Restaurant of the year - The Fig Tree
For the last decade, the very best in Welsh food and drink has been celebrated in the annual Wales the True Taste Food & Drink Awards. The Restaurant of the Year for 2012 - 2013 is The Fig Tree in Penarth.
Mike Caplan-Hill and Sandie Guppy opened the Fig Tree in 2009 as a place where locals and tourists alike could enjoy simple cooking with fresh, local and seasonal produce, while enjoying the spectacular seafront location.
Mike’s culinary background is about as varied as it gets – he has worked as a waiter and chef at many top restaurants, taught budding chefs at catering college, set up farmers’ markets and food festivals and promoted the finest Welsh produce to chefs and restaurateurs in London. Mike worked with Rick Stein on his 'Food Heroes' series, introducing him to several Welsh 'Heroes' but has now turned his attention to his first restaurant.
A chef making pasta at The Fig Tree in Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan
The menu changes regularly but you can often choose from starters like fresh Pembrokeshire mussels steamed in white wine and shallots, and finished with fresh parsley or, as you might expect, a fresh fig tart with Perl Las blue cheese, baked in walnut pastry and served with dressed leaves. Favourite main courses include belly of free range Welsh pork, slow-roasted until crisp and served with roasted new potatoes, cherry tomatoes and green beans with wild garlic and basil pesto; or select the ‘Fish of The Day’, gently pan fried and served with marsh samphire on a leek and potato broth.
For dessert, you can find a selection of locally made ice cream or go for the Welsh Farmhouse Cheeseboard that can include Preseli, Gorwydd Caerphilly, Hafod & Perl Las cheeses with homemade chutney, celery and biscuits.
“We wanted to create a place where people can come and relax and order food to match their mood,” said Sandie, who hails from Penarth. “We try to source ingredients locally wherever we can and strive for an inclusive experience where families and vegetarians all feel welcome.”