When an invitation to the Celtic Manor Chef’s Table event drops into your inbox you clear your schedule don’t you agree??
A few weeks ago at the end of March we were invited to Celtic Manor to experience a seven course tasting menu from a variety of their restaurants. As previous guests of the Manor for spa days, afternoon tea and a few cocktails in we haven’t actually visited many of the restaurants and couldn’t wait to attend.
On arrival we met at the Mulberry Bar for drinks, as we were both driving we had to stick with the non alcoholic options but even these were pretty impressive. Also brownie points to them for swapping over to metal straws and reducing single use plastic!
Once everyone had arrived we were taken to our table in the Pad restaurant and everyone was seated. Throughout we were offered a variety of drinks to compliment the dishes served from the Chef’s Table which we sadly had to pass on but these included the Cwtch beer from Tiny Rebel and Japanese rice wine which was a treat!
From the Newbridge on Usk restaurant we had a white loaf and soda bread to feast on, both were soft and tasted wonderful with a generous layer of butter on. I wanted to eat more of this as it was so delicious but had to stop myself as I knew we had so many more treats to come! The Newbridge on Usk restaurant is found a few miles down the road from the hotel, its a 200 year old country inn on the banks of the River Usk.
The Beef Gyoza with ginger vinegar was from Pad, a restaurant serving Asian cuisine. Pad actually stands for Passionate Asian Dishes, and they serve a whole range of new and contemporary Asian dishes including bao buns and a selection of Japanese sake and Asian beers and cocktails.
I’m a huge lover of Asian foods and have been learning to cook more dishes with asian inspiration, these beef gyoza were stunning. Perfectly crispsy on the outside and the beef was melt in your mouth, I could have scoffed the plateful quite easily but sadly had to share!
Next up was The Grill.
The Grill is the clubhouse restaurant and has relaxed dining offering steaks, salads, fish, pasta and burgers. I haven’t been here myself but I’ve heard its very cosy with fires and views over the golf course.
The food in this course was therefore a mouth-watering crispy pork belly on a potato and chive salad with corn salsa, ranch dressing and a bourbon glaze. The pork belly was cooked to perfection and the bourbon glaze was perfrectly matched. It literally made my mouth water and I polished off the dish without a second thought, the potato and chive salad was great but a special mention goes to the corn salsa. I haven’t had a corn salsa that I can remember but this was pretty special and I haven’t forgotten it! I need to try and make my own even though I know it won’t compare!
Rafters is a short shuttle bus ride from the hotel in the Twenty Ten Clubhouse and serves locally sourced beef and lamb as well as fresh fish, and has views over the Twenty Ten golf course and beautiful Usk Valley.
This course was one we were both very much looking forward to, served from the Chef’s Table this time was Tenby Harbour Ale Battered Halloumi!
This was served with polenta chips, peas, tarragon and tartare sauce. Being big fans of all the items on this plate it was bound to please us but this was absolutely a dish I would go back for without hesitation! The beer batter was perfect, the peas were fresh and tasty and the tartare sauce was addictive. I need to go back for the full portion and soon!
We weren’t the only ones around the table singing the praises on this dish, it was stunning!
The next course was the hand carved Welsh smoked salmon from Steak on Six, the signature restaurant found on the sixth floor.
This restaurant is a particular favourite for cosy dining with a maximum of 6 people per table and over 16s only, so their classic range of British steaks, fish and wine is served with views over the beautiful Coldra Woods.
The salmon was cured with Penderyn whiskey and served with oak smoked mousse, crackling, caper crisps, Keta and iced grapes. We did wonder what Keta was but quickly learned it was roe, the iced grapes were a game changer and we both loved them. Such a simple addition to the dish but very enjoyable!
I partiuclarly enjoyed watching the salmon being cut after it was brought into the room for us to view, I love eating food but watching it being prepared and served by masters is mesmerising!
Our second course from Pad was a Malaysian Laksa with Prawns and Scallops served with rice noodles, coconut, lemongrass, ginger and chilli. This one was on the spicey side for a wimp like me but I did enjoy this, I haven’t tried a laksa before and enjoyed the combination of flavours. The prawns and scallop were juicy and delicious and as a new lover of asian foods I’m trying to get my spice tolerance up!
Conveniently we were also given a recipe card for this dish so I will have to try and make it in future and this can help me build up to spicier dishes!
Next from the Chef’s Table menu and also from the Newbridge on Usk restaurant was the herb crusted lamb served with a celeriac and rosemary terrine, hispi cabbag, onion and carrot. If there’s one thing I have always loved it is lamb and this was without a doubt one of the best I’ve ever tried. It fell apart as I was eating it and I can imagine a Sunday roast here would be stunning!
The vegetables in this dish were super tasty but were even better knowing they came from the restaurants own kitchen garden. A great addition!
After this we moved onto dessert and these did not disappoint, meet the Salted Caramel Whoopie Pie from the Olive Tree. This is a long standing favourite from the buffet restaurant and it’s not hard to see why!
Drizzled in a salted caramel sauce this pie answers all of your sweet treat dreams, the warm sauce and the cold ice cream make the best combination and it’s a comforting classic.
This dish a bit more grown up than the Whoopie Pie and contains a chocolate mousse, caramelised bananas and peanut butter shortbread. It’s FABULOUS.
Make sure you order this one, the peanut butter, chocolate, caramel and banana combo is a winner on any menu but they seem to have the perflect blend so you don’t feel in too much of a food coma afterwards too!
After this amazing experience eating from the Chef’s Table menu I would truly struggle to pick which restaurant to visit, it would be very difficult after being so lucky to try out so many fantastic dishes.
I think I would have to pick Rafters first purely so I could eat a whole portion of the beer battered halloumi and polenta fries though! What would you choose? Did you know the Manor had so many different restaurants and options to choose from?
As Laura has mentioned when we got invited to try out the restaurants of The Celtic Manor Resorts at the Chef’s Tabel tasting of course we said yes. I’ve stayed at the resort twice and tried out the Olive Tree and Merlins and stayed at the Coldra Court Site and ate their, this was pre vegetarian days but I had an amazing pork belly (you can read about that stay here). Since going vegetarian a couple of years ago now I love restaurants that really put thought into their options and couldn’t wait to see what the other Celtic Manor Restaurants had to offer.
The restaurants in the Celtic Manor resort have some amazing chefs behind them including Simon Crockford who is the Executive Chef at the resort and has competed for Wales, nationally and internationally. Simon also came out to talk us through the dishes and the thoughts behind them which was a really great touch.
As L has mentioned the bread basket starter was great and a delicious way to start the meal, I love places that offer a good bread on the table and the soda bread was perfect. From The Grill instead of the Pork Belly the dish came with a fried tofu and was incredible. Dishes like this really mean I don’t miss meat. The tofu was cooked great and had a nice crunch and the flavours with it was what really stood out, the bourbon glaze really stood out for me but it potato salad and corn salsa were great additions to the dish to pull it all together!
Laura has already mentioned the dish from Rafters so I won’t go into too much detail, after my dad had an experience (not at the celtic manor) of ordering battered halloumi and it being really greasy, stupidly I’d let it put me off but this changed all of that, light batter that was perfectly crisp coating halloumi, which lets face it whats not to love perfectly partnered with mushy peas and polenta chips and that star of the show to really finish it off Halen Mon Sea salt which was incredible. I love how much welsh produce they use at The Celtic Manor.
From Steak on Six I had Caramelised Cauliflower Panna Cotta. This came with savoury granola, burnt apple puree and frozen grapes. The apple puree really complimented the panna cotta and was delicious, for me this isn’t something I would pick of the menu but it was really good and it’s great to try things you wouldn’t pick but then convert you.
Pad was one of the restaurants I was really excited to try the food from, I love Asian cuisine so couldn’t wait to try this and the Laksa didn’t disappoint. It was spicy but not overpowering and the citrus flavours really helped to bring it all together. I can’t wait to try to make this at home and it’s one that’s easy to put together.
The last dish of mine that was different was the Newbridge on Usk, whish is next on my list to stay, it looks so cute and cosy. I love that they have their own vegetable garden that they use for the restaurant, what a great idea. For this I had a Goats cheese, chickpea and olive strudel which was perfectly cooked and had a great crunch to it. I do find with vegetarian food sometimes it’s lacking something and textures are important and the addition of the chickpea to this really finished it off for me. The home grown veg was really tasty, I swear it tastes better!
The desserts were both lovely and I can see why the peanut butter parfait has been on that menu since day one! definitely a winner, anything with chocolate and peanut butter and I’m sold.
Celtic Manor is somewhere I love to go for some relaxing and chill out time. I think PAD is next on my restaurant list.