A few weeks ago it was my birthday. Hooray! Being pregnant and having suffered awful sickness for the last few months I was definitely in need of a treat. Luckily, I’d booked for us to have afternoon tea at the new Restaurant James Sommerin in Penarth and couldn’t wait!
I started the day off with a fabulous manicure and pedicure at Enerchi in Radyr, before heading over to Penarth.
Penarth is lovely for a poke-around and I dragged my husband Gavin into copious gift shops before heading down to the sea front, where the restaurant is located, overlooking the gorgeous Penarth pier.
For those who don’t know, James Sommerin is a renowned chef, who’s appeared on TV shows such as the Great British Menu and was well known for holding Wales’ only Michelin star for a time at the Crown at Whitebrook. His new restaurant in Penarth opened last year and offers daily tasting menus as well as afternoon tea. The champagne afternoon tea is usually £25pp but we had a really good deal through Travelzoo meaning it was £29 for two people. Bargain! As an aside I’d really recommend following the local deals on Travelzoo, I’ve taken advantage of some great offers including dinners at Chapel 1877 and a weekend away at The Corran in Laugharne. Unlike some voucher websites the Travelzoo offers seem to be genuine experiences of the restaurant/hotel, rather than special cheap menus that are specifically put on.
So, we arrived at James Sommerin at 3pm and were shown to our table in the minimalist dining room. The restaurant was pretty busy with people still finishing their lunchtime tasting menus and others who’d arrived for afternoon tea. We were each given a cold glass of champagne before the sandwiches were brought to the table, in a really quirky picnic hamper.
The sandwich selection was pretty standard; ham, smoked salmon, cheese and chutney and a very pretty cucumber sandwich. Each was chock-full of what certainly seemed like top-quality ingredients, the ham and salmon for example were really thick tasty slabs of filling. There was also a yummy homemade sausage roll. For Gavin, there was an excellent selection of vegetarian sandwiches including a goats cheese on filo cracker and a rather strange sweetcorn panna cotta, which wasn’t not nice, but unlike anything I’d ever tried before.
Teas and coffees were served with the cake tray, which I always prefer (who wants a cup of tea and a sandwich?! Much better with the cake!) but the ladies on the next table seemed most put-out to be told having their tea up front wasn’t the done thing in this particular restaurant! The tea selection was a little lacking (I think the selection was breakfast, earl grey or Assam; I would’ve liked some green tea or herbal options) but the earl grey was nice and strong. Gavin said his coffee wasn’t the best but it was fine. The strange thing was that they took the pot of tea and coffee away and we had to call the waiter to ask him to bring it back for a top up. It wasn’t a problem really but the ladies on the table next to us seemed quite frustrated at having to flag the waiter down each time. They were obviously huge tea drinkers!
We soon forgot any tea issues with the arrival of the cakes. Wow. They were really something special. A rather dense scone with a much too-small portion of cream and jam was more than compensated for with the other sweet offerings; light and spicy carrot cakes, deliciously warm welsh cakes, praline eclairs, prune macarons, decadent chocolate mousse and our highlights; the white chocolate and toasted coconut truffles and the bubblegum panna cottas (the latter is a real crowd-divider according to the waiter!)
We even had time to pop into another gift shop, the lovely Shore, which is right next door to James Sommerin, where I picked up a gorgeous summery coconut candle.
Overall I’d definitely recommend the afternoon tea at James Sommerin. Even without the deal we had, I think £25pp is good value for what is quite a special treat. It’s not a laid-back, informal experience but it’s definitely more interesting than your usual afternoon tea. Having visited James Sommerin I’m keen to go back. Next time I hope I’ll try the tasting menu!
James Sommerin Restaurant, The Esplanade, Penarth CF64 3AU
We paid in full for the Travelzoo deal for afternoon tea and neither James Sommerin or Travelzoo knew I’d be blogging about them.