If you live in, or are thinking of visiting Newport in Wales anytime soon, Kelly who writes the food blog Reduced Grub shares her top ten restaurants to eat in.
Over to Kelly…
A stones throw away from the Severn Bridge Newport is the first city that welcomes you to South Wales. Previously an industrial town with a history of a pint and a fight, the last couple of decades has seen this town undergo a great transformation that has bought not only the 2010 Ryder cup to Newport but also the 2014 Nato Summit.
Newport is growing in popularity, train lines and infrastructure improvements has brought a wave of re-locators to Newport with it’s reasonable property prices and easy access to other main cities. One of the noticeable changes to the city has been the rise of the independently run restaurant that are rightly so giving the generic restaurant chains a good run for their money and here I have listed my top ten in no particular order.
The Ruperra, Bassaleg
This is a oldie worldie pub that has had an amazing revival thanks to Steve the magic chef and the excellent team around him, Only in its third year, the Ruperra has regulars that travel for miles just to take in, not only the great tastes and combinations of Steve’s creations but to admire the presentation. With the Good food Award title stolen by The Ruperra for 2015, 2016 and 2017, this is a great testament to the quality of food they produce and booking in advance is highly recommended. In 2012 Steve won the title of the Best British pie and has just recently put his award winning braised Oxtail pie onto the menu which is definitely worth a try.
My visit entailed a main of seared bream with braised kale, king prawns and mussels with soused cucumber which was 100% spot on.
I was then presented with a trio of desserts that looked absolutely beautiful. The trio consisted of strawberry delice, white chocolate mousse and a lemon torte which all worked very well together.
Dutchy’s Jamaican Jerk Shack
This hip little restaurant in Newport city centre is a real family affair that sweeps you up in their arms when you walk through the door. With Reggae music in the background and amazing smells wafting from the kitchen, the only thing that is missing is the sunshine. Traditional Jamaican food is the food of the day, and everything is cooked from scratch.
I had a selection of starters and I was gun ho ready to tuck in, the king prawns with mango were amazing and fresh. The Santa cruz ribs were my favourite part of the whole meal as the meat fell of the bones, and Tony’s homemade sauce was one of the best that I have ever tasted. I also tried the National Jamaican dish of ackee and saltfish, it is not the prettiest dish in the world but the flavour really does make up for it.
For the main course I tried the new river chicken with plantain in a mango sauce and the curried goat. I didn’t think the plantain, mango and chicken would work, but I was pleasantly surprised and almost felt healthy eating it! The sweet potato fries soaked up the sauce and was a great companion for the chicken. Now Jamaican curry is one of the most underestimated dishes out there and I really do love curried goat, so with a bit of experience behind me I couldn’t wait to get stuck in. It was really, REALLY good and the rice and peas made the dish go that little bit further.
My overall view was a great meal for a great price with some great company!
Marenghi’s is a newbie to the Newport food seen , but the word of mouth praise for this Small Italian cafe has shown this to bloom into a busy place that has never needed to advertise. Mario who runs this well oiled ship, is as Italian as they come, and he should actually be wearing super hero pants over his trousers, as not only does he welcome the guests and take food orders from them, but he also cooks the food behind the counter while he still holds a conversation with you. Great food, great company and happy bellies is what makes Mario strive, and the passion for his native Italy oozes from him. His pasta dishes are amazing and with an average price of £5.90, so is the price!
I was sold the Antipasto Italiano, it was a huge portion of Italian favourites from Parma ham , marinated vegetables, olives and everything else delicious. I then tried the Arancini Di Riso which was equally yummy and then had the Filetto Di Salmone ai gamberi, (salmon fillet in a prawn sauce on a bed of tagliatelle), that almost made my belt button pop, as it was a huge portion that was so tasty that I couldn’t stop eating it.
The Gate, Llanfrechfa
If the type of food served at The Gate was offered in any of the main cities, the price would be tripled as the standard is very high. All produce is locally sourced, and the best produce at that. Everything is duly given the once over by the army of people that hold so much passion in this place and the roaring fireplace that greets you as you enter The Gate makes you unwind straight away, and with impeccable customer service you can expect a really nice meal.
The chefs at The Gate are really on the ball with what is hot or not in the world of food and the experience shows in the quality of food offered.
I started my culinary journey with sautéed scallops, black pudding and pea puree. The scallops were cooked perfectly and the locally sourced black pudding was the best I have ever tasted. I then moved on to the baked sea bream with roasted vegetables and pesto oil. A really fresh and colourful dish that worked well with the pesto oil.
This chocolate mint fondant pudding was a steal at £6.50 and it was my perfect ending to the meal, It should be called the OMG dessert as I said it several times while I was eating it.
The Secret Garden
A couple of years back I met a well known band member from Newport and he made me promise that I would visit The Secret Garden as it was his favourite place to eat while he was back visiting his folks. Only a couple of years late, I kept my promise and paid this tiny little place right in the centre of town a visit, my only regret was that I had not been sooner.
I dragged my little boy along with me and he was as pleased as punch when he saw the size of the kids bacon and cheese burger, which was not only made from scratch but at £3.50 was amazing value for money.
I tried the Marinated Welsh Chimmichuri steak with fries, it was beautiful. Decent Coffee, indulgent desserts and a decent garden are also fixtures at The Secret Garden and my family and I are now regulars.
Gemelli‘s is probably one of Newport’s most infamous restaurants, and almost everybody has eaten at one of their two restaurants at sometime or other. Gemelli’s was first known for it’s amazing and extravagant cakes as they were so flamboyant.
However, bored with winning competitions for their amazing cakes and chocolate sculptures, they have moved into the world of fine dining and this is Italian food at it’s best. I was expecting regular pasta dishes to be offered, but what was put in front of me was a very pleasant surprise. The starter ‘A Night in Capri’ was a tomato but not tomato, it was a combination of 5 different tomatoes which had all been cooked differently and then reformed into a tomato shape, it was fantastic, drizzled with pesto oil and served with fresh mozzarella this was a perfect starter for me.
‘Red Passion’ was my main and this consisted of crab and langoustine tartare, lobster, king prawn and squid with a beetroot infused ravioli. The presentation was beautiful and the taste was fantastic.
Finally, I had the ‘Gemelli fantasia’, morello cherry, chantilly cream and limoncello in a huge Belgian chocolate bomb which was divine, this is served with basil infused cutlery, so that it smells fresh and cleanses the palate every time you take a mouthful.
A great place for a special celebration, romantic meal or a well deserved meal with your nearest and dearest.
The Jewel Balti
Newport has more Indian restaurants than you can shake a stick at, however the one that has popped up in conversation the most has been The Jewel Balti. Indian food is one my most loved cuisines, so after my visit I can confirm that we really, really enjoyed our curry and I feel like I have gained a new family member as the staff were really genuinely nice.
We had the Kalkuta Naga delight with hand pulled chicken and the Murgh Lahore which was succulent chicken cooked in a coriander and spinach creamy spiced sauce. The pulled chicken is slightly spicy and can be made in a medium or crazy heat, and this went really well with the super fresh garlic and coriander naan bread.
Jewel Balti Indian Restaurant
Chepstow Road, Newport
MEAT Bar & Grill
This funky little place is a grown up restaurant for people that love burgers, and my 11 year old son and I loved it!
With local artists displaying their artistic touches to the walls, cool music and tummy tickling smells, this is a really cool place to hang out. We started off the burger session with an Oreo milkshake and then we were faced with the double stacked deliciousness of the power laden burgers.
I had the The Yankee which was filled with caramelised onions, American cheese and thick burgers. Plus a side of Fries which were also pretty fab and my son had the children’s BCB burger which was given the seal of approval.
A great recommendation for a chilled out night, for when you feel like releasing the inner teenager.
Pssssst……they even have a secret menu !!!
What very recently started off as a small and modern coffee shop in a nice residential area of Newport has now grown by an extra two in super fast time, with all three places offering slightly different things, this is definitely a clever move from local lads Matt and Ant.
Parc Pantry Malpas offers a great breakfast and lunchtime menu with decent coffee and is a great meeting point for the yummy mummies. The Tea Rooms in Bellevue Park offer real tea and cake in the beautiful setting of the historic conservatory and park. Last to join the hat trick is Parc Central, located in the centre of town it is popular in the evening with some fantastic cocktails and decadent food.
The Stuffed Dormouse
The Stuffed Dormouse has been featured in lots of publications, news and tabloids as it is not your usual restaurant.
If you are looking for a complete change in your dining experience, then this is the place for you, as they serve a large range of exotic meat from zebra, llama, crocodile, horse and until recently python and squirrel. They even let you mix and match your meats and this is served on a large upright skewer, just to show the other diners how brave you actually are! They even have a fresh water tank that houses live lobster and welcome you to pick your lobster before they cook it. One of the most popular dishes is the surf and turf, which consists of an 8oz ribeye steak with half a fresh lobster for a fantastic price of £17.95!
I was a tad boring and went for the creamy mushrooms to start followed by the steak with real home cooked chips and a pepper sauce and not only was this delicious but it also came in at a bargain £10 for two courses before 5pm and £13 for two courses after 5pm. I was extremely comfortable in this old fashioned restaurant and my food was both delicious and steak was cooked to perfection. The dessert selections are also very naughty with Milkyway cheesecake on offer, along with good old fashioned favourites, all at realistic and favourable prices.
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