Culinary causerie

with Lesley Williams

The Pantygwydr Restaurant

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I read an article on a parenting website recently, about children who are so indulged and spoilt on a daily basis that it’s impossible to give them something as a treat. I feel the same way about favourite restaurants – if I were to eat at them on a regularly, I would have nowhere to go when I wanted to eat out for a special occasion.

It is for this reason that I reserve restaurants such as The Pantygwydr for high days and holidays. The Pantygwydr is owned and run by husband and wife team Jacques and Michèle Abdou, who bought and restored the original Pantygwydr Hotel in Oxford Street, transforming it from dilapidated pub into a chic French restaurant. Since it opened for business in 2010, it has built up a reputation for serving authentic, traditional French cuisine.

As you would expect, snails and frog’s legs feature on the menu and are obviously very popular as on the evening we went along there were only four snails left. The snails were sourced from Burgundy and served with garlic butter and hazelnuts. Another classic dish on the menu is a fish soup that is billed as being as you would find in a harbour-side restaurant in Marseilles. Well Oxford Street isn’t too far from the marina. My scallops were pan fried and served with sweet potato puree, lime and wafer thin pieces of pain d’epices, which is a spiced gingerbread. I think this is the reason why restaurants such as The Pantygwydr really do stand out from the crowd – it’s their flavour combinations.

Our main courses were equally outstanding. Confit de canard is duck cooked very slowly in duck fat until meltingly tender, and then seared to make the skin rich, savoury, crisp and not in the least bit oily. This was served very simply with garlic and parsley infused potatoes. One of the signature dishes at the Panty as we affectionately call it, is a Bavette steak. This uses flank of beef and is only available as medium or rare so that it retains its tenderness; and of course it comes with chips as did the Welsh chicken breast with wild mushrooms and confit garlic.

Vegetarians are in for a treat at The Pantygwydr, as Jacques and his small kitchen team pays as much attention to detail in preparing innovative dishes for non-meat eaters as he does for carnivores. The starter of warm goat’s cheese, pastry, onion, garlic and tomato almost got my vote as did the vegetable tagine with bulgur wheat. I was also tempted by the pig’s trotter stuffed with sweetbreads and morels but they will have to wait until I have another cause for celebration.

The Pantygwydr, Oxford Street, Swansea SA1 3JA Tel: 01792 455498
 

PA’s Wine Bar and Restaurant

Mass catering to me usually means disappointment, but last month while attending a wedding in the Lake District I had probably one of the best lamb dishes ever. Simply roasted and served with broccoli and artichoke, the lamb was the talk of the table, eliciting almost as many compliments as the bride.

So when I spotted Welsh lamb on the menu during an impromptu dinner at PA’s, I was in two minds as to whether I should take a chance or not. I was not disappointed – it was as tender as its Cumbrian counterpart and just as tasty. In fact Wales took the edge as it was accompanied by some perfectly cooked vegetables and plenty of gravy.

The menu at PA’s is never long, but has something to please everyone. My dining companion rises at the crack of dawn to hit the gym, so prefers to eat a lighter evening meal. Fish provides all the protein without the heaviness, so the fillets of sea bass were the perfect choice.

Owners Kate and Steve Maloney and their chefs, have rightly gained a reputation for consistently delivering high quality food in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere.

95 Newton Road, Mumbles, Swansea SA3 4BN Tel: 01792 367723

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