Here you will find food ideas from restaurants, recipe ideas, festivals and daily restaurant deals worth buying

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James Sommering Discount 6 course taster menu voucher

Travelzoo have just launched a new discount for a 6 course taster menu at Penarth’s Michelin Starred James Sommerin Restauranton their website.

Set along the Penarth Promenade just a stones throw away from the sea, it’s a fantastic location with menu to match. The voucher is available for £89 for two dinners for lunch between 12-2pm from Tuesday to Sunday.

If you want to dine with friends a discount voucher for James Sommerin for 4 dinners will cost £169. It’s a surcharge of £20 each per person to dine at dinner in the evening if you can’t make it for lunch.

They’ve even got an overnight package including bed and breakfast for two for £199 if you fancy making a weekend of it in Penarth.

To buy the discount voucher for James Sommerin then visit the Travelzoo website.

Sosban and the old butchers review – Michelin Star Restaurant Anglesey

Being a frequent honorary islander on the Isle of Anglesey due to the other half being born and bred there, we’ve been slowly ticking off some of the best spots for food there over the past year and don’t ask me how many months (queue  red cheek syndrome).

We’ve been to local favourite Lobster Pot and then Marram Grass over the Christmas period but it’s our 6 month spot on the waiting list for Ynys Mon’s only Michelin Star restaurant Sosban and the old butchers we’ve been counting down the days till.

Having just missed the last round of bookings where 6 months of tables at the 12 seater restaurant are released and snapped up in the blink of an eye but we were lucky enough in October to book a table for Menai Bridge’s hottest ticket in town.

The menu is a closely guarded secret until you arrive and you are taken on a journey from sea to farm through the 9 dishes of the tasting menu, expertly crafted by a single chef in a tiny kitchen. Apart from a someone who sometimes helps with the dishes there is only one other person working at Sosban and the old butchers and that is wife of the chef and front of house, which makes it an even more of an extraordinary feat to be awarded such a highly sought after accolade of a Michelin Star.

 

Inside the restaurant at Sosban and the old butchers Anglesey

 

Located at No1 High Street in Menai Bridge in an unsuspecting mint coloured building, inside just 6 tables and whilst we dinned just 10 of us eating. They’ve kept the old tiles on the wall from when it used to be a butchers and with just a small back bar and pass where the food comes out, you have the waitress’s full attention. It’s like dinning in someone’s front living room, which immediately put me at ease being my first visit to a Michelin Star restaurant as I imagined most of them can be quite pretentious. I loved how calm and relaxed it was this side of the kitchen, although I’m not sure chef would say the same single handily serving everyone in the restaurant Thursday to Saturday.

There is just one menu and you are only told once you arrived although we opted to keep it a surprise and learn of each dish as it arrived and the cost of the tasting menu is £80 per person. It was a little hard to order a bottle of wine, our own fault opting to keep it a surprise as we didn’t know what drink would best suit the dishes. We opted for an Argentinian Malbec at a cost of £28.

The Food

We were served a couple of appetisers to keep us going until the more substantial dishes came out such as crispy cod skin, curried banana and peanut, which had a lovely crunch but instantly melted on the tongue.

Another crispy one followed with kale bomb with crispy leaves, Caesar dressing and sprinkled with pecorino cheese. Small and bite sized, well two bites as I wanted to saver it instead of going down without touching the sides. They both packed a punch for their size.

Next up was a plate expertly curated by the host and offered something to entice all of the senses. A nugget sized portion of soft tender lamb entombed in a rice crispy esque skin with a dollop of laverbread mouse. Soft, crispy, tender and moist encapsulated into a manageable bite.

In the centre of the plate lay a misty vessel waiting to be opened, which when opened released a hit of smokey juniper leaves. This was presented with a purple cube of the softest marshmallow ever to enter my mouth but with an earthy beet lingering taste.

 

soda bread and butter at sosban and the old butchers - Anglesey

 

Appetisers done with, next up was my poison. Warm, freshly baked bread with homemade butter and generous mountain of sea salt, no doubt hailing from the waters some 50 metres away. The bread was almost pudding like, fluffy and sweet with the soft rich butter and added crunch and explosions of salt with my overzealous application of sea salt. The bread would of worked equally as well with jam and clotted cream if by a miracle there had been any left.

 

asparagus yolk jam and truffle starter at sosban and the old butchers menai bridge

 

On to the starter of asparagus with yolk jam, welsh truffle and a scattering of almost toasted breadcrumb like crispy chicken skin. I do like asparagus when it’s cooked well but there’s nothing worse than a soggy one. This as expected was cooked perfectly and when transported into one’s mouth mixed with the rich toppings brought a thick emulsion of flavour when both yolk and truffley chicken skin collided.

The other half usually detests asparagus but you would have been hard pressed to have found a scrap left on her plate.

 

salt aged lamb wild garlic and sheeps yogurt at sosban and the old butchers

 

The first of two mains was a succulent, generous slice of salt aged lamb with wild garlic and little pearls of sheep’s yogurt that burst with ever so slight pressure of the fork. Normally one to devour a meat dish in seconds, I carved away slowly at my lamb to savour the taste with the helping hand from scoops of the wild garlic and the sheep’s yogurt that cut through the richness of the meat and mellow the wild garlic.

The last of my glass of the Malbec married perfectly. I didn’t inspect the bottle at first but soon learned how potent it was after the first glass and having a bit of a head on already with it being 14%. Not a bad thing though as it was very quaffable.

Not being ones to waste ingredients, next up was the cod fillet that was skinned and said skin used for the first appetiser and the perfect time to order a fresh bottle of vino, although a white to go better with the fish dish. The price on wine was quite reasonable I’d say, with options from £20 up to champagne around £120 for an extra special occasion. Glasses aren’t advertised on the menu but the waitress was willing to allow us to purchase specific bottles by the glass but we ended up going for a bottle anyway priced again at £28.

 

cod pickled onion and ox heart main course at Sosban and the old butchers Anglesey

 

The menu read Cod, yeast puree, potato, pickled onion and ox heart for this course. The cod cooked beautifully and flaked with ease on contact with my fork. I loved the battered and fried pickled onions as they reminded me of pickled onion crisps I used to have after swimming lessons down my local sports centre when I was a kid.

The dried and shaved ox heart I’d seen only the day before on the Masterchef finals when they travelled to Peru, which I was very intrigued by on the show so I was more than impressed when I got to see it in real life on my dish.

 

rhubarb and custard dessert at sosban and the old butchers

 

Having worked our way through an array of savouries, it was now on to the sweets of the tasting menu and first up was the Rhubarb and custard as outlined by the menu but it was way more than just that. With a perfect golden globe of white chocolate nestled between stewed rhubarb and puffed rice. The chocolate globe waiting to be smashed to release the vanilla pebbled custard magma core.

The really liked the contrast in textures and flavours from creamy custard, soft rhubarb with dry and crispy puffed rice and velvety white chocolate. A very dreamy plate of dessert and like none I’ve ever tried before.

 

lemon olive oil and chocolate lolly dessert at Sosban and the old butchers - Anglesey

 

Last but not least brings us to the lemon, olive oil and chocolate final dish. I thought we were having a whole chocolate log when a huge log started making it’s way to our table, but it was just the base for the lemon, olive oil and chocolate ice cream lolly. Not too disappointed I didn’t have to attack a whole log as I was pleasantly full at this point and much to my surprise as I was worried I might have to pop in a somewhere for a bag of chips on the way home.

Light lemony ice cream, subtle hints of olive oil encased in a crisp chocolate shell. A perfect end to a perfect meal. The other half is still banging on about the lolly to this day some 2 weeks later.

The Verdict

As mentioned previously this was my first encounter of Michelin Star quality food and without a peek of the menu beforehand I really didn’t know what to expect, although I was worried everything was going to be laser cut and eaten with tweezers leaving me still hungry but this was far from the truth. We had 8-9 dishes although the first few were appetisers and just bites the starters, two middle courses and two desserts certainly filled me up by the end of it as I do have a bit of an appetite.

The service was excellent and thought the front of house delivered a curated journey through each of the courses and always at hand for drinks or anything else we needed whilst sat at our table. I loved how homely it felt and relaxed for the calibre of food presented to us. The food was delicious from start to finish. I was adamant I would have a tasting menu of salmon 8 ways as it’s one of the only things I don’t like and without knowing what was on the menu, but luckily for me there was no salmon in sight. The two fish dishes we did get were spot on though.

It is still unbelievable to me how a restaurant so small with just two people working there can achieve the heights they have got to, but it just shows the hard work and determination from both chef and front of house to deliver consistently good food through the different seasons and my hats off to them.

Drinks wise there was a good choice of wines, nothing too overboard with bible thick menus to choose as I’d still be sat there choosing now and a reasonable price point starting at £20 for red and white. I did see someone drinking beer, but I wasn’t sure what selection they had so another drinks menu with alternatives to wine would have been good as I always refrain from asking the front of house to recite the whole fridge from memory. I also saw a few bottles of gin nestled at the back of the restaurant near the pass and can’t remember all that were on there so again a menu would have been handy but they did have Monkey 47, which is a favourite of some friends of mine and not an entry level gin by any means.

So would I recommend Sosban and the old butchers and was it worth the wait? I would recommend Sosban in a heartbeat and you can see why it has such a long waiting list not only because there are just 12 dinning per evening, but the food is quite remarkable. If you haven’t been yet then head over to their social media on twitter to be in the know when they release their next allocation of reservations as that’s how I found out just in time in October.

Korean Air Fried Chicken and Asian Slaw

Asian Slaw Ingredients

  • ¼ red cabbage sliced thinly
  • 2 red onions sliced thinly
  • ¼ daikon julienned
  • 1 carrot julienned
  • ¼ cucumber cut into thin ribbons
  • Juice of 2 limes

I didn’t measure these but played around with little bits at a time till I was happy:

  • Drizzle of rice wine vinegar
  • Drizzle of rice wine / mirin
  • Drizzle of light soy sauce
  • Drizzle of dark soy (go easy on this as it can be really salty)
  • Drizzle toasted sesame oil

Top with:

  • Sesame seeds
  • Gochugarw flakes
  • Thinly sliced spring onion
  • Drizzle of honey
  • Chopped fresh coriander

Instructions

Sliced all the veg and add to a bowl. Add the seasoning and mix. Leave for at least 30 minutes and give one final mix before serving. Top with the sesame, gochugarw, spring onion, honey and coriander to serve.

Korean Air Fried Chicken Ingredients

The following are rough estimates as I didn’t measure

  • 3 teaspoons gochujang paste
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic grated finely
  • 1 thumb sized piece of ginger grated finely
  • 2 teaspoons mushroom ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon gochugarw red pepper flakes
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons mirin / rice vinegar

Instructions

Add everything to a bowl and mix to combine. Cook the chicken wings or legs in the oven until nearly done and coat them with the marinade for the last 5 minutes and put under the grill till cooked through and sticky.

I had this served with a pitta but would also work nicely in a freshly steamed bao or some griddled tacos.

Bottomless Brunch Review at Revolucion de Cuba Cardiff

If you’re not familiar, Revolucion de Cuba is the older sibling of the student favourite Vodka Revolution and situated adjacent to The Hilton Hotel in Cardiff. Whereas Vodka revolution is themed around vodka, Revs de Cuba has a more latin affair with rum featuring heavily on the cocktail menu, live music early evenings and attracting a slightly older audience compared to it’s Russian themed counterpart.

I did go through a rum faze a few years ago, opting for the spiced variety so have been on many a night out in Revs de Cuba over the years but it’s never been on my radar to visit for food until I heard about the bottomless brunch they have just launched.

We were invited to the launch weekend back a few weeks ago to sample the brunch menu and see how the selected drinks menu held up against rival venues offering bottomless brunch with prosecco. The bottomless brunch craze seems to be sweeping over Cardiff of late but the food options tend to be limited to your standard avocado and egg based offerings, which I can do myself equally as well for a fraction of the price any day of the week. At Revolucion de Cuba however they’ve injected a much needed hit of flavour and spice with the taste of Latino.

bottomless brunch menu revs de cuba cardiff

Brunch food menu options:

  • Full grilled breakfast
  • Bacon and egg brioche
  • Cubano Benedict
  • Spanish omelette
  • Avocado Brunch
  • Brekkie burrito
  • Huevos Rancheros

Ok so there’s a few familiar plates but I like that they’ve had a Cuban twist such as the Cubano Benedict, which was top of my list but unfortunately as it was they were out of the pork. Instead I opted for the next dish on my hit list the Heuvos Rancheros, which i’ve attempted in the house a few times.

heuvos rancheros at revs de cuba cardiff

Revs de Cuba’s take on the tomatoey favourite is a flour tortilla topped with spiced black beans, tomatoes and mushroom. Finished with a fried egg, spicy rum sauce and crispy patatas.

Portion size was good, it wasn’t massive but this is a bottomless brunch so you want some space left for a cocktail or 4. I really enjoyed the dish to with just the right bit of spice nothing too hot to handle and it tasted really fresh for a chain restaurant.

brekkie burrito at revs de cuba bottomless brunch Cardiff

I’d definitely order it again but I’d like to give the Cuban Benedict a try first. My mum ordered the burrito and she must be the most fussy eater i’ve ever countered on this earth and she managed to polish off the plate too.

Drinks

Ok so you don’t get to order any cocktail from the main cocktail menu but this speeds things up ordering i guess so you can fit more into your 2 hour window of glutony.

For the two hours you get to order the following, one drink at a time:

  • Glass of Prosecco
  • Bloody Mary
  • Classic Mojito
  • Pint of Mahou
  • Tea
  • Americano
  • Soft drink

First up was the Bloody Mary for me. There’s 2 variants on the brunch cocktails menu depending on what poison you decide on. Bloody Mary is with vodka, Bloody Pirate comes with rum and the Red Snapper comes with Gin.

I wasn’t sure if the standard vodka was the only one in the all you can drink but they served me a Gin Red Snapper on the day but we were testers for the day so might of been given a bit of special treatment. I never used to be a Bloody Mary fan but I do seem to be adding them to brunch / lunch dates regularly lately and this was a pretty decent example. I only opted for the one and went onto the Mojito as I’d had enough of tomatoes after the meal too.

mojito at revs de cuba bottomless brunch cardiff

Everyone knows what a mojito tastes like although I’ve witnessed it is possible to masacre them in the past but seeing as it’s a rum bar they do a good job of them here.

The Verdict

There were four of us in the group and we all enjoyed what we were served up for food and the drinks. My mum was already planning taking the girls from work in a few weeks too, which is always a good sign.

The bottomless brunch deal is £20 usually and you get a choice of one of the food items on the special menu and as much alcoholic or soft drinks you can handle in a two hour time frame. This would make an excellent pre-game nibble and get you on your way if you ask me or the recipe for a very interesting day of shopping.

I’d definitely recommend it as I really enjoyed the food and you more than get your monies worth with the drinks compared to the standard prices on the menu there.

Fiesta de la Calcotada at Asador 44 on Friday 13th April 2018

One of my fav Cardiff restaurants, Asador 44 are throwing the most Spanish cultural festival i’ve ever seen this April. The Catalans go nut’s for their Calcots during the seasonal window and chow down on bucketloads per capita during the months of January to April.

I was invited over to have a sneak preview of what’s to come for the event at Asador 44 last week.

Calcots if you’re not already acquainted are a cross between Wales most symbolic vegetable, the Leek and a spring onion. The calcots are piled on a grill or bbq, skin, mud an all and till charred and blistered. When the fire has done it’s magic it releases a sweetness like none that i’ve ever tasted in an onion.

Calcots being cooked on asado grill at Asador 44 Cardiff

The blackened Calcots are then wrapped in newspaper and plonked on a table of waiting and hungry guests for an onion fest like no other.

So how do you attack these charred, oniony mounds?

Take the Calcot by the green leaves in one hand and peel down the outer burnt skin until you get to the clean, steamed and juicy core. Pull off the roots at the bottom then continue to dunk the exposed flesh into fresh and nutty Romesco sauce. Be warned, this is a messy occasion but I love getting my fingers dirty and there’s the bib and plenty of napkins to wipe yourself clean.

cooked calcots with romesco sauce at Asador 44 Cardiff

Theres usually plenty of Cava at hand to cleans your mouth between calcots and tradition has it that back in Catalonia they make their way through more than two dozen per person during a sitting.

So on the event Asador are organising you get:

  • Cava on arrival before tackling a plate of Calcots with romesco sauce
  • main course of cider house sirloin and sausage
  • Assortment of Catalan Cheeses
  • A chance to perfect the art of Porron wine pouring (I failed miserably with most of it going up my nose!)

Fiesta de la Calcotada poster at Asador 44

fiesta de la colcotada menu at Asador 44

Price of the Fiesta de la Calcotada is £40 per person for a 12.30pm start making it the perfect afternoon team outing or networking with a twist (pull and dunk). We had a right laugh getting down and dirty with the calcots and poring the Porron but can’t promise there weren’t any innuendos flying around during the wine.

To book contact enquiries@asador44.co.uk or call 02920 020039

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Sosban Restaurant Discount Voucher Llanelli

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Travelzoo currently have a mammoth deal at the moment with a Sosban discount voucher. Based in Llanelli in grade II listed building dating back to 1872 when it was originally a pumping engine. We tried popping in for Sunday lunch a few months back when we were near by but it was closing 10 minutes before we arrived sadly but the building looked so cool as I love the industrial look.

In the restaurant voucher discount at Sosban you get a 6 course tasting menu for 2 people for £49 at lunch time Wednesday – Saturday or for an extra £20 you can get the amazing offer for dinner Wednesday – Friday, which also comes with a glass of fizz each too.

The 2 AA Rosette restaurant is owned by ex Welsh Rugby and Scarlets legends Stephen and Dwayne Peel and has scooped many accolades since it first opened including The Good Food Guide Readers Restaurant of The Year.

If you fancy making a night of it with friends you can also purchase the Sosban restaurant voucher for 4 people priced at £95 for lunch or £135 for dinner with an added 20% off the paired wine flight.
The 6 course taster menu would normally cost £55 per person making it £110 per couple so you’re getting over 50% off. Dishes on the menu consist of the following:

  • Potato Bread, potato foam, chive butter and Exmoor caviar.
  • Cod Five Ways, cabbage puree, salt and vinegar chips
  • Hay Baked Celeriac, smoked celeriac tea and celeriac textures
  • Yorkshire Mangalitsa Pork, smoked beetroot and black pudding purée
  • Chocolate Orange, caramelised orange and chocolate sorbet
  • Apple Rice Pudding, hay ice cream and caramelised milk skin

If you fancy grabbing the Sosban discount voucher before they are all snapped up head over to Travelzoo quick!

Burger Slider Afternoon Tea Review at The Celtic Manor, Newport

It was only a few weeks ago we got invited to the launch of the new Mulberry Cocktail bar at the Celtic Manor but it was there I noticed the upcoming Afternoon Tea’s with a twist taking place across the Celtic Manor Resort.

Being a favourite of mine for Afternoon tea and having tried three of the past variations such as the Standard Resort Afternoon Tea, Willy Wonka Afternoon Tea with my sister at Christmas and the Easter chocolate one back last year I was more than keen to try something a bit more meaty. My luck was just in as they’ve just launched the Rib Smokehouse Slider Afternoon Tea at the Coldra Court branch of The Celtic Manor, which is a short drive up the road from the Resort so I jumped at offer to test out the meatilicious offerings on this Afternoon Tea.

The Coldra Court spent it’s previous life as a Hilton Hotel but was acquired by Celtic Manor less than two years ago and they’ve slowly been upscaling it since then with the addition of the restaurant and recently refurbished health, fitness and spa facilities. The Rib Smokehouse has been open for nearly a year now and is quite a striking site from within the hotel lobby with it’s amber lighting ,wood and rose gold styling cutting through the white décor of the lobby and hotel reception.

Rib Smokehouse review at Celtic Manor

The Slider Afternoon Tea

We couldn’t of picked a better day to attend the Slider Afternoon Tea as we attended the Business Growth Awards the night before, got in just before 2am and had the delightful responsibility of working a Saturday shift at 9am for a few hours so I was in dire need of something to bring me back to life. This was definitely what the doctor ordered.

The slider afternoon tea was comprised of savouries with a selection of 5 mini burger sliders of varying fillings and tiny skin on fries followed by mini sweets to finish. You also have the option of any teas or coffees to help wash down the mini meat banquet.

The slider fillings we got to tuck into were:

  • Butcher’s cut bacon and Welsh extra mature Cheddar cheese slider, with plum and apple chutney
  • Smoked pulled chicken and The Rib’s homemade coleslaw slider
  • Thai fishcake and prawn slider
  • Brecon venison burger with redcurrant mayonnaise
  • Smoked bone marrow beef burger with BBQ sauce and crispy onions

sliders at Celtic Manor afternoon tea

If you’re not feeling hungry I don’t think this one’s for you but I was ravenous and unashamedly destroyed each slider in quick succession. Size wise they were quite generous considering you have 5 to get through and even though I rolled my eyes at the site of the tiny fries to start with, there was a reason and I have eyes bigger than my belly the majority of the time.

My pulled chicken slider was properly stacked and required extra attention not to cover my face in sauce, but I’ve had plenty of practice and a bit of a pro by now. My favourite of the 5 though was the Thai fishcake and prawn slider, which was wonderfully fragrant, had a slight crisp on the outside but soft and tender in the middle. I would of happily of attempted an adult sized portion of this. We were offered a chance to have any sauces to go with the platter and I just opted for ketchup but I would have loved a smudge of sriracha mayo to give a little kick of spice to the slider.

thai fishcake slider at Coldra Court, Celtic Manor

I had to take a minute or two after meticulously licking each finger of any meaty residue and composed myself before planning my attack on the wooden drawer of sweets that sat in front of me.

First up was the vanilla milkshake to rid my taste buds of any remnants of savoury flavours and prepare my mouth for an onslaught of rich, sweet and sticky sweets.

  • Mini peanut butter doughnut
  • Pecan pie
  • Mini custard slice with raspberry gel
  • Mini vanilla milkshake

warm pecan pie with Slider afternoon tea at Celtic Manor

I’d never tried a pecan pie before so that was next up. It was still warm, with a crunchy base almost caramelised pecan topping with rich buttery filling. To be fare this was a pretty big portion of pie seeing as we had a few to get through. Not that ever having a large portion of dessert is a bad thing, the other half did struggle to finish her one off. I on the other hand powered on through like a trooper.

peanut butter doughnut at Rib Smokehouse, Coldra Court

I obviously didn’t read the menu properly and assumed the doughnuts were submerged in salted caramel but it was a peanut butter sauce. A bit like a salted caramel, peanut butter hybrid although less sweet than salted caramel. I liked every last bit from the Mason jar although I would of liked the sauce a bit sweeter and more on the salted caramel end of the scale but still with a peanut butter punch.

The price of the Slider Afternoon Tea is £24.99 and only available on Saturdays for the month of March although we spoke to the waitress who said they are trialling it out for a month and if it proves popular it may make it onto the Afternoon Tea options regularly at The Celtic Manor.

The Verdict

Although the exterior of the Coldra Court doesn’t quite live up to the grandeur of the Celtic Manor Resort Hotel, the Rib Smokehouse definitely wouldn’t of looked out of place within the main resort and had been completely transformed from it’s former self. I for one really liked the décor and styling of the restaurant and would definitely see myself trying out the evening or Sunday lunch menu.

Inside Rib Smokehouse Celtic Manor

The £24.99 price point might sounds steep to some but most hotels usually up their price of their standard afternoon tea on the weekend to around £22 and I for one grudge paying that for a cress sandwich or laser cut ham. It was nice to have some actual meat content for the savoury selection and liked the variety of 5 different flavours.

Desserts were all on point and think matched the flavour profile of the sliders and would be something you would pair with them on a standard smoke house restaurant menu. One thing I would point out though, I’m not sure if it was just because we were booked in for the last sitting and the kitchen was on shutdown soon but we had the dessert drawer / wooden contraption come out near enough straight after our sliders arrived and before we’d even started on them.

I’m lucky as I’m a quick eater so the pecan pie was still warm but some people take their time so it would have been cold and we were really struggling for space on the table having had a table for two, it was a struggle manoeuvring everything around to eat, have a drink and have a conversation with the other half with the big drawer in the middle of the table.

Not that it detracted from the actual quality of the food and we both really enjoyed it but as a bit of feedback I would bring the sweets out after dinners have finished the sliders so there’s a bit more room to play with on the table as I was scared to move anything from fear of hitting the desserts over. Again this might of just been that we picked the latest possible time due to me having work in the morning and they wanted the pie’s coming out warm.

I’d recommend the Slider afternoon to anyone as a nice alternative to a standard sandwich fest. I know a lot of my friends wouldn’t be too keen on paying £22+ for a plate of sandwiches but would feel like they’ve had a bit more money’s worth with the slider afternoon tea.

It’s was due on till the end of March but just heard on the grapevine that it’s being extended due to popular demand. The other afternoon tea, which is coming onto the menu in the near future too is the Asian Afternoon Tea that I’m dying to book up that’s available between 2nd June and 1st July.

I love that The Celtic Manor like to keep things changing and always have a variety of different afternoon tea’s available so take a look on the website and see if there’s anything that might tempt you.

Park Plaza Cardiff and Laguna Restaurant Review

Seeing as I’ve now tried most of the menu’s at Park Plaza’s Laguna Restaurant in Cardiff, I thought it’s about time I wrote a review to let people know what they are missing out on if they’ve never been.
The Laguna Restaurant sits on the ground floor of the Park Plaza Cardiff Hotel on Greyfriar’s Road, a short walk from Cardiff Castle. Split into three areas there’s the dimly lit rectangular bar with booths seating 4-6 people for some cocktails or a spot of lunch, with the option of sitting out on the terrace weather permitting of course. The terrace is surrounded by trees and securing a bit of privacy from the hustle and bustle of town and has a tranquil feel from the slow flowing passage of the dock feeder canal right next to the outdoor seating.

Gin, cocktails and wine

All the drinks come from the same bar wherever you happen to be sitting in the Laguna. There is an extensive cocktail menu and we were invited to sample some of the ever growing list of Gin’s on the menu back last year, each expertly paired with a Fever Tree Tonic Water and garnish to compliment.

There’s a decent list of wine to choose from starting at a very reasonable £18 with the bar staff happy to help you choose with a little sample of a few on your hit list.

The only thing I was a little disappointed in with the bar was the selection of craft beers which I think could be improved by maybe showcasing one tap for local breweries on rotation so people staying that aren’t from the area get to sample a good local beer such as Pipes, Crafty Devils or Tiny Rebel. Wolf Rock was on tap, which was ok but a bit lower in Abv than I would normally go for.

Afternoon Tea and Restaurant

Then you have the restaurant area adjacent to the bar, which if you visit before 3pm is usually packed out from guests sampling one of the many sumptuous afternoon teas on offer. One of which being my favourite ever, the Gentleman’s Afternoon Tea.

Gentleman's afternoon tea at Park Plaza Cardiff

Being International Women’s day at the time of writing I wouldn’t declare it not for women quite as poignantly as that Yorkie chocolate bar marketing strategy year’s ago but it definitely appeals to the inner caveman in me with the meaty, carnivorous bites on the platter. From chorizo scotch egg with Bloody Mary mao, Yorkshire pudding with slithers of rare roast beef and horseradish cream and mini venison burger to name but a few. Priced at £19.95 or £22.95 on weekends
They’ve got the standard afternoon tea for the purists and one of the Gin lovers the Hendricks G & Tea Afternoon Tea, which includes a teapot pot of Hendricks Gin cocktail.

In the evening there’s a few different menu options to choose from at the restaurant such as Pre Theatre Menu seeing as it’s located next to the New Theatre, which is available 5.30pm to 7.00pm Monday to Friday and the A La Carte Menu with starters around £7 and mains averaging £17, which is pretty decent for a hotel restaurant in my opinion.

Sunday Lunch

My first experience of the lunch at the Laguna was the day after being impressed with my Gentleman’s afternoon tea, which made me wanting to go back down the day after to sample a full meal in the restaurant.

Priced at £19.95 for 3 courses I thought it was excellent value for money. With around 7 options for starters with a few British Favourites like soup, prawn cocktail and salmon along with my choice of Chicken liver parfait, onion marmalade and toasted brioche.

With an extensive choice of meats, fish dishes and a vegetarian options there is something for everyone on the mains, which is great as there’s always one fussy eater when going out in a group. I opted for the local loin of pork as the crackling caught my eye.

Sunday lunch at Laguna Restaurant Park Plaza in Cardiff

Not venturing out all that often for Sunday lunch due to the fact my grandmother would kill me this was an excellent replacement for Nanny Carole’s Sunday lunch. My fellow dinner went for the beef though, which was perfectly pink, succulent and tender with the richest gravy I’ve ever tasted and managed to top my pork option but both were very good Sunday lunches.

There were more puddings than you can shake a stick at from Crème Brulees, chocolate tortes, sticky toffee puddings and a delectable selection of ice creams and sorbets on the dessert menu to finish off.

Wine and nibbles

mixed starter platter at Park Plaza Cardiff

After a stressful day of shopping a few weeks back we decided to nip in to Park Plaza to quench our thirst with a glass of vino. Seeing a few other patrons having a nibble we decided to order a mixed starter to share too.

Heading into the other option in the hotel, the lounge. Just off from the hotel reception is room with sofas and high backed chairs facing a long line of fires. We perched up next to a fire, glass in hand and tucked into an array of salty, crunchy nibbles whilst being seductively entranced by the flames of the fire. If you’re ever in town and just want to take your mind off things, I can’t recommend a glass of Marlborough Sauv Blanc sat in front of a lit fire.

Lunch

Most recently we visited during the snow blitz on Wales last week when Cardiff came to a standstill and most other restaurants and bars closed to the public. Park Plaza were carrying on as normal so we thought what better option to take up a pew to thaw out next to the roaring fires with a glass of Red Wine and a 3 course lunch.

There were two menus to choose from, either the bar menu or the lunch menu. I was pleasantly surprised how cheap the bar menu was as I’d never had a look on previous visits with dishes around £8.
The lunch menu had a choice of A La Carte options or the 2 course express lunch for £12.95.

Goats cheese and mushroom bruschetta at Park Plaza Cardiff

I was feeling extra ravenous so I was worried how much the express lunch would fill me so opted for the A La Carte option with Goats cheese and mushroom bruschetta to start. Lightly grilled, the cheese became a gooey irresistible mess below the tender mushrooms and crusty bread. A light drizzle of balsamic gave a nice tang against the creaminess of the cheese.

Pork and mustard mash mains at Park Plaza Cardiff

I opted for pork again for mains this time pork belly, mustard mash, with meaty bacon nugget enriched gravy. The pork was tender, subtle mustard kick from the mash and married perfectly with the rich gloss of gravy.

cheese board at Park Plaza Cardiff by the fire

I went full boring and opted for a cheese board, but I had at least a glass of red left in the bottle so I thought it would pair well in front of the fire. A selection of around 5 cheeses of varying stengths, creaminess and ages, chutney and mix of crackers and grapes to tame the cheese. What more could you want.

The Verdict

I think my actions speak a million words and I’ve enjoyed every visit to Park Plaza Cardiff and The Laguna Restaurant and will continue to visit, whether it’s to give into my sweet and savoury lusting for afternoon tea, craving for meat sweats with the Gentleman’s afternoon tea or longing to curl up in front of the fire with a good wine, even better food and good company.

There’s plenty to choose from whether it’s a light nibble for lunch, treating the mother or grandmother to some cakes and fizz or celebrating a birthday or wedding at the restaurant and I would recommend it to anyone.

Baharat and apricot lamb meatballs recipe – a guilt free kebab

Baharat and apricot lamb meatballs ingredients

  • 500g lamb mince
  • 3 teaspoons Baharat spice mix
  • 3 cloves garlic finely grated
  • 1 large shallot finely chopped
  • 50g dried apricot chopped into small chunks

Instructions

  1. I prefer to have my onions and or shallots browned before adding to burgers or meatballs to add a slight sweetness and take the harshness out of them.
  2. Chop the shallot and add to a hot pan with some oil to brown for a few minutes. Add the grated garlic to the onions and cook for a further minute mixing into the onions.
  3. Take off the pan and add to a bowl with the lamb mince.
  4. Add the Baharat spice mix and the chopped apricots to the bowl of mince then use your hands to mix the ingredients to make sure everything is equally combined.
  5. I prefer little meatballs that cook quicker rather than big meatballs that take ages to cook and end up being too dry so tear little chunks of the mix and roll into small meatballs. I made around 20 meatballs with mine so aim for around the same.
  6. I sometimes fry meatballs but it means you have to keep turning them so they don’t burn. I cook most of my meat in an airfryer these days as it cooks through nicely, is a lot quicker than the oven and they still have a nice crisp to them.
  7. Mine took around 10-15 minutes in the air fryer on around 190C.

Baharat and apricot lamb meatballs recipe

To enjoy as a guilt free kebab

  1. Shred some red cabbage
  2. Julienne 1 carrot
  3. Chop 4 spring onions
  4. Slice 2 large tomatoes
  5. Add to a bowl and squeeze a whole lemon over the mixture, season with salt and pepper.
  6. Make a quick mint yogurt mixing a couple of spoons of greek or natural yogurt with two teaspoons mint sauce, salt and pepper.
  7. Add some of the salad mix, a couple of meatballs to a toasted pitta and spoon some of the mint yogurt and if you’re feeling a bit of heat a few drops of your favourite chilli sauce and or a smudge of hummous.

Italian sausage pasta recipe

Italian sausage pasta ingredients

  • 4 Italian sausages, skin removed and rolled into little meatballs (I got mine from Cardiff Indoor Market)
  • 3 cloves of garlic grated finely
  • 8 field mushrooms or 1 large cut finely
  • 1 large shallot cut finely
  • 8 leaves Cavolo Nero
  • ½ tub of Ricotta cheese
  • Enough spaghetti for 2 (I’ll leave that baffling science to you)
  • Grated Parmesan for seasoning at the end
  • Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
  • White Truffle oil

Instructions

  1. Put a pan of salted water on to boil for the spaghetti.
  2. Cut the sausages and squeeze out the mixture from the skin and roll into little meatballs
  3. Chop the shallot and mushrooms finely.
  4. Grate the garlic
  5. Cut either side of the stalks of the Cavolo Nero just leaving the leaves then slice into small strips
  6. Add the Spagetti to the water and cook to packet instructions usually around 8 minutes depending on brand and whether you use fresh. Cook for a minute less to leave a bit of bit to the pasta. I used a hollow spaghetti, which was thicker than normal spaghetti.
  7. Add the mini Italian sausage meatballs to the pan with some olive oil to brown. After 4-5 minutes on medium to high heat, add the shallots and mushrooms and add a little butter or oil to the pan so they don’t stick.
  8. Cook for a further 2 minutes then add the Cavolo Nero to the pan whilst mixing to combine. Add the garlic to the pan stir it into the other ingredients making sure it doesn’t burn. Make sure the meatballs have cooked through but the Italian sausage does sometimes have a slight pink hue compared to your British banger. Just make sure it’s boiling in the middle.
  9. Reserve some of the starchy pasta cooking water then drain the pasta.
  10. Add the spaghetti to the pan and toss a little with the rest of the pan. Add the Ricotta cheese and a little of the pasta water to thin the cheese and help it coat the pasta. Keep tossing the mixture and stirring to make sure everything has a nice even coating of Ricotta but add a little more water if needed.
  11. Divide into two bowls. Grate some fresh Parmesan on top, a sprinkle of salt and black pepper to taste and if you like a little drizzle of white truffle oil. I got my little bottle hand sized bottle from M & S.

Tuck in!