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Rostra rating: 3
Pronounced “cutch” (as in crutch), and meaning “hug” in Welsh, this restaurant is considered the best in St. Davids. Cwtch has earned a Michelin Plate status for “good cooking.” TeamMago’s first impressions were less than stellar or even bib. Did the paper napkins and paltry pair of bread rolls compel the infamous inspectors to relegate Cwtch to the ignoble “simple standard” of a single crossed fork and spoon?
Things got better for MagoGuide (and presumably Michelin) with the starters.
Smoked haddock and laverbread fishcakes with tartare sauce: were nicely fried, the mixture of lightly smoked fish with minimal filler was improved with very good bespoke tartar sauce.
Leak and potato soup with croutons and crème fraiche: The soup’s nice delicate flavor was supported by a judicious use of crème fraiche, but it needed salt and a more robust stock base (a good dose of pig candy would have elevated the dish).
The appies paired nicely with a 2015 Cormoraine, Dud de Morny, Picpoul de Pinet that delivered nice apricot fruit, brassy notes, and a long finish.
Rolled shoulder of Welsh lamb with courgette and chorizo hash, green beans and carrot ribbons, red wine jus and salsa verde: a classic French approach, the shoulder was braised then crisped in a hot oven so that the lamb had a delicious mahogany crust yielding to a soft and unctuous inside. The dish came with two sauces. The reduced braising liquid was very good and correctly seasoned, while the salsa verde was thicker than a classic British mint sauce and way better for it. The sides were a mixed bag. The hash was great, sporting piggage plus decent heat (at least decent for Wales). The beans and carrot dish sucked, thrown together, undercooked/seasoned—what was the point? Just give me more of that hash, dude.
10oz Welsh ribeye steak with slow roast tomato, mushroom duxelles, balsamic shallot and beef dripping, and chips: was correctly cooked to the requested medium rare. However, throughout our trip TeamMago never really liked the local Welsh beef. It lacked flavor (due to insufficient marbling) and was on the tough side. The meat was also under seasoned, making the sauce poive, which cost extra, a necessity. Balsamic leeks were nicely caramelized, a good effort. The tomatoes were under seasoned (as usual, gotta have salt on grilled maters dude). Decent chips that needed salt (again, again). The duxelles was quite good, classically made with fresh shrooms. The Michelin Plate designation would seem to derive from the kitchen’s competence in classic bourgeois French cuisine.
The proteins found a friend in the house Rioja, which sported decent cherry fruit, a touch of terroir, and a long finish.
Bottom Line: We enjoyed Cwtch, but it didn’t meet our expectations. Service was good but harried. Presentation was well above average but portions were huge, precluding the possibility of Cwtch’s nice looking desserts.