More than just food

At RedHanded Magazine, we hold a special relationship with restaurants and the people behind them. As we gear up to launch in Edinburgh, we take a look back at one of our favourite Chefs as he began his journey in launching his own restaurant in Penarth, Wales.

The Victorian seaside resort of Penarth has long attracted artists looking for a flash of inspiration. But while the striking strata of the nearby cliffs excited Sisley and Mary Lloyd Jones, it’s a sense of freedom that is felt most at Restaurant James Sommerin. Following thirteen years at The Crown at Whitebrook, where he secured a Michelin star, the Caerleon-born chef sought a place he could call his own. In 2014, he found the perfect spot on the esplanade in Penarth.

A year has passed since he opened his doors and the response has been overwhelming; universal acclaim from Welsh foodies and critics alike. So I was thrilled to receive an invitation to review the five-course tasting menu, aptly named Traeth (Welsh for ‘beach’). The evening began with an impressive amuse-bouche quartet, the highlight of which, for me, was the ravishing sweetcorn panna cotta. Next came the heavenly one-two punch of haddock and pancetta crunch, and I say heavenly because it was truly to die for. 

A lovingly crafted and swiftly devoured cauliflower panna cotta – offset by a perfectly piquant onion powder - introduced a new depth of tastes and textures to the menu. The sensory thrill that followed was a pumpkin terrine paired with a sharp blue cheese. The fruity Chateau du Seuil Rosé (2012) enhanced the Bristol Channel-sourced Sea Bass; the strawberry notes worked in pure harmony with the smoked butter and caviar sauce. It was utterly moreish. Indeed, all wine pairings were a winning marriage of flavours; the light red Armand Salmon Sancerre (2013) with the rich and creamy rabbit dish, in particular, was a triumph. The rabbit itself was a magnus opus that taught me that meat can be so tender I’d want to describe it as “ripe.” A duo of delicious desserts brought the meal to a close; a playful popcorn panna cotta, preceded by a sultry sweet russett apple terrine. The evening underlined a technical mastery coupled with the soaring sensibility of an artist unleashed in the kitchen. Treat yourself to a visit to his seafront studio in Penarth. Restaurant James Sommerin The Esplanade Penarth Vale of Glamorgan CF64 3AU

Wales T. 029 2070 6559


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