Monday, 1 September 2014

Cwtch, St Davids, Pembrokeshire restaurant review

Situated in the UK’s weeniest city of St Davids on the Pembrokeshire coast, Cwtch has built up a big reputation since opening its doors in 2005.

Named the Good Food Guide’s readers’ restaurant of the year in Wales 2012, they’ve since changed ownership and former sous chef Andy Holcroft has stepped up to the role of head chef.

It’s very much Cwtch by name, cwtch by nature. The dining room is a cosy, warm kind of place furnished with soft cushions, flickering candles, exposed wooden beams and a fireplace waiting to be lit when the chill of winter sets in.

The menu, packed with comfort food made using local produce, sticks to the same theme as well.

Whilst we picked from the evening menu, which offers either 2 courses for £26 or 3 courses for £30, we noshed on a plate of enjoyably spongy olive focaccia. 

Starters were successful across the board.

A couple of generous doorstops of tender ham hock terrine, flecked with apricots and pistachios, were served with punchy piccalilli.

It would be a shame to travel all the way to the Pembrokeshire coast and not eat some locally caught fish. Thankfully, the fruits of the sea are well represented on Cwtch’s menu.

Potted Solva crab was laden with tender white meat, earthy brown meat, flecked with fragrant coriander and topped with a good glug of clarified butter. Slathered over toast it was a cracking starter. 

Onto mains, where a couple of glitches slipped in.

A crisp-skinned fillet of sewin was beautifully flavoured but a little overcooked. It was accompanied by soft and sweet confit fennel, salty samphire and a distinctively Welsh take on a sauce vierge packed with Penclawdd cockles, olive oil, diced tomatoes & lemon juice. 

Mrs G Thai-style main was highly rated. A couple of tender sea bass fillets were served with perfectly sticky & fragrant jasmine rice, a delicately fragranced lemongrass and coconut broth and richness busting pickled ginger. 

A bowl of seasonal vegetables however was pretty uninspiring – boiled potatoes, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower needed at least a knob of butter to pep them up a bit. 

For dessert, a crème brulee was well executed; the crisp crust and creamy custard were both present and correct. 

A bara brith sticky toffee pudding meanwhile was a successful mash-up of two classics. A soft, sticky fruit-packed cake was drenched in toffee and chocolate sauce and accompanied by smooth vanilla ice cream. The only problem, it was served an odd lukewarm temperature. 

Dinner at Cwtch was really good but not faultless. It’s somewhere I’ll certainly be heading back to when I’m in Pembrokeshire.

The Details:
Address - Cwtch, 22 High Street, St Davids, Pembrokeshire SA62 6SD
Web -
Telephone - 01437 720491

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Ultracomida, Narberth, Spanish deli and tapas bar review

Ultracomida is a very, very dangerous place.

I could regularly spend all day snaffling their delicatessen's free samples of Spanish cheese, meats, olives and dips.

Then I’d pull up a pew at one of the communal tables in their bustling restaurant and order a ton of tapas from their daytime menu.

Finally, I’d spend all of my savings on more of their frigging lush produce to take home for later.

There are 2 branches of Ultracomida – the original in Aberystwyth and the younger sibling in the pretty Pembrokeshire town of Narberth, the one we visited.

So immense was our enjoyment that we visited en route to holidaying on the Pembrokeshire coast…. and then we popped in on our way back.

Their lunch menu is packed with classic tapas. 

Complimentary bread and meaty olives were of the highest calibre. Crunchy patatas bravas (£3.95) were accompanied by a reassuringly breath shnozzling aioli & a punchy tomato sauce.

A platter of charcuterie and cheese (£5.95), which comprised of soft brie, nutty manchego, sweet quince jelly, pickled chillies and fat-flecked salamis, hit the mark. However, the portion was on the small side and I wasn’t a sold on the potently anise flavoured crackers. 

Plump, crisp, paprika dusted anchovies (£4.95) were served with an umami-rich anchovy infused mayo whilst tender morsels of chorizo (£4.95) were served in an uber-addictive poaching liquor of Welsh cider. 

Churros were slightly too crisp (£2.95) but well dusted in cinnamon & sugar and accompanied by a lava-like hot chocolate. 

On our return trip we checked out Ultracomida’s breakfast menu and both ordered an excellent value set deal (£5.95) which included toasted ciabatta (delicious drizzled with a liberal glug of olive oil), mouth-meltingly soft serrano ham, a young manchego and a disappointingly fridge cold tomato.

A sturdy cafe con leche and a super fresh orange juice were included in the price. 

I would love a branch of Ultracomida in Cardiff. However, it’s just as well – I'd spend all my time and money there.

The details:

Address - Ultracomida, 7 High St, Narberth SA67 7AR
Telephone - 01834 861491

Ultracomida on Urbanspoon