Tuesday, 13 July 2021

Inn at the Sticks, Llansteffan

In an attempt to describe meals in sufficient detail (sufficient to try and convince people I know what I'm talking about, that is), it sometimes feels like I'm rather unfairly picking out every fault in a dish instead of letting the minor issues fly and focusing on the overall effect. The thing is, details are easy to explain, and faults doubly so, and so it's very easy to fall in that trap of being super analytical without really getting to the heart of whether a restaurant experience overall is good or bad.

I wouldn't really know to change this - old dog, new tricks and so on - or even if it's possible, but let me say this about Inn at the Sticks in Llansteffan before we go any further: we really enjoyed our evening at this friendly - and superbly popular - gastropub on the Camarthenshire coast, and for the prices they are charging I'd recommend it to basically anyone.

Right, it's time for the details, and actually this vast bowl of mussels got all the details right. The wine and butter broth was deep and satisfying, studded with shallots (I think) and fresh parsley, and the mussels themselves were plump and fresh tasting, free of grit and full of flavour. The three of us shared this single portion as a starter, and still struggled to finish our mains.

Bread, pleasant enough itself but served with a very nice soft salted butter, came draped with a few leaves of wilted salad. No, I don't know why either but these are details - who cares if they want to serve dry salad on bread, or chopped chives on butter, we just removed them and carried on. Easy. No harm done.

Main courses varied quite a bit in portion sizes so I'll take you from the smallest to the largest. First fish and chips, pretty modest and perhaps a tad over, but was still perfectly enjoyable and the chips - huge, crunchy things - were fantastic. I'm going to ignore what they did to the peas though, as life's too short.

Next, and another victim of the Sticks' compulsion to put salad on things, was chicken kiev, hiding under about a half a kilo of rocket and parmesan. Once I'd scraped the rocket off, I was treated to a huge slab of greaseless, crisp chicken breast, which oozed garlic butter as the breadcrumbed casing was broken into. For £10.50, no complaints. Well you know, some complaints but none that really matter.

King of the portion sizes was the catch of the day - hake - which arrived as two giant fillets, literally double what you might be forgiven for expecting for £14. They were utterly perfectly cooked, moist and buttery and firm, and with gorgeous dark, crisp skins that revealed themselves after we'd scraped off a mound of buttered parsley. Actually, the parsley was a lovely accompaniment and a decently judged portion, so I've no need to be mean about it.

And that was all we could manage. A great little unpretentious dinner in a pretty Camarthenshire town, and a very early one as high season and word of mouth had clearly had quite the effect on their bookings. We turned up at 5pm (the only available table), ate extremely well for about an hour and a half, then got back to our clifftop AirBnB in time for digestifs on the verandah. The total bill came to £22.65 each plus tip, which we were more than happy to add for service so enthusiastic it bordered on cultish, like being waited on by the cast of Book of Mormon.

So why sweat the details? If you can rock up at a joint like this with £22 in your pocket and a hankering for fresh fish and chunky chips and come away happy, who needs to know about superfluous salad or weird peas? Nobody, that's who, if at the end of the evening your body is brimming with joy and butter-induced heartburn. Sticks at the Inn is the pride of Llansteffan, and they should be very proud indeed.



Unknown said...

Great place in a great little village. You should have come out on another visit Chris .



Cykler said...

Great place!

Cykler said...

Great Place!