Blessed with famous hospitality and stunning natural beauty, we check out the culinary reasons why Wales is a must-visit, with our guide to ten of its best restaurants.
The Walnut Tree
Restaurant, Italian, French, British, $$$
The Walnut Tree, Llanddewi Skirrid | Courtesy The Walnut Tree
Twenty-table strong The Walnut Tree is arguably Wales’ most oft-mentioned fine-dining restaurant. It’s appeared in the past on British TV programme Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmare and garnered oodles of previous culinary accolades. Under the guidance of Franco Taruschio, it has established itself as one of the leading purveyors of gourmet food in the country for more than 30 years. Expect a meticulously-crafted seasonal menu and plenty of first-rate wines to match.
A restaurant with a Michelin star, Tyddyn Llan sits nestled in the foothills on the edge of Snowdonia National Park, close to the northern towns of Llangollen and Wrexham. The culinary philosophy of the chefs here is to make use of the finest local produce, while certain creative twists in the menu mean that a select few of the seasonal ingredients are sourced from right across the British Isles. Patrons can pick between a set tasting menu in the week and a weekend lunchtime a la carte. Expect sumptuous concoctions of flavours such as leek risottos infused with white Perigord truffles and griddled scallops dressed in a cauliflower jus.
Touting an ever-changing menu of seasonal dishes that moves to infuse traditional and hearty British home cooking with a twist of all-American flavour and haute French flair, The Potted Pig has risen to become a real carnivores favourite in the heart of the Welsh capital. The restaurant is located between the historic rises of Cardiff Castle and the bustling shopping strips of the High Street. You’ll find delicious food creations like wild Welsh mullet with cockles and aged Abergavenny beef steaks, and a chic basement interior that blends minimalist styles and historic charm.
Located in Swansea, the Pant-y-Gwydr serves up a fresh and flavoursome array of French classics, with just a little twist of flair from. Guests can expect classic like Burgundy escargot and Alsatian casseroles to grace the seasonal a la carte menu, all infused with the flavours of Welsh beef and local lamb from the Gower Peninsula. Inside, the decor is cosy and stylish, with pine wood tables and a central bar that retains much of the folksy charm of the public house that the Pant-y-Gwydr was before it became this upmarket restaurant.
Restaurant, Hotel Restaurant, British, European, $$$
Headed up by renowned Welsh chef, Stephen Terry, The Hardwick is a Michelin-starred fine-dining restaurant that focuses on producing creative Mediterranean and British dishes, made with readily available Welsh produce. Consequently, the a la carte menu offers up a cascade of different starters and mains, jumping between Tuscan tomato soup and Swiss cheese meatloaf, roasted partridge breasts and pan-fried sea bass from the Gower. There is also a fantastic wine card to match, touting everything from light and un-oaked French whites to full-bodied reds from New Zealand.
Doing well to bring the rustic flair of traditional Italian family cooking to the heart of Cardiff city centre, the folk at Café Citta have made some serious waves with their earthy, open-kitchen culinary experiment in recent years. Not only has the joint garnered such a loyal local following that its modest collection of tables is now booked to the brim most nights of the week, but it’s also drawn the attention of food critics to boot. You’ll find a hearty log burning pizza oven straight out Napoli, which is no doubt why the goats’ cheese breads and earthy Italian ciabattas taste so famously good.
Situated between the quieter streets of the suburban Sketty, in Swansea sits is this tiny space that makes it easy to see how the restaurant got its name. Slice serves an acclaimed set menu which includes sumptuous Mediterranean-meets-gourmet-British fare, all cooked up by Chefs Adam and Chris of local Swansea extraction.
This restaurant brings a cacophony of hearty Welsh dishes and a medley of local produce to the dining tables of Llanelli’s burgeoning North Dock area. The folk at Sosban(‘Saucepan’ in English) have made a real name for themselves on the South Wales fine-dining scene in recent years. The menu throws up some delectable and creative prif gwrs (mains), like fresh Carmarthen sea bass, and slow-cooked tagines made with local Gower lamb and there are some seriously tempting pwdintoo, like passion fruit sundaes and pear tart tatin, all with recommended desert wines to match.
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As the name implies, this excellent restaurant boasts a stunning location right on the seafront of Saundersfoot, set just a stone’s throw back from the swells of Coppet Hall Beach and the shimmering waters of Carmarthen Bay. While the panoramas available through the floor-to-ceiling windows here are what usually draws the attention, the menu at Coast is no less alluring. You’ll find a wealth of local Welsh seafood creations and mouth-watering regional meat dishes such as wood pigeon breast cuts with wilted parsnip and lemon-dressed salmon with celeriac.
Cosy little cwtch* does well to live up to its name (which means ‘safe place’ or ‘hug’ in Welsh, depending on what mood you’re in). The interior is a rustic affair of white-washed cottage walls and stripped-wood flooring that’s redolent of the bucolic hamlets of the Pembrokeshire peninsula. The menu is an array of hearty and home made Welsh dishes with Swansea oak-smoked salmon, Pembrokeshire turkey cuts and Penclawdd cockles – nostalgic flavours for any Welshman.