Where: Ogmore By The Sea, Bridgend
What: Traditional and trendy fare, heavy on local produce
How much? £10 a head for breakfast
Overall: Top notch, top marks, top everything
Contact: 01656 646361 https://www.cobbleskitchen.co.uk/
Being regular budget travelers, The Mr and I are neither adverse nor strangers to a Cheap Hotel Chain Of Choice buffet of overdone sausages and suspicious egg like substances. It was something of a happy accident on our last mystery tour of darkest Wales to be directed to Cobbles in Bridgend to kick off a day of local sightseeing in a suitably fried and over fed fashion.
You will find Cobbles just off the B4524 in Ogmore By Sea (surely a runner for Best Place Name Ever???). It’s a cute and suitably rustic collection of stone buildings around a central courtyard with both dining rooms and a separate deli room. This place is basically a shabby chic upscaler’s dream- think slightly wonky floors and mis matched chairs, enameled tin tableware and ridiculously kitsch tables fashioned from old manual sewing machines. It is worth mentioning now that the wheels on these still work, which might irritate some but is a wonderful distraction and comfort if you have in your party a restless leg sufferer or man-sized child who is fascinated by any kind of mechanical object in creation. It kept him quiet while the girls caught up, anyway.
So it’s twee and warm and massively on trend if you like your modern comforts to look like they’re from the turn of the century, but what about the food? The published ethos from Cobbles is to showcase an area rich in gorgeous produce by offering a true taste of Wales, using as much local produce as possible. You can expect the standard menu offering of a full breakfast (with veggie and vegan options), oats or pancakes, plus daily specials and various decorated eggs benedict. If you make it for the hallowed brunch period after 11 you can add your hipster choices of avo toast and their take on shakshuka. We were early birds catching our touristy worms, so it was the standard Brecwast menu for us, two Full Welsh and one vegetarian. I often vouch for a veggie breakfast these days, what with all the nitrates in the bacon I keep getting warned about and quite frankly, a higher chance of cheese inclusion. As one could expect in this location this involved a couple of glorious Glamorgan sausages, eggs, mushrooms and beans with a leek hash brown. They aren’t fibbing on their menu when they promise you ‘doorstep’ toast either, to quote our holiday host Angharad ‘I’d come here every day just for the toast’. Think proper, thick cut bread that you could bed down for the night in. Perfect. The carnivorous version was also well received with special mention again for the sausages. You can add Welsh foodie phenomenon laverbread to your plate too if you wish, but I chose not to, for reasons explained here.
Service is pleasantly relaxed, by which I actually mean relaxed and not slow or sloppy, and a visit to their Deli afterwards is a must- as well as standard tourist traps like welshcakes you can pick up some hearty bakery items and local beers here. The macarons are stunning.
This might feel like something of a flat review- Blogger Eats Good Breakfast Then Buys Cake. To be honest I don’t feel much of a need to find more ways to describe a basically perfect fry up in a really nice room. It is no surprise to me to see Cobbles receiving a Best Restaurant accolade in the Food Awards for Wales, and if you make it over there I don’t think it will surprise you either. What strikes me as worth shouting about Cobbles, like so many other smaller run eateries and businesses in general, is that this is not normal. All too often we accept mediocre and mass produced food on too big plates dished up by a knackered minimum wage slave who’s only purpose is to get you cashed out as quickly as possible with some extra loyalty card points. Eating out is becoming an increasingly bullshitty experience with the big boys. We go to the budget buffet bar and we accept the over done sausages and suspicious egg like substances because, well, they have a lot of customers don’t they so we can put up with it and it’s not really ok to complain when it’s so cheap…..
So don’t complain. Go somewhere else. Look for a smaller place with a logo you don’t recognise and start thinking about value rather than cost. A full buffet run comes in about the nine quid region on average, with bad coffee and the aforementioned egg suspicions. A full breakfast with a hot drink at Cobbles is just less than this. A gut busting plate of breakfast goods at my local indie Fork & Wine is about the same too. No, you don’t get endless pastries and week old cereal from a weird standing perspex pot thing or tiny single use tubs of marmite for your toast here. You don’t have to stand at that weird rotating fire risk toaster thing either. And no, you don’t get endless visits to top up on your hot plate but you know what, you don’t need that. You really don’t! Eight quid is a good price for a filling, fresh breakfast and a decent coffee. So is a tenner. Does a fiver really make up for the digestive results of an over cooked plate of dry meat and (horrors) breakfast gravy?
I’m not indiscriminately against big chains. Some of them are alright and I’ve said complimentary things about a few. All of them provide employment and choice and easy fix dinners when you don’t really want to splash out or think too much. But they should not be the norm. Places like Cobbles should be where we chose to spend our money- on quality food with a traceable supply chain and immediate benefit to our community and farmers. And if those bigger chains start losing out on your disposable income, they might just examine the crap they are turning out and reconsider their ways. Of course this is easy to say when you live in a rural area where indie eateries abound and the closest all-you-can-stand buffet is a half hour drive away. But they exist in towns too, in your town and others so even if you can’t stand to seek out new a new and off the map avocado toast on an average Wednesday, then do a bit more research for your holiday. You’re on holiday afterall, you can get away with all kinds of deviant behavior you wouldn’t dream of at home. Check out Tripadvisor or local foodie award listings. Find your own Angharad to take you for toast before just booking in for your Premierlodge 9am seating. And if you’re doing this in the Cardiff region, start off with Cobbles.