Dai Wakely (right) has the distinction of being a Master Distiller. This title is the highest professional qualification offered by the Institute of Brewing and Distilling, so he is well placed to be in charge of the Cygnet Distillery in York Street.
Dai had a dream to open a restaurant and bar, a dream that came to fruition for him in 2017 with the opening of Juniper Place, Swansea. If you drive along Fabian Way, passing the windows that once displayed motorbikes; it was the showroom for J T Morgan, you will now see the gleaming copper still of Cygnet Distillery.
The distinctive taste of Cygnet gins are down to its botanicals, the natural flavourings that come from things like almonds, cardamom, lemon peel, pink grapefruit, liquorice and of course Juniper.
We have teamed up with Cygnet Distillery to bring you a competition to WIN a bottle of the original Cygnet Gin, and its latest creation Cherry Drop Gin along with a case of Welsh tonic water and a pair of branded goblets. See our home page for details.
We visited Juniper Place for dinner on a Tuesday night in September. Booking our table was easy, a very simple on-line booking system quickly confirmed my reservation. We were greeted by a friendly waitress who although was wearing a mask, made it clear that she was smiling with her eyes – something we are all going to have to get used to. The tables were well spaced apart – well within the government’s guidelines – and as an added bonus, bottles of Cygnet hand sanitizer were provided on each table. During lock down, Dai produced hundreds of bottles of sanitizer as its produced in a very similar way to gin!
Another added bonus was that Juniper Place has extended the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme, to run from Monday to Thursday – something they intend to do throughout October too. 2 courses were £11.95 and 3 for £14.95, with a special menu that is available as a take-away on request.
As usual we were hungry – the temptation to order nibbles while we looked at the menu, was too great so to keep the wolf from the door we shared a generous board of nuts, breads and olives. The menu included interesting vegan and vegetarian options – it’s good to see how many restaurants are now making a real effort to cater for those that want to follow a plant-based diet.
Choosing from the starters on offer was difficult. I usually plump for the calamari but this time the sticky honey and wholegrain mustard pork ribs won the day. The balance between the honey and the mustard was perfect, and the meat came away from the bones easily. The addition of a bed of slaw added a good creamy crunch. The mussels in a creamy leek and Welsh cider sauce were pronounced superb – plump and juicy – I didn’t get a look in, and a request for a spoon to finish the bowl is always a good sign. We had just returned from a week in Dorset where mussels were not a patch on these.
I find myself heading towards the vegetarian and vegan choices more and more these days. I think it is because they are getting more inventive. So, it was the linguine arrabiata with chargrilled vegetables and crispy capers that got my vote and it is something I would certainly order again. The sauce had a good amount of chilli heat without taking your breath away and the vegetables were chunky and retained their crunch. The addition of the salty little capers provided a lovely little burst of flavour.
The grilled rump steak and chips had a £1.50 supplement which is understandable when trying to keep the costs down. Rump steak is not always the most tender of cuts but has a much better flavour than the more expensive fillet and sirloin. The chips were golden, crisp and soft in the middle – just as they should be.
Throughout, the staff adhered to Covid 19 rules and kept their distance whenever possible – I felt very assured of their attitude to safety, which is what we need to get us all back to feeling comfortable when eating out.
Juniper Place, 1 York Street, Swansea SA1 3LZ Tel: 01792 468715 To book visit www.juniper-place.co.uk
The Room to Grow Project
You may have noticed raised beds appearing in front gardens in Uplands and Brynmill, and it is all part of the Room to Grow project founded by Mike Scott and Ange Bettany. The principle is that they take over garden space that is currently not being used and turn it into a productive mini allotment. Ange who is the owner of Hougah in Brynymor Road, hosted a harvest sale where they raised £100 for Swansea Womens Aid and South West Wales Cancer Fund through the sale of organic vegetables.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could get this rolled out right across the city?
Room to Grow is looking for more garden space in King Edwards Road, Rhydings Park Road and Gwydr Crescent – they will help build and maintain the garden planters and raised beds, and you get to share the produce.
The Room to Grow Project, Indycube Swansea, 2nd Floor, 11 Wind Street SA1 1DP
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01792 449 731 or 07867 968780
I was delighted to hear that Adam and Chris of Slice in Sketty were on the brink of re-opening, albeit in a slightly different way. Fish & Ice @Slice will be a posh fish and chip shop, where as well as the usual battered cod we’ll be able to order things like fresh mussels, lemon sole and crab along with the best that the fishmonger has to offer on the day. Everything will be cooked to order, so you can telephone and collect, or just turn up and order – then wait for about 10 minutes until it is cooked. They will also be making their own pies, faggots, rissoles etc – and best of all the chips will be twice cooked. As if this wasn’t exciting enough, the dynamic duo will be producing their own ice-cream and desserts. Takeaways are about to step up a gear – this is going to be restaurant quality food to eat at home.
Fish & Ice @Slice, 73 – 75 Eversley Road, Sketty SA2 9DE Tel: 01792 290929