We visit Tenby on a regular basis. We usually manage to get down there & spend a couple of nights at least 2 or 3 times a year.
As you know, I’m very particular of what I eat and where. I have to know the food I am eating is cooked from scratch at the very least. I also won’t eat pork or chicken unless I know it’s at least free range or outdoor bred. I won’t eat eggs unless they are at least free range. In a perfect world everything would be organic, but I know I’m not going to get that when eating out.
Over the years, going to Tenby, we have found various restaurants that meet those needs – some better than others. Unfortunately, every time we find somewhere we are happy with, you can almost guarantee the next time we go it’s been taken over by someone else and is no longer offering the same kind of food. There are a couple of places that seem to be standing the test of time (thankfully) – The Moorings (more about that later) and The Blue Ball (although that is up for sale at the moment).
On our last visit to Tenby, however, we found an absolute gem. Fingers crossed it will stay!
Underneath the Atlantic Hotel on the Esplanade is a restaurant called the Salt Cellar. It opened in February 2016 and is run by 4 good friends – 3 of them chefs and one running front of house. We heard about it just before our visit to Tenby in September of this year, so checked it out when we got there and booked ourselves in for dinner.
You can call in for lunch, coffee or a snack during the day and dinner and/or drinks in the evening. The bar area is welcoming with cook books piled up on shelves. The other half wanted to tidy the books in alphabetical order (odd bod), but I quite liked their randomness. I own thousands of cook books, but there were plenty there I don’t own, so was happy to browse away over coffee (in the day & evening).
The restaurant itself is a mix of modern & old style – pleasant, clean and airy. It’s a lovely size so feels intimate, yet you are not sitting on top of the other diners.
The food was fantastic – everything made from scratch (of course), including the breads and to my mind, just the right side of ‘cheffy’. Enough to make you say ‘wow’ when you see it, but not overly fussy. The emphasis is on the quality of the food – not style over substance.
I opted for the pea crème brulee as a starter, while he had the scotch egg. Neither were a disappointment – he was more than happy with his scotch egg and accompaniments and was impressed with the slightly runny yolk (‘how do they get it as perfect as that when they can’t see it when it’s cooking’?, he said). And just how you can do so much with peas is an achievement in itself (check out James Sommerin’s ‘Great British Menu’ pea dish too).
I’m afraid I was rather predictable with the main, choosing lamb. But, there is a reason for that. Lamb is my absolute favourite meat, while ‘he’ doesn’t like it. So, we never have it at home – if we haven’t eaten out for a while I can feel myself literally craving some – so, when the opportunity arises there is no choice for me. It was flavoursome, juicy, succulent, perfectly cooked and worked well with the rest of the dish.
The ‘other half’ chose the cod dish – a surprise in itself as even though we eat fish at least twice a week at home, it’s not usually his choice when eating out. It looked superb and I could see how beautifully it was cooked. He was well impressed and thoroughly enjoyed it.
The desserts were pretty as a picture and tasted superb. We finished the meal with coffee in the bar, with gorgeous homemade petit fours – bliss!
But, that’s not all – a beautiful meal like that can be made or broken by the quality and level of service you receive. I have to say, we were blown away! Both the restaurant and bar were run by just 2 young girls (well, young in my world). They were hugely efficient, friendly and perfectly on top of everything. What really impressed me was how they found time to talk to every customer – they found time for everyone. I can’t speak highly enough of them.
Being the tweeter I am, I of course, took pics of the dishes and tweeted them during the meal. By the time we got to dessert, the 3 chefs in the kitchen had seen my tweets & tweeted back their appreciation. That said it all for me – a small business run by friends with a passion for what they do. First class! We will definitely be visiting every time we visit Tenby.
If you are looking for somewhere else to eat in Tenby, I can also highly recommend The Moorings. We usually go there for breakfast – free range eggs, their own bread (made by their sister bakery company) and local produce. Lunch is also good with everything homemade – especially popular is their homemade fish finger sandwiches. At night, it turns into a restaurant with great food and good service. Again, all their bakery and pastry products are provided by their sister bakery – Loafley Bakery.