Steve Dyson travels to Newport in Wales to sample the Celtic Manor’s delights, staying at The Resort Hotel and dining at the Newbridge on Usk restaurant.
As anyone who knows me will tell you, I’m rather partial to a good meal. And so, when the Celtic Manor Resort told me that they had no fewer than seven restaurants to choose from, I was rather excited.
Would I like to dine at Steak On Six, the venue’s award-winning signature restaurant, showcasing succulent steaks from around the British Isles? Or perhaps I’d prefer a table at Rafters, set within The Twenty Ten Clubhouse, offering spectacular views and the finest locally-reared beef, fresh fish, seafood and grills?
Another offer was The Grill for relaxed dining with honest and simple food, featuring yet more juicy steaks, pasta, salads, fish or burgers. Or how about eating at Cen, where I could experience the fresh Asian cuisine created by MasterChef finalist Larkin Cen?
There was a more informal dining place on offer at The Olive Tree & Garden Room, for a tasty buffet selection of international cuisine. Or why not have a short trip out to the resort’s Coldra Court Hotel to be seated at The Rib Smokehouse and Grill, for house-smoked dishes with southern influenced flavours?
They all sounded good, but my ears pricked up when the seventh choice was outlined: the Newbridge on Usk restaurant, occupying an idyllic location on the banks of the River Usk, part of a charming, 200-year-old boutique hotel. And it was this secret hideaway, just a few miles upriver from the Celtic Manor Resort itself, that I plumped for, whisked through the Welsh country lanes to the venue in a chauffeur-driven minibus with my student son – up for the night from Bristol.
We arrived at the two AA rosette restaurant to be met by a waiter insisting on cocktails – so we had two, mine wonderfully dry Martinis – before taking our seat in the gallery room upstairs. Without realising its size, we opted to share the Newbridge local fish market platter for starters, at £29.50.
And what a choice: grilled scallops with coconut and chilli; mussels in cider and garlic sauce; prawn cocktails with gem lettuce; a pickled mackerel rolled with shallot and red pepper; a smoked hake mousse; seaweed tapioca puffs; beer-battered soft-shell crab; squid; breaded prawns; and all served with homemade bread.
This starter would have been enough as a main course – and for two diners across the room it was just that. But we’d already ordered our next plate and so battled on. We each had lamb, at around £24 each, which was tender and tasty, with delicious sauce and vegetables, lovingly cooked by head chef Adam Whittle using fresh, local and home-grown produce. It was excellent but… we’d probably have enjoyed it more on a night when we hadn’t had a feast to start with.
My son headed back to Newport station to catch the last train to Bristol, while I was dropped off at The Resort Hotel, where I was treated to a “Signature Collection” room. I loved the space, the sofa, the large bathroom, powerful shower and balcony overlooking the entrance and edge of the golf course.
But mostly, I cherished the memory of that fish platter the evening before. And I’ll be back to try it again.
For more details and to book visit www.celtic-manor.com or call 01633 410 262.
The Celtic Manor Resort is at Coldra Woods, The Usk Valley, Newport, South Wales NP18 1HQ, where double rooms are priced from £133 with special prices for families and dining packages.
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