This summer we spent a week near Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire to attend an intensive pottery throwing workshop. We were in the heart of Wye Valley, an area known for its outstanding natural beauty. We stayed in the most wonderful bed and breakfast (more on which soon) and our hosts there kindly recommended several local restaurants, of which No.3 was their top suggestion. Closed on both Sunday and Monday (our first two nights in the area), we booked a table for the Tuesday night and loved our meal so much, we booked to go back again the very next night!
Why did we love it so much?
A combination of really delicious food, friendly and very well-trained service from staff who clearly care about customer experience, and very reasonable prices for the quality of ingredients and cooking.
The interior is simple, bright and comfortable, with tables reasonably spaced out. We lucked out in being allocated the only table in the corner between the bar and entrance, tucked away on its own, it was a perfect cosy spot.
For our first visit, we shared the No. 3 Special Sharing Platter(£14.95) as a starter, a polished wooden board bearing ‘duck liver pate, bacon and cheddar croquettes, crispy pork, Chinese slaw, Cumberland sauce and crusty bread’. This was a superb start, the pate rich, smooth and with great flavour; the croquettes served hot from the fryer crunchy on the outside, melty soft inside; the crispy pork was a real surprise, kind of like Chinese crispy aromatic duck, not sure how they did it but we loved it. The Asian slaw didn’t look very Asian but tasted wonderful, and the fresh bread and condiments were all spot on. Portions were generous and this would also work well as a filling meal for one.
The second night Pete ordered the Twice baked Hereford hop soufflé (£7.50) made with Hereford hop cheese and served with apple & cider chutney. Feather light, as a good soufflé should be, this was light and tasty, and a good choice if you’re worried about filling up before the generous main courses to come.
I went for the Garlic king prawns (£8.95), described as ‘pan fried shell off king prawns in garlic butter, fresh lemon, salad panache’, and I loved them. The light lemony garlic butter was perfectly balanced and I mopped up lots of it with both prawns and bread.
Pete’s main course on the first evening was from the specials board, hake we think, served with saute potatoes, seasonal green vegetables and a beurre blanc or light Hollandaise sauce. The fish was perfectly cooked and the sauce just right to complement rather than overpower it.
The Slow cooked pork belly (£14.95) with Bramley apple compot [sic], creamed potato, spring greens and brandy peppercorn sauce blew me away! The pork belly was cooked so perfectly, the meat fall-apart tender but without being pappy, the fat nicely rendered, and the skin so crisp it shattered shard-like under pressure from my knife. The flavour of the pork was superb too, and held its own against a satisfyingly robust brandy peppercorn sauce. Oh and I must mention the mash, pillowy piles of buttery potato, it was the best kind of comfort food. Loved the fresh summer vegetables too.
On evening two, Pete chose a veggie option in the Sweet potato, butternut and feta ragout (£12.95), ‘cooked with courgettes, fresh tomato and herbs, topped with a crisp filo wafer’. It was everything he expected of it, hearty and filling, with great flavour and texture.
My second evening main dish was the Seared breast of duck (£15.95) with ‘potato dauphinoise, pomegranate and lime, spring greens and a port jus’. You can’t tell from the photos – the meat was unusually pale – but its cooked to what would normally look pink, and was once again superb quality. The deeply flavoured port jus was super rich, but offset brilliantly by the light bright flavour of pomegranate seeds in lime juice.
Sadly, on the first night, we just didn’t have space for dessert but we were determined to squeeze some in on our return visit. Pete’s No. 3 Treacle Sponge (£6.50) with golden syrup and vanilla ice cream was “what you dream a treacle sponge should be“, much softer and lighter than the typical stodgy offering but still with all the moist richness you could crave.
My Salted Caramel and Pecan Slice (£6.50) was served with Cornish clotted cream and oh my god, it was served warm, and was a glorious, fudgy, sticky mass of deliciousness. The combination of chocolate, pecan nuts and salted caramel is a winning one, and the clotted cream was the perfect foil to that motherlode of sweetness!
I mentioned above that service was particularly good. What I mean by that is that the staff at No. 3 didn’t just take our orders, bring drinks and food, sort the bill… in the perfectly acceptable but somewhat perfunctory way that is common. Instead, every member of staff we interacted with was fully engaged in the customer experience, noticing and acting on all those little things (such as needing more tap water or another round of drinks, a dropped napkin or item of cutlery, a lifted head and querying smile to catch someone’s attention) that make a really great impression.
Given the top notch food and service, it’s no surprise that No. 3 is extremely popular. We were lucky to get tables at such short notice (leaving a voicemail on Sunday for our Tuesday booking, and bagging the last table for Wednesday following our Tuesday visit). The restaurant was packed both evenings, and many prospective customers without reservations were turned away. Do make reservations in advance should you wish to visit, especially in peak tourist season.
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