This weekend saw us venture further afield for food, to the Mumbles, just outside Swansea, where we arrived just in time for Sunday lunch. We didn’t have anywhere in mind to eat, so had a wander along the main street to see what was available. A few places looked interesting, but several seemed extremely expensive, with main courses coming in at around the £20 mark. I don’t mind this if somewhere is really good, but it almost seemed like unofficial price fixing, with places all charging this much just because everywhere else does (probably because it’s a tourist area).
We then came across SA3 Bistro, which looked very nice from the outside, and had a very reasonably priced Sunday lunch menu, with three courses for £16.95 or two for £12.95, which we decided to try. We were given a nice table in the window of the pleasantly furnished light wood dining room, which was seemed relatively empty for a Sunday lunchtime (although we were quite late sitting down and the weather was fairly horrible!)
To start, I chose a courgette and bacon risotto, which I’ll simply describe as excellent! Tasty chunks of smoky bacon and small, firm pieces of al dente courgette sat amongst perfectly cooked risotto rice with just a hint of crunch to create a delicious dish. I could happily have eaten this as a main course. (Apologies for no photos of our starters – I got carried away with eating them!)
Mr W chose a simple leek and potato soup, which again was really excellent: surprisingly rich and creamy for leek and potato (which I often find watery or unpleasantly textured due to the leeks), flavoursome and perfectly seasoned. Our starters were served with bread, which was quite unusual as it had a fairly cakey texture (in fact, when it arrived I remarked that it looked a bit like slices of my homemade lemon drizzle cake) but was very good with the soup.
For my main course, I chose roast hake, which was served with a sauce vierge. Again, a fairly simple dish, but fantastically well executed, with a rich, tasty sauce, bursting with sweet cherry tomatoes and salty capers. The fish was fairly delicate, but still meaty enough to hold its own against the strong flavours and olive oil in the sauce.
Mr W chose the fish special of the day, which was plaice, served with a pea veloute and char-grilled asparagus. His too was cooked really well, with a lot of care and attention having gone into the combination of flavours as well as the preparation. Our mains were served with a selection of vegetables and some new potatoes.
For those wanting a more traditional Sunday lunch, there was a roast beef option on the menu, for a £2 supplement. We didn’t actually see this on anyone else’s table, but I feel sure it would have been just as good as the dishes we tried.
After our main course, we were served with a small scoop of the homemade sorbet of the day, which in this case was pina colada. I love the flavour of pina colada, and eating the sorbet was just like drinking a really good one. Despite being a sorbet, the coconut gave it a creamy texture and it felt very indulgent. If it was available in supermarkets, I think I’d buy it!
After that, I wasn’t going to have a pudding, but the lady who was serving us tempted me by recommending the caramelised lemon tart. This was an excellent tarte au citron, sharp and fruity with perfectly crisp pastry and the addition of a caramelised top – like a crème brulee topping, but not quite as thick, so it just added a small amount of crunch and texture. This dish was particularly beautifully presented with fresh raspberries, a raspberry coulis and a small amount of crème anglaise.
Mr W opted for a selection of cheeses, which attracted a £2 supplement. They were served with a generous helping of biscuits, butter and a fruit chutney, and were all really tasty – and served at room temperature too.
It was only after our meal, in chatting to one of the ladies who had been serving us (both of whom were incredibly friendly and attentive) that we found out we’d happened upon the winner of ‘Swansea’s Best Restaurant’ in Swansea Life magazine, having only opened in 2011. Clearly we have good restaurant radar in managing to identify somewhere award-winning, and based on what we’d tried, we felt this was a well-deserved accolade. On the face of it, the food we tried seemed fairly simple, but little touches, like the homemade sorbet, and superb execution of each dish made the meal a lot more special than it may have seemed at first. The service was excellent, and one of the ladies who looked after us (whose name I unfortunately didn’t ask!) deserves a special mention for being so passionate about the place herself, to the extent that we thought she may be the owner. She’s not, but she clearly loves the food and loves working there, which really makes a positive difference to service in a restaurant.
I’ll definitely be going back to SA3 next time I’m in that part of the world. I’d like to try it in the evening, as I can imagine there’s a really nice atmosphere in the fairly intimate dining room. I’d highly recommend it for a visit.
Food: **** Service: ***** Ambience: ***
SA3 Bistro, 614-616 Mumbles Road, Mumbles, Swansea SA3 4AE