It is one of the most hyped restaurants in south Wales at the moment which requires serious patience in order to secure an elusive booking. Themed on an authentic Welsh coal mine is an eatery in Neath that has won legions of fans – and such is the demand that you’ll be waiting weeks, if not months, to be able to visit and try it for yourself.
Fittingly called The Mine, you’re bound to have found a picture of one of its epically sized dishes come up on your Facebook or Instagram timeline at some point. The food served there is a huge hit with fans of hearty-sized burgers in particular, with snapshots of towering patties and chips for days making the mouth water every time you see them.
Reviewers in their numbers have given the place a huge thumbs up, with positive comments left like: “Unreal – the presentation and portion size was brilliant” and “The quality of the food was second to none and the portions were belly busting.”
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We decided to book ourselves in and try it first hand. After a three-week wait, we’d secured a table and made the trip to check it out, and the surprises started from the second the car was parked up. Given its fanfare and popularity, you would not have expected it to have been tucked away down an alleyway to the rear of the Premier Store in High Street. In fact, when we’d entered the door to go inside, a left turn would have taken you into the shop itself. But we turned right to enter the restaurant, and what we found was a cosy, intimate set up.
After being given a warm welcome from friendly staff we were sat at our table and took a few moments to scan our surroundings and see the incredible level of detail that had been put into its decor to showcase pictures, trinkets and souvenirs in a tribute to the mining community in which it is based.
Even the toilets are called The Pits. The restaurant itself only has around six or seven tables, going someway to explain the constant demand for them. We received attentive service and the drinks we ordered arrived in what must have been record speed, before we made the all-important decision on what food to order.
There’s a range of options on offer, including a selection of steaks priced between £16.95 and £20.50, and classic bistro fare like home made beer battered cod and chips (£13.95), home baked lasagne (£13.95) and slow cooked BBQ ribs and fries (£16.95). But we decided to try out the dishes that have earned the restaurant the most notoriety – the burgers.
There are choices like the Bombay bad boy – a double southern fried chicken burger with deep fried onion bhaji, loaded with chicken tikka, mint sauce and chef’s own curry sauce (£19.95), a 20oz smashed patty with cheese, bacon and small garnish (£19.95), double fried chicken burger and fries smothered in BBQ sauce peppers, onions and cheese (£19.95), a loaded halloumi burger and fries stuffed with portabello mushrooms and fried peppers (£12.95) and a 10oz burger and fries with peppers, onions and cheese (£14.95).
But there was no fear of missing out among my party of four as we all opted for the breast of heaven burger – a 10oz beef patty with southern fried chicken breast, bacon, cheese and BBQ sauce (£20.95). After no more than ten to fifteen minutes of enjoying the atmosphere of the restaurant, including a playlist of well known hits setting the mood in the background, our meals arrived.
Totally in keeping with the theme, there was no signs of plates, instead, our food was brought out and served on shovels. It’s always a trademark sign of a massive burger when it arrives with a knife stabbed through the top of it to hold it in place, which itself had the job of holding three onion rings. As expected, the portions were massive and it would have been a military operation to pick up the burger and attempt to eat it in the conventional sense.
Hesitantly, making sure to avoid the disaster of hitting the handle of the shovel and sending chips flying all over the place, we pulled the burger apart and got stuck in. A sign of a good meal is when everyone is quiet, and that was the case here as the big meals were devoured one tactical bite after the other. Due to the sheer volume everyone failed to clear the shovel, but that was no reflection on the quality of the food, which was fresh, plentiful, cooked to a high standard and served up promptly.
It is clear to see after visiting why the restaurant has garnered such a strong reputation. It is no stroke of luck that their reviews are consistently strong and the waiting lists extensive. The Mine is a little hidden gem tucked away in an unassuming spot of Neath which you could easily drive past and miss if you didn’t know it was there. But that almost adds to its charm. Once you find it and experience the food it has to offer, I think most people would be happy to revisit again in future. A combination of its good food, intimate setting and friendly staff all meshed together to create an enjoyable night out for all concerned. You can visit the restaurant’s website and make a booking by clicking here.