Review of Angel Hotel

Abergavenny

Hotel Score: 7.5/10 

Restaurant Score: 7.5/10

Service & Staff Score: 9/10

Right in the very heart of the pretty Welsh town of Abergavenny sits the Angel Hotel. On arrival we were not aware that the centre of town is cut off to traffic from around 10am to about 4.30pm. The upshot was that there is no parking right outside the hotel between these hours and, if like me you walk with a stick, it means that ease of entry may not be perfect. 

We drove up the side of the hotel hoping to find their car park and found it at the back but it was not immediately accessible due to the big metal gate across the entrance. As we had traffic behind us, and there are double yellow lines everywhere, there was no chance of stopping so we had to go around again! 

While I drove slowly around the town to make a new approach my wife got on the telephone to them to ask how we were to gain access to the car park as it appeared to be closed to be told we had to phone the number on the gate when we got there. Okay, so here we go again, drawing up to the gate while traffic builds behind us, feeling conscious of blocking the road Jane quickly copied down the number and I moved off once again to make yet another pass and to allow the traffic that had accumulated behind us to move on.

Now on my third approach, anyone would think I was trying to land an aircraft at a busy airport and was held in a holding pattern until the way was clear. By the time we got round for the third pass and Jane had been on the phone to reception there was now someone else in the gateway trying to gain entry. Not wanting to make the resulting traffic holdup any worse I pulled into the public car park opposite – in the out access thereby potentially causing further problems. Are you still with me at this point? I know I was starting to lose it. Big time! Again, a queue was building up but thankfully this time behind the other car and mercifully I was not in anyone’s way having come in the out access of the car park! Slowly, and I mean verrrrrry slowly, the gate slid open, the car waiting got in, the traffic passed and we made it in too. (by this time of course I was less than happy and my mood was not so cheery).

It is then a walk, or actually a fairly long walk from the car park, down a steep slope, then down some steps and into the hotel and eventually to reception, depending upon how well you can walk of course.

Still, we got there in the end, and up to our room on the 2nd floor we went, fortunately in a lift!

Once in the room the tribulations faced were soon forgotten as the room was lovely and overlooked the main street from pretty much over the front door. Looking out of the window I was just in time to see the gates at the end of the street opened allowing traffic to use the street again! The Moral of the story is, make sure you arrive after 4.30pm!

Don’t let this put you off though, It is a very nice hotel, comfortable throughout and the staff are all lovely, even (o should I say especially) the young lady on reception, poor thing must have to put up with arrivals in a bad temper quite often having been faced with the car park conundrum! We booked dinner for that evening and having already seen the menu we were looking forward to it very much.

The restaurant is very large and on a Wednesday night was fairly busy but not overly so. The menu is also larger than I normally like to see but interesting nonetheless with plenty of good choices without there being too much and as seems obligatory these days, it boasted an impressive array of both vegetarian and some vegan friendly dishes too. 

We both opted for the Angel Menu, a 3, 3, 3 menu priced at £44.00 per person. What we got was three courses of what I now like to call “proper food”. This is food I want to eat, rather than food I am been encouraged to eat like it or not and a decent sized portion for an adult human, not a bird! 

I know if I don’t want this, I just don’t need to book but that’s not what I mean. Restaurants, or should I say chefs are opting more and more for shorter or even no choice menus, or tasting menus, and all containing portion sizes that would embarrass a mouse. Now these have a place and increasingly a very sound business reason for doing so, but not everywhere, as seems to becoming the norm now. They are putting together combinations of flavours, techniques and ingredients that, to be honest, do not always work together or things I’m not sure I want to eat. Having been a chef and running my own business for so long now I fully understand this but at the same time there has to be some sort of sense about it all. Do I want milk skin, no sorry not really, do I want live ants, definitely not, do I want the frozen breath of a newt? Nope!

Sorry rant over,

What we were served in the restaurant at the Angel was really great quality, nicely cooked, good honest food made from fabulous ingredients. For instance, Jane started with the Fish Soup, served with Rouille and a Gruyere Crouton, nice soup if a little too tomatoey for my liking but great garlic rouille 6/10. Me? I had Fried Duck Egg, Serrano Ham, Potato Hash and Truffle Mayonnaise, lovely, as simple and as tasty as it sounds 6.5/10. This photo does not do it the justice it deserves.

I followed that with the Whole Roast Plaice Meunière with New Potatoes 7.5/10 while Jane went for the Roast Rack of Lamb and Braised Shoulder Ragù 7/10 (although had it been me I would have spelt it Ragout, this being French the other Italian), Mashed Potato and Heritage Carrots. The fish was fabulous, just what I wanted that night although being picky I would have at least trimmed it better/more prior to cooking, not all customers like to see the head on their fish! There were also a lot of new potatoes, far more than one person could eat, but I had a good go!

To follow Jane chose Pineapple Carpaccio, Piña Colada Sorbet, really thin slices of perfectly ripe pineapple scattered with toasted slivers of coconut and finished with a ball of sorbet, the sorbet could have had more flavour but it was still very nice. 6/10

I went for the Café Gourmand; Three Miniature Desserts: Apple and blackberry crumble with clotted cream, peanut butter mousse with caramelised banana, raspberry sabayon, all served alongside a coffee or tea of my choice. 8/10 Not knowing what to expect I chose it anyway and was (very) pleased, with the outcome. The wine list was also very good and not too badly priced either. All in all a very good evening and a super dinner. The restaurant staff were all extremely friendly, efficient and professional. 9/10

Breakfast again was very good, nice full breakfast with great ingredients, Jane had the toasted muffin with Smoked Salmon and Scrambled Eggs which was also very good. Personally I do not like to have scrambled eggs when out as they are too often badly made and so often unseasoned, these were good, creamy and seasoned. 7.5/10

In all we stayed two nights at the Angel and enjoyed the experience, we only had dinner on the first night as we dined at Shaun Hill’s Walnut Tree the 2nd night which was fantastic. In summary it is a lovely hotel and the food is very good, if you are looking for somewhere to stay for a few days away this will not let you down and is good value for money, just make sure you phone ahead to get access to the car park.

 

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