Much as we’d like to say otherwise, we all know eating out in this post-lockdown world can be odd, and might remain odd a while (tables so spaced out the place seems near-empty, servers explaining how your dining experience will not be as you knew it, buh). What we loved about The Gourmet Pig is that it is a neatly-done throwback to those times we fondly remember when you could just amble in to a cafe enticed by the scent of freshly roasted-on-site coffee, sit down in a cool, cosy interior and idle away an hour simply sipping your macchiato, being, chatting, writing, sampling intuitive deli treats or whatever without feeling rushed.
Not to say, of course, that the Gourmet Pig doesn’t have the necessary anti-pandemic safety measures in place, but it does not bang on about them and instead gets on with being what everyone (surely!) wants a coffee shop to be: serving exceptionally good joe in a convivial, understated way, along with locally sourced, imaginative food.
Why we love it
A corner cafe is often an interesting phenomenon and a magnet for local goings-on, melding two or more streets’ worth of life as it does, and The Gourmet Pig makes the most of its corner location. The deli entrance, visible from afar because of how the street rises up here, is on Penslade, a curve of likeable townhouses leading to Fishguard’s much loved stone circle and some far-reaching bay views, whilst the cafe faces onto the main town thoroughfare of West Street. There are alfresco tables on both sides (although we particularly dig those outside the deli), giving you an array of seating options for the fine weather. This is in addition to the oh-so-industrial chic inside space with its corrugated iron walls, coffee sacks and crates and reclaimed wood sofa stretching the length of the back wall. Playfully retro pink, white and black exterior signage suggests this is a spot with a sense of fun as well as good taste and all told, this, along with the pseudo-road sign proclaiming ‘COFFEE’ is more than enough to lure you through the door.
But this deli-cafe is not just a pretty, piggy face. These guys roast their own coffee, giving them the edge over every other caffeine fix in town and almost every other in southwest Wales. And, us being coffee fanatics, this made our hearts beat a little faster. And another ‘best’ in the regional cafe scene: never have we clapped eyes on a cafe sandwich and snack menu in Wales trying so hard to both offer something original and be so reflective of regional produce. Served up generously on focaccia or ciabatta with crisp green salad, these doughy doorsteps are a delight on which there is so much to say you can read more about in ‘The menu’ section below.
Laid-back and urbane. All manner of Fishguard types frequent although there is probably a slight dominance of visitors over locals – and all are left to linger for as long as they wish, and do. This is not a rush-in, rush-out cafe but one to take your time in.
Some joints make a name for themselves then develop a snooty attitude as a result soon after; some cement their place at the top table and remain as salt-of-the-earth lovely as the day they started out, and the Gourmet Pig is certainly one of the latter breed. The service is not obtrusive but staff do welcome you asking about their products, because they are quite rightly proud of them. And they’ll let you stay, too, as long as you want to write your postcard or read your novel or shelter from the rain which has been known, from time to time, to blast down out of the Fishguard sky.
We should start, perhaps, with the coffee, which is roasted on site by the Gourmet Pig. They tend to favour Central American-South American combinations of beans to balance acidic notes with fruity, but we are not about to complain with the result which is easily the best coffee in town and (we lay the gauntlet down here) a contender for the county’s best java too. The macchiato went down very smoothly with divine melt-in-mouth amaretti-type biscuits the devils were tantalising their customers with from a counter-top jar.
But we should move on before too long to the sandwich selection. All too often a ho-hum affair in this style of place, the unusual and sedulously selected ingredients here caught our eye and kickstarted our bellies into rumbling all too easily. There was Pembrokeshire crab, for example, mixed with watercress, sweet chilli and Welshman’s caviar (laverbread, for the uninitiated, which you can read more about in this soon-to-be-published post) and the wonderful ‘Cymru’ with its local ham, Perl Lâs Caws Cenarth cheese and Penderyn Whiskey chutney. We discussed at length, opted for the Celtic pink mojo (because storms had meant the fishermen had not been able to bring in the crab and this was the one most packed with seafood) which combined Atlantic salmon with slabs of brie and a tongue-tingling mojo sauce, and found it sufficient for two. Having already consumed a delicious almondy biscuit one half of Undiscovered Wales was gently reminded by the other that a piece of cake as well would not be appropriate (we’ll say no more) but Gourmet Pig’s selection here was sound, with several different traybakes available. The substantial sharing platters showcase the meats and cheeses they sell in the deli. And we appreciate the thought that goes into the very smallest of their extras, such as the side of feisty chipotle coleslaw.
And, if you are popping by not stopping by, the deli is a tower of strength when it comes to local meats and cheeses, olives, crackers (including Brecon-based Cradoc’s savoury biscuits), beers like down-the-road Bluestone Brewing Co and the start point for a connoisseuring journey through world wines.
NEXT ON THE JOURNEY: 5 miles northeast of The Gourmet Pig in Fishguard, you can explore the Pembrokeshire ‘island that is not an island’, Dinas Island
At a glance
Welcome: 8 It’s very welcoming, just like the outside suggests it will be: not in-your-face but with staff very happy to engage in conversation, including about their products, if asked.
Food: 10 It’s hard to see how deli-cafe food (or, of course deli-cafe coffee!) could be better.
Location: 8.5 The location will not win any awards for spectacular beauty but it has a nice, atmospheric situation within the town and the cafe’s own visuals and set-up makes it into a very nice spot to be.
Cost: Reasonable for the thought going into the food. Sandwiches are £4-6, as are pies. You can get wondrous sharing boards for £7.80/10.90 per 1/2 people.
Opening hours: 9.30-4pm daily. Their website says 5.30 but we can vouch for the fact they were closing at 4 the two days in succession we were there
Address/telephone number: 32 West Street, Fishguard SA65 9AD; 01348-874404