Summer arrives sooner in Pembrokeshire then in other parts of Wales, so that’s where I headed with just one night but two busy days to enjoy west Wales. Before setting out, I called on the local knowledge of Fishguard’s Matthew Mathias in a bid to find a comfortable and friendly place to stay with nice pubs and cafes, near the beach.
Matthew suggested The Golden Lion Hotel in Newport because it opens up options of walking along Pembrokeshire’s coastal path and it is near to the stunning Mynydd Preseli range – his favourite place in Wales and now, one of mine too.
After a drive through Fishguard and up to St David’s for a walk around the cathedral, there was time for a walk up to the stones on a hill above Newport, that offer fantastic views of the beach, before dinner.
Although the cosy bar at The Golden Lion was filling up, there was no cooking available that night, so a table was kindly booked on our behalf at The Royal Oak, just a short uphill walk away.
From the main road of the pretty town, the front of The Royal Oak looks deceptively small.
Once inside the bar you realise it’s larger than you might expect, with plenty of room and a pool table.
We were given a lovely welcoming smile by the friendly bar staff and we relaxed in a corner table.
We were given the option of dining upstairs where there could be a 40 minute wait for food so we preferred to stay where we were.
It was lovely to hear so much welsh spoken on nearby tables and the pub has the kind of atmosphere that makes you feel at home straight away.
The menu offered us a wide selection of dishes and there were several wines to choose from, plus champagne.
The selection of Indian dishes was almost like a separate menu in itself, with a page full of baltis, tandooris and kormas available.
Each of them came with a hotness rating, which is handy and with details of how each dish is prepared.
Side dishes of naan bread and extras were available too. Then came various starters such as crab cakes, chicken and vegetable soup and smoked salmon.
The soup had plenty of flavour and the thick-cut salmon was streaky and succulent, served on a warm roll of wholemeal bread and butter, with fresh salad.
The Thai green king prawn featured half a dozen very large prawns on a plate (some with shells and legs on) in a tasty sauce with a mini mountain of plain white rice that dominated the plate.
The sauce was not thick, because Dean, the Sri Lankan chef, apparently doesn’t use gluten. The mild chicken korma was served in a similar way.
Other dishes on the menu, featuring local produce, included breast of duck, beef stroganoff, Dover sole, lemon sole, wild salmon, ribeye steak, chargrilled chicken and faggots in gravy. Tourist and locals mix well in The Royal Oak.
Families were bringing their babies in carriers and we chatted to happy local diners on the next table. All in all we enjoyed a good atmosphere and a warm welcome at The Royal Oak, with its great choice of food a particular feature – especially the range of Indian dishes available – which should offer something for everyone.
Reviewed By Sally Williams