If BRAPA ever writes a novel he might well devote a whole chapter to the Red Lion in Penderyn, one of the most bizarre experiences of the year.
If Aberdare is a Valleys Leiston, a town tourists avoid completely or stop by to stock up at Lidl, then Penderyn is its Dunwich, a honeypot drawing in Guardian readers for “Hay Baked Carrot” and “Sous Vide Cod“.
Some menu ideas for Aberdare Spoons there.
But you can forgive it the focus on food, tucked away on the southern edge of the Brecons in a village not designed for the 4x4s tipping up for lunch.
You can gauge a lot by reading the Trip Advisor reviews, as here. Here you’ll see phrases like “to die for“, “divine” and “Caroline“, which tell you all you need about their West London custom.
Anyone who’s been to the Rat in Anick, Northumberland will recognise the Red Lion. An ancient destination restaurant making a gallant effort to be a pub, 80% of tables taken over by condiment fussers, a small area to the right for drinkers with no-one in it.
A huge list of beers too.
No-one serving though, so I went and stood round the corner at the other side of the bar with my change, preparing an attempt to order the Crwr house beer in my worst pronunciation.
No-one came to the bar, the entire staff engaged in the delivery of “amuse bouche” or looking for the right sort of mustard.
I can wait. I’m retired. And I had Bass mirrors to admire.
After a few minutes a friendly young lady came over to where I was standing and looked at me, bewildered (to be fair, Mrs RM does that a lot).
“Pint of the Red Lion please”
“Can I bring it to your table ? We’re a bit busy with drink orders”
“I’m not at a table, I’m just in for a beer”
“So, do you want me to go round the bar and get you a beer ?”
“Oh yes please!”
Two minutes later, conspiratorially;
“Er, can you move to the other bar. Please ?” Standing at the restaurant bar was clearly not allowed.
Back in the public, nothing happened for five minutes except the word “Sorry” being mouthed as I stood at the bar. I’m not making this up.
And then it clicked. The poor girl had never served a pint of beer before.
“Sorry. I’ve never pulled a pint before” Aw, bless.
I’d just seen the barrel of Bass. “Can I have a Bass please ?”
A look of terror crossed her face as she contemplated the prospect of gravity dispense. I felt like a heartless sod.
“You’re doing well !” I said. This is blog gold, I thought.
She did splendidly. Only 12 minutes after arrival I had a pint of Bass.
It could have been a classic experience, a great beer in a lovely pub. Sadly, the Bass was warm and past its best.
I wasn’t taking it back. I watered the flowers again.