I took a visit a lovely little western Welsh treasure called Y Polyn to celebrate a birthday. Situated in the leafy countryside of Carmarthenshire and owned and run by acclaimed ex food critic Simon Wright and his foodie compadres, this dinky gastro-pub gets rustic cooking spot on. We had the sunday lunch menu, and through sampling everyone else's food as well as my own, I am able to share my experiences of a few of the delights on offer.
Lets start with the starters (which were washed down with champagne, but I'm sure they're great with just the free water and bread provided). I had a hazelnut coated goats cheese with beetroot, and around the table there was a Carmarthen ham with home-made slaw, pork rillettes and chicken liver pate. My favourite was the goats cheese for it's balanced flavour and texture but the pate and rillettes were equally delightful. Andy (who went for the ham) was not so impressed and so ate lots of everyone else's to make up for it.
On to the mains, and I should tell you that I was concerned that I'd overdone it with the focaccia but it was so moreish, with it's sexy bouncy texture and oily salty crumbs that stuck to my mouth. I ordered the lamb hot pot, but on the table was also roasted pork belly and sewin with a creamy sauce (I didn't try that actually but according to Huw it was perfectly “just cooked”). The lamb hot pot was a lip-smackingly perfect example of why lamb is my favourite meat. Very tender. Very savoury. The pork too was delicious. Meaty and fatty in the right proportions and the crackling, a crispy icing on a porky cake. Add to this seasonal veg dish of ratatouille, creamy dauphinoise and braised fennel and you have a pub feast or heavenly heart attack in the making.
Dessert was for the bold. Those who looked a bulging gut in the belly button and said, one more mouthful. I had a panacotta and a taste of perfect custard tart with pomegranate ice cream floated my way. The panacotta was just what it ought to be, smooth and creamy with a punchy, all be it sticky, addition of pecans and sour cherries with honey. Melty fudge was served with the coffee (which was probably the only thing I didn't enjoy) to round it all off. All in all the sweets were delectable, though I think it's fair to say that the mains were the jewels in the crown.
I wish it wasn't so well hidden. It was busy at the time so I'm sure that others feel it is worth the trek, though I doubt they had done the commute from London. There is quite a local and informal atmosphere to the place, just what one would expect from a country pub. I had to get the cook book I was so impressed with the simple but well executed menu, but I suspect that my supermarket cuts will not be up to par with Y Polyn's ethically, hand reared, organic and locally sourced produce.
All in all, a pub lunch to rival all others I have ever had.