Friday, 30 December 2011

Crown at Celtic Manor, Newport Restaurant Review, Food Blog

Update 19th June 2012 - Crown at Celtic Manor has been renamed Terry M. The same head chef and culinary team is still in place. 

I love the Michelin Guide. It’s a great read on the toilet and it’s generally a pretty good guide to high end dining. However as far as budget eats and the precision of the star ratings go I’m not convinced. In my book it’s bonkers that the staggeringly tasty and creative L’Enclume has only one star. In addition, the very good yet flawed Hand & Flowers should only have one star.

This brings me to the subject of The Crown at Celtic Manor. Under the guidance of Executive Chef James Sommerin and Head Chef Tim McDougall, Celtic Manor have a humdinger of a restaurant.The food, atmosphere, wine list and service last night was on a par with a number of Michelin starred meals I’ve eaten. Yet according to the Michelin Guide they don’t deserve a coveted macaron.

Our rather spacious and tasteful (if a little chintzy) room
Mrs G and I were staying at The Celtic Manor as part of a Crown Gourmet Escape. For £155 we were entitled to a 3 course dinner in The Crown at Celtic Manor, one night’s accommodation in a Superior Double room, use of the Forum Health Club and a Welsh breakfast in the Olive Tree. However as it was Christmas we decided to supplement our already ludicrous festive calorie intake and paid a £20.50 supplement per head for the tasting menu.  

Canapes - We started with canapés in the bar. These included a spoon of confit salmon with beetroot and a deliciously intense duck liver pate. However the highlight was a belting lobster bisque with nuggets of black pudding.

Bread - Warm fresh organic beer and onion bread was immense. The nigella seeds on top provided an aromatic dimension.

Pre-starter - A wonderfully light and delicately sweet potato espuma with curry oil.

First course – Beetroot gnocci, roasted winter vegetables, ewe’s milk cheese, horseradish. A delightfully fresh dish. The soft gnocchi perfectly complemented the subtle tasting ewe’s milk cheese and horseradish foam. However the roasted beetroot and the maggot-esque Chinese artichokes were aesthetically appealing but lacking in the flavour department.

Second course – Terrine of duck liver, ham hock and coco beans, sauternes , truffle, toasted brioche.  Smooth, rich duck liver surrounded a coarse mix of ham hock and coco beans. It worked well with the sweet and crisp brioche toast and the gentle acidity of the sauternes reduction.

Third course – Hand-dived scallop, spiced veal sweet bread, creamed lettuce. Two of my favourite ingredients on one plate. The scallop was exactingly cooked whilst the sweet bread was gloriously spiced. The accompanying cold creamed lettuce balanced the richness of the dish.

Fourth course – Sirloin of Usk beef, fig puree, butter jus. This perfect combination of flavours was let down a little by the quality of the piece of beef. It was a little tough and lacking in flavour. However I could have eaten ladles of the fig puree and the dish had an immense background note of truffle.

Fifth course – Mango and passion fruit kulfi, tropical fruits, coconut espuma. A welcome reminder of summer on a plate. One of the smoothest, softest, fresh tasting ice-creams I’ve ever eaten. The whole dish looked pretty as a picture.

Sixth course – Pineapple soufflé, salted caramel ice-cream. A supreme marriage of flavours and temperatures. Fluffy, fragrant, piping hot soufflé with a pocket of salted caramel sauce made a perfect spoonful with a dollop of cool ice-cream.

Petit fours – A cracking little selection including a wafer thin cinnamon palmier biscuit, a strawberry macaron, an apricot jelly, a mince pie and a honey Madeleine.

This was a Michelin starred meal in all but name. Perhaps the Michelin inspectors visited on an off day but as far as I'm concerned Newport has a fine dining restaurant which surpasses any of Cardiff's offerings. 

The details:

The Celtic Manor Resort, Coldra Woods, The Usk Valley, Newport, South Wales, NP18 1HQ 

Telephone: +44 (0)1633 413 000 


  1. I hope that you got your money's worth from the health club!!

  2. Have you eaten in any of the other resturants in CM? I am treating my other half to a meal there and dont know which one to choose? Thanks.