Only open since May 2019, The Gaff in Abergavenny has made a big impression in a town which can claim to be the food lover’s capital of Wales.
That’s not just down to the internationally renowned annual Festival, which has grown to have the pulling power to attract some of the biggest names in the UK: it’s the renown of restaurants like the Michelin-starred Walnut Tree, Stephen Terry’s The Hardwick, or Simon and Kate King’s Restaurant 1861.
Wiith no shortage of good places to eat, the reputation gained by The Gaff so quickly tells you this is somewhere which deserves your attention.
You’ll find it tucked away behind tall iron gates inscribed ‘The Courtyard’: beyond this little nook is an elegantly renovation of three former sheds, now a space where pale walls are picked out in subtle greys and natural tones are plentiful.
The informality and welcome implied by the name is immediately obvious. Inside, you’ll notice an old clock on the wall: a bronze plaque tells you that it was working all the way through the initial renovation, and stopped as soon as their first customer entered: a permanent reminder of a new start, where Danielle Phillips and Dan Saunders have made something special.
You’d expect a restaurant owned, run and staffed by people who all spent years at The Walnut Tree, to have a commitment to high standards. And so it proves: The Gaff specialises in small plates, with influences and inspiration drawn from far and wide.
That menu changes every day, so you might find anything from Japanese katsu curry and Tuscan chicken livers to traditional British, French and Chinese flavours. (Their Scotch egg is an ever-present- the regulars wouldn’t let them drop it- and the same goes for the crisp, potent ‘Bang Bang’ cauliflower. It’s good enough to convince even the most hardened caulisceptic.)
Local produce is always prized, but commitment to finding the best ingredients they can means they import from all over Europe too. It’s all about making your meal memorable, all of this coming from a kitchen where the whole team has an input, where there’s a democratic, whole-team approach to putting new dishes on the menu.
The Gaff can’t fail to impress you with its quality, its creativity and its welcome. It is easy to see how it has become a local favourite so quickly: it’s just as easy to see why it’s worth seeking out from further away.
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