Pies and pints at The Goat Major

Pie perfection with a pint (Flickr pic by Rick Scully)

Pie perfection with a pint (Flickr pic by Rick Scully)

Regular readers of Cardiff Drinks will know I am a firm fan of The Goat Major. Its dark wood panelling, green leather seating and choice of real ales ticks my boxes for a perfect pint experience. But now I have discovered another reason to champion the pub. Its pies.

I was due to meet up with an old university friend who was in Cardiff for the weekend visiting family. We decided we would go for a few pints and a catch-up in the afternoon whilst the rest of the city manically shopped itself into a frenzy before Christmas arrived.

Needing somewhere to meet my mate, I opted for the easiest landmark for him to find on his first visit to Cardiff. The castle. All cities should have one, just for sheer convenience when needing somewhere to rendezvous.

After meeting at said large-walled venue we needed to choose a pub to patronise. The Goat Major being 20 paces away won the contest before it began. Location aside, the pub is a great place to take first time visitors to Cardiff. It has a well kept pint of Brains, great atmosphere and, as we were soon to learn, a menu full of pie perfection. In fact, The Goat’s menu only does pies. But it’s all the better for it. Why be jack of all trades and master of none when you can be the prima pie specialist of the city?

And be in no doubt about the quality of the pies. Former head chef Adam Pavey’s Wye Valley Pie won Pie of the Year in the 2010 Great British Pie Week awards. When Chef Pavey left,  landlady Kelly Rowland turned “pie ninja” and took over kitchen duties. It’s safe to say the pies have lost none of their magic.

On the beer front I’ll cut a short story even shorter and say we had started with Brains SA (4.2%) and stayed on it for the next four pints. I often have a variety of ales when I go for a drink but sometimes you just want to settle down with a session ale where you know what you’re going to get every sup.

It was a Saturday afternoon and the pub’s seating was full, so we set ourselves up on the corner of the bar near the entrance and decided to wait it out to grab a table to eat at. After a pint, and a growing desire to attack a pie, we perused the menu and decided to order and eat on the corner of the bar, which the friendly bar staff were more than happy to let us do.

I opted for the Venison and Brains Stout pie (£7.50) and my friend went for the award-winning Wye Valley Pie (£7.50). Described as “heaven in a pie” by the judges who awarded it the top pie prize of 2010, the Wye Valley Pie is an indulgent combination of locally sourced buttered chicken, asparagus and new potatoes, topped with a layer of creamy Tintern Abbey Cheese and puff pastry. It met with the approval of my friend and on having a cheeky taste myself I have to agree it is a winning winter warmer.

My Venison and Brains Stout pie was equally delicious and the accompaniment of chips and garden peas kept things simple and tasty, letting the pie take top billing. They were superior pies that did everything a pie should.

There is something intrinsically right about pies and pints. They are the perfect combination any time, but during the long winter months they come into their own.

So this winter make a date with a pie, a pint and a castle. It’s a combination that can’t fail.

Mine’s a pie.

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