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Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Steer A Course For The Charthouse

Just a few miles from Abergavenny The Charthouse is a restaurant run by Wes Harris, a chef who has worked with all the local chefs and started his second restaurant last year. The previous one achieved high praise but his business partner pulled out.

Disappointed Wes considered leaving the industry but a period working with Matt Tebbut at The Foxhunter reignited his passion and, when the Charthouse came on the market Wes moved in , and a good job too.

With a new menu a couple of weeks ago and plans for a lighter lunch menu it seemed like a good time to visit, and a day out with an old friend gave the perfect reason to do so.

We arrived for a Wednesday lunch as walk ins and were warmly welcomed by Simon the Manager. A drink and the menu were delivered to comfortable chairs and we set about the decision process.

The emphasis is on local, seasonal and fresh with a good selection of appetisers, starters and mains and a strong showing in the fish and shellfish department. Although it was Wednesday and a country location a number of other diners, mainly walk ins like us arrived and around 10 settled for lunch.

We were offered Still, Sparkling or Tap water, not an option always given and settled for Tap, a large carafe with Lemon slices and sensible tumblers to drink from.

Big plus points were given to the sensible table layout and comfortable chairs and the modern tasteful decoration, the basket of fresh vegetables displayed in a niche inspired thoughts that this would be good food indeed.

My Weight Watching companion opted for a Main and Dessert, choosing the Madgetts Farm Chicken with baby tomatoes and new potatoes.

 I went for the pan fried Calves Liver with a buttery Mashed Potato and smoked Pancetta,

Both mains were amazing, real depth of flavour and presented well. Though "counting the points" my companion declared that it would be rude not to have dessert, and anyway Peaches are fruit so don't count.

Accordingly Roast Peaches were ordered whilst I had the  Chocolate and Caramel Tart.

The pastry for the tart would have had Mary Berry rolling on the floor in ecstasy, thin and crisp it held an amazingly soft caramel with an unctuous dark chocolate topping. A small jug of double cream completed the dish. "How are the Peaches" I asked "Too busy eating" responded the sometime dieter.

A good organic coffee rounded off a memorable lunch. The Comment Card filled by my companion was full of praise and she suggested that we return for Dinner one evening.

There was an ulterior motive for selecting the Charthouse for lunch.

I will be doing some filmed interviews for this blog and the Monmouthshire County Council Website in the run up to the Abergavenny Food Festival and Wes Harris will be one of the interviewees. He has done demonstrations in the Tithe Barn in the run up and will be doing another in the Market Hall at 2pm on Sunday. Wes really does believe in Local and Great using only good ingredients from local producers such as the woman who provides Salad ingredients and turns up wit a boot full of veg from which he takes his pick.

It will be good to interview him and to show how good Monmouthshire produce and food really is. Watch this space but, in the meantime visit the website and book your table - special offers during the Food Festival period. I certainly will be back!

To read more about Wes' demo -and others, at the Tithe Barn follow this link  

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