Lowri Haf Cooke
Each moment spent at Beach House, Oxwich, is a ravishing, mouth-watering affair. From the drive down from Swansea, through the Gower Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, you’ll be bowled over long before you hit the beach. And the ever-changing micro-climate ensures that the rainbows and sea mists soon pass to reveal a vista that is truly world class.
The restaurant – a former beach shop and coalhouse – works in harmony with its natural surroundings, from Three Cliffs Bay to Oxwich Point. Little details bring to mind Welsh folk song ‘Ar Lan y Môr’, such as rosemary growing in abundance on the terrace. Each step of the menu is a similar experience, with offerings to tempt, to soothe and inspire.
Chef-Director Hywel Griffith, from Bethesda in Snowdonia, designed all aspects of the bilingual menu. He won the AA award for Wales Restaurant of the Year 2017-18 for his locally sourced, seasonal dishes. Having visited the restaurant on previous occasions, I leapt for the 3 Course for £29.50 Lunch Menu.
As the designated driver, I requested a non-alcoholic refresher – the cherry and ginger zinger hit the spot. Sommelier Alexandra promised a rhubarb spitz for Spring, although next time I’ll hope for an Ivy’s or Gŵyr G&T – both distilled nearby at Port Eynon. Whilst perusing the menu, I devoured a pork and rhubarb bite, which swayed my choice towards the signature Tŷ Siriol pork main course.
But first to arrive was the luscious laver-striped bread encased in an oak and Penrhyn Quarry slate box. In a zen-like daze, I was hit with the fragrance of Wales, as as soon as my Lemon Sole starter hit the table. Poached in brown butter, with leeks and laverbread, it warmed the cockles of my heart.
I’d previously savoured the retro-chic pairing of pork and pineapple (a staple on the tasting menu), but never the joy of pork belly and kimchi. The Pontarddulais- reared pig was elevated to high heaven by the umami tang of Korean-style cabbage. I finished on a note of pure delight, with a blast of Welsh nostalgia. One of the Chef ’s fondest memories is his ‘Nain’s’ custard tart; his tribute to her is his ‘Cacan Cwstad’. A gloriously thick- set egg-custard slice, sprinkled with nutmeg on top; it made one wonder, ‘why all the fuss about panacotta?’.
A refreshing ‘dip’ for the senses, and a rememberance of things past. Isn’t that what all seaside visits are made of? Be sure to make your own Beach House dreams come true by savouring the gastronomic grandeur of the Gower.