A special birthday – Restaurant Review: The Social, Parc Thistle Hotel, Cardiff

I’ve reviewed the restaurant at the Parc Thistle a couple of times over the years, the first positively, the second, finding myself having to eat my words. I was invited back again recently, though, to a dinner to celebrate the hotel’s 130th anniversary, and it certainly sounded as if things were looking up again, with a special tasting menu developed collaboratively by head chef Iain Inman and local ‘chef of the moment’, James Sommerin, who is currently wowing everyone with his new venture, Restaurant James Sommerin in Penarth.

Thistle Cardiff exterior

The evening was an extravaganza of food, wine and entertainment, with an appearance from Sing and Inspire to open the evening, paired wines with each of the six courses, a charity auction and raffle and a band and disco to finish off the evening. The food was definitely the main event, though, with dishes inspired by the hotel’s impressive 130 years of heritage, each of which will be featuring on the restaurant’s specials menu intermittently throughout November and December. Each of the chefs contributed three dishes to the evening’s menu.

(L-R) James Sommerin and Iain Inman

(L-R) James Sommerin and Iain Inman

It’s rare for me to copy and paste an entire menu into a blog post, but as this one was so interesting, I thought I would do so in order to do it – and the wine pairings – justice.

Iain Inman presents

The Social, Head Chef

1880’s Sophistication for the cheap

Mock Turtle Soup

Pave of braised beef, poached veal tongue, fried quail egg, pickled root vegetables, beef consomme

Bourgogne Pinot Noir Domaine Voarick, Burgundy – France (2010)

The Parc Hotel 130 years anniversary dinner. 23.10.14 ©Steve Pope-FOTOWALES


1920’s Rise of the Docks

Spiced Seafood & Edible Coal: Lightly spiced ragout of cockles, mussels, whelks & laverbread, crispy bacon, edible coal

Chateau De Davenay Montagny 1er Cru Clos Chaudron, Burgundy – France (2011)

 The Parc Hotel 130 years anniversary dinner. 23.10.14 ©Steve Pope-FOTOWALES

1940’s Feeding a war

Sea Trout Fishcake: Poached sea trout fishcake, gribiche emulsion, candied lemon, minted pea vinaigrette

Allan Scott Family Winemakers Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough – New Zealand (2013)

The Parc Hotel 130 years anniversary dinner. 23.10.14 ©Steve Pope-FOTOWALES

James Sommerin presents

Restaurant James Sommerin

1970’s The retro years

Loin of venison faggot: Loin of venison, faggot, roasted cauliflower Perl Las and pear.

Featuring on the Restaurant James Sommerin autumn menu

Domaine du Seuil Cadillac Cotes de Bordeaux, Bordeaux – France (2010)

The Parc Hotel 130 years anniversary dinner. 23.10.14 ©Steve Pope-FOTOWALES 

1980’s Welsh cheese leads

Welsh Cheese course: Baked Golden Cenarth, Haford cheese muffin and apple terrine

Warwick Estate White Lady Chardonnay, Stellenbosch – South Africa (2011)


1980’s -1990’s Childhood memories

Bubblegum pannacotta: James Sommerin’s infamous bubblegum pannacotta, classic trifle with a twist

Concha Y Toro Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 37.5cl, Maule Valley – Chile (2011)

6th Course - Bubblegum pannacotta

There were some hits and some misses for me on the menu, but that was simply a matter of personal taste: I’m not a fan of offal, so didn’t enjoy the tongue in the first course or the venison faggot – but on the other hand thoroughly enjoyed the pave of beef and the loin of venison that accompanied the respective dishes offal items.

My favourite dishes, though, were the sea trout fish cake (and I loved the paired wine with this one as I do enjoy a really good New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, despite its ubiquity in recent years!) and the Welsh cheese course. I love Golden Cenarth (so much so that I’ve blogged about it before!) and the way it was served was very innovative. Similarly creative was James Sommerin’s final dish, the bubblegum pannacotta, which was served with trifle and candy floss and really did taste exactly like hubba bubba chewing gum!

If these dishes are anything to go by, the Parc Thistle’s restaurant is definitely on the up again with Ian Inman at the helm. It was a fantastic evening and a fitting celebration for a hotel with so much style and heritage, and I’m looking forward to visiting again in a couple of weeks’ time to try their Sunday lunch.

I was invited to the 130th anniversary celebration at the Parc Thistle as a guest and my ticket, meal and drinks were complementary. Photographs are all courtesy of the Parc Thistle.

5 responses to “A special birthday – Restaurant Review: The Social, Parc Thistle Hotel, Cardiff

  1. I recently ate at Restaurant James Sommerin and can highly recommended it. Looks like the Park Thistle is worth a try!

  2. Pingback: Sunday in the City – Restaurant review: Sunday lunch at The Social, Parc Thistle, Cardiff | Love to Dine·

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