Starting his career washing dishes at his uncle’s Legends restaurant, Tommy’s first solo venture is a far cry from his diner days. After leading the kitchen at The Great House Hotel in Bridgend, the Great British Menu 2018 semi-finalist crowd-funded £40,000 to open Heaney’s at the former Arbennig Restaurant.
What’s the vibe?
Faux-concrete walls, dark wood and geometric light fittings lend an industrial feel to the neighbourhood restaurant. Chatty staff and an eclectic playlist add to the relaxed atmosphere.
What’s the food like?
It’s a plates-come-to-the-table-at-a-leisurely-pace sharing situation so take someone you’re comfortable fighting with over the final slice of smoked duck ham (make your own duck ham with our easy recipe). The daily updated menu reads like a glossary of en-vogue ingredients, though every namedrop on the lengthy bill (kohlrabi, kelp, sea vegetables et al) earns its place on a plate which is well balanced and impeccably presented.
On our visit, crispy quail was the surprise standout. Bound in a crunchy batter, gamey quail legs were reined in with ribbons of palate-cleansing apple and celeriac. Another corker was the no-knife-needed barbecued lamb with shimmering anchovy emulsion and salty accents of samphire.
A pudding of braised apple and blackberries with earl grey custard almost saw a faultless line-up until a third dessert featuring peaches, mascarpone and a watery fruit broth cried “quit while you’re ahead”.
And the drinks?
A Le Verre De Vin preservation system allows apt exploration of the wine list without heading into triple figures – or hangover territory – and a small curation of cocktails boasts quality over quantity. Penicillin, a sweet ’n’ savoury hit of scotch, carrot, ginger and peat, was particularly palatable.
olive tip: Let Tommy take the lead and opt for the tasting menu of his ten favourites dishes on the menu that day.