Fancy somewhere a bit different for a spot of lunch? Our lovely resident foodie Verity Ockenden reviews some hidden local gems. This week, she dined at The Favourite and here’s her verdict…
Having aimed at and missed brunch as our main meal of the morning, my guest and I were getting increasingly hungry as we roamed first the streets of Uplands and then Brynmill in search of good food. The Gower Kitchen was enticing but too pricey (£4.50 for eggs on toast?) and Verve 37’s menu was nothing I couldn’t have cooked at home. So onward we traipsed. Luckily, we came across a little place we had noticed in passing the night before. An inconspicuous cafe by day and brimming restaurant by night, I hadn’t really noticed them at first due to their rather dull signage and clichéd name of ‘The Favourite’. Look inside however and you will find a quirky and authentic Chinese hideaway. The lighting is set off by wooden baskets hanging from the ceiling, with nautical charts papering the counter and subtly painted benches creating a relaxing atmosphere.
To start with we ordered jasmine tea, as mesmerisingly golden and perfumed as ever and served in the most delicate of blue and white traditional porcelain vessels called ‘Gaiwan’. We also sampled the chrysanthemum infused tea which had a slightly more bitter taste and came in a tall glass with the flowers floating romantically throughout. From £1.00 to £1.20 a pop, this was a steal.
Some of the dishes we requested were unavailable as they had sold out the night before and being made from scratch were not ready in time for us early lunchers. Fish is also only available on a pre-order basis as they buy it in fresh according to demand. I for one don’t mind these slight inconveniences if they are in the name of quality and ethics, particularly coming from such a small new company, and the dishes that we chose instead more than made up for our disappointment.
A partiality of mine, the Beijing roast duck with Chinese pancakes was cooked to perfection, with the hoi sin sauce evidently having been made on site to an authentic recipe less sweet and more salty than usual. The Kung Pao chicken was of an equally high quality (all their meats are sourced from local farms or markets), diced, stir-fried and mixed with vegetables and peanuts, it was nicely spicy and the charmingly irregular traditional Beijing noodles we ordered complemented it perfectly to create a filling meal.
The Favourite also serve full welsh breakfasts and a range of snacks. On my first visit I sampled the sweet steamed Bean Paste Dumplings which were a delicious way of mopping up any excess sauce. Unable to resist temptation, I returned there with another friend one morning for more tea and a traditional Chinese meat pie. Somewhat inconsistently our tea did not arrive with a pot this time; however we were offered refills of hot water instead. The meat pies were generous as a mere ‘snack’ and we both enjoyed the unconventional filling of pork, chives, eggs and shrimps but found the pancake-like pastry rather a strange texture. Another thing to be aware of is that they don’t take cards like a few of the smaller businesses in Swansea. Despite this, I would highly recommend going to The Favourite for either a revitalizing tea break mid-morning or a full blown immersion into the delicacies of northern Chinese cuisine of an evening. They offer a fresh and healthy take on the type of Chinese food that most British students are used to, with something to suit everyone’s tastes on the menu and friendly staff on hand to boot if you really can’t decide what to have.
by Verity Ockenden
The Favourite Cafe & Restaurant are open Monday to Saturday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Sunday 12 p.m. – 7 p.m. Prices range from £1 – £7 per dish and a take-away delivery service is available.
Tel: 01792 515230 Address: 87 Brynymor Road, Swansea, SA1 4JE