Cracking coastal pubs are as rare as gold dust, but we knew we were onto a winner the moment we set foot in the Ferry Inn in St Dogmaels, with its easygoing vibe, terrace overlooking the Teifi Estuary and plentiful local seafood on the menu.
Why we love it…
Wow, what a view! We were lucky enough to snag one of the last tables in the conservatory-style restaurant, just in time to gaze wistfully out of the across the Teifi Estuary as the sun was backlighting its shores. Had it have been a shade warmer, we would have joined the lone couple braving the Welsh spring evening out on the deck to watch the bobbing boats and wading birds over a pint. But instead we huddled around a bistro table, ordered some wine and let the waitress cheerfully talk us through the menu. Local seafood? It’s an easy sell…
With the smell of the nearby sea (Poppit Sands is just down the road), the changing tides of the estuary and the call of gulls wheeling overhead, the Ferry Inn hasn’t lost an inch of its good old coastal boozer character, yet it’s also a cut above most, with a talented team of chefs putting an original, seasonal stamp on the thoroughly Welsh menu.
We liked the look: a blend of exposed beams, stone and contemporary slickness, with wainscotting painted cream and sky blue, bare wood bistro tables, potted plants and fairy lights. And we liked the buzzy, come-as-you-are feel (families, dogs and muddy boots are welcome).
Owners Andy and Liz run a tight ship here, ensuring that quality doesn’t slip. The waiting staff are friendly and efficient even when the place is packed and there is barely a table to be had.
The food and drink
The kitchen tries to keep things as wholeheartedly Welsh and season-driven as possible, and is particularly strong on fish, seafood and meat, all sourced from local fishermen, butchers and farms. Pick the right moment in summer and you might even find sewin (the delicious local sea trout) on the menu, caught fresh by one of Wales’ last remaining traditional coracle fishermen.
Dishes are simple but satisfying, we found, as we sampled starters like stilton and pear pâté with Welsh apple chutney and crostini. Mains swing from Cardigan Bay whole mackerel to homemade Welsh beef burger in a pretzel bun. But personally we couldn’t resist the seafood basket with cod bites, salt-and-pepper squid, butterfly prawns and herby mayo. Desserts are fairly traditional: New York cheesecake, sticky toffee pudding and the like. This isn’t fancy cuisine, but perhaps it is all you want after a day spent at the beach or hiking along the coast path.
At a glance
Welcome: 8 Friendly but not in your face.
Food: 8 Good pub grub, with a traceable menu, local seafood and an accent on seasonality.
Location: 9 An appealing spot right on the waterfront.
Cost: Moderate. Starters average around £7, mains £15, desserts £6.
Opening hours: Noon-10pm Sun-Thu, Noon-11pm Fri/Sat
Address/telephone number: Poppit Rd, St Dogmaels, Pembrokeshire SA433LF; 01239-615172