Last weekend we stayed in the B & B above Bistro Prego in Monmouth. Prego is in Church Street at the top of the town in an area of old streets.
The building has an unusual shape in that it is narrow on the Church Street side but almost double the width at the back towards the car park. After our day on Cribyn and Pen y Fan we felt like a good meal and wanted to try Prego.
Prego is run by a young chef - Steve Robbins - and the staff seemed generally no more than 30 years old. Unlike many restaurants the staff seemed knowledgable, helpful and well-trained. The interior walls have exposed bricks with some old posters on display with modern unfussy furniture. The kitchen is visible from the mid part of the restaurant through a hatch and window.
The philosophy of the restaurant according to Steve is
"Prego is all about using quality locally sourced produce to create great flavours but with no over-the-top frills or overly complicated knick-knacks"
Judging by last Saturday's dinner, it lives up to that aspiration. The menu is Italian-influenced both from the point of view of simplicity of approach and some of the dishes. There were plenty of obviously locally sourced elements. Judging by the website the menu is updated regularly.
We were offered a complimentary Italian pastry (sorry I cannot remember the name) which was light and delicate. For the starter we shared the pumpkin and chestnut soup which was simple and tasty.
Mrs O ordered grilled salmon with pomegranate, mint and pine nut couscous. The salmon was grilled very competently and tasted good, however she was really impressed with the couscous. I tried a sample and the dish was really good. We have not combined pomegranate and mint with couscous at home but aspire to do that now. Though not a negative, the pine nut taste somehow got 'lost' with the other flavours.
I went for the Hereford rib eye steak with porcini mushrooms. The steak must have been about 250-300 g and 2 cm thick - it really was a prime quality piece of meat. In the UK I have so often been disappointed with steaks - though I am not expert at doing them myself - as they are often overdone on the inside and insipid on the outside. I asked for "medium" and it was comparable to what they call "medium" in the US - dark on the outside and just red on the inside. Mrs O said that Steve had a griddle pan running all evening and that it was finished under a separate grill. The steak was accomanied with piping hot chips and a salad. We washed down our main course with a Rioja. Mrs O said she would like to try a tiny piece of the steak but was so impressed that she kept coming back for more!
After two filling main courses we realised we would not manage a dessert other than espresso. However the choice looked very good. The bill came to about £70 and was well spent.
If I am in Monmouth again I will definitely go back!