Tom Hine has taken over the reins at Coast Saundersfoot and introduced a fish-focused menu to reflect the restaurant’s seafront location. Katherine Price checks it out
Tom Hine is keen to build on Coast’s reputation, having taken over as head chef at the Pembrokeshire restaurant in October last year. He replaced Will Holland, who left to join the Atlantic hotel in Jersey after winning the venue two AA rosettes and AA Restaurant of the Year in Wales 2015-2016.
“Saundersfoot got a stand-out restaurant thanks to Will and all the work he did here for the past three years,” he says. But Hine is confident his new fish-focused approach has now won over the locals. “It’s about maintaining that reputation and seeing if we can build on it. At first we had mixed opinion, but we’ve managed to keep everyone coming back.”
The new menus have been inspired by the 60-cover restaurant’s location, overlooking Coppet Hall beach. “You can’t have a restaurant in this location and serve 50/50 meat and fish,” he says.
“At the beginning I wanted to do all fish, no meat, but you have to cater for the needs of the business. There are a lot of meat eaters around here who don’t eat fish. The choice is somewhat limited, but they certainly don’t go away unhappy because the two meat options we have on the menu are the best produce we can get in the area.”
Hine sources his meat from Eynon’s of St Clears in Carmarthenshire, while fish comes from Cornwall and Devon through Flying Fish Seafoods, a well-trusted supplier he has used for many years. Vegetables come from Jones & Davies in Ceredigion, supplemented by produce grown in the gardens at the Grove of Narberth hotel nearby.
Coast is owned by Neil and Zoe Kedward, who opened the restaurant in April 2014. They also own the Grove of Narberth and the Beach House restaurant at Oxwich Beach on the Gower Peninsula.
Hine was born in Padstow, Cornwall, into a family of fishermen and started his career at Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant in the town. Although he spent six years in Devon working under Michael Caines, initially at Gidleigh Park and then as executive head chef at Lympstone Manor, he says it was his experience with Stein that influences his cooking, while he learned his business acumen from Caines.
After removing the tasting menus previously offered, Hine is now promoting the venue as a more informal à la carte restaurant, which has seen average spend increase by approximately £10 per person. The main menu comprises six snack, starter, main and dessert options, with a vegan/vegetarian alternative menu. A three-course set lunch menu is available for £28.
Rather than trendy turbot or bass, Hine prefers to make the more affordable or “underrated” fish like hake taste top-end. He salts and cures the fish for four hours before poaching it at 55°C for 45 minutes in a water bath. He serves it with a fricassee of iceberg lettuce, spider crab and orange segments, as well as a deep-fried quenelle of pea purée.
The business is conscious about offering value, with few restaurants at a similar price point in the area. Hine recognises that for some locals, Coast is reserved for a special occasion or as a treat, but it is hoped they are willing to pay for a unique experience. And for those who are put off by the price, or the beach dog walkers who simply want a coffee, there is the kiosk café beneath the restaurant, also owned by the Kedwards.
One of the best sellers at the restaurant is a sea bream starter, a dish Hine “threw together” for the job trial. He salts a Cornish black bream for 20 minutes and blowtorches the skin until black, serving it on top of fresh cucumber and apple. Also on the plate are Cornish oysters deep-fried in panko breadcrumbs and paired with cider vinegar-pickled shallots, accommpanied by a miso mayonnaise made with egg yolks, miso paste, olive oil, fish sauce and lime juice.
Although the menus still change regularly, Hine’s priority now is consistency and continuing to develop the venue’s reputation both locally and nationally as a destination restaurant. But he won’t be putting meat back on the menu: “If I had my own place, and hopefully one day I will, it would be all fish, no meat.”
From the menu
Sea bream, cider shallots, miso emulsion, crispy oyster £12
Crab, smoked haddock, gem lettuce, pink grapefruit, radish salad £15
Loch Duart salmon, avocado, pickled turnip, citrus vinaigrette £13
Hake, peas, lettuce, spider crab, shellfish sauce £24
Halibut, wild garlic, truffle potato, pancetta, chicken jus £29
Salt-aged fillet, mushroom, short rib, cheesemaker salad £32
Vanilla panna cotta, poached rhubarb, rhubarb sorbet £9
Dark chocolate, chocolate soil, cassis sorbet £9
Coppet Hall Beach Centre, Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire SA69 9AJ