Tired and emotional after a trip to Aberaeron’s Beer & Cider Festival, Bethan and I needed a good feed to get our keel even again.
We’ve had the honey ice cream at The Hive many times, and my friend Chelsea Alan raved about the food after eating there twice in a week.
So after I prised Bethan away from an over-enthusiastic solicitor at the festival (Wedding Ring Alert!), we approached The Hive via the scenic harbour.
It took us an embarrassingly long time to work out the way in
before we swept into the lovely reception area.
From there you go to a nice bar
from where you can see the lovely downstairs dining room.
We thought it all enchanting – the fairy lights reminded me of my Dafydd – so we were a bit disappointed, having booked well in advance, to be led to an upstairs room.
This lacked the same attention to detail, and felt like the back room of a dull pub
although the balcony off here has a great view of the harbour, for hardier souls than us.
So we sat in the big room and had a look at the menus.
The best of the menu are meaty and hearty dishes cooked simply.
There are the inevitable burgers and dogs, fresh fish (salmon, hake, sea bass) and meats from the grill (steak, chicken, ham and lamb).
The standout item has to be “Land & Sea” – a rack of BBQ ribs, crevettes (large king prawns), chips and slaw for £16.50.
My friend Chelsea Alan had this – and sent me this photo.
I don’t eat things from the sea, so I went for the whole rack of ribs instead, and it was very good.
Big, of course – that’s a full rack.
The BBQ sauce was sweet to cut through the richness of the meat.
The ribs weren’t the biggest I’ve had, but the ratio of meat to bone was excellent.
The chips were fine the homemade slaw was spot-on.
£19 isn’t cheap, and pork ribs aren’t an expensive cut, but these had been slow-cooked to give a super-soft texture. If you like this sort of thing, you’ll be delighted with this.
Bethan was much more experimental, having two ‘small plates’ instead of a big main!
She had the mussels in Thai chilli sauce (£7), and the crab and chilli risotto (£7), which made for an interesting, aromatic meal.
Those mussels weren’t the biggest, but they were very tasty.
I had a good dip of that spicy – but not too hot – Thai sauce, and it was very good.
The crab risotto had a generous amount of crab, and just the right amount of chilli to liven it up.
But the risotto suffers two problems.
Firstly, it looks very dull in photographs (too beige).
And it got a bit same-y towards the end, even in the smaller portion.
Crab isn’t the most interesting shellfish, unless you’re luring them into a bucket in the harbour.
The desserts here are excellent, as you might expect from somewhere that makes such marvellous ice cream.
Pancakes or chocolate brownies come with berries and ice cream, but the £6.50 sundaes are great to share, so we had the Amaretti Coffee one.
Scoops of vanilla & coffee ice cream sit on crushed Amaretti biscuits.
There’s a tasty squirt of coffee sauce and then a bit much whipped cream.
This looked very inviting as the sun lit it up, and I thought it a fine end to the meal.
Where Bethan & I (violently) disagreed was on the question of value.
I said £6.50 was the going rate for dessert now, and artisanal ice cream, made on site, and expertly blended, made this fine.
“Fuck off! Two scoops of ice cream and squirt of sauce on some biscuit dust? £6.50? Fuck off, fuck right off.”
She had been drinking, but her opinion (like all her opinions formed during intoxication) remains constant to this day (as that solicitor will find out if they meet again).
The problem we had was the service.
The upstairs room feels far from the beating heart of the main dining room, and the waiting staff tend to focus there.
It took three requests to get our drinks and plates were left uncollected for a long time (this really annoys Bethan). If staff aren’t walking past your table regularly, they do tend to slightly forget about you.
We’re quite proactive in catching eyes, but other punters seemed to wait an eternity for drinks or their meals.
So if you’re going to go, make sure you get in that main dining room.
I quite fancy going back and trying their excellent spirits and cocktails.
I’ll time it so I can sit out on this area next to the river, looking at the marvellous footbridge.
It’s very good of the Hive to offer blankets to people, but I can’t help thinking that’s God’s way of saying it’s time to go back in now.
The Hive offers decent food at reasonable prices.
Aberaeron doesn’t want anything too fancy (RIP poor Manuka) and with the Harbourmaster dominating the top end, The Hive has carved itself a niche.
If they can make the upstairs half as pleasant as the downstairs, they’ll have something very good indeed.
Wales, SA46 0BU
Tel: 01545 570445
SUN – TUES 9 AM – 4PM
WED – SATURDAY 9 AM – LATE
(“9am till late”? They work hard!)
2-4-1 on some cocktails Sun-Thurs 6-8