Culinary Causerie

With Lesley Williams

Village People

I haven’t been into the Village Inn – now called The Village Bar Café – in Killay for many years but had been hearing some very favourable reports on its refurbishment and particularly about the food. So, I quickly made my booking and popped along.

Well it has certainly changed since my last visit and the place was absolutely packed – booking in advance is essential. It now has a real wine bar vibe and the food is also very relaxed and bistro-like.

Tapas or small plates are very popular with an excellent deal on two choices from the menu plus patatas bravos for under £12. As ever I ordered too much – especially given that the portion sizes are more than generous.

The mixed grill even defeated my carnivorous husband, with its steak, chicken, sausages and lamb chops as well as chips and grilled tomatoes – a really hearty meal. I meanwhile tucked into a generous portion of humus accompanied by flat bread and a big bowl of mixed olives. I have become more pescatarian as I grow older –

I think it is because fish and seafood seem to be more easily digestible, so to accompany the flat bread and humus I had some garlicky prawns and crispy calamari – both of which were far more than I expected. It is evident that chef Michele Treharne wants no one to go hungry.

The tapas menu runs to about twenty dishes including fish, meat, vegetarian and vegan all priced at £5; there is also a specials board with the fish of the day. The Village Bar Café is open from 10:30 for breakfast and last orders for food are at 20:30.

Service is exceptionally friendly and all the staff are knowledgeable about both the wine list and the food menu. If you haven’t popped into The Village Bar Café recently, then you’re in for a great surprise.

The Village Bar Cafe, 5-6 Swan Court, Killay, Swansea, SA2 7BA Tel: 01792 203311

Rake and Riddle

We seem to do a lot more eating out in the early evening than we ever used to, not because we are getting old and have fallen into that ‘have to eat at five o’clock’ routine, but because we tend to take our grandson with us and eat en famille. So fine dining is out and pub grub is in. I had heard good thinks about the Rake and Riddle in Penclawdd, and that there was a children’s play area to boot – it all sounded like the perfect place to watch the sun go down on an unseasonably warm September evening.

The Rake and Riddle has been completely renovated since its change of ownership in 2016 – gone is the Chinese décor – replaced by a large modern bar with plenty of seating areas. Upstairs is a sports bar for casual dining, while outside is an extensive patio area along with the aforementioned children’s play area.

On this particular Friday evening the place was packed – it seemed everyone had had the same idea of making the most of the sunshine. We found a table perfectly placed to keep an eye on the little one, while we relaxed with a cold drink. The menu has everything you would expect from a coastal – I want to say seaside but of course it is the estuary – pub. Cockles feature in several dishes – Penclawdd has long been associated with the cockle industry, and the name Rake and Riddle refers to the tools of the trade.

The stand out course for us was the prawn twisters – generous prawn filling covered in the lightest filo pastry case – next time I will order a portion just for myself. The whitebait was plump, juicy and perfectly crisp, and the nachos came with plenty of guacamole, salsa and soured cream.

You will notice that the only photographs we took were of the starters. When we go out we always have to remind ourselves to wait before tucking in, to give time to take some pictures. On this occasion, it all went to plan until the main courses arrived – then we just fell on our plates and forgot to record them. You’ll just have to believe me when I say that the burger, pizza and baguette looked great. They tasted good too. The burger was tender and flavoursome, the Rake and Riddle signature pizza with cockles, of course, prawns, garlic and mozzarella was perfectly thin and crispy with lightly scorched edges, while the chicken and bacon baguette was stuffed full to bursting with plenty of filling. The obligatory chips passed the crunch test. Oh, and grandson polished off his plate of chicken goujons, chips and peas before going back to the swings – as only a 4-year old can do.

I was impressed with the quality of all the food on offer, and more so that the children’s meals are equally good. The goujons of chicken appeared to be freshly made and not the chopped up reshaped variety.

Supper for four adults and one child came in under £50 not including drinks. The Rake and Riddle is the perfect stopping off point for an informal meal – and don’t worry if you don’t want children around you as there are plenty of tables well away from the play area where you can relax. It is also dog friendly.

Rake and Riddle, Gowerton Road, Penclawdd, Swansea SA4 3RB Tel: 01792 872886

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