Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Sosban Scales New Heights...

It's fair to say that when it comes to Swansea, Gower, and Llanelli i.e. the current Taste Swansea catchment area, high-end dining is falling way behind the likes of the capital, Cardiff. Indeed, the best Swansea can muster is one or two eateries at high-end and a few restaurants whom are on the cusp of high-end, and only one gastro-pub with an AA Rosette. With the closure of Fairyhill as a day to day restaurant, the numbers are dwindling ever more. 

Many readers will be familiar with what was originally a bistro style restaurant Sosban, but with the introduction of a very dedicated new Executive Chef at the helm since February 2017, things have changed....and in my opinion, for the better! Executive Chef Andrew Sheridan, a Liverpudlian has ventured across the Welsh border to transform the food at Sosban, and breath a new freshness into the kitchen. With his team starting at 5.30 a.m. and Andrew himself in at 6.30 a.m. true dedication and ambition abounds. Indeed, if they aren't in so early then they are out in all weathers foraging for your food, in the woods, on the beaches, in amongst the rocks to bring you some of the freshest ingredients you are ever likely to taste. And what's more, such is the dedication of the Executive Chef that he personally oversees every single plate that leaves the kitchen!

Right now Sosban, understandably, have their Christmas menus in situ, and with the main menu changing regularly (usually every fortnight) you can always ensure that there will be something on the list to surprise your taste buds. As for my visit, I went for the Six Course Tasting Menu which gave me a really good insight into the overall standard of fayre, spread over a variety of very different, but festive, dishes. What I should emphasise is that the philosophy of Executive Chef Andrew's cooking is to naturally use fresh local ingredients but to also cook British classics with the flavours of those classics but in a creative and surprising way, so the Christmas menu tasted very much of Christmas flavours but not as I have ever before sampled.

Course One (no photo) Spicy Brioche with Home-made Brandy Butter and Dried Oranges. 
At first glance the uninitiated may think upon visual interpretation “What on earth is this that they are serving me?” But rest assured it's a very clever opener for a Christmas meal. Christmas spices coupled with the Brandy butter and the dried orange flakes worked really well together. And as an 'opener' they certainly didn't skimp on the portion control! 

Course Two (photo below) Potato Foam, Pumpkin Ice-cream and Pumpkin seeds
This was a 'Wow!' combination, and probably the most surprising of the six dishes – by the way, I purposely didn't study the menu in advance of the meal preferring my taste buds to wallow in whatever came my way – and of course akin to the pumpkin and potato soups etc that conventional Christmas sees each year. The pumpkin seeds were slightly roasted and gave a great crunchy texture against the smooth and delectable pumpkin ice-cream and the light frothy potato foam. If the meal had finished there and then I'd have been very comfortably content!

Course Three (photo below) Prawn Cocktail, Apple Curd and Prawn Crisps
My first and immediate impression was 'de-constructed prawn cocktail' and no matter how you approached it this dish was indeed a prawn cocktail. But here's the rub, King prawns to boot, delicate green and red tomatoes, an excellent Marie Rose sauce, delicious apple curd (very well executed) and in-house 'real' prawn crackers made entirely from scratch by the team in the kitchen specifically for this dish. So much nicer than the usual prawn crackers from any takeaway Chinese.

Three down, three to go...

Course Four (photo below) Stuffed Turkey Breast, Smoked Bacon Cheek (Pigs Cheek) and Cranberry Gel
A well thought out and executed dish with great Christmassy flavours in abundance, through the turkey, cranberry gel (made in-house), bread sauce, roast potatoes, a stuffing parcel and winter veg. But for me the pièce de résistance was the pig's cheek! I've consumed many of these delicacies in Spain over the years and I have to say, this just melted in one's mouth bringing a different dimension to the 'festive' plate. Bravo!

Course Five (no photo) Baked Alaska Winter Raspberry Sorbet 
Ok, my first of two dining confessions of the day. I forgot to take a photo of this dish as I was too busy talking to my fellow diner and by now the Chef. (During the first course I deliberately decided not to photo in consideration of other diners but as time went on I wanted to keep a record of at least three dishes, and I was clearly distracted by interesting conversation during the dessert). What I can recall is consuming a raspberry pink Christmas tree of meringue which housed raspberry sorbet and crushed pistachio. There. All the colours of Christmas and a great way to polish off my meal. 

Course Six (no photo) Chocolate Orange, Orange Sherbet, and Chocolate Sorbet 
This takes me to my second dining confession for the day in question. Unfortunately I had run out of time, and had to take a relative to a medical appointment so the Chocolate Orange, a classic reminder of most people's Christmas stuffing in front of the TV, had to go by the least for now.

Service - I can't let this post go without mentioning the service. If any restaurateur wants to know how to attend to customers and offer excellence in customer service, then visit Sosban, as it has it absolutely right - both the Restaurant Manager and the Maître d' were supreme. Something I can't say very often at other establishments. 

Despite only sampling five of the six dishes, I can happily say that I didn't leave feeling hungry one bit. Indeed, quite the opposite. It's pretty clear to me that not only have things changed in the kitchen at Sosban, but the owners are very serious about turning this dining establishment into a high-end venue. And why not. Their preferred target market has to be those that appreciate great food and I know only too well from experience that those people travel for such and are prepared to pay good money. And long may high-end dining thrive! This was, without doubt an excellent dining experience, and I wish the team well in the future. I know I'll be back to sample their main menu too after Christmas once my waist-line has recovered from the festive bludgeoning! Highly recommended.

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