In a tiny rural hamlet a couple of miles east of Abergavenny in South Wales one comes across one of Britain’s finest inns and eateries: The Walnut Tree Restaurant. Not far from the lovely village of Usk, a small community in Monmouthshire, this quaint country inn is the prized possession of Shaun Hill and William Griffiths, two incredible hospitality pioneers we’re proud to have put together in 2004.
When the Inn became available in 2005, Shaun was nearing retirement from his Michelin starred restaurant, The Merchant House in Ludlow, a few good miles north in Shropshire. William was a young, brash, bold and smart hotelier running The Angel Hotel in Abergavenney and doing a smashing job of it with his lovely wife, a California native.
I had dined at the Restaurant under its previous owner, and found it to be a wonderful experience, but it was clear the proprietor was in trouble. Instincts gained over nearly 25 years experience at that time had kicked in and told me that The Walnut Tree was not going to be running as it was in the next year. The killing agent turned out to be an appearance on Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. That public humiliation didn’t help and the banks foreclosed in 2007.
Days after dining at the Walnut tree in 2004, I met Shaun and told him about it, after spending several wonderful days at The Angel Hotel. Boldly, I suggested he take it over and turn that into a success as he had with The Merchant House, where he made sleepy Ludlow a gastronomic center.
Between Shaun’s exceptional culinary skills and William’s incredible talent for hospitality, their partnering at The Walnut Tree Restaurant was bound to be a success and so it is – winning a Michelin star. An incredible menu, simple, comfortable dining rooms, impeccable service and attention to detail make this simple country inn one of the finest places to dine in the British Isles.
Though Shaun’s not singularly running the kitchen as he once did, he has a brigade of hand-picked chefs and cooks taking their direction from the master cuisinier who creates menus, crafts recipes and ensures that quality is always first and foremost for the Restaurant’s guests.
Some of Shaun’s ‘must try’ dishes include Lobster with Pea and Mint Sauce; Loin of Berkshire Pork, Belly and Cheek; or Sea Bass with Baby Onions, Girolles and Pancetta and for dessert, Roasted Nectarine with Basil Ice Cream or the Cherry Bakewell with Raspberry Ripple Ice Cream. No matter what you order, you’re going to be truly pleased.
The Restaurant provides no rooms within the main building, but has two charming cottages within a short walking distance through its garden. These are wonderful, particularly if you enjoy cooking your own breakfast. But if you want full service accommodations, a great British breakfast prepared to order (better than I had at The Savoy), then you really must stay at The Angel; taking the time to visit the charming, historic city of Abergavenney, with its quaint shops and mysterious castle ruins. Enjoy an incredible afternoon tea there!
Get yourself to Wales if you want to eat an exceptional meal created for those who love food and have a passion for quality.
The Walnut Tree Restaurant
Located on the B4521 in Llanddewi Skirrid
Open Tuesday – Saturday.
Closed Sunday & Monday.
Lunch, 12.00 – 2.30pm
Evening, 6.30 – 10.00pm
Tel: 01873 852797
Fax: 01873 859764
The Angel Hotel, Abergavenney
15 Cross Street,
Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, Wales NP7 5EN UK
Tel: 01873 857121
Fax” 01873 858059