We’d heard through the grapevine (hot trade gossip basically), that talented TV chefs, Ryan and Liam Simpson-Trotman, were visiting the Gower for a ‘one night only’ guest cheffy event (who doesn’t love cheffy events?). So we thought that’ll do nicely for a foodie night out, even if we would be driving ninety minutes from our home in the Vale. It would be worth it, right? And, especially as the price had been advertised at a very reasonable £68 per head. At that price, we’d be quite mad to pass it up.
If you follow Great British Menu, you’ll remember they were the first married couple and chef duo to appear on the much-loved programme for their respective regions. The talented pair own award-winning Orwells Restaurant near Henley on Thames, which was awarded Good Food Guide Restaurant of the Year 2017 and is number 29 in the Good Food Guide Top 50 UK Restaurants, as well as holding 4 AA Rosettes. Ryan and Liam are also regulars on BBC’s Saturday Kitchen as well as having a weekly show on BBC Radio Oxford on a Friday night. Yes, these chaps are pretty busy.
They say the ethos of their cooking is to serve top quality food with a major focus on sustainability and up to 75% of their fruit and vegetables are grown on their own smallholding. Refreshingly, Ryan and Liam walk the sustainability talk. They source as locally as possible and are passionate beekeepers, producing honey for the restaurant.
At Beach House, they brought their signature sustainably driven cooking to chef Hywel Griffith’s restaurant serving a six-course menu which included Coverack Mackerel, miso, cucumber, seashore herbs; Confit pork cheek, celeriac, apple, brown sauce; Chiltern Hills Muntjac, fungi, blackberries, lettuce.
Did it live up to expectations? Absolutely. First, we’re in the Beach House. I remember the ‘shack’ from when I visited Gower as a child. The transformation is beautiful. We loved it and whoever is choosing the art for the walls has a very good eye. As a blank canvas, Beach House was a perfect canvas for the chaps to create a few works of food art.
I could wax lyrical about each course with a lot of pretentious food critic style waffle but that wouldn’t do the experience justice and, honestly, would be an insult to you reading this. What you really want to know is, was the food excellent? The answer is a resounding yes. The highlights of the evening, for me, were the Confit Pork Cheek. And the Chiltern Hills Muntjac. I could have eaten both dishes several times over. My good lady loved the Coverack Mackeral. The combination of one of her favourite fish and the herbs were “simply perfect”.
All the courses were excellent. If I had to pick holes (and let’s face it critics love to pick holes otherwise we’d all be pointless), I thought the Orwells Smoked Cheddar Ploughmans didn’t quite work. I just expected, or anticipated, something a little thicker in consistency and the Cheddar didn’t come through as rich as I’d thought it would. But hey, I’m nitpicking.
Was it value for money? Hell yes! Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. These are two of the nicest guys in chef land and they deserve all the success they’re clearly getting and are going to get.
If the idea was to raise awareness of Orwells (duh!), then we’re now most definitely aware, and a road trip to Henley on Thames is definitely on the calendar for 2019. And, honestly, we can’t wait.
At this point, as the crowd screams and whoops and sings the praises of Ryan and Liam, I’d like to tip my hat to Hywel and the team at Beach House. They deserve huge credit for hosting the boys and doing such a fantastic job on the evening. We’ll certainly return. The Gower is one of our favourite places and Beach House just adds class, quality and fun to an already beautiful bay.
What we enjoyed…
Orwells Smoked Cheddar Ploughmans
Chicken & Caviar
Miso, cucumber and seashore herbs
Confit Pork Cheek
Celeriac, apple and brown sauce
Chiltern Hills Muntjac
Fungi, blackberry, lettuce and hazelnut
Apple, crumble and honey
Hazelnut, salted caramel and honeycomb
Petit Fours & Coffee
Passionfruit pastels (these were cheeky)
Hot Toddy macaroon
£68 per person.
£50 wine flight per person.
To find out more about those talented chaps Ryan and Liam, visit the Orwells website at www.orwellsrestaurant.co.uk
Shiplake Row, Binfield Heath, Henley on Thames, South Oxon RG9 4DP
01189 403 673
Fancy a trip to one of South Wales’ most beautifully located restaurants? What are you waiting for? Here are the details…
The Beach House Restaurant
Oxwich Beach, Oxwich, Near Swansea SA3 1LS
To book, guests should call 01792 390965
or email firstname.lastname@example.org