Driving along a narrow windy road through a dark tunnel of trees towards the village of Pentyrch, Cardiff, my friend Dan and I are eager to arrive at our destination. Our surroundings are beginning to feel rather spooky, but in all honesty we just can’t wait to tuck into the Christmas menu at The King’s Arms. A late 16th century Grade II listed building, The Kings Arms is a traditional Welsh pub with a cosy vibe, serving locally-sourced food to the finest of
As Dan and I get out of the car, the comforting smell of a burning log fire beckons us inside. We are greeted at the bar by a friendly, smiling waitress, who kindly escorts us through to the restaurant. She invites us to choose our own table, and we take a seat in the corner of the room so that we can have a good look at our surroundings. The room is small but snug, and pleasantly warm given the cold winter weather outside.
Our eyes are immediately drawn to the tangled branches hanging underneath the ceiling, intertwined with glowing, white fairy lights to give a festive touch. They look so good, The Kings Arms could even get away with keeping them up all year round. When we comment on them, the waitress explains that a local resident brought the
branches to the pub from her own garden, and the staff put in a joint effort to hang them from the ceiling using fish wire. As you can see from the picture the whole of the dining area has a strong authentic feel, with its worn wooden floor, stone walls, silk lampshades and beams on the ceiling adjacent to the back wall.
The table is set beautifully, with shiny silver cutlery and crackers to match. A single red rose and seasonal berries sit in a long glass vase in the centre of the table, creating a romantic feel. The atmosphere really is breath-taking.
As the waitress takes our drinks orders and heads to the bar, Dan and I ponder over the menu. After deliberating for a few minutes, when the waitress returns I opt for carpaccio of Welsh beef fillet with pickled girolle mushrooms, and Dan goes for sweet potato, squash and coconut soup. The service here is excellent, and before returning to the kitchen the waitress even takes the time to ask if we have travelled far to get here.
Our starters arrive at the table within about ten minutes, and both look very appetising. The carpaccio of Welsh beef fillet is made up of beautiful shades of pink and red, a sign of the rare nature of this favourite Italian dish. I tend to like my meat pretty rare so this really appeals to me, and after just one taste I am pleased with my choice. The beef is incredibly tender and flavoursome, and the crisp, peppery watercress compliments it well. For me though, the pickled girolle mushrooms are the perfect finishing touch – delicate and petite, with a delicious vinegary kick.
When we have finished eating our starters the waitress promptly returns to collect our empty plates, asking us if we are happy with the food and offering us more drinks. She takes our main orders and we both choose the roasted breast of welsh turkey with sage and onion stuffing, sausage meat and fresh cranberries. I don’t usually go for turkey, but it sounds particularly tasty due to the fresh cranberries. Beef and salmon are also available in the other main courses on offer, and the vegetarian option is a chick pea, lentil and parsnip terrine with spiced tomato sauce and watercress.
When our turkey dinners arrive at the table, they look nothing like any Sunday roast we have ever seen before. Juicy, dark pink cranberries and curly crisps of parsnip top a plate full of tender turkey, crispy roast potatoes, fresh watercress, sausage meat and stuffing, surrounded by a pool of rich gravy. Just as I thought the cranberries really do transform a turkey dinner, and the parsnip crisps were unusual yet attractive. The sausage meat was meaty and the level of saltiness was just about right for me, although the serving was slightly on the small side. As for the stuffing, I personally found it a bit bland and tasteless, although Dan seemed to like it. Our main course came with side servings of pickled red cabbage, chantenay carrots and seasonal Romenesca cauliflower.
By the time we order dessert I am feeling rather full, so I play it safe with an assortment of white chocolate, praline and coffee ice cream, whilst Dan orders the lemon and lime tartlet with clotted cream and chocolate coulis. The ice cream is smooth and creamy and the different flavours go well together, whilst the honeycomb-style chocolate makes for an elegant addition. Dan’s zesty tartlet is presented carefully on the plate, complete with a dollop of fresh, clotted cream, a smudge of chocolate sauce and several fresh cranberries. As you can see from the photograph, Dan couldn’t wait to tuck in.
Having been lucky enough to taste the Christmas menu at The Kings Arms, I am really impressed with the quality and presentation of the food on offer, not to mention the idyllic décor of the dining area and the five-star service provided by our waitress. Roast dinners have a tendency to become a bit repetitive at this time of year, but the Kings Arms have put an innovative twist on the traditional festive version by including fresh, whole cranberries and parsnip crisps. It’s my turn to cook Christmas dinner this year, and I will definitely be taking inspiration from The Kings Arms. The Christmas menu would make for a refreshing alternative to cooking a dinner for the family this year, and at £22.50 a head, the value for money is pretty good. As we left we were invited to register for a 15% discount voucher to use in January, and I am looking forward to putting mine to good use!
The Kings Arms
Tel: 02920 890 202
I was invited to The King’s Arms as a guest and our food and drinks were complimentary.