Few restaurateurs have the nerve to sit one of the country’s most famous chefs in a pub across the street until a table becomes available, but Gavin Davies is no ordinary man.

The fisherman-turned-restaurant owner is as important a character as the steaks and fish fillets on the counter, but he admits he’s really getting “excited.” Whatever he does, Gavin does it right: his small, 11-seat restaurant on the main road through a small village in Pembrokeshire attracts some of the biggest names in sport and business in Wales. Not to mention his new best friend, chef Marco Pierre White, who arrived in the summer and left calling his cooking “the best food he’s had in a long time.”

Gavin Davies, owner of Rib and Oyster, with meat destined for Marco Pierre White

People travel miles, literally flying into the county in their private jets, to eat at the Rib and Oyster restaurant, he said, and it’s not uncommon for 15 tables to be turned away over the weekend. He’s had offers to bring his brand, which he had the foresight to register in the early days, to the city, but now Gavin is content with what he does best: producing premium food, as local as possible, from salmon with no complaints. pink variety. store in Kilgat.

In fact, the brand strayed a bit from its original idea of ​​simply selling the day’s catch from the back of a van when the Covid pandemic hit and its trade ceased almost overnight. Originally from the Rhondda Valley, Gavin moved to Pembrokeshire in his early twenties to find work and became a successful fisherman with his own trawler.

But when Gavin was forced to consider his options when hospitality stopped for a few months, he got the bright idea to sell fresh seafood from a van. Overwhelmed by the response and often selling out within hours, Gavin jumped at the opportunity to establish a more permanent base in Kilgatty when the shop became available for rent.

What started as a fish and meat counter 18 months ago has turned into a small restaurant with chef Jake Davies in the kitchen. It was only through the transmission of information and the power of Facebook that people began to reach out in droves. He doesn’t talk about the big names, but suffice it to say that some of the Welsh rugby greats are regulars.

Ribs and oysters in Kilgetty, Pembrokeshire

There are only 11 tables in the restaurant.

“We were very busy,” Gavin said of those days in the Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire markets. “We were selling everything and had to return the van to buy more. I realized I needed to expand and then I saw this store was for rent.” With the help of his brother, who has been a butcher for 21 years, Gavin came up with his well-rehearsed name – “There is no other restaurant called ribs and oysters” – and a distinctive logo. .

Six weeks after opening, he and his wife, Lucy, transformed the former pantry into a restaurant with just two tables. The latest addition is a vintage building block that is around 84 years old, bringing the total to 11. That’s not to say that Gavin and Lucy haven’t paid due attention to the interior – Gavin was keen not to spoil the experience. with your fish. – Fish odor counter. But seeing the meat and fish on display in a cozy bistro in the evening is certainly part of the appeal. Plus, since everything is fresh, there’s no smell, Gavin said practically.

Lucy Davies created the restaurant with her husband.

Rib and Oyster started as a fishmonger and butcher before opening a small restaurant

“Food is key,” Gavin said of his immediate success. “We have fresh ingredients, nothing fancy, we have a specials board that changes every day, and the menu is very small.” The most popular application is the surf and turf deck. It’s not cheap at £90 for two, but it comes on a massive platter with a delicious selection of 10oz steaks, catch of the day, half lobster, mussels and tiger prawns, with a side of big chunky chips.

As we talk through the rainy afternoon, people are rushing out the door, seeking Gavin’s opinion on what was the best part of their day. A group of regulars raved about the 1-pound T-bone steaks they bought for Christmas.

The meat and fish counter caters to some well-known restaurants from far and wide, including celebrity chefs Marco Pierre White and Pierre Kauffman. In fact, Gavin went to Marco’s in Bath later that day to personally deliver a large piece of meat to use for the next day’s shoot. Gavin expects to be treated well and looks forward to an evening of good food and wine. Marco seems to be a huge influence, even giving his best advice on over-the-counter cigarettes and the best way to serve Dover sole on the evening’s menu.

Gavin (left) with his wife Lucy Davies and chef Marco Pierre White

So what is Marco? I ask about the chef who is often described as intimidating, snobby, arrogant and rude. But even he’s no match for Gavin: “He called Saturday and asked for a table,” she explained. “But we were full that day. So I told him that if you would come after the service, around 3:30 pm, we would be open for you.

Despite this, Marco showed up at 2:30 pm and when he heard that the restaurant was full, he thought the staff were joking. But Gavin sent him to a pub across the street where, to the delight of everyone at the bar, this chef from Bath, brandishing his Coates card, bought them a round. The meal was prepared that day by Jake Davies, an Environmental Science graduate who trained at the Mulberry restaurant in Saundersfoot.

Jake must have done something right because Marco told the team it was the best meal he’s had in a long time. The chef didn’t arrive entirely uninformed: In 2021, he asked Ribs and Oysters to provide sea bass and lobster for a TV show he was filming.

“I thought he was screwing me over and told him where to go,” Gavin said, remembering the phone call. But within days, Gavin found himself on the set of This Morning with Holly, Phil and Marco. Not that I mind all that, it seems that little can shake this 45-year-old fisherman.

Gavin sold his boat before Christmas to focus fully on the restaurant. However, it is this fishing acumen that sets him apart – Gavin can really secure his ‘fish straight from the net’. He added, “I think we’re doing the best we can.” Many of his customers seem to think so too, many of whom are regulars based on rave reviews on TripAdvisor.

“Really good fresh produce,” wrote one satisfied visitor. “The devil fish was very tasty and perfectly cooked. If you like big steak, you’ve come to the right place! And he was very well prepared. We had a great night and the staff were great! But, shhhh, we’re not. I don’t want everyone to know.”

While another recalled how, after arriving at the restaurant without his wallet, Gavin “just calmly poured me a glass of wine” and told her not to worry, they could pay over the phone when they got home. “How’s that for customer service,” the review said. “He didn’t even want my car searched. Anyway, I went with surf, peat and house white wine and we both had a great time. It was exceptional – I haven’t had a steak in almost 30 years but you hardly need a steak knife as it was so tender and I’m still in heaven for fries.

The father of two boys is proud of what he has created. Starting with three employees, Rib and Oyster now employs nine people and will easily provide 15 tables on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, he said. His little restaurant seems to be doing so well that it’s too late to keep it a secret.

I wonder if it will ever expand, perhaps to Cardiff. Gavin keeps the same expression when he says, “Never say never.” After 18 busy months, he wants to focus on consolidating what Ribs and Oysters are all about. But with people like Marco to turn to, the foodie world really is your oyster.