1176 – Fine Dining in Cardigan

There has been much chatter locally about the new restaurant, 1176, we went along to see what all the fuss was about were far from disappointed.

We are all aware that over recent years Cardigan Castle has seen many changes, the ugly metal supports have been removed from the castle walls, with the castle being restored to it’s former glory, with the grounds once again beautifully manicured and now hosting a variety of popular outdoor events. Visitors can even now stay in luxury holiday accommodation situated within the castle grounds. But lets not forget the beautifully positioned restaurant, 1176, overlooking the river Teifi, named after the year that Lord Rhys hosted Wales’ first Eisteddfod.

It’s contemporary slate and floor-to-ceiling glass design and panoramic views that perfectly capture the setting sun over the River Teifi, now offer exceptional evening meals. We’d finally booked a table and were very much looking forward to seeing what 1176 had to offer.

Initially 1176 was only open during the day, to visitors and locals alike, but in recent months it’s opened it’s doors on Friday & Saturday evenings.

The restaurant also offers a sun terrace to enjoy some alfresco dining, however, when we visited in early April, Cardigan had not yet been blessed with the summers sun, so instead we were seated behind the panoramic glass windows overlooking the High Street and the river. Don’t be disappointed if these tables are occupied on your visit as the view from the tables on the far side of the restaurant are just as delightful, overlooking the castle’s grounds.

Soaking up the heat of the setting sun, we studied our menu that local well-known Chef Tom Holden had created. An excellent selection of dishes over 4 courses to cover a variety of tastes for just £27.50.

Tom Holden, is the mastermind behind Holden’s Catering and took over the restaurant in early 2018. He is passionate about providing the best and I’m delighted he has launched his new fine dining experience here in Cardigan Castle. Having grown up on an organic farm in Lampeter, he clearly has the excellent skill of creating inspirational menus with locally sourced ingredients, many from within the castle kitchen garden.

I’m always of the opinion that a good, but small selection of dishes, expertly prepared with time and consideration, is a far better than a vast menu of many dishes which often lead to a chaotic kitchen, rushed presentation and sadly, poor results.

Not tonight. The food proved to be not only mouth-wateringly good, but also exquisitely presented and beautifully garnished with delicate edible flowers.

I went for the Prawn Tempura with Chilli Jam to start, with my partner opting for the Duck & Black Pudding Bon Bon.

The prawns were firm and meaty, covered in a light crisp batter with the chilli jam giving it just the punch it needed to excite the dish further, finished with a delicate hint of lime.

The Duck Bon Bon, dark moist and very flavoursome, served with a thick puddle of black pudding sauce, was the perfect companion to the rich flavours of the meat.

To follow we were served with a refreshing prosseco sorbet, cleansing the pallet. “This is good, really good” whispers my campanion across the table and I have to agree.

Onto the main event and my partner, being the meat lover, was thrilled to see beef on the menu, not steak, which is his regular meal of choice but a 5 Week Aged Fillet of Beef, Dauphinoise Potatoes, Mushroom Duxelle and Port Jus.

Again beautifully presented, I sat and watched his face light up as his knife melted through the tender chunks of meat that lay before him. Not one to be easily satisfied, I could tell by his silence that in his eyes, this was a showstopper!

Whilst I left him to devour his man meal, I opted for the lighter, Fillet of Sea Bass, Caper Butter & Leeks. Well seasoned and simply delicious, with the firm fish offering the taste of the sea, served with Caper butter and Leeks, the perfect pairing.

We opted for the artisan cheeses to finish. However for those who have a sweet tooth, perhaps you’d enjoy the Dark Chocolate and Orange Mouse, or the sharpness of the Lemon Meringue.

A selection of 4 local cheeses, 3 soft and one hard with what looked like hand cut crackers and fig chutney were presented on a wooden board. Feeling posh, we also ordered a glass of port each to finish off our delightful meal.

If I had one criticism to make, it would be that, I would have liked some fruit with the cheeseboard, perhaps some sliced apple, grapes or celery, but that’s just my personal preference and me being picky, as overall it was hard to fault the meal itself in any way!

The service was organised, attentive & discreet, with Chef Tom Holden even making an appearance in the restaurant to chat with some diners.

The restaurant is open on Friday and Saturday evenings and on the night we visited was full, so I’d recommend booking.

We enjoyed a superb meal and will definitely be returning.

To book a table call 01239 562002

Reviewed by Sam Jones
Your Local Crowd