Back to basics

Related tags Marco pierre white Gordon ramsay

Mark Taylor talks to Stephen Terry about his Michelin-rated pub near Abergavenny Stephen Terry took over the Hardwick in Abergavenny in 2005 and...

Mark Taylor talks to Stephen Terry about his Michelin-rated pub near Abergavenny

Stephen Terry took over the Hardwick in Abergavenny in 2005 and earlier this year won a Michelin Bib Gourmand.Now 39, Stephen puts the success of his new venture down to its broad menu and its consistency.

"The pub is a much more accessible vehicle because it's all about choices," he says. "People find a lot of choice when they walk in here. It really is a "pop in and enjoy a bite to eat" place. The key to its success is that choice. It's like the Ivy format - you can go to the Ivy and have a shepherd's pie and a bottle of Krug. The choice is there - and it works.

"I've done quite a lot in my career and even though I've won a couple of Michelin stars and people seem to like what I do, I don't feel I've achieved much - I only have my own pub.

"Compared to many people I've worked alongside, such as Marco Pierre White and Gordon Ramsay, I've achieved little in terms

of financial security, fast cars and big houses," he admits.

"Sometimes I think that if I'd made a few different moves, I would have done better."

"I can cook 'grown-up' Michelin-star food and I know what it takes to achieve Michelin star-status. I think some people come here expecting a lot more because of that.

"The reality is that 'grown-up' Michelin-star food doesn't make for a successful pub restaurant on the outskirts of Abergavenny."

Chef CV

Stephen's cooking career started in the mid-80s, when he worked for some of the country's most respected chefs in some of Britain's most influential restaurants.

His first job was at Marco Pierre White's legendary Harveys restaurant, where he worked alongside a young Gordon Ramsay. Next, he moved to Canteen before working for the Roux brothers and Oliver Peyton.

In 2001, Stephen took over the Walnut Tree gastropub in Abergavenny, where he gained a Michelin star, before moving to the Pear Tree at Whitley, Wiltshire, which won the AA Pub of the Year award.

How do you motivate chefs?

When chefs come to work here, I tell them

that if they want to be somewhere doing

wacky molecular gastronomy, they should walk away now - that sort of stuff doesn't happen here.

This is about teaching the foundations - the basic building-blocks of cooking - and once they have mastered that, they can take those skills wherever they want to go.

It's like going to art school and learning to draw properly before starting to paint.

You have to learn the basics first but a lot of chefs seem to side-step the basics - ask some of them to bone out a duck, fillet a sea bass or break down a side of venison and it's clear that they don't have a clue.

I count myself lucky, because I was

taught those essential skills by the real masters, such as Marco Pierre White and the Roux brothers.

Menu philosophy

The whole thing with the Hardwick is serving good, honest food without being pretentious and clever. We're a pub with a restaurant - not a restaurant with a pub. I believe that if you come to a pub, you should be able to have sausages, sandwiches and be able to order a pie.

We always make sure we have a Longhorn beef, kidney, oxtail and ale pie or a chicken, ham or leek pie on our menu.

Our grilled sandwiches are served with triple-cooked chips and a lovely salad garnish for £8.95. That salad garnish is trevise (radiccio), dandelion leaves, rocket, pea shoots, endive and watercress with a nice dressing - not just undressed iceberg or frisée lettuce.

It's all done properly, but every ingredient in those sandwiches is on our menu anyway.

With two of us in the kitchen, it has to be that way. We offer a broad range of options at very good value, but still achieve a GP of 72% because we don't waste anything.

Best-selling dishes

l Fish soup with rouille, Gruyère cheese and croûtons (£6.25)

l Natural smoked haddock with poached local free-range egg, new potatoes, spinach salad and mustard sauce (£12.95)

l Warm triple chocolate, nut and raisin

brownie with malted brownie ice cream (£3.50/£4.95)

Business plans for the future

We're talking to architects about our plans to build 10 rooms next to the pub. The second phase is to make the back dining room more tailored for functions such as weddings and local events, and build another kitchen.

Menu innovation

Our best menu innovation was increasing the choice by introducing a range of bigger and smaller-sized desserts.

When we opened, we weren't selling many desserts at lunchtime, so I decided that, where possible, I'd offer smaller portions for which I'd charge less. It has worked really well.

Recommended suppliers

Huntsham Farm Pedigree Meats, Goodrich, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire: 01600 890296. Richard Vaughan, the leading beef and rare breed pork producer, offers a great service.

Charlie Hicks Greengrocer, 22 Castle Street, Hay-on-Wye, Herefordshire: 01497 822742 and at 19a High Street, Reigate, Surrey: 01737 225599. We're fortunate to have Charlie Hicks' services - he's so in touch with seasonality.

Bower Farm, Grosmont, Abergavenny, Mon-mouthshire: 01981 240 219. We use Val and

Vic Collinson's amazing extra-thick Jersey double cream and also their Gloucester Old Spot pork, which is fed on surplus milk from their Jersey herd.


Best-selling wines

Rayun Sauvignon Blanc 2006, Rapel Valley (Chile): £3.65 glass, £13.75 bottle;

Rayun Merlot 2005, Rapel Valley (Chile): £3.65 glass, £13.50 bottle

Wine suppliers

Great Western Wine: 01225 322800; Falernian Wines: 01656 755755; Ballantynes Wines: 029 2022 2202; Yapp Brothers: 01747 860423.

Best-selling beers

Wye Valley Bitter and Rhymney Bitter

Best-selling soft drinks

Welsh Farmhouse Organic Apple Juice (£2.20) C&D Gardiner of Crickhowell: 01873 810466.

My favourite ingredients

Perroche goats' cheese

We buy this amazing cheese from Charlie Westhead of Neal's Yard Creamery in Hay-on-Wye, and serve it in a salad with grilled Italian red peppers, black olives, rocket, dandelion and capers.

Extra-thick Jersey double cream

I use Val and Vic Collinson's fantastic Jersey double cream in all of our ice creams and our selection of brûlées.


I use a lot of rocket and love the flavour and texture of the Italian varieties.

On the menu


Crispy, bread-crumbed belly of local Old Spot pork with bok choi, soy sauce, chilli, garlic and ginger (top right) - £6.95

Black Mountains Smokery smoked salmon, scrambled free-range eggs with toast - £7.75


Grilled rump of Longhorn beef from Huntsham Farm with slow-roast Italian plum vine tomato, field mushroom, triple-cooked chips and Béarnaise sauce - £16.95

Home-cooked ham with fried High House free-range egg and triple-cooked chips £11.50

Grilled sandwiches

with triple-cooked chips and salad garnish

Fontina cheese, mushroom

and rocket - £8.95

Parma ham and mozzarella with roast tomato and black olive tapenade - £8.95


Rice pudding with prune d'Agen and Armagnac - £5.95

Sticky toffee and Medjool date loaf with toffee sauce and Bower Farm crème

frâiche - £3.50/£5.75

The Hardwick

Old Raglan Road

Abergavenny, NP7 9AA

Tel: 01873 854220

Business facts

Owners: Stephen and Jo Terry (freehold)

Turnover: £450,000 (projected)

Wet:dry split: 70:30

Average spend per head: £22 (lunch and dinner)

Average covers per week: 400

Total covers: 68

Number of staff: Eight full-time and six part-time

GP food:drink: 72:65

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