With Môr’s new inclusion in the 2022 Good Food Guide, this is a good a time as any to remedy a longstanding oversight and pay a visit.
‘We are an independent restaurant serving the very best local produce from sea and soil’, they say. That menu changes frequently- they are still printing today’s when we arrive- but some things are a constant: local produce and eclectic influences. They list their suppliers: it’s a rollcall of prestige local names from here in Mumbles to North Pembrokeshire. Those influences range far and wide, with recent examples checking off Thai, Korean, Keralan and Japanese elements and more. There is dukkah and dashi, sambal and Sichuan pepper, thoran and kimchi.
And yet, it all feels essentially Welsh.
They bring us butter, subtly spun through with laverbread, gratis. Not a ‘bread course’. Not four extra quid on the bill: just because. A red curry oyster is a good idea on paper- after all, we are just moments from the sea in a restaurant which bears that name- though it would be easy for those flavours to obliterate the subtle sweetness of the shellfish. I needn’t have worried: it’s a lovely thing, the sweetness of that buxom, briny flesh complimented but never overwhelmed by the spicing.
There’s a generously loaded skewer of little pork collar nuggets, sticky with a tangy-sweet fish sauce and tamarind glaze- effectively a kind of savoury caramel, and another encouraging sign.
It’s very good: the next plate is even better. A char-striped-and-spotted flatbread is the base for a lavish swirl of smoked cod roe, whipped with olive oil, lemon and milk into a frenzy of voluptuous satin texture and bold flavour. Inside, a tare cured yolk nestles, just waiting to break and ooze. Add the snap of pink pickled onions and you’ve got something instantly compelling, instantly gorgeous.
It’s a lovely thing, the sort of plate which makes you feel smug for ordering. Except… I hadn’t. My guest had. Thankfully, I choose only to eat with people who tolerate me filching their food- with good grace, usually- and today’s company is immaculate in that respect, as in so many others.
A hulking pork chop, thumb-thick and juicy, is laced with massamam sauce and little liquorice hits from crisped Thai basil leaves. A crisp, bronzed potato rosti tops it all off. It’s all very impressively done and heartily proportioned, and an apt reminder that the Welsh ‘Môr’ carries figurative connotations, too: of plenty, abundance. That appeals to the cunning linguist in me.
I have the fish- well, you would, wouldn’t you? Sea bass is expertly cooked, its skin bronzed, crisp and taut and the flesh nudging away. Speckled with capers and lemon and brown butter, this isn’t radical innovation. It’s a combination you’ve had before. But why overelaborate when the fish was landed just that morning from a local boat?
Lunch at Môr is, of course, very much worth the trip from anywhere in South Wales. You could pull off an enviable one-two by combining this with a later dinner at the Michelin-starred The Beach House for even more seaside shenanigans.
There’s an understated poise here, a simple elegance. Service is polished but warm- our server changes to Welsh for a nearby table- and an obvious commitment to getting things spot on. The deep blue and gold of the frontage reminds me of Bristol favourite Caper and Cure but it’s more than just colour schemes: it’s that confidence to put good produce on the plate, play with eclectic global influences but avoid messing around with things too much. (It comes as no surprise to learn that they are firm fans of Môr, and know each other well).
Afterwards, I wonder: is this a template for precisely what local restaurants in Wales could and should be? If Welsh kitchens aren’t going to pay the bills by serving traditional Welsh dishes- and many of them would be hard to ‘restaurantify’- then making the best of the country’s enviable larder, while being open to world influences, signposts a way forward.
All this, with a glass each of Douro and Albariño, including service charge, comes in at £87.75. That feels like time and money very well spent. Throughout, the background music is a series of lounge jazz covers. Most pass me by unnoticed, until a version of Radiohead’s ‘Creep’. (And yes, I know you can tell where I’m going with this.) There’s something quietly seductive about what they do here: Môr is absolutely charming and yes, as the song goes, so very special.
Môr Mumbles, 620 Mumbles Rd, Mumbles, Swansea SA3 4EA
Monday – Wednesday
Thursday – Saturday
Lunch: 12:30 – 15:00
Dinner: 17:30 – 23:00
12:30 – 18:00
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This blog is a very simple thing.
I won’t try to sell you any hand lotion, exercise programmes, coffee syrups or Patagonian nose flutes. You won’t find tips on dating, ‘wellness’ or yoga mats.
I write because I love it (and food, as indicated by my increasing girth). Greed happens to be my Deadly Sin of choice, but at least it is never shy of providing me with subject matter.
A simple thing, then: all you get is me wittering on semi-coherently about places I’ve eaten at; hence a ‘restaurant blog’ rather than a ‘food blog’, although there are a few recipes scattered throughout.
From mezze to Michelin ‘fine dining’ and all points in between.