A white stone building on the corner of a road

The Black Bear Inn, Usk: restaurant review

Try slow-braised hogget, Welsh ceps in garlic butter and Herefordshire perry at this Monmouthshire gastropub

Looking for gastropubs in Wales? Read our review of The Black Bear Inn, and check out more suggestions for gastropubs across the UK here.

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The Black Bear Inn in a nutshell

Having taken over Bettws Newydd’s village pub in November 2018, Josh and Hannah Byrne make the most of their new rural setting to create a hyper-local menu that changes by the week.


Who’s cooking?

Crossing the Severn to open his first restaurant, head chef Josh cooked at some of Bristol’s top-rated venues (Poco, Bar Buvette) before swapping city kitchens for this rustic Monmouthshire inn. His early experience at Heston Blumenthal’s The Hind’s Head in Bray – as well as at a number of Michelin-starred restaurants across Europe – has equipped him with an eye for impeccably fresh produce and a taste for bold and ambitious flavours.

A man, woman and dog stood in a garden
Josh and Hannah Byrne make the most of their new rural setting to create a hyper-local menu that changes by the week

What’s the vibe?

Josh and Hannah refurbished The Black Bear before it re-launched in late 2018, knocking down a wall to open up the dining space and updating the décor. While they’ve added their own touches, the couple have kept the vibe loyal to its roots: this is still a proper pub where you can bring your dog and have a pint at the bar, or sit down to a feast with your family around one of the huge wooden tables.

A white stone building on the corner of a road
This is still a proper pub where you can bring your dog and have a pint at the bar

What’s the food like at The Black Bear Inn?

A huge blackboard etched with the daily menu is the main focal point at the pub. Josh works closely with a small network of neighbouring producers to create just three options at each course, one meat, one fish and one veggie – each determined by what’s growing close by. Meat is sourced on a whole- or half-animal basis and Josh butchers it himself, using every last inch to make dishes like mutton broth with peas, broad beans and barley.

A white plate with shavings of vegetables on top
Josh works closely with a small network of neighbouring producers to create just three options at each course, one meat, one fish and one veggie

His creations are a homage to the couple’s new life in the Welsh countryside; hogget, sourced from a nearby farm, is slowly braised until blissfully soft and ultra-umami, served with mash loaded with cream and butter and a heap of forest-coloured greens from Hannah’s veg plot.

Don’t turn down the opportunity to try more of Josh’s food by squeezing in a few of the bar snacks before the main event. Locally foraged ceps bathed in butter and garlic are meaty giants of the fungus fraternity – keep back some of the warm homemade bread so you can mop up every drop.

Food at Black Bear Inn, Wales
Meat is sourced on a whole- or half-animal basis and Josh butchers it himself, using every last inch

And the drinks?

Low-intervention and organic wines take the lead on a comprehensive drinks line-up; if you don’t want to flick through the list, there’s a shortened selection by the glass or carafe chalked up on the board by the bar. There’s also an interesting selection of artisan cider and perry, including a rather special champagne-method bottle from Herefordshire producer Gregg’s Pit.


olive tip

Bring a couple of friends so you can make your way through the full list of bar snacks – house favourites include deep-fried Porthilly rock oysters, traditional Welsh rarebit, and ham and mustard croquettes.


The Black Bear Inn, Route 42, Bettws Newydd, Usk NP15 1JN

Words by Kathryn Lewis

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Photos Ben Pryor