James Sommerin’s restaurant The Crown at Whitebrook offers some of Britain’s most sumptuous, irresistible cooking, so his junior venture, The Crown at Celtic Manor Resort, comes freighted with expectations.
Located in the Usk Valley golf resort where the 2010 Ryder Cup was held, it has to work just as hard at lunch as it does at dinner, since the appetites of golfers know very little respite. The Crown at Celtic Manor has responded with a lunch menu that gives the clientele a taste of the restaurant’s range without weighing them down, and it would be impossible not to enjoy the food when surrounded by the tactful, quietly luxe surroundings of the walnut-floored dining room. For those who feel like a splurge or more immersive dining, the restaurant also offers a chef’s table for eight to ten, complete with a plasma screen television that allows guests to watch the chef put together their tasting menu.
Sweet, smoky, umami: all three are vital tools in Chef Sommerin’s kit, and The Crown at Celtic Manor’s menu showcases all three. Roast halibut comes topped with chicken jus, not for decoration, but because the flavours combine in unexpected and palate-pleasing ways, the jus lending the soft halibut just enough pop; Szechuan peppercorn is another favourite (it’s occasionally even worked into desserts), and recently it appeared with duck, summer greens and celeriac, giving the plate the fresh, friendly spiciness without setting off fire alarms. With a wine list well over 30 pages long, diners are guaranteed to find something to suit their wallet and tastes, and desserts are another strength, with suggested wine pairings listed alongside.
After a spell at The Cwrt Bleddyn’s kitchen, James Sommerin ventured to Scotland’s Farleyer House Hotel for five years before returning to Wales, where Sommerin worked up the ladder at The Crown at Whitebrook.
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Awards & accolades
The AA culinary accolade
The Twenty plus Ten Cook Book