With The New Conway and Woods already established and popular with Cardiff diners, Knife and Fork Food’s new venture, The Pilot has shown itself to be a welcome addition.
Located in a residential area of Penarth with great views of the harbour, it is the local pub I wish I had. Although I like a rustic theme, I am getting a bit bored with the amount of new pubs and restaurants that are attempting it. The Pilot is not rustic and is not pretending to be. It’s modern, clean-cut and homely with a vintage feel.
The main dining area has tables arranged in straight lines with comfy leather sofas in the centre of the room. Combined with mismatched picture frames, vintage style lamps and a cosy wood burner, it has the feel of being in someone’s living room, albeit a full living room.
The menus are displayed on boards and you order at the bar so it is all very informal and definitely more public house than restaurant. When we were there the menu was substantial and it changes with the season. They use local suppliers, forage and even use produce from some of their staff’s allotment.
We found a table for two on a surprisingly busy Monday night. I love the layout of the place but the tables were awfully close together. Mr V and I are relatively little but had we been any bigger, it would have been a bit of a squeeze to get to our seats without getting a little too cosy with our neighbouring diners. This was pretty trivial though in the grand scheme of things.
To start, Mr V ordered Confit of Duck Ragout with white bean puree and I had Smoked Haddock with Bacon Croquettes. Our orders arrived very quickly, no longer than a 5 minute wait which was almost a bit too quick. My croquettes were crispy on the outside and soft and creamy inside as I’d expect and were a bargain at just £4.50. Ben’s rague was nicely presented with nice textures and colours and decorated with micro cress.
Again there was a very short wait and our mains arrived in 10 minutes. I chose Lamb Rump with Roasted Carrots, Mash and Peas with a Mint Dressing. The lamb was well cooked, medium as described and the vegetables were crisp. The mint dressing was actually a mint gravy but that suited me. The weather had just started to get chilly and I had the winter blues so it was the perfect homely pick me up.
Mr V chose the Grey Mullet with Chorizo and Tomato Ragout. The fish was a good size and well cooked. The ragout wasn’t outstanding, just tomato and roast potatoes but it was exactly as described.
Usually it isn’t an issue if food takes too long but the Pilot was the opposite. If anything the food came too quickly. We had finished our first two courses in half an hour which made the evening go far to quickly but this was my only complaint and I appreciate this would not be a negative for everyone.
For dessert we went back to the chalk boards. There was a very good selection and while dessert is my least favourite course, I was excited by the prospect. I chose the Banana Parfait with Caramelised Peanuts and Mr V had the Chocolate Torte with Salted Caramel and Chantelle cream. We shared in the end because we both got jealous of each other’s choice.
The Torte was lovely. Rich and bitter and was complimented beautifully by the salted caramel which was artistically arranged in droplets on the plate. The only downside is that I would have liked more salted caramel.
The banana parfait was good although the peanuts were more sticky clusters than caramelised but nice all the same.
I really enjoyed my evening at the Pilot. It was nice to eat good, honest pub food done well and that’s exactly what it is. It isn’t pretending to be a bistro, the food is simple and reflective of a pub menu. On our visit the prices were competitive at £4.50-£5.50 for starters and £9- £13.50 for mains which puts it in the same price bracket as a far less superior establishment. The menu was fresh and original but still included pub food favourites like bangers and mash and fish and chips.
My Last Mouthful was: Lamb Rump with Roasted Carrots, Mash and Peas with a Mint Dressing
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