Visit Wales Staff Writer | October 11, 2016 4:56 PM ET
Fresh and Seasonal: Food Treasures of Wales
PHOTO: Entree from The Walnut Tree, Abergavenny
Known for its hearty country classics made with fresh, seasonal ingredients, the country of Wales offers a unique culinary culture and mouth-watering food adventures for every taste and appetite.
Welsh specialties include Glamorgan sausages and Welsh rarebit — bubbly Welsh cheese on crispy toast. Modern Welsh cooking is about the top-quality ingredients, cooked simply, to let the natural flavors shine through: lamb from mountains and saltmarshes, Welsh Black beef, Carmarthen ham and abundant seafood. And to wash it down, ales from the artisan breweries, Welsh wine and whisky and plenty of fresh mountain spring water.
A food lover’s trip to Wales can include stops on the Wales Wine Trail to one of 12 award-winning vineyards, cheese makers and farms where you can taste fresh dairy and produce.
The Michelin Guide 2017 has rewarded two more restaurants in Wales with a Michelin star in addition to the five. The seven Michelin-starred restaurants that Wales boasts include: The Walnut Tree at Abergavenny, The Checkers at Montgomery, Tyddyn Llan at Llandrillo, Ynyshir Hall in Machynlleth, The Crown at Whitebrook, and newcomers, Sosban & The Old Butchers, and James Sommerin.
All seven of these culinary treasures feature the local and sometimes foraged food that have put Wales at the top of savvy food lovers’ culinary travel wish lists.
Wales’ Michelin Stars:
Sosban & The Old Butchers, Anglesey
Sosban & The Old Butchers is the first restaurant on the North Wales isle of Anglesey to be awarded a Michelin star, and it’s only been open for four years. Run by a husband and wife, Stephen and Bethan Stevens, the restaurant surprises guests with a menu featuring dishes using local produce foraged that day. Guests will dine on dishes like Scottish salmon with ginger, carrot and cucumber. Be sure to reserve in advance, as the restaurant is booked up for the next three months.
James Sommerin, Penarth
A restaurant with rooms, James Sommerin is perfectly located on the coast of South Wales with panoramic views of the Severn Estuary. James and wife Louise have both worked tirelessly to earn coveted awards, like AA Restaurant of the Year Wales 2016-2017 and Restaurant of the Year 2016 for Wales at the Food Awards Wales.
It has also earned five stars for its accommodation from AA and Visit Wales. Should you stay and have a meal or two, you’ll find that the menu boasts some of the finest ingredients.
Mains include dishes like Quail with Asparagus, Tarragon and Truffle or Welsh Lamb served with Broad Bean, Pink Turnip and Cumin.
The Walnut Tree, Abergavenny
Located in Abergavenny, The Walnut Tree is the lifeblood of chef Shaun Hill, who has put it squarely back on foodies’ maps since taking over in 2008. The menu features foraged foods like asparagus from the Wye Valley — an area of outstanding natural beauty — and a Welsh favorite, leeks – a national symbol of Wales.
Hearty mains include rack of Welsh Lamb with Potato and Mutton Fritter and Fresh Caught Turbot and Cockles from the Welsh coast. After eating, head into the center of town and enjoy a “cuppa-tea” at The Angel Hotel. This hotel has been named a U.K. Tea Guild Award winner as well as Hotel of the Year in Wales 2016 by AA.
READ MORE: Five Adrenaline Pumping Adventures in Wales
The Checkers, Montgomery
If you’re visiting the mountainous terrain of Mid-Wales, you’ll want to stop by this family-run restaurant in Montgomery. Crafted by a team of three, the French cuisine is evidently scrumptious as it was awarded a Michelin star in its opening year of 2011.
You can choose between five and eight-course tasting menus which will both dazzle your senses with dishes like Assiette of Pork with Artichoke Puree, Asparagus, Girolles & Madeira Jus and Smoked Tomato Veloute with Goats’ Cheese Cream.
Vegetarians and pescatarians are also more than welcome. So long as you call ahead, the trio will do their best to accommodate any allergies or dietary restrictions. If you’re planning on staying in the area, why not head upstairs after you’ve eaten yourself into bliss? Stay in one of the five rooms, which include bed and breakfast accommodations, homemade cookies and L’Occitane toiletries, among other fine luxury perks.
Tyddyn Llan, Llandrillo
Located in the quaint Welsh village of Llandrillo, this restaurant is sure to leave you feeling stuffed. The menu is created with a focus on seasonal availability so that all of the produce is fresh and delivered daily. Should you choose to have dinner here, your taste buds will first be enchanted with delicious canapes, an appetizer, and then either a six- or seven-course bundle of starters followed by your main course.
Mains include dishes like Fillet of Aged Welsh Black Beef au Poivre; Cefnllan Farm Duck Breast, Confit Potato, Hispi Cabbage, Duck, Port and Blackcurrant Sauce; and Wild bass with Laverbread Butter Sauce, Jersey Royals and Samphire. Laverbread is a seaweed-based delicacy also known as Welshman’s caviar!
Don’t forget to leave some room for the mouthwatering dessert! Family run by Susan and Bryan Webb, the fine eating is accompanied with several rooms for guests to stay and snuggle up in fine Egyptian linens.
Ynyshir Hall, Machynlleth
In the charming town of Machynlleth, Ynyshir Hall is a must-see. The restaurant is run by head chef Gareth Ward, who works primarily with fresh local or home-grown produce featured on dishes like Salt Wagyu Rib and Sweet and Sour Mackerel. Upon completion of your meal, marvel in the original artwork of artist and owner Rob Reen.
The Whitebrook, Monmouthshire
Located in Monmouthshire, this fine eatery boasts its locally sourced food with an emphasis on freshly foraged herbs. Chef Chris Harrod winds them seamlessly into dishes like Local Strawberries with Lambs’ Sorrel, Oats and Caramelized Almonds.
Harrod also has a way with desserts or pudding as it’s known in the U.K. His Violet Parfait garnished with rose is a flowery favorite. With award winning rooms, The Whitebrook is also a great place to stay the night after a terrific meal.
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