St Hilary is situated south of the A48, about a mile southeast of the market town of Cowbridge, in the Vale of Glamorgan. The village has a population of around 260, living in 80 houses. There is also the 14th century
a village hall, and a 16th century coaching inn. Church of St Hilary
The Bush Inn is a Grade II listed building with a thatched roof. You enter into a traditional stone-floored bar. To the left is the snug and to the right a wooden-floored lounge with dining tables. The main restaurant and largest room is up a few steps from the lounge, and beyond that is the kitchen, in an extension to the original pub.
The pub specialises in pies and wellingtons, made with puff pastry, and, as they say, other “rustic food which displays a generosity of spirit in both flavour and portions.” We went at lunchtime for their pies. I had the Venison with red wine and chocolate, and chose new potatoes and vegetables to accompany it. An attractive and ample mound of courgette, carrot, broccoli and ribbons of cabbage comprised the vegetables; the potatoes were very flavoursome.
My partner had the Chicken pie with tarragon and mushroom, and opted for salad and chips to accompany it. There was no skimping on the tarragon, which lent a great flavour to the chicken pie. In both cases there was plenty of rich gravy, with the chocolate giving a very pleasing depth of flavour in the venison pie. You almost needed a spoon to get the last of the gravy.
Sandwiches, soup, burgers and jacket potatoes can also be ordered at lunchtime. There is a specials board, for lunchtime and evenings, which includes dishes such as Rump of Welsh Lamb (served on borlotti beans, courgettes and shallots with a rich soft ewe’s cheese), Pan Fried Duck Breast (in plum sauce served on mash), Ballontine of Chicken (stuffed with basil, cherry tomato and chorizo and wrapped in smoky bacon and served with a red pepper and pesto jus) and Roulade of Lemon Sole (with goat’s cheese and cherry tomato on a bed of mash with a parsley white wine sauce); all these between £13.25 and £15.50.
The Vegetarian blackboard includes Pear, walnut and dolcelatte tart; Glamorgan sausage with a spiced fruit chutney; Spicy beanburger; and Wild mushroom pie with asparagus and tarragon (all £10.95). There is also a gluten-free menu.
There were several cask ales (e.g., Greene King’s Abbot Ale and a guest appearance of St Austell’s Tribute Ale at the moment) and also a cider on tap. I had a good pint of Hancock’s HB. Twenty wines are listed on the wine list.
Light jazz was the music playing quietly in the pub (e.g., Madeleine Peyroux). In fact, it is very quiet in St Hilary, because there is no through traffic. It’s a great place to come and unwind for a couple of hours to enjoy some food and drink in the rural Vale.
A footpath passes the front of the pub: you can walk the old roman road into Cowbridge from here. The old church is across the street.
The Bush Inn was used as a location for The Hounds of Baskerville episode in the recent BBC series Sherlock (starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman). The pub was renamed The Cross Keys and pictures of
temporarily replaced the period photos of The Vale on the walls. The current
owners Liz and Andrew, who have run the pub for the past couple of years, hope the pub’s TV experience will continue to attract fans of the show.
St Hilary, Vale of Glamorgan CF71 7DP
014 4677 6888
More on The Bush Inn and Sherlock:
The Vale of Glamorgan Pub Tour:
Lamb and Flag, Wick
Six Bells, Penmark
Blacksmith’s Arms, Llanmaes