Last night we had a truly exceptional meal at a restaurant I’d not heard of until a two days prior. We booked a table at Y Bwyty Bach in Crickhowell the day before, and by the time we’d had the first two dishes, we were already discussing how soon we’d be going back!
Run by chef Connor Turner, Y Bwyty Bach (which translates into English as “the small restaurant”) is housed in the upstairs barn of the historical Tretower Court and Castle site, a space that was converted especially for Turner’s restaurant, which launched in June this year. The site (known as Tretŵr in Welsh) is run by Cadw, the Welsh government organisation dedicated to preserving historical sites in Wales and opening them to the public – we have been members since moving to Wales in 2019. Turner applied to Cadw to run the new restaurant space and we’re very glad he was successful!
At 26 years old, Connor Turner already has 10 years’ experience as a chef, and has worked at top Welsh restaurants including Whitebrook, Walnut Tree, and Heaneys. He also won two AA rosettes as head chef for Three Horseshoes pub in Groesfford, as well as best pub of the year. Having grown up in the area, taking on the restaurant at Tretower is the perfect fit, and he was able to work with Cadw on the conversion of the barn space to ensure that the restaurant and kitchen designs met his needs and vision. Since the launch, Turner’s been supported in front of house by his good friend Daf Andrews, who has extensive experience in restaurant launches and operations.
Guests have two options in ordering from the menu; they can opt for the 5-course tasting menu for £50 per person (the dishes for which are marked with an asterisk) or they can order á la carte. We were advised that 3-4 dishes per person would be about right, and with only 10 dishes on the menu (one of which was bread, two were side vegetables and one was petits fours) we decided to go all in and ordered one of every dish on the menu and share everything.
Also on the menu were listed a handful of aperitif and digestif cocktails. I was intrigued by the mention of watermelon liqueur in the Granny spritz apple (£11.5), asked to see the bottle and was discombobulated to discover they meant Midori, a favourite of mine – I drank one of my university’s bars dry of the stuff, twice even though I was only person who ever asked for it – but Midori is a muskmelon liqueur not a watermelon one; muskmelons include varieties like honeydew and cantaloupe. In any case, it was sweet yet refreshing.
The drinks menu offers a nice selection of wines (starting at £33 a bottle), beers, ciders and soft drinks. There are a couple of regional beers, but no local wines listed as yet.
Treacle bread, seaweed butter (£5.5) is served warm and is everything you want from restaurant bread – fluffy, full of flavour (with that lovely hint of treacle), with a crunchy pumpkin seeds coat, and warm enough to melt generously slathered seaweed butter.
It’s when the first course proper arrives that we start sighing with satisfaction. Cod, masala emulsion, sea herbs (£13) is a beautifully cooked piece of fish in a satin puddle of sauce that has just the right kick of spice. On top, a generous dollop of caviar, sea herbs and a tiny slice of pickled radish. We narrowly resist licking the plate!
Our mains came out next and this is when we started discussing our next visit. Duck, carrot, coq au vin (£17) was a generous slab of duck over an outrageously rich coq au vin reduction (full of shallots, lardons and mushrooms), garnished with a quenelle of smooth, buttery carrot purée. Duck was the perfect choice for this dish, able to hold its own against the punch-in-the-face sauce – why have we never thought to use the classic coq au vin recipe with duck before?
And the Lamb loin, belly, courgettes, feta, black garlic (£18) was just as glorious. The loin was a perfect pink with the thinnest of crisp skins along the cap of fat. With it came a wibbly-wobbly cube of oleaginous lamb belly – my arteries were grateful for its tiny size, delicious though it was! These ovine treats are served with a rich, thick, glossy gravy, a smoother-than-silk quenelle of courgette puree, and a fabulous blob of sweet black garlic ketchup. The courgette and feta are almost superfluous given the courgette side dish, but bring a welcome lightness to the dish as a whole.
The two sides were perfect to share. Whilst the Chive and truffle potato puree (£4) may have looked a little small to split between two, it was redolent with butter and truffles, and a little went a long way. The Roasted courgettes, goat’s curd (£7) was a larger serving, and we loved the combination of roasted green and yellow courgettes, whipped goats cheese, herbs and a parsley oil generously doused over the lot.
By the time the cheese course came, we were starting to wonder if we had space for the three sweets to follow but we put on our game faces and carried on eating! Tunworth, sourdough crumpet, truffle honey (£9) was yet another winner. A generous pile of one of our favourite bloomy rind cheeses arrived melted over a thick brown crumpet and served with a pureed date chutney. Drizzled over the lot, plenty of truffled honey added a heady aroma and flavour.
Baked yoghurt, pink peppercorn, blackberries (£8.5) was served with mint ice cream that was a highlight of the dish, along with the sugar pink peppercorn tuile, and the sweetness of both balanced well against tangy yoghurt and sharp blackberry sauce.
Well hello, Chocolate, dulce de leche, hazelnut, buttermilk ice cream (£8.5)! Wonderfully intense chocolate mousse was almost completely covered by buttermilk ice cream, dribbles of dulce de leche, shavings of hazelnut, a dark chocolate crisp and large shards of dehydrated sweetened milk foam. Worth saving space for!
To end the meal, petits fours of Caramelised white chocolate fudge (£0) and blow-torched marshmallows (with appropriately gooey, melted insides) were the perfect foil to a strong cafe latte (£3.50). I won’t lie, I was already fit to burst and Pete did most of the heavy lifting for these last sweet morsels.
Our bill for this feast came to £105.50 (of which £90.50 was food), plus service. Incredible value for cooking of this calibre, and the number of dishes we enjoyed. An imminent follow-up visit is in already the offing!
This post was commissioned by openTable. The meal was booked and paid for by us as a normal, personal visit to the restaurant, and the review content is fully independent.