If edible insects aren’t yet on your culinary radar, you are missing a trick – or so say the folk that run the Grub Kitchen in St Davids, Pembrokeshire. With a little input from his wife, Sarah Beynon, an academic entomologist, ecologist and farmer, award-winning chef Andy Holcroft has elevated edible insects to a whole new level in dishes that delight with unexpected flavours and textures. His field-to-fork menus are peppered with insects, but they also strongly champion local, sustainable produce: from wonderfully tender Pembrokeshire lamb to conservation-grade mackerel.
Why we love it
“There is no cookbook for insects. When I started out it was all just trial and error,” smiles chef Andy as he introduces me to the Grub Kitchen’s lunch menu. But it is hard to believe that he ever cooked anything else when you taste his inventive, beautifully presented dishes, speckled with crickets, mealworms and grasshoppers. Even if his dishes didn’t contain bugs, their flavours and textures would be fantastic. And this is all part of the grand plan here for entomophagy (insect eating) to be the norm, not the novelty. Yet novel this place is: it is the only full-time restaurant serving insect-based menus in Britain.
And there is plenty of food for thought here. Under the same roof as The Bug Farm (or Dr Beynon’s Bug Farm, to give it its full title) , which seeks to raise awareness of the importance of insects through its hands-on exhibits and meadow trails, the Grub Kitchen is of the mindset that eating more insects could potentially save the planet. The environmental impact of eating less meat is considerable, and as the world’s population swells and the need for high-quality protein rises, insects, they say, are the logical solution: healthy (full of B12 and iodine), protein packed and far more sustainable to farm than other livestock.
Set on the family farm, the atmosphere is incredibly easygoing. Check out the Bug Farm before a laid-back lunch in the restaurant, housed in a converted 18th-century cowshed. While keeping the rustic look and feel with its exposed stone walls, bare wood tables and original stone trough, environmentally speaking the restaurant sends you winging into the 21st century with its biomass-fed underfloor heating. The kitchen was once a pigsty, the pantry a water tank. Adding to the quirk factor are the artworks on the walls – crustaceans, a colourful butterfly, a spider.
With Andy at the helm and Sarah working behind the scenes and on the Bug Farm, you’ll receive the warmest and most genuine of welcomes here. The mood is relaxed enough to bring the entire family, and everybody is well catered for (children and vegetarians included).
OK, so you’re here to eat insects, right? Well, you’ll find plenty gracing the daily lunch menu.
We started tentatively with some chilli-spiked crickets (feisty stuff) before becoming bolder and gleefully working our way through several dishes. Among our absolute favourites were crisp, light, perfectly spiced insect pakoras, the signature ‘Bug Burger’, with the added tropical hit of jackfruit, served with a trio of tomatoes topped with toasted crickets, mealworms and grasshoppers, and a VEXo (insect and vegetable protein) bolognese – every bit as flavour packed as the meat equivalent.
While insects naturally take centre stage – in every sense of the expression – they are not the only standouts on the menu. Andy produces makes his own flatbread using wheat grown on the farm, and he takes pride in sourcing sustainable meat and fish from carefully vetted Pembrokeshire producers. Bugs pop up in a less obvious way on the Sunday lunch menu, too, but you’ll also find the likes of roast leg of local lamb with salsa verde and a red wine, mint and lamb jus.
While we didn’t have time to stop for dessert (more is the pity with the likes of cricket, cardamom and carrot cake on the menu), we did nip into the shop for some insect-studded chocolate-chip cookies to take home – surprisingly delicious with morning coffee. The cookies are just part of the insect-based food range Andy and Sarah are developing…
NEXT ON THE JOURNEY: From the Grub Kitchen, it’s 2.75 miles to one of our favourite rugged Pembrokeshire coves, Caer Bwdy Bay
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At a glance
Welcome: 9 A come-as-you-are feel and a very warm and genuine welcome from Andy, Sarah and their team.
Food: 10 We loved everything about it – the ethos, the unusual flavours, the textures, the presentation. More insects, please!
Location: 9 Slightly inland from St Davids (just off the A487 heading north), the Grub Kitchen is located on the family farm, surrounded by meadows and wildflower fields. Tie in your lunch with a visit to the adjacent Bug Farm.
Cost: Excellent price-quality ratio, with lunch mains between the £8 and £10 mark. Sunday lunch between £9.50 and £14. Children’s menus are available.
Opening hours: noon-3.30pm during the school holidays (until 2.30pm at all other times)
Address/Telephone Number: Lower Harglodd Farm, St Davids, Pembrokeshire SA62 6BX/ 07986 698169
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