Number Four, Shrewsbury

Many people believe, very vocally, that Tesco and M&S coming to Aberystwyth will kill the town.
Independent traders won’t be able to compete, and we’ll be left with a wasteland of charity shops, chain stores and bookmakers.

So last weekend Bethan & I boarded the sometimes-hourly train to Shrewsbury.
This has a big M&S, and a Waitrose, plus a big out of town shopping centre – so it must be ruined already, surely?
We would probably starve to death, since I don’t eat MacDonald’s.

In fact, we were fine.

The M&S is doing a roaring trade – we saw lots of people from Aber.
But independent shops are prospering too, and the indoor market was very busy – we were there ages!
Shrewsbury MarketIt has at least five independent butchers, including one specialising in game (I got a very tasty hare for £9).
The independent beer shop had a great range of new-to-us beers, and there are little restuarants sellings tapas, Thai, seafood or Chinese.
The wonderful fruit and veg shop by the station had damsons, giant pomegranates and fresh bread after 3pm!

Perhaps good businesses can thrive when the big shops pull customers in?

Our friends Sarah & Paul wanted us to visit Number Four on scenic, pedestrianised Butchers Row.
Doesn’t that look nice? Could Aber be like this?
This hard-working cafe (or is it a restaurant?) offers three different menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner (menus below), and we could happily eat here all day.
You can sit outside, or in the small area by the window, but we went up the stairs, passing the open kitchen and shop
 to an upstairs dining room.
Unlike The Hive last week, this still feels part of the restaurant, and has dedicated staff to look after you.

Paul had Warm Black Pudding, Bacon & Potato Salad with Poached Eggs & Spinach (£9)
06_Eggs Black PuddingCheck out those perfectly poached eggs, with rich golden yolks.
They want paying for the eggs in their shop, but they’re top quality.
The black pudding was perfectly porky too.
It may be a salad, but with black pudding, two eggs, bacon & potatoes, it’s really a healthy-looking, posh all day breakfast that delivers plenty for £9.

Sarah had Roast Tomatoes on Toast with Herb Oil & Mozzarella (£7).
07_TomatoIt doesn’t look so big there, but she professed herself delighted with the big flavours of “tomatoes that taste of tomatoes for once”.
Again, the top-quality ingredients blended tastily.

Bethan went off-piste onto the specials board for King Prawns with Wholemeal Baguette, Salad and Sweet Chilli Sauce (£10)
08_PrawnsIsn’t that magic (unless you don’t like baby seamonsters staring at you).
She was delighted with this, finding the prawns meaty and “lovely”.

I had the least imaginative choice of Pulled Pork with Homemade Brioche Bun, Pickled Red Cabbage, Fries, Crispy Shallots and Wasabi Creme Fraiche.
09 Pulled PorkThat’s a lot of food for £12.
There was plenty of juicy pulled pork in the bun, but on the plate there was a generous portion of what we might call “Pulled Crackling” – pieces of pork that had been crisped up more in the oven.
These were very tasty, as was everything with it. The homemade bun was sweet and attractive, wasabi creme fraiche powerful, the chips good, and even the picked vegetables added a nicely acidic note.

Bethan and Sarah had the Prosecco (£4.50 for 125ml) while Paul & I had a refreshing freshingly squeezed orange juice (£2.80)

ReceiptService was very good – your plate barely rests untouched before it is gone.The bill for four people came to £55 for four people – and each meal seemed very good value.
So if you’re going to Shrewsbury and need somewhere interesting yet reliable for lunch, I would strongly recommend Number Four.
In fact, there must be about twenty places I’d recommend (at least four in the market alone).
And if Aberystwyth does end up a strip of charity shops, we can’t just blame Tesco.


Number Four

4 Butcher Row

01743 366691




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *