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AA Notable Wine List 2016-17
AA rating

About this rating

Restaurants are awarded from 1 to 5 Rosettes for culinary excellence. One Rosette restaurants are highly recommended in a local area and five Rosettes have reached the pinnacle of culinary excellence at a world class level.

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Blissfully unfussy and focused cooking by a culinary mastermind

AA Inspector

At a glance

Private dining
Wines by the glass
Wheelchair access

Considering its status as a foodie pilgrimage destination for a couple of generations, the whitewashed, slate-roofed old inn in the foothills of the Black Mountains is an unassuming-looking property, and there's nothing fancy-pants about the interior either, with its wooden tables, plain walls hung with artwork (for sale, if something takes your fancy) and flower arrangements adding splashes of colour. The Walnut Tree first became a culinary beacon under Franco Taruschio and now its position as one of the UK’s great epicurean institutions is assured under the aegis of Shaun Hill. He cut his teeth at Robert Carrier's Islington restaurant, and during the decade spent putting Ludlow on the culinary map at his much-lauded Merchant House, Hill often popped over the Marches border to eat at the Walnut Tree in its glory days with Mr Taruschio at the helm, so it’s entirely fitting that he picked up the mantle. Never one for chasing ephemeral culinary fads and trends, Shaun Hill prefers to keep it real, sourcing the best ingredients he can lay his hands on and unleashing his formidable, seemingly effortless technical skills on making it all look deceptively simple. Starters on the daily-changing menus cover plenty of ground, ranging from the Mediterranean glow of red mullet and scallop bourride, perhaps, to a masterful omelette filled with the made-in-heaven combo of Brillat Savarin cheese and black truffle; vegetarians are assuaged with an option like twice-baked Lancashire cheese soufflé with beetroot and leeks. Hill’s cooking follows no particular culinary path other than one of good sense and integrity, with the produce centre stage, and full-bore flavours making their impact without pointless embellishment – as typified by main courses that deliver the full-blooded meaty hits of loin and haunch of venison partnered with goats’ cheese gnocchi, or rib-eye of beef with pommes sarladaises and truffle butter. Fish makes an impact too: perhaps cod fillet in a herb and hazelnut crust, or sea bass with tempura prawns and red pepper sauce. Desserts are no less well crafted and irresistible: warm rice pudding with prune and Armagnac ice cream, maybe, or milk chocolate and peanut parfait with caramel bananas. A short walk away through the gardens, a couple of delightful cottages allow you to stay over and loosen the belt a notch or two, and of course, fully explore the excellent wine list’s cornucopia of bottles from small artisan producers. If you’ve only time for a flying visit, the set lunch deal offers barnstorming value.

Opening hours

  • Closed: 1 week at Christmas
  • Days closed: Sunday to Monday
  • Lunch served from: 12
  • Lunch served until: 2.30
  • Dinner served from: 7
  • Dinner served until: 10

Chef

  • Chef: Shaun Hill

Food and drink

  • Cuisine style: Modern British
  • Vegetarian dishes available
  • Wines under £30: 40
  • Wines over £30: 50
  • Wines by the glass: 8

Price guide

  • Service charge
  • Credit cards accepted

Accessibility

  • Wheelchair accessible
  • Steps for wheelchair: 1
  • Accessible toilets
  • Assist dogs welcome

Facilities

  • Seats: 70
  • Private dining available
  • Private dining seats: 26
  • On-site parking available

Additional information

  • Seats: 70
  • Private dining available
  • Private dining seats: 26

Getting here

3 miles northeast of Abergavenny on B4521

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Nearest train station

Abergavenny
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