In a nutshell
Owners Neil Kedward and Zoe Agar have looked to Oxwich Bay, on the stunning Gower Peninsular of South West Wales, for the setting of their third venture, Beach House. With an impressive seaside spot and a bounty of local fresh seafood, it’s soon to become popular with locals and tourists alike.
Not resting on their laurels with such a spectacular beachside location, Neil and Zoe have enlisted acclaimed chef and native Welshman Hywel Griffith to the take the best of Wales’ rich produce to the next level.
Hywel, a fluent Welsh speaker, grew up in Gwynedd and honed his craft at prominent restaurants throughout the UK including the Lanesborough, the Chester Grosvenor and Michelin-starred Ynyshir Hall. More recently, donning his toque blanche at the renowned Freemasons Arms in the Ribble Valley, which is currently the highest rated pub restaurant in the Good Food Guide.
Hywel makes no secrets about his passion for his native country, so expect a menu bursting with champion ingredients from the very best Glamorgan producers and the freshest seafood and shellfish. Keep tabs on Hywel’s Twitter account for picture proof of the slippery catch-of-the-day and deliveries of just-plucked seasonal produce.
What’s the room like/atmosphere
Set on the edge of the soft golden sands of Oxwich Bay, the Beach House has had leading interior designer Martin Hulbert work his magic, using a coastal palette, driftwood benches and a custom-made service credenza from Willow Joinery in Carmarthenshire.
A moody navy feature wall and copper signage, courtesy of Pembrokeshire-based design company Monddi, adds an elegance to match the sophisticated menu. Weather depending, the outdoor terrace can hold a further 30 diners to inside’s 60, offering keen beach-goers a chance to sample Hywel’s menu without the worry of dusting off their sandy feet.
Menu must-orders and misfires
Kicking off every meal, and alongside a complimentary espresso cup of the day’s soup, is Hywel’s signature laverbread loaf. Sweet bubbled dough, an ebony speckle of seaweed and a perfectly crackled crust, served with a quenelle of salted local butter, it set the bar high.
Standout courses included a starter of crab with flowering courgette fritter, artichoke, olive, tomato and nasturtium. Almost too pretty to dismantle, once inside it offered a pleasing contrast of rich, velvety brown crabmeat, tender vegetable and light, crisp batter. A pudding of bara brith soufflé with lapsang souchong ice cream practically floated on the tongue in a cloud of spiced smokiness.
There’s a comprehensive wine list, which experienced staff will happily match to each course, but it’s the cocktails that really impress here. Try the signature Beach House with Brecon Five vodka, Triple Sec, mango, passion fruit and basil or the equally quaffable non-alcoholic shaken lemonade made with fresh lemon, rosemary and soda water.
If you’re settling in for the night or taking a leisurely lunch next to the herb garden on the terrace then there’s plenty to make you merry, including a selection of craft bottled beers from Gower Brewery, brewed only six miles away, and Gwynt Y Ddraig orchard gold Welsh cider.
What else did you like/dislike?
Joining Hywel is experienced restaurant manager Alice Bussi, who’s relocated to the Welsh coast from the Michelin-starred Bath Priory Hotel. With a perfect balance of warmth and professionalism, Alice and her small front-of-house staff turned a terrific lunch into a truly memorable dining experience.
For this team, it’s all about the small touches; from the hazelnut and parmesan macaron to whet our appetite or the offer to take our final coffees out onto the terrace to soak up the last of the summer sun.
With a likely tab for two nudging £150 (that’ll be three-courses and alcohol) it’s not your average cheap-and-cheerful beachside burger shack, but Hywel’s evident craft for turning nature’s larder into show-stopping plates of food is worth the price tag. A return visit would warrant a thorough investigation of the five- or eight-course tasting menus (£49 and £69) while budget diners can look to the newly-introduced summer lunchtime set menu (three courses for £24) which holds no less attention to detail.
Perhaps the most impressive part of the Beach House is that despite being open for only six weeks, the staff worked with a familiarity that made us feel like we were returning to an old friend’s kitchen. Charming service, unforgettable food and a view that begs to be Instagrammed – a trip to the seaside has never looked so good.
Written by Sophie Rae, July 2016
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