CULINARY CAUSERIE with Sarla Langdon and Lesley Williams

BAY Food

Tafarn Y Deri —- New Gourmet Oasis in West Wales

The good people of Swansea are familiar with the attractions of pub-restaurants in West Wales, many of which have been gourmet destinations for the discerning since decades. Nantgaredig, Brechfa, Llanarthne, and Llandeilo are among the Carmarthen-shire villages famed for the beauty of their environs and the excellence of their food, and it was an absolute pleasure to visit the latest addition to their ranks, the Tafarn Y Deri in Llanedi.

This traditional local pub on the main Ebenezer Rd has been attractively refurbished by Marlin Hospitality director Linda Clayton Evans with her chef patron husband Mark, and can take its place among the smartest of West Wales watering-holes.

Mark Evans is known to us as the erstwhile chef in the Tex-Mex Café Devereaux in Wind Street, his spicy enchiladas, chimichangas and burritos providing a welcome alternative to steak and chips. Mark, as executive chef, along with his chef de cuisine Dean Parker, continues to add a taste of the continental along with good standard Welsh favourites at the Tafarn Y Deri.

Mark’s celebration menu for the launch event featured starters including sweet potato and red pepper soup, a perfect parfait of chicken liver, and a dish of scallops with pancetta redolent of the Mediterranean, while the main courses of a game platter featuring local quail, pigeon and game terrine vied with a slow roasted lamb fillet. An unusual butternut, spinach and chestnut Wellington with a beetroot sauce was the appealing vegetarian offering.

This choice of rich and varied dishes locally sourced carries on the well-established West Wales tradition of culinary excellence. Combined with the attentiveness of the staff, a fine wine-list, and the unbeatable ambience of a rural setting, Tafarn Y Deri has all the qualities required for a destination restaurant: make sure you book in advance.

Lunch with a view – sometimes


What do you do when you have guests to stay and the weather is against you? I was faced with this dilemma late in February, when we had a cousin and her husband visiting from California.

It was early afternoon, and having had a late breakfast we weren’t looking for a full blown lunch, but needed a little sustenance to tide us over until dinner. A surge of inspiration brought to mind the Grape and Olive – at least we’d have a great view of the city, and it would give us the opportunity to show off the tallest building in Wales.

The best laid plans etc – ok there was just one flaw – by the time we’d arrived at the 28th floor the cloud was fast coming down and the top of Kilvey Hill had disappeared from view. Within 20 minutes Mount Pleasant too was veiled in mist.

The restaurant was busy on this particular Saturday afternoon; several tables were occupied by families celebrating birthdays. At another table a couple of young ladies were tucking into huge plates of steak and chips. Dressed up to the nines, it was evident that they were girding their loins for a long evening ahead.

We weren’t planning on partying until dawn so we ordered of leek and potato soup, chilli dusted whitebait and salad – this would provide adequate substance.

Leek and potato soup is such a simple dish, but is often the cause for disappointment – but not today. This was thick, velvety and unctuous, and came accompanied by a generous serving of warm focaccia bread – just the thing for a winter’s day. The whitebait too was a generous portion served in a tiny wire-mesh basket.

I had always thought that whitebait was a particular species of fish and was surprised to learn that it is in fact a collective term for immature fry, most commonly herring, sprats, sardines, mackerel and bass.

I don’t know why I don’t venture up ‘the tower’ more often. It’s the ideal place to sit and watch the world go by from a bird’s viewpoint. The service was cheery and the food was good value for money – just a pity the weather let us down.

Grape and Olive, Meridian Tower, Trawler Road, Swansea Marina. Tel: 01792 462617


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