available in the evening.
We started off by sharing some bread with oil and balsamic vinegar (£3.50) and a bowl of olives (£3.50).
We didn’t want to spoil our appetites for the main course, especially since Caitlin and Ieuan have long outgrown the children’s menu.
Mat opted for the 10 oz Sirloin Steak served with chips, mushrooms, onions and a side salad (£20.95). He asked for the steak to be served medium and his steak was spot on, tender and juicy. The Peppercorn Sauce was rich and creamy (£1.50).
Ieuan surprised us for asking for his new favourite, Sticky Spare Ribs with BBQ Sauce served with chips, mushrooms, onions and a side salad (£14.50). The portion size was extremely generous but that didn’t stop him.
Caitlin has the appetite of a sparrow but she managed her Handmade 6 oz Beef Burger with lettuce, tomato, caramelized onion marmalade served with chips and a side salad (£11.50).
I opted for the Pork Chop with Apple Sauce, served with chips, mushrooms, onions and a side salad (£15.50). Pork can be tricky to get right but the chop was lovely and moist whilst the apple sauce is an old school treat.
What I particularly like about The Bush Inn at St Hilary is that the food is consistently good. That is not to say I don’t occasionally wish for a couple of new dishes to try but you always know you’ll get good value for money and the kids will eat their fill. There comes a point where you’ve had all the chicken and fish goujons you can take.
On to desserts and the cheesecake of the day was a real treat – Caramac (£6.50). My all-time favourite chocolate (although Bendicks Mints come a close second). Creamy with a crunch crumb base and studded with Caramac this was delicious.
Mat is a coffee fiend so he chose the Affogato – vanilla ice cream with a shot of espresso and crushed amaretti biscuits £6.00.
Caitlin chose Apple and Cinnamon Crumble served with ice cream £6.50 whilst Ieuan chose Sticky Toffee Pudding with Toffee Sauce £6.50 which also comes in a Gluten-Free option. All of the desserts were faultless and the strawberry garnish made a nice change from the ubiquitous Cape Gooseberry which I have tried but failed to love.
If you are looking for a traditional country inn with good food that is a little off the beaten track and away from crowds, The Bush Inn at St Hilary ticks all the boxes.
I can’t see us getting bored of its delights for a very long time. Especially as they serve a very good Malbec too.
For more information visit www.bushinn-sthilary.com. To book a restaurant online in your local area go to www.bookatable.co.uk.