Perhaps more of a country girl at heart, every now and again I like to escape the lunacy of London with its frenzy of commuters and constant hulaballoo, and seek solace in the countryside. This weekend I did just that, driving three hours out of London to Wales. Having read glowing reports of The Hardwick restaurant in this month’s Olive magazine (it turns out The Telegraph, Harden’s and Square Meal are also big fans) we took a detour around Abergavenny to see what the fuss was about.

The fuss is well deserved – seated in a cosy room overlooking the rolling Welsh hills, we started with a bottle of Welsh Ancre Hill Estate White Wine 2010 from the local Monmouth vineyards which was crisp and refreshing, whilst choosing from the ridiculously reasonably priced lunch
menu – just £21 for three courses. The rolled rabbit lasagne starter was locally sourced and delicious – mains included gnocchi with roast butternut squash red onion, peas, chilli and Neal’s Yard Creamery Goat’s cheese and parmesan, as well as 21 Day Dry Aged Johnny Morris Ribeye Steak and portabello mushroom with a bone marrow and parsley crust, triple cooked chips and wild garlic butter. We finished with a range of Welsh cheese and chutney, alongside a salted quince crumble and Damian Allsop chocolates and homemade fruit pastilles.

On the way out we met Stephen Terry, Head Chef (who previously worked with Marco Pierre White at Harvey’s; Michel Roux Jr at La Gavroche;
Michael Caine at The Canteen; and Oliver Peyton at Coast) who was on his way to London for The London Restaurant Festival – not only a fabulous chef, also a lovely man, and gave us a pack of locally sourced bacon at cost price for our breakfast the next day.

My new favourite restaurant. If The Hardwick doesn’t receive a Michelin star in 2013 I’ll eat my hat…

Alix