James Sommerin opens first restaurant at Beachcliff with Michelin star ambitions

By Luke Nicholls

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Michelin star, Michelin guide, Michelin

James Sommerin is keen to emulate the Michelin star success he had at the Crown at Whitebrook
James Sommerin is keen to emulate the Michelin star success he had at the Crown at Whitebrook
James Sommerin, former head chef of the Michelin-starred Crown at Whitebrook in South East Wales, is set to open his first solo venture within Penarth’s multi-million-pound Beachcliff development this autumn.

Restaurant James Sommerin is planned to open in October following a £400,000 refurbishment of a 3,500 sq.ft site set within the ground floor of the historic Edwardian building on Penarth Espalanade. It will offer up to 70 covers with a private dining room seating an additional 12, along with a chef’s table.

Having held a Michelin star for seven years at the now-closed Crown at Whitebrook, Sommerin said he ‘hopes to get Michelin recognition at Beachcliff as soon as possible’.

“The Michelin star was a massive benefit for me previously,” the chef told BigHospitality. “It brings financial benefits and does help you stand out from the crowd.

“People will be looking for me to get a another star here and hopefully I can live up to that reputation. I’m not hell-bent on getting a Michlin star,  it won’t be the ultimate drive, I mainly just want to make a name for myself in this area.”

On the menu

Sommerin is still undecided as to the menus that will be on offer, but prices are expected to start at around £45 a head. The service will be relaxed and comfortable, with an element of formality to it.

The restaurant’s décor will reflect the comfortable style of service, with materials used including Welsh slate and locally-sourced woods. There will be a large window into the kitchen allowing diners to watch Sommerin create his dishes.

Food will be modern British, made with local and seasonal ingredients – but the Caerleon-born chef said the focus, as always, will be on the quality of the dishes.

“I’ve always championed local, seasonal ingredients where possible,” he added. “Quality is paramount - sometimes locality and quality can get a bit misconstrued. It’s pointless using something from just around the corner if it’s not a particularly brilliant item.

“I’m not reinventing the wheel, I’m doing what I’m used to doing normally and my style won’t be changing at all. If anything there will just be more of a focus on what I’ve done in the past, but it will be more about ‘the James Sommerin experience’ - so I’ll be trying to give off a bit of my personality.”

Expensive townhouses

Beachcliff's luxury seafront homes offer views across the Bristol Channel

Originally built in 1904, the £6m Beachcliff development now includes a range of luxury, bespoke townhouses - with a price tag of around £1.4m each - along with a gym and the new restaurant. The area has been designed by Cardiff-based John Wotton Architects, who were appointed by South Wales developer Richard Hayward and his wife, Karen Athay.

Hayward said: “We are thrilled that James will be opening his exciting new venture at Beachcliff. Wales has some of the UK’s finest food producers and we really wanted a restaurant that would showcase their wonderful produce.

“We have always been passionate about food and once we had met James – and tried some of his work - we knew he was the perfect fit for the project.”

The Crown at Whitebrook closed on 6 March, reportedly due to poor trading.

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