Posted by: mikeydude | August 29, 2009

The Lodge @ Celtic Manor Restaurant Review (6.5/10)

I’ve just failed a rather costly exam, and it’s costing me even more to repeat it… and so mood has been rather sombre of late. Still, I could not refuse a date with my wife and so arranged dinner here at one of the Celtic Manor Resort’s restaurants called the Lodge. I’ve been here once almost a year ago and thought the food was no-nonsense decent food and I guess that’s what I was after at the time. It also has a 30% discount off all food promotion on at present if you dine during weekdays as well as my standard 25% off all beverages due to my membership of the gym. Anyway here’s my review of the place.

I’m too easily impressed …. I was wowed the first time I came here by a ‘player’less grand piano at the side of the restaurant, with its keys going down with each note played. Neat… unfortunately it wasn’t ‘switched on’ on this night. The ambience is still top notch with fantastic views of the golf course at the window seats. We were led to our table by a polite waiter and swiftly greeted by our evening waitress. Drinks I ordered a pint of Fosters while the wife had some sweet Chardonnay.

Speaking of the waitress… she was friendly enough, and she almost passed my menu test. I would expect at these kind of establishments which pride themselves on local produce and ‘higher-end’ dining to train all their staff to know exactly where ingredients come from, how they are cooked, and have some form of opinion at the end. Ok… at least with the starters she could tell me that Perl Wen is a light welsh cheese similar to Brie. She could also tell me a Rilette is similar to a terrine but not always sliced from a block of pre-formed meat veg spice mixture. Her only let down was that she didn’t know how the main course pork medallions were prepared (which I thought was the easiest question I asked!)…. “erm… I think they’re fried” was the answer I received. I think it’s highly relevant when talking about lean cuts of meat such as pork medallion as pan-frying them increases the chances of them being chewy and overdone. Anyway… here’s what I ordered….

Complimentary canapes (sorry I forgot to take a picture) were in the form of what seemed like mini cheese biscuits topped with sour cheese and chives. Nothing fancy simply an appetite stimulant.

Bread

bread

Generous portion of bread. My dining partner’s eyes lit up as she saw the 3 difference types of bread: plain white, tomato, and olive, each served with butter. I didn’t bother to ask the waitress where it was baked. Nowhere near the standard of flagship restaurant The Crown, but still pleasant as the bread was slightly warmed.

Starter #1: Hazelnut Coated Deep-Fried Perl Wen with Apple and Green Bean Salad, and chutney

perl wen

Wasn’t expecting much from this dish as I had never tried Perl Wen before. I was pleasantly surprised. I’m not a big fan of pungent powerful cheeses like blue, and so the subtle creamy mild texture and taste of welsh perl wen coated in a nutty hazelnut coat was warmly welcomed. The coat had a slight crunch and combination with sweet chutney was to my liking. I didn’t try the salad, but it was reported as being very nice also.

Starter #2: Rillette of Slow Cooked Welsh Pork with Home-Made Apple Chutney and Crusty Bread

Rillette of Pork

More bread…. I thought… I was going to be stuffed before the main course! Anyway the rillette looks like medallions of terrine. They also taste fairly similar although I must praise the quality of this chef’s creation. The welsh pork was still clearly detectable in each mouthful which went nicely with this unidentified pink sauce that surrounded the dish (?raspberry). The apple chutney was the same as that served with the perl wen, although much larger chunks of apple were evident in this dish. Very nice although at the end of the day it’s still pretty much a terrine :p

Main #1: Confit Shoulder of Lamb, Parmesan and Herb Crust served with Chateau potato, broccoli, parsnip purée, balsamic and Port
sauce

Lamb Confit

I haven’t eaten a confit for quite a while now so I can’t remember what they’re supposed to be like. When first read this dish sounds like it’s got way too many ingredients, but then on arrival it looks rather minimalist. A bit of an anticlimax, if you like. The confit looked like a ‘herby’ piece of bread. The Chateau potato was a solitary potato probably parboiled and finished off in the roast. Still the lamb was good! I’m guessing it’s coming to the end of the Spring Lamb season now where the meat is much more flavoursome albeit a bit tougher. This confit was very tasty without being too ‘lamby’. The herb crust also worked nicely although I personally prefer herb crusts with lamb racks as opposed to this style of cooking. The balsamic and port sauce added richness, but I unsurprisingly couldn’t taste the parsnip puree that was stupendously overpowered by the other strong flavours. A shame because I love parsnip puree.

Main #2: Medallions of Pork with Red onion mash, green beans, roasted carrot, Sage Jus

pork medallions

This dish looked a lot nicer than its lamb counterpart; the chef even surprising me with a beautiful strip of crackling sitting on top of the dish. This was beautifully crunchy and appetising, although I can’t help but think Chinese Roast Pork skin is far superior when done well (which is a rarity in itself!). Unfortunately the pork medallions were overdone and chewy as I suspected it would be, although it was almost rescued by the flavoursome sage jus that tasted like pork gravy (sage taste was very subtle if it was there). The mash potato was flawlessly smooth, although I could not taste any red onion in it. The roasted carrot was cooked just to my liking, as were the green beans. Excellent seasoning I must add… didn’t need to add any salt n pepper, and I wasn’t racing for the water after eating it.

chips

The Boss could not resist her craving of a side of Shoestring Fries. However if the bowl of chips that resulted were ‘shoestring’ then the Scottish can continue eating deep fried mars bars all day long. They were more like normal chips, and to be honest… I preferred McDonald’s version.

Dessert #1: Summer Pudding with Welsh Gold ice cream

Summer Pudding

This is a piece of bread wrapped up in seasonal berries and drizzled with its syrup served with ice-cream sitting in a caramel cup. The combination of sour flavours with mild ice-cream and sweet sweet caramel worked nicely. On its own the berries would probably have been too sour for me. Still.. very pleasant.

Dessert #2: Chocolate and Digestive Terrine with Banana Ice Cream

chocolate terrine with banana icecream

Ahhh… so here continues the UK’s obsession with terrines, although sweet terrine makes a nice change. This dish was actually very enjoyable. The chocolate terrine wasn’t overpowering with cocoa, and I loved the idea of banana ice cream sitting on crushed digestive biscuits. For me the star of the plate was the banana ice-cream, its flavours even being able to come through a mouthful of chocolate with biscuit. The result is a bit like a banana-chocolate cheesecake. Delicious. I finished it rather quickly and forbade the Mrs from depleting it towards the end hehe.

Ok so the meal came up to £50 in total including all drinks, dessert, discount, and service charge. Not bad value for 3 courses per person. Ok… so not all the dishes worked… I question some of the combinations of ingredients that the chef put together, particularly in his main courses, but the starters and desserts had little wrong with them. I would definitely come here again on another one of those sombre nights where delicacy and refinement are not needed. I think this should be the absolute minimum standard of welsh gastropub fare. So the standard is set…. Y Cadno take note.

Contact:

The Lodge Brasserie
Celtic Manor Resort
Newport
South Wales
NP18 1HQ

+44 (0)1633 410 262

Opening Times:

7.00am – 11.30am Breakfast menu
12.00pm – 6.30pm Lunch & Early Evening menu
6.30pm – 10.00pm Dinner menu

Sunday lunch is available between 12pm and 5pm.

http://www.celtic-manor.com/The_Lodge.aspx

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