Wednesday, 11 March 2009

The Six Bells in Penmark

It's often hard to find somewhere to go for a decent meal without breaking the bank in these days of economic uncertainty, so here's a suggestion following a recent visit to my folks in South Wales: located in the tiny village of Penmark in the Vale of Glamorgan, the Six Bells is a traditional pub with a small restaurant and function room.

Penmark itself is a small but delightful village, close to Cardiff Airport. It has a single main street, a church and the remains of a 12th century castle, once home to the Umfraville family (shades of 'Tess...'). The Pub itself has a traditional bar area with a low ceiling, wooden beams and a tiled floor and a large fireplace, which is home to a roaring fire in winter. There's a second bar on the other side of the servery leading to an airy, modern dining room, although I prefer the cosier side myself. They serve real ales (essential), which on my visit included Hancock's HB and Old Speckled Hen.

They also serve food with a decent menu of pub grub favourites and a slightly more upmarket menu for the evenings with the likes of steak and sea bass. They also have a daily selection of traditional desserts and a Welsh cheese board. On Sunday lunchtimes they do a traditional roast, for which it is advisable to book.

We had a family meal there recently, and the food was both well cooked and very good value indeed, with everything freshly prepared - be warned that some of the portions can be on the generous side, so if you want pudding, you may want to skip the starters! Although they weren't terribly busy with diners (it was a Saturday lunchtime), service was spot on, and all the staff were very friendly and helpful.

The pub has strong competition locally, as neighbouring villages feature the Blue Anchor (a genuine 'olde worlde' building with excellent real ales and a more upmarket restaurant) and the Fox & Hounds at Llancarfan (also well known for its food, but pricier). The Six Bells sensibly goes for something slightly different, and scores on fresh, good value food and the friendliness of its service.

Worth looking out for.

Practicalities: It has a large car park tucked behind the building, so parking is straightforward. It is accessed by a minor road (signposted to Penmark) off the B4265 Cardiff Airport - Llantwit Major Road.

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