0.5 miles
Newport, NP18 1HQ

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Thu, 08/04/2016 - 15:08 -- Administrator
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MasterChef 2013 finalist Larkin Cen joined forces with Celtic Manor in 2016, and demonstrates his culinary talent at this much-loved fixture within the five-star resort. Cen is the Chinese word for innovation and forward thinking, which is exactly what’s promised at this busy restaurant. We took a trip to Newport for dinner to see for ourselves.

Cen is located in the original manor house, in a large conservatory with wooden shutters and pared-back interior, letting the food take centre stage. At the sumptuous cocktail bar, where Chesterfield sofas and calming music greeted us, Asian-inspired cocktails were a welcome sight, perfect for the end of a busy day. My choice of Geisha’s Lychee Martini was a floral blend of sake, lychee, pomegranate and refreshing lime. As our attentive waitress guided us to the dining room, hushed chatter, burning incense and tinkling tunes set the tone for a relaxed feast.

Fellow diners were praising their starters, and as soon as ours arrived, we knew what the fuss was all about. My partner’s salt and pepper chilli squid featured classic Asian flavours of chilli, lime and spring onions, and was accompanied by an Asian green salad. A bite into the light, crisp batter of my spring rolls revealed carrot, celeriac and edamame beans inside. They arrived standing proud and surrounded by crunchy cabbage.

For mains, pak choi was hidden beneath my soft seared salmon; the light flavours of the tamarind and coconut curry sauce balanced the accompanying sharp fennel, orange and coriander salad. After much deliberating, my partner tucked into Malaysian lamb shank and Asian greens topped with shaved coconut. The meat fell off the bone and was beautifully tender.

They say the proof is in the pudding, and my iced chocolate parfait was just the ticket. Enhanced by sharp raspberry sorbet and topped with shards of salted caramel and dark chocolate, it was an utterly delicious treat. A creamy panna cotta was taken to the next level with cardamom, strawberry soup and delicate pieces of meringue.

The team whizzed around the restaurant, quietly topping up glasses and swiftly clearing tables – it was effortless from start to finish.

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