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The Granary Restaurant Review – Newtown, Powys

I was recently asked to attend a little known (to myself) restaurant in the heart of Wales called the Granary in Newtown, Powys to try their new 9 course tasting menu. Not knowing much about the restaurant at first I did a little bit of digging and found out that the head chef has worked at some very reputable restaurants on his journey to heading up the kitchen at The Granary including the one Michelin Star Ynyshir in Machynlleth, two Michelin star Noma in Copenhagen and even further afield at The Little Truffle on the Gold Coast in Australia. Ok, so you can judge a restaurant just by where someone has worked but the menu sounded absolutely banging and right up my street.

The only thing putting me off was the 5 hour round journey to get to the restaurant and back home. Seeing as we’re in the middle of one of the biggest heat waves to grace the land of song, I thought why not make a weekend of it and throw a bit of nature in with the epic scenic route meandering through the Brecon Beacons then up to Mid Wales and go camping whilst we were up there. As luck goes I found a camping spot called The Dolau Inn just two miles from the restaurant, which was situated next to a pub and cost just £5 per person so it was game on!

 

The Restaurant

After a few fermented apple juices to hydrate ourselves after setting up camp, we took the 5 minute taxi ride into town and a short walk down a lane just off the main high street in Newtown to the restaurant.

The restaurant itself has been run by the same owner since 2009 and after speaking to some of the locals before we got there it has gone through a number of different directions since its inception with the most recent offering being tapas.

The re-branding, new menu and new direction under the guise of chef Seamus Russel has also seen the restaurant change its name to the Granary to tie in with the buildings original purpose being a bakers in the 1900 and selling grain during the 1950’s.

The outside building of the Granary Restaurant Newtown

The restaurant seating and tables at The Granary

The bar at The Granary Restaurant - Newtown

 

The Tudor style exterior flowed through nicely into the interior with exposed wooden joists and panelling throughout with stripped back low hanging lighting creating a warm atmosphere. We were the first to arrive and were offered a chance to grab a drink out the back first, which we inquisitively accepted.

Outside seating and garden at The Granary Newtown

Garden at The Granary Restaurant in Newtown

Garden snug at the granary restaurant - Newtown

 

Both going for a Gin Mare G & T, whilst we explored the peaceful and tranquil outside seating area that would be a summertime mecca if it was only located in Cardiff with ample an scattering of tables with rattan benches and cushions a plenty. There was even a snug up on a raised area with comfy sofas and a chance to shelter from the sun in the summer or warm the cockles up in winter with the connected wall mounted fire.

The Food

After embracing my inner Zen channelled through the Buddha statues dotted around outside chill out area, G & T in hand as backup we headed inside for a culinary journey through a foraged and fermented menu expertly curated by head chef Seamus.

tasting menu and gin at the granary restaurant

First up on the menu was the hispi taco, prawn, lime, cucumber and ant. I’ve never been one to purposely journey on through a dish with insects in but seeing as it was national insect week and I’d been desensitised once that week already with the bug farm pop up at The Celtic Manor, there was nothing a little helping of ants as seasoning would do to hold me back.

Hispi taco with ants at The Granary Restaurant

This was a very clever dish with fermented limes used to cure the prawns a la ceviche style, sandwiched between carved hispi cabbage leaves and cucumber. The presentation was on point and gave us a little glimpse of what we were in store for, for the rest of the evening. The ants would have been right at home nestled amongst the edible flower coating. Even the rustic looking plates and tableware were handmade by a woman locally and added an extra special touch to the dishes.

Leek and wild garlic plate at The Granary in Newtown

Second course saw us delving into leek, shallot, parmesan, wild garlic. Each of the dishes was explained by the chef so that no detail was left unearthed, which I though was excellent as the menu reads very simply but the techniques and process behind executing each dish goes way beyond the main ingredients listed. This dish for example was powdered in fine particles of charcoal, adding an extra layer to the delicate ribbons of leak and silky custard like core of parmesan and fragrant but mellow linger of wild garlic.

Sourdough bread and cultured butter - The Granary in Newtown

I was a little disappointed at first when sitting down and not having a chance to carb up on bread, but to my delight it was delivered after the 2nd course. God I love bread! Especially when so much love and attention has been made with the cultured butter and the sourdough both taking around 5 days to produce I was told. This wasn’t just any old Hovis, that’s for sure. Being a champion of fermented yeast I adore its sour taste just as much in a sour beer as my bread and this loaf took some beating, slathered with rich, buttery, yellow mounds.

Pigs head with caviar - The Granary Newtown

Not that it would have bothered me but the next course of pigs head didn’t come on a silver platter with an apple in its mouth. Instead if came crowned in something a bit more regal in the form of Osietra caviar, sat on a bed of squash surrounded in fermented barley with droplets of kelp. I would never have put pork and caviar together myself but when I think about my preference of pork, which would be adorned with glass like shards of heavily salted crackling it married together flawlessly. Sweetened by the soft squash and a pleasant umami hit from the kelp.

Duck with blueberry and beetroot main course The Granary Restaurant Powys

Another meaty dish was up next in the form of duck breast, blueberry, hazelnut and beetroot. Duck being one of my favourite meats if cooked correctly I was more than excited to see how it would be plated up. Even though my favourite potato sidekick to duck dishes, dauphinoise potato wasn’t anywhere in sight, the sight of me wiping the plate clean with my index finger after I’d savoured the last mouthful of duck I think it was fair to say I wasn’t too disappointed in the end. Cooked pink to perfection, the sweetness of the blueberry helped tame the gaminess of the meat.

Pineapple - coal ricotta and rocket granita at The Granary Restaurant

Course 6 was a fusion of sweet and savoury before we went full steam ahead into dessert with pineapple, rapeseed, coal ricotta and rocket. I don’t know what sort of witchcraft they taught the chef at his previous posts but this dish was crazy. Sweet pineapple, savoury rocket granita, with a helping of dairy in the form of welsh gold infused ricotta. Simple raw ingredients yet executed brilliantly by transforming them with some well thought out techniques, lots of time and a little sprinkle of love.

Rice pudding with rhubarb dessert at The Granary - Newtown

The freshly foraged haul came into its own in the next few courses with rice pudding, oats, rhubarb and wood sorrel. This put my regular overnight oat breakfast to shame. Smooth pudding with added crunch and texture from the crispy oats with a spoonful of the sweetened rhubarb was divine. Topped off with hand carved hearts out of the wood sorrel that brought not only a visual touch but another layer of flavour too.

Strawberry and elderflower dessert at The Granary in Newtown

Having only tired elderflower in gin, it was about time I tried it in it’s fresh form with some strawberries, olive oil and drizzle of elderflower gel. Soft, fresh and fragrant. The strawberries were so sweet and a classic pairing with the elderflower.

Final course and dessert at The Granary Newtown
Last but not least we came to the lemon and white chocolate fudge. Bite sized nuggets of lemon and a rich, indulgent chocolate and raspberry to finish off a perfect and flawless meal.

The Verdict

Well what can I say… From not having heard of the granary to learning about the chef and then getting excited about the 9 courses on offer for the June menu this did not disappoint and was definitely worth the 5 hour journey there and back.

The flavour pairings and techniques used were so clever and after finishing our meals, we were allowed into the kitchen to speak to the chef and take a look behind the scenes. There were some very British ingredients on the menu but I loved how they were tweaked with Asian flavours and techniques with ferments like koji, which I’d learned about only the night before whilst watching “The Mind of a Chef” with David Chang on Netflix.

Nothing was just thrown in a skillet and plated up, everything in each dish required patience, time and nurture with some of the ingredients requiring days if not weeks to prepare. There wasn’t one thing that past my lips that I didn’t like.

I really hope the restaurant gets the rewards it deserves and from eating at some other Michelin star restaurants recently I can’t see any reason why The Granary under the direction of Chef Seamus Russel can’t reach the same heights any time soon and although I never ate at its previous incarnation, I think they’ve found the winning formula at last.

I hope the locals do give it a chance and check out the amazing food although speaking to a few in the pub after our meal it might just be ahead of its time in Newtown after describing some of the dishes and ingredients and they pulled a face and said it was expensive. I think it will take off it’s just there is nothing else quite like it around and once they walk through the doors and sample the food, it will do all the talking.

If you are onto something as good as this though people will travel for it. I travelled to Anglesey from Cardiff to go for food at The Sosban and Old Butchers for my birthday, which is 4.5 hours there and 9 hour round trip so this is nothing from Cardiff or Shrewsbury about an hour away.

9 course tasting menu at The Granary - Newtown

The price of the 9 course tasting menu costs just £50, which by Cardiff Standards is bloody cheap as I’ve seen some veggie tasting menus recently for not much less. We ordered a bottle of white wine after our gin and tonics to go with the food as we didn’t realise they did a wine flight to go with the food too for around £30 each. Bearing in mind this is 9 courses and the portion size of the drinks was more than generous. We were gutted we didn’t know at the start or we would of gone for that but they did allow us to pair the rest of our dishes with the wine when we found out and they were paired beautifully.

Our food was complimentary and would cost £50 each and with our two gins, bottle of wine and last couple of paired wines our drink bill came to £60, which I though was very reasonable. So normally that would have cost £160 but in the end we paid £100 with a £40 tip to the chef and front of house.

To top it all off they even gave us the rest of the loaf of sourdough wrapped up in cling film to take home. That was breakfast sorted for the morning with my 40p tin of sausage and beans cooked on my camping stove back at the camping site.

Contact Details

The Granary Restaurant
17 Parker’s Lane, Newtown, Powys, SY16 2LT

Phone: 01686 621120

Nikka Coffey Japanese Gin and Miso Mackerel Recipe

Miso and Japanese Gin mackerel ingredients

  • 2 fillets of fresh mackerel
  • 2 teaspoons miso paste (I used white organic miso from M & S)
  • Juice of 1/2 a charred lime
  • Small bunch of corriander chopped finely
  • 1 small chunk of ginger grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 chilli chopped finely
  • 6 teaspoons of Nikka Coffey Japanese Gin (Or sub for another Japanese Yuzu Gin)
  • 3 teaspoons mirin
  • 3 teaspoons rice wine vinegar

Asian salad ingredients

  • 1 carrot julienned
  • 1 carrot sized daikon julienned
  • 1 handfull beansprouts
  • 2 inch thick cucumber cut into batons
  • 1 spring onion sliced thinly
  • 1 teaspoon black sesame seeds

gin and miso mackerel ingredients

Instructions

  1. Put a frying pan on medium to high heat.
  2. Slice a lime in half and put one half, flesh side down in the dry pan for a couple of minutes to char.
  3. Slice the spring onion and peel and julienne the daikon. Add both to a bowl of cold water to get some of the harshness out for a few minutes.
  4. In a bowl, add the miso paste, juice of the charred lime, chopped corriander, grated ginger, garlic powder, chopped chilli, Nikka Coffe Gin, mirin and rice wine vinegar and give it a stir. Put to the side for dressing the dish later on.
  5. Take the daikon and spring onion out of the water and pat dry. Peel then julienne the carrot. Add to a bowl or plate with the washed beansprouts, daikon, half of the spring onions and give a little toss to combine.
  6. Add a little oil to the pan and cook the mackgrel skin side down first. I used a griddle pan and the skin stuck to the pan after a minute but was cooked through so i pulled it off the fish and put to one side to add as a topping later on.
  7. Turn the fish after a couple of minutes. They don’t need too long as they can be quite thin.
  8. When the fish is cooked through, remove from the pan and place on top of the asian salad.
  9. If you removed the fish skin, chop it into little shards.
  10. Drizzle the miso dressing on top of the fish and top with sesame seeds, the rest of the spring onions and the crispy little shards of fish skin.
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James Sommerin Discount 6 course taster menu voucher

Travelzoo have just launched a new discount for a 6 course taster menu at Penarth’s Michelin Starred James Sommerin Restauranton their website.

Set along the Penarth Promenade just a stones throw away from the sea, it’s a fantastic location with menu to match. The voucher is available for £89 for two dinners for lunch between 12-2pm from Tuesday to Sunday.

If you want to dine with friends a discount voucher for James Sommerin for 4 dinners will cost £169. It’s a surcharge of £20 each per person to dine at dinner in the evening if you can’t make it for lunch.

They’ve even got an overnight package including bed and breakfast for two for £199 if you fancy making a weekend of it in Penarth.

To buy the discount voucher for James Sommerin then visit the Travelzoo website.

Sosban and the old butchers review – Michelin Star Restaurant Anglesey

Being a frequent honorary islander on the Isle of Anglesey due to the other half being born and bred there, we’ve been slowly ticking off some of the best spots for food there over the past year and don’t ask me how many months (queue  red cheek syndrome).

We’ve been to local favourite Lobster Pot and then Marram Grass over the Christmas period but it’s our 6 month spot on the waiting list for Ynys Mon’s only Michelin Star restaurant Sosban and the old butchers we’ve been counting down the days till.

Having just missed the last round of bookings where 6 months of tables at the 12 seater restaurant are released and snapped up in the blink of an eye but we were lucky enough in October to book a table for Menai Bridge’s hottest ticket in town.

The menu is a closely guarded secret until you arrive and you are taken on a journey from sea to farm through the 9 dishes of the tasting menu, expertly crafted by a single chef in a tiny kitchen. Apart from a someone who sometimes helps with the dishes there is only one other person working at Sosban and the old butchers and that is wife of the chef and front of house, which makes it an even more of an extraordinary feat to be awarded such a highly sought after accolade of a Michelin Star.

 

Inside the restaurant at Sosban and the old butchers Anglesey

 

Located at No1 High Street in Menai Bridge in an unsuspecting mint coloured building, inside just 6 tables and whilst we dinned just 10 of us eating. They’ve kept the old tiles on the wall from when it used to be a butchers and with just a small back bar and pass where the food comes out, you have the waitress’s full attention. It’s like dinning in someone’s front living room, which immediately put me at ease being my first visit to a Michelin Star restaurant as I imagined most of them can be quite pretentious. I loved how calm and relaxed it was this side of the kitchen, although I’m not sure chef would say the same single handily serving everyone in the restaurant Thursday to Saturday.

There is just one menu and you are only told once you arrived although we opted to keep it a surprise and learn of each dish as it arrived and the cost of the tasting menu is £80 per person. It was a little hard to order a bottle of wine, our own fault opting to keep it a surprise as we didn’t know what drink would best suit the dishes. We opted for an Argentinian Malbec at a cost of £28.

The Food

We were served a couple of appetisers to keep us going until the more substantial dishes came out such as crispy cod skin, curried banana and peanut, which had a lovely crunch but instantly melted on the tongue.

Another crispy one followed with kale bomb with crispy leaves, Caesar dressing and sprinkled with pecorino cheese. Small and bite sized, well two bites as I wanted to saver it instead of going down without touching the sides. They both packed a punch for their size.

Next up was a plate expertly curated by the host and offered something to entice all of the senses. A nugget sized portion of soft tender lamb entombed in a rice crispy esque skin with a dollop of laverbread mouse. Soft, crispy, tender and moist encapsulated into a manageable bite.

In the centre of the plate lay a misty vessel waiting to be opened, which when opened released a hit of smokey juniper leaves. This was presented with a purple cube of the softest marshmallow ever to enter my mouth but with an earthy beet lingering taste.

 

soda bread and butter at sosban and the old butchers - Anglesey

 

Appetisers done with, next up was my poison. Warm, freshly baked bread with homemade butter and generous mountain of sea salt, no doubt hailing from the waters some 50 metres away. The bread was almost pudding like, fluffy and sweet with the soft rich butter and added crunch and explosions of salt with my overzealous application of sea salt. The bread would of worked equally as well with jam and clotted cream if by a miracle there had been any left.

 

asparagus yolk jam and truffle starter at sosban and the old butchers menai bridge

 

On to the starter of asparagus with yolk jam, welsh truffle and a scattering of almost toasted breadcrumb like crispy chicken skin. I do like asparagus when it’s cooked well but there’s nothing worse than a soggy one. This as expected was cooked perfectly and when transported into one’s mouth mixed with the rich toppings brought a thick emulsion of flavour when both yolk and truffley chicken skin collided.

The other half usually detests asparagus but you would have been hard pressed to have found a scrap left on her plate.

 

salt aged lamb wild garlic and sheeps yogurt at sosban and the old butchers

 

The first of two mains was a succulent, generous slice of salt aged lamb with wild garlic and little pearls of sheep’s yogurt that burst with ever so slight pressure of the fork. Normally one to devour a meat dish in seconds, I carved away slowly at my lamb to savour the taste with the helping hand from scoops of the wild garlic and the sheep’s yogurt that cut through the richness of the meat and mellow the wild garlic.

The last of my glass of the Malbec married perfectly. I didn’t inspect the bottle at first but soon learned how potent it was after the first glass and having a bit of a head on already with it being 14%. Not a bad thing though as it was very quaffable.

Not being ones to waste ingredients, next up was the cod fillet that was skinned and said skin used for the first appetiser and the perfect time to order a fresh bottle of vino, although a white to go better with the fish dish. The price on wine was quite reasonable I’d say, with options from £20 up to champagne around £120 for an extra special occasion. Glasses aren’t advertised on the menu but the waitress was willing to allow us to purchase specific bottles by the glass but we ended up going for a bottle anyway priced again at £28.

 

cod pickled onion and ox heart main course at Sosban and the old butchers Anglesey

 

The menu read Cod, yeast puree, potato, pickled onion and ox heart for this course. The cod cooked beautifully and flaked with ease on contact with my fork. I loved the battered and fried pickled onions as they reminded me of pickled onion crisps I used to have after swimming lessons down my local sports centre when I was a kid.

The dried and shaved ox heart I’d seen only the day before on the Masterchef finals when they travelled to Peru, which I was very intrigued by on the show so I was more than impressed when I got to see it in real life on my dish.

 

rhubarb and custard dessert at sosban and the old butchers

 

Having worked our way through an array of savouries, it was now on to the sweets of the tasting menu and first up was the Rhubarb and custard as outlined by the menu but it was way more than just that. With a perfect golden globe of white chocolate nestled between stewed rhubarb and puffed rice. The chocolate globe waiting to be smashed to release the vanilla pebbled custard magma core.

The really liked the contrast in textures and flavours from creamy custard, soft rhubarb with dry and crispy puffed rice and velvety white chocolate. A very dreamy plate of dessert and like none I’ve ever tried before.

 

lemon olive oil and chocolate lolly dessert at Sosban and the old butchers - Anglesey

 

Last but not least brings us to the lemon, olive oil and chocolate final dish. I thought we were having a whole chocolate log when a huge log started making it’s way to our table, but it was just the base for the lemon, olive oil and chocolate ice cream lolly. Not too disappointed I didn’t have to attack a whole log as I was pleasantly full at this point and much to my surprise as I was worried I might have to pop in a somewhere for a bag of chips on the way home.

Light lemony ice cream, subtle hints of olive oil encased in a crisp chocolate shell. A perfect end to a perfect meal. The other half is still banging on about the lolly to this day some 2 weeks later.

The Verdict

As mentioned previously this was my first encounter of Michelin Star quality food and without a peek of the menu beforehand I really didn’t know what to expect, although I was worried everything was going to be laser cut and eaten with tweezers leaving me still hungry but this was far from the truth. We had 8-9 dishes although the first few were appetisers and just bites the starters, two middle courses and two desserts certainly filled me up by the end of it as I do have a bit of an appetite.

The service was excellent and thought the front of house delivered a curated journey through each of the courses and always at hand for drinks or anything else we needed whilst sat at our table. I loved how homely it felt and relaxed for the calibre of food presented to us. The food was delicious from start to finish. I was adamant I would have a tasting menu of salmon 8 ways as it’s one of the only things I don’t like and without knowing what was on the menu, but luckily for me there was no salmon in sight. The two fish dishes we did get were spot on though.

It is still unbelievable to me how a restaurant so small with just two people working there can achieve the heights they have got to, but it just shows the hard work and determination from both chef and front of house to deliver consistently good food through the different seasons and my hats off to them.

Drinks wise there was a good choice of wines, nothing too overboard with bible thick menus to choose as I’d still be sat there choosing now and a reasonable price point starting at £20 for red and white. I did see someone drinking beer, but I wasn’t sure what selection they had so another drinks menu with alternatives to wine would have been good as I always refrain from asking the front of house to recite the whole fridge from memory. I also saw a few bottles of gin nestled at the back of the restaurant near the pass and can’t remember all that were on there so again a menu would have been handy but they did have Monkey 47, which is a favourite of some friends of mine and not an entry level gin by any means.

So would I recommend Sosban and the old butchers and was it worth the wait? I would recommend Sosban in a heartbeat and you can see why it has such a long waiting list not only because there are just 12 dinning per evening, but the food is quite remarkable. If you haven’t been yet then head over to their social media on twitter to be in the know when they release their next allocation of reservations as that’s how I found out just in time in October.

Korean Air Fried Chicken and Asian Slaw

Asian Slaw Ingredients

  • ¼ red cabbage sliced thinly
  • 2 red onions sliced thinly
  • ¼ daikon julienned
  • 1 carrot julienned
  • ¼ cucumber cut into thin ribbons
  • Juice of 2 limes

I didn’t measure these but played around with little bits at a time till I was happy:

  • Drizzle of rice wine vinegar
  • Drizzle of rice wine / mirin
  • Drizzle of light soy sauce
  • Drizzle of dark soy (go easy on this as it can be really salty)
  • Drizzle toasted sesame oil

Top with:

  • Sesame seeds
  • Gochugarw flakes
  • Thinly sliced spring onion
  • Drizzle of honey
  • Chopped fresh coriander

Instructions

Sliced all the veg and add to a bowl. Add the seasoning and mix. Leave for at least 30 minutes and give one final mix before serving. Top with the sesame, gochugarw, spring onion, honey and coriander to serve.

Korean Air Fried Chicken Ingredients

The following are rough estimates as I didn’t measure

  • 3 teaspoons gochujang paste
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic grated finely
  • 1 thumb sized piece of ginger grated finely
  • 2 teaspoons mushroom ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon gochugarw red pepper flakes
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons mirin / rice vinegar

Instructions

Add everything to a bowl and mix to combine. Cook the chicken wings or legs in the oven until nearly done and coat them with the marinade for the last 5 minutes and put under the grill till cooked through and sticky.

I had this served with a pitta but would also work nicely in a freshly steamed bao or some griddled tacos.

Bottomless Brunch Review at Revolucion de Cuba Cardiff

If you’re not familiar, Revolucion de Cuba is the older sibling of the student favourite Vodka Revolution and situated adjacent to The Hilton Hotel in Cardiff. Whereas Vodka revolution is themed around vodka, Revs de Cuba has a more latin affair with rum featuring heavily on the cocktail menu, live music early evenings and attracting a slightly older audience compared to it’s Russian themed counterpart.

I did go through a rum faze a few years ago, opting for the spiced variety so have been on many a night out in Revs de Cuba over the years but it’s never been on my radar to visit for food until I heard about the bottomless brunch they have just launched.

We were invited to the launch weekend back a few weeks ago to sample the brunch menu and see how the selected drinks menu held up against rival venues offering bottomless brunch with prosecco. The bottomless brunch craze seems to be sweeping over Cardiff of late but the food options tend to be limited to your standard avocado and egg based offerings, which I can do myself equally as well for a fraction of the price any day of the week. At Revolucion de Cuba however they’ve injected a much needed hit of flavour and spice with the taste of Latino.

bottomless brunch menu revs de cuba cardiff

Brunch food menu options:

  • Full grilled breakfast
  • Bacon and egg brioche
  • Cubano Benedict
  • Spanish omelette
  • Avocado Brunch
  • Brekkie burrito
  • Huevos Rancheros

Ok so there’s a few familiar plates but I like that they’ve had a Cuban twist such as the Cubano Benedict, which was top of my list but unfortunately as it was they were out of the pork. Instead I opted for the next dish on my hit list the Heuvos Rancheros, which i’ve attempted in the house a few times.

heuvos rancheros at revs de cuba cardiff

Revs de Cuba’s take on the tomatoey favourite is a flour tortilla topped with spiced black beans, tomatoes and mushroom. Finished with a fried egg, spicy rum sauce and crispy patatas.

Portion size was good, it wasn’t massive but this is a bottomless brunch so you want some space left for a cocktail or 4. I really enjoyed the dish to with just the right bit of spice nothing too hot to handle and it tasted really fresh for a chain restaurant.

brekkie burrito at revs de cuba bottomless brunch Cardiff

I’d definitely order it again but I’d like to give the Cuban Benedict a try first. My mum ordered the burrito and she must be the most fussy eater i’ve ever countered on this earth and she managed to polish off the plate too.

Drinks

Ok so you don’t get to order any cocktail from the main cocktail menu but this speeds things up ordering i guess so you can fit more into your 2 hour window of glutony.

For the two hours you get to order the following, one drink at a time:

  • Glass of Prosecco
  • Bloody Mary
  • Classic Mojito
  • Pint of Mahou
  • Tea
  • Americano
  • Soft drink

First up was the Bloody Mary for me. There’s 2 variants on the brunch cocktails menu depending on what poison you decide on. Bloody Mary is with vodka, Bloody Pirate comes with rum and the Red Snapper comes with Gin.

I wasn’t sure if the standard vodka was the only one in the all you can drink but they served me a Gin Red Snapper on the day but we were testers for the day so might of been given a bit of special treatment. I never used to be a Bloody Mary fan but I do seem to be adding them to brunch / lunch dates regularly lately and this was a pretty decent example. I only opted for the one and went onto the Mojito as I’d had enough of tomatoes after the meal too.

mojito at revs de cuba bottomless brunch cardiff

Everyone knows what a mojito tastes like although I’ve witnessed it is possible to masacre them in the past but seeing as it’s a rum bar they do a good job of them here.

The Verdict

There were four of us in the group and we all enjoyed what we were served up for food and the drinks. My mum was already planning taking the girls from work in a few weeks too, which is always a good sign.

The bottomless brunch deal is £20 usually and you get a choice of one of the food items on the special menu and as much alcoholic or soft drinks you can handle in a two hour time frame. This would make an excellent pre-game nibble and get you on your way if you ask me or the recipe for a very interesting day of shopping.

I’d definitely recommend it as I really enjoyed the food and you more than get your monies worth with the drinks compared to the standard prices on the menu there.

Fiesta de la Calcotada at Asador 44 on Friday 13th April 2018

One of my fav Cardiff restaurants, Asador 44 are throwing the most Spanish cultural festival i’ve ever seen this April. The Catalans go nut’s for their Calcots during the seasonal window and chow down on bucketloads per capita during the months of January to April.

I was invited over to have a sneak preview of what’s to come for the event at Asador 44 last week.

Calcots if you’re not already acquainted are a cross between Wales most symbolic vegetable, the Leek and a spring onion. The calcots are piled on a grill or bbq, skin, mud an all and till charred and blistered. When the fire has done it’s magic it releases a sweetness like none that i’ve ever tasted in an onion.

Calcots being cooked on asado grill at Asador 44 Cardiff

The blackened Calcots are then wrapped in newspaper and plonked on a table of waiting and hungry guests for an onion fest like no other.

So how do you attack these charred, oniony mounds?

Take the Calcot by the green leaves in one hand and peel down the outer burnt skin until you get to the clean, steamed and juicy core. Pull off the roots at the bottom then continue to dunk the exposed flesh into fresh and nutty Romesco sauce. Be warned, this is a messy occasion but I love getting my fingers dirty and there’s the bib and plenty of napkins to wipe yourself clean.

cooked calcots with romesco sauce at Asador 44 Cardiff

Theres usually plenty of Cava at hand to cleans your mouth between calcots and tradition has it that back in Catalonia they make their way through more than two dozen per person during a sitting.

So on the event Asador are organising you get:

  • Cava on arrival before tackling a plate of Calcots with romesco sauce
  • main course of cider house sirloin and sausage
  • Assortment of Catalan Cheeses
  • A chance to perfect the art of Porron wine pouring (I failed miserably with most of it going up my nose!)

Fiesta de la Calcotada poster at Asador 44

fiesta de la colcotada menu at Asador 44

Price of the Fiesta de la Calcotada is £40 per person for a 12.30pm start making it the perfect afternoon team outing or networking with a twist (pull and dunk). We had a right laugh getting down and dirty with the calcots and poring the Porron but can’t promise there weren’t any innuendos flying around during the wine.

To book contact enquiries@asador44.co.uk or call 02920 020039

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Sosban Restaurant Discount Voucher Llanelli

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Travelzoo currently have a mammoth deal at the moment with a Sosban discount voucher. Based in Llanelli in grade II listed building dating back to 1872 when it was originally a pumping engine. We tried popping in for Sunday lunch a few months back when we were near by but it was closing 10 minutes before we arrived sadly but the building looked so cool as I love the industrial look.

In the restaurant voucher discount at Sosban you get a 6 course tasting menu for 2 people for £49 at lunch time Wednesday – Saturday or for an extra £20 you can get the amazing offer for dinner Wednesday – Friday, which also comes with a glass of fizz each too.

The 2 AA Rosette restaurant is owned by ex Welsh Rugby and Scarlets legends Stephen and Dwayne Peel and has scooped many accolades since it first opened including The Good Food Guide Readers Restaurant of The Year.

If you fancy making a night of it with friends you can also purchase the Sosban restaurant voucher for 4 people priced at £95 for lunch or £135 for dinner with an added 20% off the paired wine flight.
The 6 course taster menu would normally cost £55 per person making it £110 per couple so you’re getting over 50% off. Dishes on the menu consist of the following:

  • Potato Bread, potato foam, chive butter and Exmoor caviar.
  • Cod Five Ways, cabbage puree, salt and vinegar chips
  • Hay Baked Celeriac, smoked celeriac tea and celeriac textures
  • Yorkshire Mangalitsa Pork, smoked beetroot and black pudding purée
  • Chocolate Orange, caramelised orange and chocolate sorbet
  • Apple Rice Pudding, hay ice cream and caramelised milk skin

If you fancy grabbing the Sosban discount voucher before they are all snapped up head over to Travelzoo quick!

Burger Slider Afternoon Tea Review at The Celtic Manor, Newport

It was only a few weeks ago we got invited to the launch of the new Mulberry Cocktail bar at the Celtic Manor but it was there I noticed the upcoming Afternoon Tea’s with a twist taking place across the Celtic Manor Resort.

Being a favourite of mine for Afternoon tea and having tried three of the past variations such as the Standard Resort Afternoon Tea, Willy Wonka Afternoon Tea with my sister at Christmas and the Easter chocolate one back last year I was more than keen to try something a bit more meaty. My luck was just in as they’ve just launched the Rib Smokehouse Slider Afternoon Tea at the Coldra Court branch of The Celtic Manor, which is a short drive up the road from the Resort so I jumped at offer to test out the meatilicious offerings on this Afternoon Tea.

The Coldra Court spent it’s previous life as a Hilton Hotel but was acquired by Celtic Manor less than two years ago and they’ve slowly been upscaling it since then with the addition of the restaurant and recently refurbished health, fitness and spa facilities. The Rib Smokehouse has been open for nearly a year now and is quite a striking site from within the hotel lobby with it’s amber lighting ,wood and rose gold styling cutting through the white décor of the lobby and hotel reception.

Rib Smokehouse review at Celtic Manor

The Slider Afternoon Tea

We couldn’t of picked a better day to attend the Slider Afternoon Tea as we attended the Business Growth Awards the night before, got in just before 2am and had the delightful responsibility of working a Saturday shift at 9am for a few hours so I was in dire need of something to bring me back to life. This was definitely what the doctor ordered.

The slider afternoon tea was comprised of savouries with a selection of 5 mini burger sliders of varying fillings and tiny skin on fries followed by mini sweets to finish. You also have the option of any teas or coffees to help wash down the mini meat banquet.

The slider fillings we got to tuck into were:

  • Butcher’s cut bacon and Welsh extra mature Cheddar cheese slider, with plum and apple chutney
  • Smoked pulled chicken and The Rib’s homemade coleslaw slider
  • Thai fishcake and prawn slider
  • Brecon venison burger with redcurrant mayonnaise
  • Smoked bone marrow beef burger with BBQ sauce and crispy onions

sliders at Celtic Manor afternoon tea

If you’re not feeling hungry I don’t think this one’s for you but I was ravenous and unashamedly destroyed each slider in quick succession. Size wise they were quite generous considering you have 5 to get through and even though I rolled my eyes at the site of the tiny fries to start with, there was a reason and I have eyes bigger than my belly the majority of the time.

My pulled chicken slider was properly stacked and required extra attention not to cover my face in sauce, but I’ve had plenty of practice and a bit of a pro by now. My favourite of the 5 though was the Thai fishcake and prawn slider, which was wonderfully fragrant, had a slight crisp on the outside but soft and tender in the middle. I would of happily of attempted an adult sized portion of this. We were offered a chance to have any sauces to go with the platter and I just opted for ketchup but I would have loved a smudge of sriracha mayo to give a little kick of spice to the slider.

thai fishcake slider at Coldra Court, Celtic Manor

I had to take a minute or two after meticulously licking each finger of any meaty residue and composed myself before planning my attack on the wooden drawer of sweets that sat in front of me.

First up was the vanilla milkshake to rid my taste buds of any remnants of savoury flavours and prepare my mouth for an onslaught of rich, sweet and sticky sweets.

  • Mini peanut butter doughnut
  • Pecan pie
  • Mini custard slice with raspberry gel
  • Mini vanilla milkshake

warm pecan pie with Slider afternoon tea at Celtic Manor

I’d never tried a pecan pie before so that was next up. It was still warm, with a crunchy base almost caramelised pecan topping with rich buttery filling. To be fare this was a pretty big portion of pie seeing as we had a few to get through. Not that ever having a large portion of dessert is a bad thing, the other half did struggle to finish her one off. I on the other hand powered on through like a trooper.

peanut butter doughnut at Rib Smokehouse, Coldra Court

I obviously didn’t read the menu properly and assumed the doughnuts were submerged in salted caramel but it was a peanut butter sauce. A bit like a salted caramel, peanut butter hybrid although less sweet than salted caramel. I liked every last bit from the Mason jar although I would of liked the sauce a bit sweeter and more on the salted caramel end of the scale but still with a peanut butter punch.

The price of the Slider Afternoon Tea is £24.99 and only available on Saturdays for the month of March although we spoke to the waitress who said they are trialling it out for a month and if it proves popular it may make it onto the Afternoon Tea options regularly at The Celtic Manor.

The Verdict

Although the exterior of the Coldra Court doesn’t quite live up to the grandeur of the Celtic Manor Resort Hotel, the Rib Smokehouse definitely wouldn’t of looked out of place within the main resort and had been completely transformed from it’s former self. I for one really liked the décor and styling of the restaurant and would definitely see myself trying out the evening or Sunday lunch menu.

Inside Rib Smokehouse Celtic Manor

The £24.99 price point might sounds steep to some but most hotels usually up their price of their standard afternoon tea on the weekend to around £22 and I for one grudge paying that for a cress sandwich or laser cut ham. It was nice to have some actual meat content for the savoury selection and liked the variety of 5 different flavours.

Desserts were all on point and think matched the flavour profile of the sliders and would be something you would pair with them on a standard smoke house restaurant menu. One thing I would point out though, I’m not sure if it was just because we were booked in for the last sitting and the kitchen was on shutdown soon but we had the dessert drawer / wooden contraption come out near enough straight after our sliders arrived and before we’d even started on them.

I’m lucky as I’m a quick eater so the pecan pie was still warm but some people take their time so it would have been cold and we were really struggling for space on the table having had a table for two, it was a struggle manoeuvring everything around to eat, have a drink and have a conversation with the other half with the big drawer in the middle of the table.

Not that it detracted from the actual quality of the food and we both really enjoyed it but as a bit of feedback I would bring the sweets out after dinners have finished the sliders so there’s a bit more room to play with on the table as I was scared to move anything from fear of hitting the desserts over. Again this might of just been that we picked the latest possible time due to me having work in the morning and they wanted the pie’s coming out warm.

I’d recommend the Slider afternoon to anyone as a nice alternative to a standard sandwich fest. I know a lot of my friends wouldn’t be too keen on paying £22+ for a plate of sandwiches but would feel like they’ve had a bit more money’s worth with the slider afternoon tea.

It’s was due on till the end of March but just heard on the grapevine that it’s being extended due to popular demand. The other afternoon tea, which is coming onto the menu in the near future too is the Asian Afternoon Tea that I’m dying to book up that’s available between 2nd June and 1st July.

I love that The Celtic Manor like to keep things changing and always have a variety of different afternoon tea’s available so take a look on the website and see if there’s anything that might tempt you.

Park Plaza Cardiff and Laguna Restaurant Review

Seeing as I’ve now tried most of the menu’s at Park Plaza’s Laguna Restaurant in Cardiff, I thought it’s about time I wrote a review to let people know what they are missing out on if they’ve never been.
The Laguna Restaurant sits on the ground floor of the Park Plaza Cardiff Hotel on Greyfriar’s Road, a short walk from Cardiff Castle. Split into three areas there’s the dimly lit rectangular bar with booths seating 4-6 people for some cocktails or a spot of lunch, with the option of sitting out on the terrace weather permitting of course. The terrace is surrounded by trees and securing a bit of privacy from the hustle and bustle of town and has a tranquil feel from the slow flowing passage of the dock feeder canal right next to the outdoor seating.

Gin, cocktails and wine

All the drinks come from the same bar wherever you happen to be sitting in the Laguna. There is an extensive cocktail menu and we were invited to sample some of the ever growing list of Gin’s on the menu back last year, each expertly paired with a Fever Tree Tonic Water and garnish to compliment.

There’s a decent list of wine to choose from starting at a very reasonable £18 with the bar staff happy to help you choose with a little sample of a few on your hit list.

The only thing I was a little disappointed in with the bar was the selection of craft beers which I think could be improved by maybe showcasing one tap for local breweries on rotation so people staying that aren’t from the area get to sample a good local beer such as Pipes, Crafty Devils or Tiny Rebel. Wolf Rock was on tap, which was ok but a bit lower in Abv than I would normally go for.

Afternoon Tea and Restaurant

Then you have the restaurant area adjacent to the bar, which if you visit before 3pm is usually packed out from guests sampling one of the many sumptuous afternoon teas on offer. One of which being my favourite ever, the Gentleman’s Afternoon Tea.

Gentleman's afternoon tea at Park Plaza Cardiff

Being International Women’s day at the time of writing I wouldn’t declare it not for women quite as poignantly as that Yorkie chocolate bar marketing strategy year’s ago but it definitely appeals to the inner caveman in me with the meaty, carnivorous bites on the platter. From chorizo scotch egg with Bloody Mary mao, Yorkshire pudding with slithers of rare roast beef and horseradish cream and mini venison burger to name but a few. Priced at £19.95 or £22.95 on weekends
They’ve got the standard afternoon tea for the purists and one of the Gin lovers the Hendricks G & Tea Afternoon Tea, which includes a teapot pot of Hendricks Gin cocktail.

In the evening there’s a few different menu options to choose from at the restaurant such as Pre Theatre Menu seeing as it’s located next to the New Theatre, which is available 5.30pm to 7.00pm Monday to Friday and the A La Carte Menu with starters around £7 and mains averaging £17, which is pretty decent for a hotel restaurant in my opinion.

Sunday Lunch

My first experience of the lunch at the Laguna was the day after being impressed with my Gentleman’s afternoon tea, which made me wanting to go back down the day after to sample a full meal in the restaurant.

Priced at £19.95 for 3 courses I thought it was excellent value for money. With around 7 options for starters with a few British Favourites like soup, prawn cocktail and salmon along with my choice of Chicken liver parfait, onion marmalade and toasted brioche.

With an extensive choice of meats, fish dishes and a vegetarian options there is something for everyone on the mains, which is great as there’s always one fussy eater when going out in a group. I opted for the local loin of pork as the crackling caught my eye.

Sunday lunch at Laguna Restaurant Park Plaza in Cardiff

Not venturing out all that often for Sunday lunch due to the fact my grandmother would kill me this was an excellent replacement for Nanny Carole’s Sunday lunch. My fellow dinner went for the beef though, which was perfectly pink, succulent and tender with the richest gravy I’ve ever tasted and managed to top my pork option but both were very good Sunday lunches.

There were more puddings than you can shake a stick at from Crème Brulees, chocolate tortes, sticky toffee puddings and a delectable selection of ice creams and sorbets on the dessert menu to finish off.

Wine and nibbles

mixed starter platter at Park Plaza Cardiff

After a stressful day of shopping a few weeks back we decided to nip in to Park Plaza to quench our thirst with a glass of vino. Seeing a few other patrons having a nibble we decided to order a mixed starter to share too.

Heading into the other option in the hotel, the lounge. Just off from the hotel reception is room with sofas and high backed chairs facing a long line of fires. We perched up next to a fire, glass in hand and tucked into an array of salty, crunchy nibbles whilst being seductively entranced by the flames of the fire. If you’re ever in town and just want to take your mind off things, I can’t recommend a glass of Marlborough Sauv Blanc sat in front of a lit fire.

Lunch

Most recently we visited during the snow blitz on Wales last week when Cardiff came to a standstill and most other restaurants and bars closed to the public. Park Plaza were carrying on as normal so we thought what better option to take up a pew to thaw out next to the roaring fires with a glass of Red Wine and a 3 course lunch.

There were two menus to choose from, either the bar menu or the lunch menu. I was pleasantly surprised how cheap the bar menu was as I’d never had a look on previous visits with dishes around £8.
The lunch menu had a choice of A La Carte options or the 2 course express lunch for £12.95.

Goats cheese and mushroom bruschetta at Park Plaza Cardiff

I was feeling extra ravenous so I was worried how much the express lunch would fill me so opted for the A La Carte option with Goats cheese and mushroom bruschetta to start. Lightly grilled, the cheese became a gooey irresistible mess below the tender mushrooms and crusty bread. A light drizzle of balsamic gave a nice tang against the creaminess of the cheese.

Pork and mustard mash mains at Park Plaza Cardiff

I opted for pork again for mains this time pork belly, mustard mash, with meaty bacon nugget enriched gravy. The pork was tender, subtle mustard kick from the mash and married perfectly with the rich gloss of gravy.

cheese board at Park Plaza Cardiff by the fire

I went full boring and opted for a cheese board, but I had at least a glass of red left in the bottle so I thought it would pair well in front of the fire. A selection of around 5 cheeses of varying stengths, creaminess and ages, chutney and mix of crackers and grapes to tame the cheese. What more could you want.

The Verdict

I think my actions speak a million words and I’ve enjoyed every visit to Park Plaza Cardiff and The Laguna Restaurant and will continue to visit, whether it’s to give into my sweet and savoury lusting for afternoon tea, craving for meat sweats with the Gentleman’s afternoon tea or longing to curl up in front of the fire with a good wine, even better food and good company.

There’s plenty to choose from whether it’s a light nibble for lunch, treating the mother or grandmother to some cakes and fizz or celebrating a birthday or wedding at the restaurant and I would recommend it to anyone.