Beautiful weather last weekend meant I was keen to take the opportunity to venture away from Cardiff and explore South Wales – something I’ve been trying to do as much of as possible since I relocated here a couple of years ago. We ended up at the picturesque Langland Bay, just outside Swansea, and decided to have lunch at Langland’s Brasserie, overlooking the bay.
We’d reserved a table in advance, but when we arrived we decided to sit out on the terrace instead as there was a table free. We checked with one of the waiting staff that this was okay, and she told us – rather aggressively – that we’d have to order at the bar if we wanted to sit outside. I always think it’s a shame when restaurants don’t offer full table service in outside areas. I imagine that the reason for this was people doing a runner without paying, as they also wanted full payment each time you ordered – which was a bit of a pain as we’d have liked to have set up a tab and been able to order more drinks etc. without one of us having to leave the table and stand in a queue inside. From a practical perspective it was badly thought through too, with people queuing to order having to do so right by the main entrance which caused an almost constant bottleneck. But never mind.
We started our meal by sharing a baked camembert. This had been baked whole with rosemary and garlic and was served with focaccia bread, apple and celery and some chutney. This was by far the highlight of the meal – albeit it’s a difficult thing to get wrong! The melty camembert was delicious and the focaccia moist and tasty. We did have to ask for more bread as the initial portion was ridiculously small for two people to eat with a whole camembert, but they brought us this without quibbling and also without charging us extra.
To follow, Mr W chose fresh mussels with leeks, garlic and Welsh cider (a starter sized portion) with some chips. He’s been on a quest to find really good mussels somewhere close to home for some time and as yet hasn’t found any particularly outstanding ones. These were okay, but nothing special, and quite a few of them had to be discarded as they weren’t open (they were quite big mussels so this meant a reasonable proportion of his meal being inedible). The chips, too, were okay but nothing outstanding.
I opted for a salmon and citrus salad with cucumber dressing. This was really disappointing. A large plate of mixed leaves had been drizzled with an awful lot of dressing, which actually had a minty taste as well as cucumber, which clashed badly with the orange and grapefruit segments in amongst the leaves. The salmon pieces were awful: overcooked, dry and barely edible. I left most of my main course and resolved to say something to the waiting staff only if they asked whether my meal had been okay (as they should do when removing an almost full plate of food, if, of course, they care!) but they didn’t so I said nothing.
On our frequent trips inside to place our orders at the bar, we’d noticed a cabinet full of homemade cakes and pastries, which were also highlighted on the menu as being a speciality, so we decided to finish off with a couple of those. I chose a chocolate brownie, which was good in parts – there was a fairly gooey section towards one side, but unfortunately I’d ended up with a piece that had obviously been cooked at the edge of the tin, so half of it was rock hard. It was also a whopping £3.75 which seemed excessive, particularly given it was served with just a drizzle of fruit sauce. I’d have expected at least a scoop of ice cream or a dollop of squirty cream for that price!
Mr W’s custard slice was better – although probably on a par with one you’d buy from Gregg’s or similar, but only £2.00 so much more reasonable.
Service throughout our meal was brusque and unfriendly. I don’t think we had a smile or a pleasantry out of any of the staff that served us on the terrace, although the lady who took our orders at the till was more friendly.
Unfortunately, our experience of Langland’s Brasserie had echoes of our experiences at The Pier Hotel in Penarth (which, incidentally, seems to have changed the name of its restaurant AGAIN), and it’s yet another classic example of an establishment trading on its location (and in this case its relative monopoly – the only other food options at Langland Bay are hot dog kiosks) and therefore not feeling the need to produce decent food or give good service. The only saving grace was the baked camembert – but at £13.95 you’d hope it was going to be good. I’d go back again, but only to enjoy a glass of wine in a lovely location, or perhaps a coffee and a cake (but not a brownie this time). I certainly wouldn’t rush back to have a meal.
Food: ** Service: ** Ambience: ****
Langland’s Brasserie, Brynfield Rd, Swansea, West Glamorgan SA3 4SQ