Total Pageviews

Friday, 27 April 2012

Country Pub of the Year

A good pub should be at the heart of every community.

Not just my thoughts but those of CAMRA the Campaign for Real Ale who don’t just champion real ale but also pubs and breweries and aim to ensure that there is a thriving industry and community.

April is their Community Pub month aimed at promoting the role of pubs as part of their local communities, be they in towns, cities or villages. So, once again the Coach and Horses in Chepstow won the Gwent Town Pub award, and the Star Inn Llansoy the Country Pub.

The Star Inn winning this prestigious award is an amazing story, as just a year ago the pub was shut, boarded up and unloved.

Enter John and Julie Davis who took it on, installed a good team and hot young chef, and re-opened with the aim of building a successful local pub that would concentrate on good beers, excellent food and become a key part of the community.

And how well that has worked.

First off there are a good range of beers, the CAMRA endorsement backs this up, and they support local brewers Kingstone – just down the road in Tintern, and Tiny Rebel the new Newport based brewery whom I featured in the earlier blog about the Newport Food Festival.

Locality matters to John and Julie and as well as good beers they want to support local producers and the restaurant features local food with the meat coming from Abergavennys Neil Powell.

Handling the cooking side is Matt Dawkins a hot young chef who I first met as a 17 year old catering college student in 2009 when we were both members of the Monmouthshire Team in TV show Taste the Nation. Monmouthshire went out in the first round with only Matt winning his head to head – and I didn’t even get to cook!

Matt is producing good local and seasonal food, reasonably priced and well presented so the restaurant was crowded even on a Wednesday evening. As I photographed the Specials Board a diner said “Don’t steal that menu, though I know why you would, the food’s always great”.

As it was we didn’t dine but the small plates of nibbles in the bar –lovely sausage rolls, home- made vegetable crisps, egg mayonnaise on crostini etc., showed Matt’s talent and a meal at the Star is a must.

But back to the award and one of the reasons that the Star was recognised is the way in which the pub is positioned at the heart of the community. Bank holidays are marked by Family Days with bouncy castles and kids’ activities and there is an exciting programme of drink related events as well.

4th May sees the chance to sample Butcombe Beers and some of Matts Hand Cut Chips, whilst the weekend of 4th June is the Star Inn Beer Festival with stalls, events, raffles and the opportunity to meet the Head Brewer at Kingstone Brewery. You might just win a case of beer in the raffle but even if you don’t real ales and live music should be reason enough to head out.
Later in the year there will be a Fullers Wine tasting evening and a pub organised trip to Butcombe Brewery in Bristol.

Before that the pub is supporting its local brewery with a trip to Kingstone on 8th June and one of the raffle prizes the weekend before is a place on the trip.

With loads of activities it is clear why, during Camra Community Pub Month, the Star was awarded Country Pub of the Year 2012.

Only going for a year the Star Inn has come a long way and will undoubtedly continue to develop and ensure that it becomes a major destination pub in both Monmouthshire and South wales.

Though I was there for the Award a return visit and full review is welldesered and I shall return in the very near future.

In the meantime Congratulations are due to John, Julie and the team who have turned around a closed pub and made it an award winner that should go from strength to strength.

Based on that the Star Inn Llansoy is undoubtedly Local and Great.

Visit UK Food Bloggers Association

No comments:

Post a Comment