Occupying the ground floor of a grand old Edwardian building overlooking the estuary on Penarth’s esplanade, James Sommerin’s restaurant gets everything right. The light-drenched dining room is smart but free from formal frippery, with a view into the open kitchen from generously spaced tables, while front of house (managed by James’ wife Louise) is warm and natural, but also well-informed – whether you’re enquiring about the all-British cheese display or the treat-packed wine list.
With a Michelin star under his belt, Sommerin delivers some show-stopping dishes, be it a liquid pea ravioli smothered in sage cream and Serrano ham (as seen on Great British Menu), wild sea bass with langoustines, ginger and artichokes or a dessert involving banana, chocolate, peanut and caramel. Great produce is a given (we love the 32-day aged sirloin), and the food is reckoned to be superb value too. Diners opting for the six- or nine-course tasting menu are treated to the full show, with the chefs serving and explaining each course, but if you’re looking to go all out, book yourself a seat at the chef’s table. Here you will enjoy a glass of bubbly before witnessing a unique 14-course menu being created just for you.
Great food deserves great wine, so it’s fortunate that Restaurant James Sommerin provides a carefully-chosen list. Sourced from all around the world, all the labels on the list are produced by passionate winemakers who are concerned about the environment and the terroir. A large number are organic and/or biodynamic, and there’s every chance you’ll come across something you haven’t heard of before.
Guests travelling to Penarth might fancy making a weekend of it by booking one of the beautiful boutique rooms. Most benefit from amazing views over the Severn Estuary and there are good-value, midweek dinner, bed and breakfast packages to be had too.