Do you ever get hangry? I do, especially 8 miles into a day of walking in the sunshine when it’s way past lunchtime and you’re craving a crisp glass of wine in front of an amazing view. As we staggered round yet another bit of headland on the Wales Coast Path on the Gower Coast, I would’ve probably been happy with anything – Wetherspoons, Maccy Ds, a snack shack on the beach.
Lucky for me, rather than the golden arches we were greeted with the sight of Langland’s Brasserie, complete with beachfront location, glass frontage and extensive terrace. And a booze license. Winner. The brasserie overlooks Langland Bay, just round the corner from the Mumbles, and is maximising its location to make sure it caters for pretty much everyone who stumbles upon it. Long lunches, dinners, coffee and cake, a few cheeky drinks. You can pretty much do it all.
The views, obviously, are fabulous and the terrace is divided into half – one side dog-friendly and the other not. A simple and effective way of making those who bring their pooch with them feel welcome whilst allowing those who can’t stand the smell of wet dog and the feeling of eyes boring into you as you eat a bit of dog-free peace.
You order at the counter just inside the front door which can cause a slight issue on busy days as waiting staff try to battle through the queue of people to carry food out, but I can understand why they’ve opted to use this system. It also means while you’re queuing you have no choice but to stare at the cake chiller, which in itself is a sight for sore eyes.
The main menu, as you’d expect, is fairly fish heavy, but there’s a healthy choice of salads and sandwiches, burgers, meat options and a veggie menu as well as separate breakfast and brunch menus. There’s also a strong effort to use Welsh ingredients, from Welsh lavender honey to Pantysgawn cheese.
Since seafood is their speciality and it seems the definition of sacrilege to order anything other than this when so close to the sea, we both opted for something fishy. For Mr M the seafood scialatielli. Scialatielli is a thick, short linguine-like pasta from Italy’s Amalfi coast – the perfect carb-heavy component for a walking interlude. But add to that a bucketload of seafood and fish, from calamari that managed to escape even a hint of rubberiness, huge mussels and chunks of tender, sweet salmon.
The whole thing was smothered in a light sauce that was somewhat reminiscent of the amazing Porthilly sauce we had at Nathan Outlaw’s restaurant. The kind that tastes like it’s the product of hours of simmering of shells and other fishy loveliness to create a bisque-like liquid that gently coats the fish and pasta with a loving caress. It was brilliantly balanced, both in flavour (sweet and salty in perfect harmony) and in consistency (thin without being watery, thick enough to coat without being cloying).
I had fancied something slightly lighter so went for sea bass with pea emulsion, grilled baby gem, quail egg, cockles and sorrel. A plate of spring personified, from the pale green pea emulsion and baby gem to the tiny quails eggs. The fish itself was well cooked with a nice crispy skin and flesh that flaked easily.
Thought had obviously gone into contrasting flavours and textures, from the slight bitterness of the charred baby gem to the creamy quail egg, lemony sorrel and crispy cockles. It all worked, and the subtle flavours complemented each other, though it just didn’t stand up to the rival scialatielli dish that I couldn’t help dipping into throughout lunch.
We washed the whole lot down with a nice bottle of white from the not-too-shabby wine list, plus a few beers for Mr M. Having queued up to order and spotted the cakes, I couldn’t leave without trying one, so we had a slice of more-than-adequate cheesecake adorned with fruit and an insanely rich chocolate concoction that left us both rather grateful that we had a hefty walk back to burn off some of our greed.
It’s quite possible that on that day, anything could have cured my hanger when we arrived in Langland Bay tired and hungry. But I’ve gone over it in my mind and I’ve come to the conclusion that hangry or not, this was a good eating experience. These guys have a bit of a captive market – they could be serving up crap sarnies and ice cream and probably still do a roaring trade if they wanted to. But instead they’re working hard to offer people decent food, the right balance between tried-and-tested favourites and dishes with a difference, and they’re doing it well.
There are a few places I’ve come across recently that don’t really seem to have the customer in mind – but more the desires of a chef seeking fame and fortune, and possibly a Michelin star. That’s certainly not the case with these guys and it was refreshing to go somewhere that seems to still have the customer first and foremost when it comes to what they do and how they do it. And that even includes us hangry buggers!
Thanks Langland’s – we’ll be back!
We paid in full for our lunch at Langland’s. They didn’t know I was a blogger.