When it comes to choosing a place to eat, I’m always on the lookout for somewhere that not only has good grub but also has a glorious view, and nowhere has a better view than The Fig Tree on the esplanade in Penarth. Transformed from a derelict beach shelter the restaurant has a cosy layout indoors with more tables out on the balcony and the upstairs terrace with beautiful views across the Bristol Channel towards Somerset and Devon. I recently visited on a Sunday to try out their roast, and as it was a beautiful day was able to sit on the balcony and people (mainly dog!) watch on the pier.
They offer a set menu on a Sunday with two courses for £16 or three for £20. My friend and I both opted for the roast beef and Yorkshire pudding main and the cheese board to finish. The beef was plentiful and cooked to perfection, nice and pink in the middle with a huge Yorkshire pudding, some new potatoes and a roast parsnip. The veg bowl was a little under done for my liking but I’m rarely happy unless my veg is pureed or roasted to a crisp. The cheese board left us both wanting with more cracker than cheese however we rectified this with a little trip to the pier and filled up with a double scoop of peanut butter ice cream and a walk along the front making for a pretty dreamy Sunday afternoon!
This week I made a return trip for their annual Veggie week with a meat averse friend and it was fantastic to see her have a choice of food rather than living through her fifth mushroom risotto of the month! We both opted for the Scotch egg with Pumpkin seed crust and mango chutney to start which was sublime. It comes cut in half with the egg just set but still runny and a crunchy, nutty case and despite my reservations paired just right with the mango chutney relish.
For mains I went for the mushroom and malt Yorkshire puddings with fondant carrots and bubble and squeak and I can honestly say the flavours packed such a punch I didn’t miss the meat. The Yorkshire was tall like a chef’s hat, stuffed with plenty of mushrooms and dowsed in a deep onion gravy, a welcome change from the typical nut roast that’s usually on offer. This time the veg was cooked just right and I was left utterly stuffed after it. My friend opted for the Miso squash broth with udon noodles and wontons which would be a great lighter choice (not everyone is as greedy as I am!) The two huge wontons were fried to a golden crisp and the bowl filled with noodles and various oriental veg.
She followed her meal up with poached cassis pear for dessert which was tasty but could have done with being smaller as once you’d taken off the outer layer the remaining pear was still quite hard. I rounded off the evening with a chocolate pot with almond praline and cognac figs which tipped me blissfully into a food coma.
All of this came to £32.50 per head and was well worth it. It was great to see a wide range of veggie dishes that were tasty in their own right rather than just being meat free versions of the main menu. Whereas I’m not likely to be giving up the meat for good just yet, it’s a fairly promising future for those who have and I’d love to see veggie week back sometime soon. If you want to sample the above delights get down to The Fig Tree by Saturday as they’re back to normal service next week but panic not veggie readers, with offerings such as the halloumi and tzatziki bun on the regular menu I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!