THE GRANARY, Hay-on-Wye
A quarter of a century ago, when Mr Pernickety was more lissom and less pernickety, and en route on foot from Chepstow to Montgomery, he stopped to eat in the Granary and was struck, even then, by its cosily retro, alternative air. Reviewing it 25 years on, Mr P felt it had changed very little. There lingers an expectation of interesting ways of cooking lentils, and staff wearing Indian bedspread dresses, imbued with the aroma of patchouli oil and home-grown ganja. They don’t of course – not any more – but it’s still a popular, unsophisticated eating house whose ambience and furnishings – junk shop chairs, recycled pews, coton plastifié tablecloths, art nouveau stained glass – match the quiet murmur of earnest conversations about literature, yoga and sore feet, along with the comforting aroma of herby lasagne.
Mr P, having joined a meandering queue and ordered food for himself, his lovely companion and her young son, settled on a pew in a state of contented nostalgia. When the food arrived, however, it demonstrated to him that over the passage of time either his own gastronomic standards had risen, or the quality of the Granary’s cuisine had fallen. His Chicken Pie (£9.95) had been flumped onto the plate with a small tump of desiccated carrots, all swimming in a Doldrums sea of mushroom gravy, which only added to the sogginess of the pastry and stirred unsought memories of school luncheons. The LC found her Bangers & Mash disappointing. In these days of the Championship sausage, she thought, thosed offered by the Granary were very pedestrian, easily overwhelmed by the mash and gravy. Our young consultant (who is 6 and honest) said his Spaghetti Bolognaise was good – as good as his mother’s (but not, he added, as good as Mr P’s.) His drink, apple juice by PJs, he judged “quite nice” – inadequate praise in the view of Mr P, who drinks apple juice by the gallon in periods of abstention and is now a connoisseur.
Puddings, which Mr P has sampled in the past and not found wanting, include apple tart, carrot cake, coffee cake, big fat scones stuffed with cream, and an extravagant meringue pudding that looks like a matrimonial gown in a Big, Fat Gypsy Wedding – one for a future visit. For, despite its shortcomings, the Granary’s unchanged, traditional persona will always flavour its menu with a strong dash of nostalgia sauce… which Mr P cannot resist.
The Granary, Broad Street, Hay-on-Wye, HR3 5DB
Tel: 01497 820790 Opens 9.00-5.00; holiday times: 9.00 – 9.00Read More...