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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Not long after arrived our starters (or ‘little dishes’), a Som Tum (green papaya salad) and Asparagus Tempura.
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!
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.
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.
Individual dishes include; Sirloin Steak (below), Duck Tamarind Curry, Seabass and Laksa with tiger prawns and rice noodles.
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.
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.
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.
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.