Those of you who know me will be aware that I like to get away for overnight stays, one day or maybe two, just to break up the monotony of being in a single location, (I've been a bit of a nomad for much of my life) but also to further my knowledge and understanding of what the country has to offer in the way of food and drink and what opportunities exist.

And to kick off the 2023 year I've come to Lampeter!

Of course one thing that strikes me when first arriving in Lampeter, is that it's not very big. Consisting primarily of two main shopping streets the 'coffee culture' is strong with circa 5/6 coffee shops all within close proximity. But I'm not here to sample coffees...I'm in Lampeter to sample the food delights of The Black Lion (Royal) Hotel, to meet the new Chef Richard Simpson and have a relaxing overnight stay with no pressures of the day to day routine back in Swansea. I find The Black Lion Hotel easily enough, slap bang in the middle of the High Street...already an excellent start if you fancy strolling the two main streets to see what's on offer.

I have to say that the welcome is very warm, from the entire team and those I recall most are Ceri, Dee, Ashleigh who must have walked 100 miles the evening of my stay, Jim, and of course Chef Richard.

Richard tells me that he's previously worked in London, Malta, and France before returning to the area. His previous immediate role was that of Sous Chef at the two rossette Mansion House, Llansteffan. From my conversation with chef he clearly knows his stuff and I sense an itching to get more and more creative. Having only been in situ for less than a month he's wise enough to understand that he needs to build up a reputation within the local community...and that means not becoming too creative too soon. Is Lampeter ready for creative?

On first glance you'd expect the Hotel and Restaurant interior to be 'oldie worldie', but to my complete surprise the refurbishment is fabulously tasteful and comfortable. There are about 80 covers split between the main restaurant and the bar/lounge area and it works really well for customers. I think for the staff their fit bits will tell them differently at the end of the evening, but what great exercise!

And on to the food... The Black Lion offers a good gastro pub menu including a good range of starters from Shakshua, Smoky Salmon Tartare, Baked Camembert, Crispy Pork Belly, and Tempura Battered Tenderstems with a Chilli Sauce, and more...

Saving myself for the mains course, which I knew would be filling, I went for the Tempura Battered Tenderstems...and they were delicious. Tenderstems perfectly cooked and the batter was very light and crispy as it should be.

Turning to the Mains my choice was Coq au Vin, Meatballs in rich Tomato Sauce served with Linguine, Slow Cooked Beef Short Rib, Beer Battered Fish & Chips, Traditional Welsh Faggots, Beef Shin Lasagne and Pork & Leek Bangers & Mash. To be totally honest, I spent quite a time trying to decide, such was the temptation, for different reasons, in each of the dishes. I haven't had Coq au Vin for many years, and I was eager to sample Richard's French influence, Traditional Faggots are a favourite, and who can't resist Fish & Chips and Bangers & Mash!? There are of course the usual steaks and burgers but personally whilst I understand the demand for burgers, for me they are two a penny. As it was, I went for a dish I wouldn't normally order – Slow Cooked Beef Short Rib, which came with Mushrooms, Crispy Panchetta and a bed of Sweet Potato mash. It was excellent. The beef just dropped off the rib as it should, and it was such a generous portion I wondered if I'd get through it. I persevered without hardship as every mouthful was a delight!

When it came to desserts, I have to confess...I forgot to take an image of the menu. What I can tell you that Pannacotta is a personal favourite of mine and I expected it to be the classic small inverted dish shape, but you can see from the image that it was clearly much more substantial – substantial and delicious! By the end of the meal I was more than replete and certainly very relaxed!

So how did I rate the meal? Highly and not only will I return for the Lampeter Food Festival in July but I'll return to the Black Lion time and time again. I'm certainly looking forward to seeing how Richard's menus evolve and how the local customers take to the new look for the hotel restaurant.

I must also comment on the hotel itself and the service experience. I'm a big advocate of great service and the service here at the Black Lion Hotel was nothing short of excellent. The staff couldn't do enough for me. The management and kitchen share my philosophy in so much as “if your service is exemplary then people will always return, if they are treated badly they'll not only never return but they'll tell everyone how bad it was...” The room appeared to be recently refurbished to a very high standard with a bath that can actually fit a whole body and stretch (not like those is lesser places where you have your knees on your chin just to sit it there!) The TV is bigger than I have ever experienced and I thought I may have just entered one of those new indie cinema experiences! All in all a very comfortable night's sleep and the room was warm and inviting from the biting cold outside. Not only will I return to dine at the restaurant but I'll return to stay.

Downsides? Nothing of my visit was poor.... indeed it was all excellent. There is a however a small technical issue regarding the website which I have discussed with the owner and management which will be addressed to streamline the flow of table bookings etc.

In Conclusion

If you're looking for a weekend away or a mid-week break, where you can just chill-out and enjoy good food and wine, then I certainly recommend you check out the Black Lion in Lampeter! Just make sure there's still room for me please!

You can find their website at 

I've been meaning to write about Davies & Co since I first visited about 4 months ago...such was the delight of my initial visit, which, naturally, has led to further subsequent visits.

So let me fill you in on the background. The Davies & Co building was purchased and extensively, and brilliantly, renovated during the Covid pandemic, by proprietor Marlene Davies, who has a natural flair for great taste. The main two floors house the most superb, high quality regenerated furniture (not your pseudo chalk paint stuff) which I defy any visitor to dislike!

Downstairs within this old grain barn, where trains used to stop to unload, is the very tasteful (as one would expect) coffee shop/restaurant named The Lounge, clearly divided into adjoining rooms from individual silos. The Lounge lends itself perfectly to use for functions and as a busy coffee shop/restaurant. But good eateries aren't built on décor alone and finding the right chef to manage the kitchen was a must for Davies & Co. You can imagine my delight therefore when I heard that the chef in situ is none other than, Michele Treharne, whom, in the past has contributed to our very own Taste Swansea & West Wales Magazine.


I have known Michele for many years through her association with The Village Bar in Killay so I was surprised to find her so far afield in Llandeilo. Michele and I often chat about our shared love of great food, both being complete foodies in every sense, both with a creative streak. However the difference is that I dream it and Michele turns her ideas into reality with great aplomb and makes fabulous dishes happen! At The Lounge Michele has found the perfect venue for her creative culinary flair and I have watched the coffee shop/restaurant thrive. 

What's the menu like, I hear you ask... Well, let's start by saying that The Lounge is a fabulous venue for 'events' and so if you have a special occasion to celebrate, this is the place to be...and of course it has the catering to match. Check out these images of just a small sample of event 'finger' foods.

 Fabulous detail in these extraordinary parma ham light bites.

And if it's sweet you are after, then Chef Michele has the answer....and they are irresistible! 

But you are seeking to know more about the day-to-day dishes? How about Scotch eggs to die for served with a salad? I have insisted that next time I visit I want Chef to produce an Ostrich egg as I couldn't get enough of this...! The scotch egg comes warm with a really lovely crunchy casing of breadcrumbs...(and so taken was I when it arrived I almost forgot to take a photo, so it was taken in a rush!)

Then again this classic baked seafood dish looks divine and it'll be next on my list when I next visit....don't those prawns look fabulous? And a glass of crisp white with those would be perfect.

Or if you are still in savoury mood then try this seasonal beauty of Pumpkin, Red Onion, Tomatoes, Feta, seeds & Pomegranate... it makes my mouth water just looking at the photo!

And then there's the unusual... Griddled Halloumi, with Strawberries and Tomatoes with a dribble of balsamic glaze...yes it sounds crazy, but when you've tried it, you'll be rushing home to replicate it and impressing your friends at your next dinner party, that I guarantee! 

And of course the Chef is only one of a number of cogs in the wheel, and it takes great team work and dedication to make a venue a success. It would be remiss of me therefore not to mention the hard work that the staff put in day to day in serving the customers...always with a cheerful smile, efficiency and with professionalism. For what more could you ask? And why do you think I keep returning? 

Where to find The Lounge?

So how do you find Davies & Co and The Lounge - it couldn't be easier! Head up the main road coming from the south and up and over the summit...then straight on heading down the hill past the Co-op (on the left) and then turn right into  Station Road (if you can't sat nav it the head for Llandeilo railway station and lo and behold, Davies & Co is there on the left-hand side of Station Road - you can't miss it...plenty of street parking and lots to explore once you get into the building. Then find your way downstairs and be amazed as they have packed a far bit into this interesting space and settle down to a coffee and a lunch-time meal or better still go for the breakfast/brunch whilst you read the paper or chat to your partner. Chatting is encouraged rather than burying your head in your cell-phone.

How would I rate this venue? Frankly, I'd have to give it 10/10 - quality products to buy for the house complemented by quality foods...and don't forget this is an ideal venue for celebration with a number of function areas...and keep an eye out on their social media pages as they have many other creative ideas to come. Very good luck to Marlene, Chef Michele and the team as they deserve all the success in the world. I will continue to return time and time again as it's such a lovely part of the world and more so because I feel so welcome when I visit. 

(P.S. I can genuinely state that no money has passed between us to influence my comments in recording this review) 



Be Thankful? Thankful for what? I hear you ask. In short, "Be thankful that hospitality businesses are still here to offer you some modicum of pleasure."  It's been a very tough ride for all but more so for the hospitality industry...

Yesterday I posted the following on Facebook. It was a direct result of the moans and groans I have heard from Joe Public about the 'cost of food' at certain eating establishments. It's pretty self-explanatory and it doesn't require a genius to understand what the message is here. The fact is, one shouldn't ever try to compare your home costs with prices in eateries. You'll never win that argument and as a business owner, then one should never allow yourselves to be compromised on price. 

The post read as follows:

"Message to Joe Public: next time you decide to criticise the hospitality industry re their prices using the "I can do it cheaper at home" or "I only charge £1.20 for a cake at my village fête" arguments consider these facts. Since April hospitality has been faced with
A) an increase in minimum wage
B) an increase in Nat Ins
C) an increase in VAT from 12.5% to 20%
D) an ongoing increase in delivery costs
E) an increase in food costs
F) a shortage of staff
G) an increase in insurance premiums
H) an increase in fuel costs
I) a reduction in customer attendance (many have not returned to dining out)
J) I'm sure there are more I have forgotten!
The true increase in costs overall is approx 20%-30% for some businesses...and not the 17%-18% quoted by the ONS. It's the businesses who actually know their costs!
The Village fête analogy above was a factual argument that a customer tried to use this week.
Are they paying a wage to staff? No.
Are they pay VAT on their sales? No.
Are they paying overheads for the premises? No.
Are they paying Nat Ins for staff? No...
I could go on but I think you get the message! Don't even try to argue the price issues..." 
The post I should add has resulted in a hive of private responses of thanks from many business owners who have suffered such criticism at the hands of the uneducated. 

It's almost two years since we last wrote a blog about food and undertook some serious Taste Swansea work, albeit I wrote at length about my health issues and how food has helped me turn around and incurable and irreversible life shortening illness, under the tab 'Health Thro' Food' on this website. But let's not dwell on that - that particular blog will be updated shortly as I get into the swing of getting back into writing rather than the consultancy work I have been undertaking for the past two years in helping businesses survive the economic downturn brought about by the Welsh Government under the guise of a health initiative resulting from a virus. 

So what's been happening in Swansea in regard to the food scene during the last two years? Rather a lot. And it isn't going to be addressed by a single blog post. From current workload it will take weeks if not months to catch up with all that's been occurring in my Taste Swansea absence. So without further ado I'll start the re-launch of the blog by supporting those hospitality businesses who truly have had and are still having a rough ride when it comes to 'staying afloat'. Enjoy the read and by all means let us have some feedback. Here is the next post...