Nestled deep in the Wye Valley, Monmouthshire, lies a real Welsh jewel.
The Crown at Whitebrook may not be the easiest of places to find, but the surrounding countryside is beautiful and when you arrive it is well worth the wait. It is definitely a foodie’s heaven.
The Crown is one of the few Michelin starred restaurants in Wales and has head chef James Sommerin running things in the kitchen. James has been serving high quality dishes at The Crown since 2000, becoming head chef in 2003 and then leading the restaurant to its first Michelin star in 2007. James is also known for representing Wales in the BBC’s Great British Menu in 2009.
To have a complete experience of this gastronomic delight, it is advisable to book one of the eight rooms they have, and after being dubbed Wales’s first restaurant with rooms it does not disappoint. Double rooms cost between £145 and £180, including a full Welsh breakfast. The tasting menu is definitely a winner. You can choose from either six or nine courses on this set menu, and if you’re planning to make the most of the experience, then go for the nine.
The Crown’s philosophy is to offer a total dining experience and this is exactly what they do. Not only do they cater for allergies and eating requirements, but they do their best to take into account a guests dislikes. You would think a dislike of cheese would cause a problem in a set menu which has a cheese course, but not for The Crown, they simply added an extra dessert instead.
The nine course menu definitely exceeds expectations, and guests are provided with three starters, three mains, a cheese course and two dessert courses. This may sound like a challenge but each dish is perfectly portioned so it is a delight to make your way through them. Tasting menus are different each night.
To kick off the delightfully gastronomic evening, we were presented with haddock which was served with pea and fennel. This was a light and tasty dish which left us eagerly awaiting the next course.
But the hen’s egg ravioli accompanied by artichoke, sweet corn, mushroom and the tastiest sauce was wonderful. The final starter was small and unassuming, served in a black box which arrived at the table and when the waiter removed the lid, a flurry of smoke wafted out, only to reveal a smoked sewin with artichoke, apple and beetroot.
The main courses were equally fantastic, with beautifully cooked lamb cutlets, courgette and a horseradish sauce to begin. The second main was again wonderfully prepared, with haddock, langoustine, pumpkin and artichoke.
This also came as a welcome break between the two meat courses. Rarely cooked beef was the centre piece of this last main, and was accompanied by sweat breads and watercress.
The cheese board was a lovely part of the meal, as the waiter brought a cart over to the table and plated a variety of cheeses, chutneys and biscuits of our choice on to a simple slate board.
The last two courses really rounded off a stunning meal, starting with a creamy vanilla custard tart and finished with a light banana and walnut soufflé.
It was at this point we expected the meal to have come to an end, but we were wrong. When booking, we told The Crown our visit was part of a birthday celebration, and to help us celebrate this they provided us with one final course. Chocolate covered fudge, honeycomb, homemade vanilla and caramel ice creams, finished off with a simple birthday candle.
Tasting menus cost £62.50 for six courses and £75 for nine courses, per person.
All in all, The Crown at Whitebrook is more than just a simple visit to a restaurant. It offers an amazing all round experience which is second to none and comes at a relatively affordable price tag.
Take the plunge and dine in style.