Sunday, 18 February 2018

Beach House, Oxwich Bay, Gower restaurant review

Restaurateurs Neil Kedward and Zoe Agar definitely have an eye for a view.

The Beach House at Oxwich Bay and Coast in Pembrokeshire, two of their three restaurants, have some of the finest panoramas I’ve witnessed in the UK.

Their most recent opening, the Beach House, was named the AA restaurant of the year for Wales 2017-18. Heading up the stoves is Hywell Griffith, a Welshman whose career has taken in sous-chef positions at Michelin-starred restaurants Simon Radley in Chester and Machynlleth’s Ynyshir Hall and a head chef role at the Freemasons at Wiswell, currently ranked 4th in the UK’s best gastropubs.

The Beach House certainly lives up to its name. It’s perched right on the edge of the beach and the interior, with its whitewashed wood panelling, feels like the perfect place to take shelter on a blustery day. 

There a number of menus on offer including a 3 course set lunch (£28), a la carte (starters £13 and mains £26 approx) and 5 course (£55) and 8 course (£75) tasting menus.

The 8 course menu, which we'd purchased on a voucher deal, kicked off with a golden cube of shredded and breaded ham hock topped with blobs of tangy pineapple and punchy parsley puree. 

Bread was some of the finest I’ve ever eaten anywhere. 

The warm, crisp crusted, super light and soft white loaf was streaked with salty and savoury laverbread. A good slather of whipped butter melted into it beautifully. 

A creamy cauliflower soup topped with a voluptuous cheese foam was cauliflower cheese in a liquid state. The luxurious combination was balanced by dinky pieces of pickled cauliflower. 

A lovely piece of classical cooking was up next. Precisely cooked lemon sole was served with tender razor clam slices, light kohlrabi spaghetti, fragrant and cleansing diced grape and a lemony fish veloute. 

A sweet whopper of an Atlantic prawn was wrapped in pasta that was a little too firm around the edges. It was bathed in a restorative broth that blew the cobwebs away with its warming hit of ginger and fragrant lemongrass. Fresh pak choi, diced spring onion and rehydrated pork skin noodles completed the lovely dish. 

The meal’s standout came next. A buttery golden-crusted lobe of foie gras was served with toothsome maple and sherry glazed puy lentils, a disc of smokey and fatty morteau sausage, crisp puffs of rice and a sweetly acidic sherry puree. 

A cylinder of pig trotter was filled with a light mousseline studded with pork shoulder and chorizo. Sweet white onion puree, crispy onion shreds and punchy baby pickled onions completed dish. The only element I didn’t love was the flabby texture of the trotter.

Our main was a triumph. Golden-skinned pink Gressingham duck breast was joined by a glossy five-spice twanged sauce of the highest calibre. Buttery parsnip puree, tender roast parsnip, earthy baked beetroot and buttery spinach were faultless accompaniments.

Tangy and refreshing blood orange segments and gel were accompanied by oat crumble and a light and aromatic lemon verbena ice cream. A dollop of yoghurt at the bottom of the dish clashed a little with the creamy ice cream. 

Finally, a bara brith souffle knocked it out the park - sweet and warm-spiced it was delightfully airy in texture. It was accompanied by beautifully smooth lapsang souchong tea ice cream whose smokiness slightly overwhelmed the flavour of the souffle. 

We had an excellent lunch at the Beach House and the kitchen team has bags of skill. A few minor elements didn’t quite work for me but if you’re looking for a high end lunch on the Gower then this is the place to go.

The Details:

Address - Beach House, Oxwich Beach, Gower, Swansea SA3 1LS
Web -
Telephone - 01792 390965

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Pim's @ iCookThai, Cathays, Cardiff Thai restaurant review

This is only half a review.

Whilst I can firmly say that the food served at Pim’s @iCookThai is lovely, I don’t know how good the legendary after dinner entertainment is. Mrs G and I left before Pim, the owner / chef / singer / guitarist, took to the stage.

Judging by the evening’s background music, which included guilty pleasures such as Extreme’s More Than Words and Simply Red’s Stars, Pim’s vast array of guitars and equipment, and the lyrics to Stand By Me chalked on the wall, it’s safe to say the post-dinner concert would have been a lot of fun.

Pim’s @ iCookThai on Crwys Road is a cookery school on Monday to Tuesday and a BYOB Thai cafe and restaurant from Wednesday to Sunday.

The dining space has a warm homespun feel with its shelves of cookery books, strings of fairy lights and eclectic nicknacks. 

The menu is reassuringly focused with its 5 starters, 10 mains and 1 dessert. However, if there are any Thai dishes that don’t feature then Pim is happy to cook them for you if you give him 24 hours notice. 

Mrs G and I shared a gorgeously light and fruity Hans Michel Riesling (free corkage) before moving on to a couple of bottles of lager. 

Thai dim sum (£4.50) was reminiscent of Siu Mai, the classic Chinese dumpling. Soft wonton wrappers were filled with a light mix of minced chicken and mushroom. A good drizzle of soy dialled up the umami. 

Som Tum salad (£4.50) was made with mango instead of the usual green papaya. The sweet mango, crisp shredded carrot, green beans and tangy tomatoes were bathed in a mouth-tingly hot citrus dressing. 

A lamb shank special with tamarind (£12.50) was everything I wanted it to be. A fall-apart-tender piece of meat was bathed in an intensely meaty gravy balanced by the tang of tamarind. Pieces of red pepper and courgette completed the delicious plate. 

A red chicken massaman curry (£11.50) contained tender meat, peppers, courgette, finely diced carrot and peanuts bathed in a coconut milk-based sauce that was loaded with flavour and spice. It was a very good Thai curry. 

Both our mains were accompanied by a dome of sticky Jasmine rice (£2.50). 

We had a lovely meal at Pim’s @ iCookThai. There were a couple of fairly hefty waits for our starters and mains but if you’re sticking around for a night of food, booze and entertainment then it wouldn’t be too much of an issue (although perhaps they could sell prawn crackers as a snack).

Next time, I’m going to make sure I hang around for the after dinner sing-a-long.

The Details:

Address - Pim’s @ iCookThai, 45 Crwys Rd, Cardiff CF24 4ND
Telephone - 07789016354 (Book by text message)