I’m aware that Alfred’s has been a much-loved establishment in Pontypridd for quite some time now so perhaps anything that I say in this blog will not come as a surprise to those who have visited previously. I’ve seen countless positive experiences and reviews on social media and it has always been one of those places that has been recommended to me on numerous occasions through word of mouth. Yet, I don’t spend much time in Pontypridd so I just have never got around to visiting. A poor excuse, I know. But I recently went to dinner with my best friend and as it’s one of his favourite places, he suggested that we should go and I was more than happy to oblige.
Based on Market Street in Pontypridd, Alfred’s very much stands out against the buildings around it, with very noticeable signage promoting the brand so that it was easy to spot almost halfway down the street. But for a venue that would attract visitors from further afield, I quite liked this factor – make sure that you’re seen and all that.
The downstairs part of the venue is the bar area, where customers can visit for a few tipples with friends, to socialise or even to spend their Saturday evening out on the ‘Valley’ town. However, upstairs is where the focus is all about the food, so that’s where we headed straight away, obviously – I could almost feel it calling my name. As a grill focused restaurant, Alfred’s prides itself on serving fresh and quality food, looking for local suppliers wherever possible, all qualities of which I’m a massive fan. With the meat on show in refrigerated displays to greet you as you enter, I was already hungry before we even took our seats.
When we visited, it was early evening and between 6.30pm-7.30pm on Monday to Thursday, Alfred’s offers an ‘Early Bird’ menu where you can purchase a starter and a main with a drink for £14.95. Especially as this deal allows you to have a glass of wine, I thought this was excellent value for money for food that was so fresh. Plus, it gave me another excuse to have a glass of wine with my food, as if I wasn’t going to anyway.
To start, I ordered the pan fried mushrooms in garlic and thyme butter. I absolutely adore mushrooms and paired with garlic, they really are one of my favourite starters that I could order in any restaurant. For me, it’s important that there’s lots of garlic involved and on this occasion, there certainly was, with just the right amount of butter the compliment the taste. For an evening offer dish, I expected this portion to be much smaller than it was but I was pleasantly surprised by what arrived at our table. But because it was so delicious, I could certainly have eaten more!
For my main course, I opted for sea bass espalda, which was pan fried with chilli and garlic. Usually, I would never opt for a fish dish like this for a main as I’m not keen on very strong tasting fish, so this always makes me a little wary but I’m aware that Alfred’s is locally famous for its quality fish meals. Plus, I’m aware that sea bass has more of a mild taste and a meaty texture, so I thought I’d be fine with this one.
As I don’t order fish meals very often, I’m usually quite picky with them when I do. I want them to be flavoursome, I don’t want them to be bland or overcooked at all. This sea bass steak was served with the skin and as I never eat this, I started to peel the steak away and this couldn’t have been more simple, with the meat still very soft and delicate. The sea bass was cooked to a lovely standard, with a light, tender texture, packing all of the beautiful flavours without being overpowering. The taste was quite refreshing and although the sauce was more on the oily side, I very much enjoyed this when paired with the sea bass. I don’t think I could have been more satisfied with this meal which was both a surprise and a relief.
I honestly cannot believe that it has taken me so long to visit Alfred’s. It very much is a mixture between a pub and restaurant atmosphere, something which I feel works very well in the South Wales Valleys. Do not be fooled by the exterior or downstairs area, the food certainly isn’t what you would expect to be served in a pub but hits a relatively high restaurant standard which will continue to attract food lovers across South Wales, of that I’m certain. I’m aware that for many, visiting this restaurant means going out of your way, particularly if you don’t live in the South Wales Valleys. But I would recommend making the journey, especially if you can get there in time to take advantage of the early evening deal as I did.