Ynysangharad Road, PONTYPRIDD, CF37 4DA
Eight hand pumps lining the bar are the first clue that this pub is an ale lover's paradise. It's owned by the local award-winning Otley Brewing Company, and is a previous winner of the AA Pub of the Year for Wales. The brewery's flagship 02 Croeso is one of four regular Otley ales on offer, alongside guests from other UK microbreweries and imported bottles and kegs from Europe and America. Beer festivals are hosted every two months, when the choice expands to more than 20; and two annual cider festivals showcase Welsh draught ciders among others. To complete the refreshments line-up, the wine list is no also-ran, with quality choices from around the world and seven served by the glass. Surrounded by the striking, wooded landscapes of South Wales, this 160-year-old market town pub includes many of the region's best ingredients in its dishes. The lunchtime bar menu keeps things simple with quality pub-grub offerings such as sandwiches, ploughman's, deep-fried haddock fillet in Otley ale batter, and Breconshire beef or lamb burgers, perhaps topped with maple-cured streaky bacon and melted Welsh Cheddar. In the evening the kitchen steps up the pace. Indicative starters are carpaccio of wood pigeon, chestnut and pickled girolle salad; or terrine of pork, duck and cranberry with cranberry purée and pecan nut salad. Main courses, too, reflect the kitchen's serious credentials: typical are pan-fried fillet of sea trout, smoked mackerel and potato hash, brown shrimp and herb butter with pickled celeriac; and roasted leg of Breconshire lamb, black pudding and caramelised shallot croquette, roasted carrot and white wine braising jus.