When a Penarth pub made it to the Michelin Eating Out Pubs 2015 Guide, we had to go to see what it was all about.
What used to be a traditional pub is today a refined eatery with a relaxed atmosphere. Overlooking Cardiff Bay, the pastel turquoise interior adds to that laid-back holiday feel.
What is good about the Pilot is that it is still true to its pub roots. The blackboard menu, which is updated daily, includes many classic pub food, often with a subtle twist.
The chef sources all produce from local suppliers and liaises with them to come up with fresh and seasonal dishes every day. Nothing is frozen and so once a dish has run out, there’s no more.
I ordered a cheese burger and chips. And there was a reason for this choice. I wanted to see how different a Michelin guide pub burger would be to that of any other pub. And my predictions were confirmed when the barman asked how I would like the burger cooked.
This is a strong sign they have confidence in the produce they sell as only a high quality burger can be eaten pink. A poor quality burger must always be cooked thoroughly to kill bacteria which could cause food poisoning.
The burger was cooked perfectly, was tender and generous. But the focus was not just on the burger itself. The melted cheese was tasty, unlike many plastic tasting ones that some places tend to get away with in a burger. And the bread had a fresh from the oven taste. Together with the homemade chips, it was attractively presented on a wooden slab plate.
I liked the fact orders are taken at the bar rather than full table service as this contributes to the classic pub atmosphere. The service was attentive but gives customers room to breathe for socialising.
I remember having a conversation with someone a while ago who said they could not understand how a “normal, low key” place could be in a Michelin guide. He argued it should be dedicated to places of a “certain standard”.
Well, after going to one of these “normal, low-key” Michelin-listed pubs, I can safely say it meets many standards of a swanky restaurant.
And with eating trends changing, could a good pub with honest food be the future of luxuriously-decorated, small-portioned expensive restaurants?
In any case, providing customers with quality food and service while at the same time supporting local producers, in my opinion, is much more than just standard.