Monday, 8 February 2016

Cen at The Celtic Manor Resort

The Celtic Manor Resort, Manor House, Cen Restaurant, Le Patio

Cen (pronounced 'sen') in Chinese means innovation and forward thinking, something MasterChef finalist Larkin Cen can now pursue inside The Celtic Manor Resort's elegant Manor House.
Officially opening its doors this past weekend, Cen restaurant is a first for Larkin after growing up in his parents Chinese takeaway in Cardiff.
Here's a preview of some of the food and drinks on the menu from my experience on Friday.

Manor House Celtic Manor, Oak Staircase, Grand Staircase

As you're most probably aware, this isn't my first visit to The Celtic Manor Resort. It is however my first time inside The Manor House, a historic 19th century country-style abode with oak panelled staircases, beautiful furnishings and ornate ceilings.

Cen Restaurant, Classy Restaurant

First impressions are really good, just before entering Cen my mother and I were invited into the drawing room for a welcome drink. With the fire stoked and our coats stored away, the turbulent Welsh weather outside only helped make it extra cosy.

Cocktails, Drawing Room, Bar at The Manor House

Our dinner reservation was at 9pm and we were promptly seated at a table with another local blogger Kacie (The Rare Welsh Bit) and presented with the wine menu.
There's a great variety of drinks at Cen, and we both particularly enjoyed the sweet fruit cocktails.

Cen Menu, Cen Restaurant interior
Fruit Cocktails at Cen, The Celtic Manor

Chopsticks are provided for those who want an authentic experience, as well as silver cutlery.
To kick start our appetites we nibbled on some moreish prawn crackers with a delicious sweet chilli style sauce.

Prawn crackers sweet chilli sauce, Cen restaurant, Celtic Manor

Not long after arrived our starters (or 'little dishes'), a Som Tum (green papaya salad) and Asparagus Tempura.

Salad starter at Cen, Larkin Cen
Asparagus Tempura, 65 degrees egg

I've never tried a 65°c egg with asparagus and was perplexed by it's undercooked appearance (I personally prefer poached). The fried asparagus however had a wonderfully crunchy and melt-in-your-mouth combination that went down a treat!

Bao with korean chicken, steamed bun

We also tried a Bao (filled steamed bun) with Korean chicken which proved popular across the table.
If you dine here I think it's worth trying one of the four buns currently available, the other three contain; roast duck, pressed pork belly and tofu.

Welsh beef rib roast, Larkin Cen Restaurant rib roast
triple cooked chips, welsh beef rib roast

For our main course we decided to share a Welsh beef rib roast for two. The board is layered with slices of juicy medium-cooked beef with fresh greens, wasabi Dijon and black bean jus.
The very tender beef is the star of the show, and there's plenty of it to enjoy too (six hundred grams). I should also put a spotlight on the extra crunchy triple cooked chips - scrumptious.

Cen Welsh beef rib roast

Individual dishes include; Sirloin Steak (below), Duck Tamarind Curry, Seabass and Laksa with tiger prawns and rice noodles.

Cen Sirloin Steak, Larkin Cen Steak

The dessert menu drew the most indecisiveness because they all sounded so good! As a chocoholic I wanted to try something different from the usual temptation (dark chocolate torte), so opted for the Honey and Yuzu Cake.

Honey and Yuzu Cake, Larkin Cen cake, Desserts at Cen

It's beautifully presented with edible flowers and offered a delightful combination of textures with a moist, citrusy sponge, creamy yogurt ice-cream and crunchy honeycomb.
The portions are just right after a filling main course, the most generous appearing to be the Emperor's Trifle for those with room to spare.

Emperors trifle, gold leaf dessert, Larkin Cen dessert

Dinner at Cen was very enjoyable, the Welsh beef rib roast gets a big thumbs up from us, as well as the cocktails.
The atmosphere is relaxing, we felt in no rush to leave and the waiters were very attentive.
A three course meal will set you back around £40 per person, so although it's not the cheapest of options to dine out, it could make a great alternative from the weekly takeaway every once in a while.

Larkin Cen restaurant, private dining area
Larkin Cen Scallops
Scallops with bacon dashi.

For those who'd like to book a more intimate dining experience, there's a stylish separate room with a large table (seating up to fourteen) and side booth.
For more information and the full menu, visit: http://www.celtic-manor.com/cen#

Disclaimer: I was invited to dine at Cen and my food and drinks were complimentary. All opinions are my own.
See more of my local restaurant reviews by clicking here.
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