Saturday, 11 July 2020

Sommerins at Home, Penarth Michelin-starred restaurant takeaway

Since lockdown, I’ve developed a new found appreciation for how difficult it is to make a plate of food look half decent.

It’s all well and good trying to make a groaning kebab or behemothic burger look “Insta-friendly”. But, when you’re serving dainty dishes from a Michelin-starred chef there’s an extra weight of responsibility; especially when I own neither a pair of tweezers nor a piece of crockery which is less than ten years old.

This was the situation I found myself in last Saturday night when trying to do justice to James Sommerin’s cooking. 

With next week's reopening of outdoor hospitality not viable for a sizeable proportion of restaurants, takeaways and collections are going to be a part of the furniture for the foreseeable future. Even when socially distanced indoor dining is back in action at the start of August, I suspect many restaurants will continue to try and make the numbers add up with eat at home options. 

A few weeks back, James Sommerin relaunched his takeaway service, Sommerins at Home. Offering three (£22) and five (£32) course non-vegetarian and vegetarian tasting menus every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, collections take place from a low key interior design studio in Penarth town centre.

Everything is neatly packaged with clear instructions for reheating (nothing took longer than six minutes).

A tumble of spiralised, sliced and cubed beetroot - earthy, sweet and acidic in places - was flecked with pieces of tangy feta and topped with a fragrant mint dressing. It was an understated yet delicious start to the meal - the kind of thing I could have eaten a bowlful of and called it a day.

A big flavoured boullabaisse with good complexity of seasoning was laden with pieces of white fish and salmon.

A daintily cased raviolo was stuffed with a meaty cornfed chicken mince flecked with herbs and smoked bacon, and lightly fragranced with truffle. It was bathed in a rich, buttery and meaty sauce studded with sweet peas and leeks and wilted greens. 

The next two courses took things up a level - in fact the cheese course was one of the best things I’ve eaten in lockdown. Salty, sweet, crunchy, soft, creamy and acidic, this dish had it all and in perfect balance. 

Salty, creamy and funky Perl Las was joined by sweet caramelised crunchy walnuts and a finely textured fragrant, sweet and slightly tart apple terrine. It reminded me of a tarte tatin but with added interest. 

Last up, a creamy, herbal and citrusy kaffir lime panna cotta had a lovely wobble to it. It was harmonised beautifully by a crisp, warming ginger tuille, thick, sweet and creamy coconut ice cream and a tart and aromatic mango sorbet. 

We were impressed by our dinner from Sommerins at Home and it felt like a really special meal. The portions are on the dinkier end of the spectrum but they’re exactly the kind of size you’d expect to find in James’s eponymous restaurant. However, at £32.50 for five courses, it’s pretty darn good value when it comes to technically accomplished, flavour-packed cooking from a Michelin-starred chef.

The Details:

Address - Project One Shop, Royal Buildings, 12 Stanwell Road, Penarth CF64 1ED
Web -

Saturday, 4 July 2020

Sen Bakery, Roath, Cardiff Turkish bakery review

One thing I’ve discovered during lockdown is how popular Sen BBQ is amongst West Cardiffians. 

When it closed for a period of time at the peak of the pandemic, Cantonians railed on social media at the loss of their favourite Turkish grilled meat purveyor. 

In contrast, Roath and Penylan’s loyalties are less singular when it comes to shish and shawarma - Troy, Saray, Shawarma Laziz, Shaam Nights and KBS are just a few of the standouts which vie for East Cardiffians’ affections.

So, it’s interesting to see that the Sen Brothers have come over to the East side.

However, instead of bringing grilled meat, they’ve bought freshly baked treats.

With a handsome window display of fresh carbs, Sen Bakery offers an array of well-priced Middle Eastern baked goods. 

A light and airy crumbed bohca (£1.50) bread roll contained a thin seam of tangy feta and fragrant parsley. 

A sweet crumbed simit bagel (£1), dotted with sesame seeds, was lovely stuffed with with serrano ham and salad. 

A fresh and big-flavoured sucuk pide (£4) warmed up a treat in the oven. The crisp-crusted Turkish pizza was loaded with salty cheese, spicy beef sausage, fresh peppers, onion, tomatoes and oregano. 

A mixed seed topped loaf (£1.20) had a lovely soft crumb. 

It was delicious filled with well-herbed lamb kofte purchased from Chop Shop, a recently opened halal butchers on Albany Road. 

A beaut of a borek (£4) was stuffed with tangy feta, fresh tomatoes, and fragrant parsley and oregano. It's thin bready case was a nice change to the filo pastry I've encountered before. 

A pair of baklava pieces (£2) were gorgeously crisp and flaky of pastry, well-soaked in sweet syrup and stuffed with chop nuts. 

We really enjoyed all of our baked goods from Sen. Whilst Cardiff is increasingly well served with quality craft bakers, Sen Bakery’s well-priced wares are enjoyably different. 

The Details:

Address - Sen Bakery, 28 Albany Road, Cardiff CF24 3RQ
Telephone - 029 2049 9991