The Hare and Hounds in Aberthin is pretty much everything you could want from a local; good quality food and drink in relaxed surroundings.
Yet somehow that feels like we are doing this 300-year-old village pub a disservice.
Recognised by the Michelin Guide and awarded a Bib Gourmand in 2017, the Hare and Hounds has become as much a destination restaurant as a busy ‘local’. One side of the building retains the look and feel of the old pub – while on the other, the mismatched wooden furniture, whitewashed walls and stripped floors provide a cosy backdrop while you peek at the busy open kitchen.
It’s owned and run by Head Chef Tom Watts-Jones and wife Sarah: growing up in Aberthin, much of Tom’s childhood was spent playing in the pub garden, and later it was where he had his first pint. We are only grateful that after 10 years’ worth of experience in London’s Anchor & Hope and Michelin-starred St. John, he chose to return here to promote the very best of Welsh food.
As with its sister pub, Llandaff’s The Heathcock, the current menu offers ‘small plates’ shaped by the outstanding produce on their doorstep in the Vale of Glamorgan. Literally: much comes from Tom’s allotment and family farms and he hunts and forages; so expect game, mushrooms and hedgerow berries to make regular appearances.
With all this close at hand, it’s no wonder menus change daily.
Everything here is made from scratch, from bread and butter to fresh ricotta and spinach rotolo. Meat dishes of roast hanger steak and Torgelly Farm lamb are justifiably renowned. Nothing on your plate is there without a reason and it all comes together in a menu which is full of beautifully conceived and experienced cooking.
Again, like The Heathcock, this isn’t formal fine dining; it’s just about good food, and you’ll feel equally at home whether you’re walking the dog, or visiting for a special occasion.
There is one rule to abide by, though: leave space for dessert, and thank us later. Yes, even if you’re ‘not a dessert person’. You shouldn’t pass up the chance to try their soufflé. It’s the rock many a Masterchef contestant’s hopes are dashed on, but we can assure you that the Hare and Hounds version is exemplary. There’s a good reason this notoriously difficult dessert is always on the menu here.
You could easily drive past the Hare and Hounds as you head to Cowbridge. Our advice? Don’t.
Unless, of course, you’re looking for their bakery, and then we’d advise making a beeline for their homemade raspberry jam with marshmallow doughnuts.
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