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

Duck and Waffle Restaurant Review – London

Having first looked at the Shard for lunch and them being fully booked I remember seeing some pics from the cocktail guy I was following on Instagram and some of the awesome views of london in the backdrop of his cocktail snaps but couldn’t rememeber the name of the place.

Turns out it was Duck & Waffle, so our attention turned to making this our friday lunch / pre Taste of London treat for 2 day trip up to the big smoke. Lo and behold this too was booked but after a bit of gently persuasion on the phone we managed to get a booking for 3pm at the 42nd story restaurant.

I studied the menu religiously for about an hour after we booked and checked out the cocktails on offer on the cocktail guys instagram trying to decide what I wanted to sample bearing in mind I was going to a food festival straight after it and didn’t want to spoil that seeing as that was the original reason for the trip in the first place.

Not knowing entirely where Duck & Waffle was located we decided to head to Spitafields for a browse as neither myself nor Mwsh had been to the area before and it was close enough walking distance to the restaurant rather than a Top Gear esque dash across the capital with 30 minutes to spare had we gone on a trek around the other side of the river beforehand.

This was either a brilliant idea for my next outting to London or complete torture having stumbled on the line of street food traders outside Spitafields market for kerb streetfood and trying my best not to order one of each after pacing up and down the street 3 or 4 times with hawk eyes on the mounds of simmering pans and smouldering hunks of meat slowly cooking behind the serving counter.

What was i thinking I had an hour before going for a pre-dinner then a food festival and I was being tempted by the conjouring whafts of delights on offer in front of me! Who could blame me mind with fries, gravy, poutine and rib meat from none other than “Rib Man”!

Common sence prevailed and with just a coffee, mulled wine, pint of the kernel, mini lemon meringue cake, taster of beef brisket, sample of tea, nibble of brownie we headed towards the tallest building this side of the river for lunch in the clouds at Duck & Waffle.

Outside of the duck and waffle building

After stepping into the lift and seeing the number 42 button I knew I had to film our ascent to the highest 24 hour eatery in the capital bolting through the floors and skyline in almost lightening speed to the very top of the Heron Tower at 110 Bishopsgate and towering over the gherkin just across the road.

After a brief stint looking over the drinks menu in the bar we were ushered to our seats right next to the window. Ok it wasn’t the side we were hoping for with views of the Gherkin but we were happy just to get a booking and the views were still pretty impressive.

The Drinks

Having first seen the Woodland Negroni nestled between a mini forest in a bowl on instagram and being gin based I knew this was going to be my first option on the menu.

 

Seeing the prices at around £14 it wasn’t going to be a one of each on the menu, plus I wanted to take in the ambiance, make it in one piece to Taste of London I opted to saver the drink. There sat a huge square ice cube taking centre stage in the glass keeping the cocktail at optimum ice cold temperature but without melting and watering the drink down to a slurry of watered down crap. As i’ve recently learned it’s all about the ice and the ice can make or break a drink from my newly found knowledge at the Gin Fest in Cardiff not too long ago.

I’ve always just been handed a half glass filled with spirtis, chunk of skinny ice cubs and topped up with mixer, which ends up melting within minutes and ruining the contents of my glass shortly after.

At the gin fest we had oversized glasses with a shot of gin, garnish of fruit, a mound of huge ice cubes and just a dash of of tonic meaning the glass stays freezing cold, the mixer doesn’t dilute the ice so the drink stays at the perfect equilibrium of ice to drink ratio.

The drink itself tasted of the forest for sure and details as follows:

‘damp gin,’ Campari, sweet vermouth, formica rufa infusion, slow dripped through layers of nature.

It took me back to my teens and reminded me of sleeping rough up the mountain whilst camping with just a sleeping bag neslted between the wilderness, cooking up a meat feast tin of beans and passing around the “hooch” of the day. It did what it said on the tin but I have to admit it wasn’t entirely my cup of tea but then I don’t know what I was expecting after seeing the pictures and reading the description.

After deciding to take it easy on the wallet and the alcohol levels in my bloodstream I played it safe with the white wine after the first cocktail but these were a really good wine.

The Food

Onto the main highlight of the visit and took us an eternity to finally decide on our plates of choice as we wanted to try quite a few things but also didn’t want to spoil the evening spent eating at Taste.

Day menu at Duck and Waffle

What I did know was I breaking the cardinal sin and not sampling the signature dish the Duck & Waffle but it just looked a bit boring and not really worth the £17 for a waffle, duck leg and egg even though I love duck and partial to a good waffle. I fancied trying something a bit different today.

What we ordered

Well I knew for a fact I was going to order the ox cheek doughnut so that was top of the list priced at £12. This was my favourite of all the dishes and combined sweet yet meaty proportions within a perfect balance. The doughnut was pretty huge and a lot bigger than I though but at £12 you are hopping it’s going to be something worth chomping on especially sharing all the plates between two. I had the honour of cutting into the perfectly crusted dough ball, doused in paprika sugar and laden in sweet sticky apricot jam, stuffed in tightly compacted nuggets of ox cheek.

Ox cheek donut at Duck and Waffle London

I was deliberating for days whether to try the bbq spiced crispy pigs ears as my stomach has got a lot weaker over the years honestly no pun intended but I’ve grown a lot more squemish with what i’ve got on my fork and my stomach turns if i over think something unusual sometimes but I bit the bullet at £5. I’m glad I did go for it as they were like a pimped up version of pork scratchings. Long shards of crispy, tasty pork skin flecked in a light spice. I would of prefered a jug of rum cask cider to compliment it rather than my goblet of wilderness mind. These were deliscious and wish i’d ordered a bag to take away and have looked at recipes to try and recreate these at home since visiting.

Crispy pigs ear at Duck and Waffle London

We got talked into trying some of the smaller tasters by the waiter but just opted for one of each to share of the bacon wrapped dates with linguiça sausage & mustard at £3.50 and a crispy polenta with parmesan & truffle for £3. Both equally as divine and moreish and could easily have scoffe a handfull of each being the dainty size they were but we were told they were bite sized on ordering so we weren’t supprised when they came.

bacon wrapped dates and crispy polenta Duck and Waffle London

We wanted to try one of the breads and fallen in love with cornbread recently so it was between the Lamb Keema, Hara Bhara Sauce or the maple glazed cornbread, harissa yoghurt but I’m not too keen on maple syrup and know it would of spoiled my plate so opted for the lamb keema. Both were priced at £7. The keema was good although it was less carb heavy and less of a plate than the cornbread but that was obvious being a flat bread and probably the best option to just sample the flavour and not get overly bloated. It was good although I’d probably order something else next time as it was good but not amazing. I’d probably go for the Nduja and Gruyere next time, which is a spiced spreadable pork salami sausage meat and cheese.

keema naan at Duck and Waffle London

We decided on one more plate and again torn between two with the  Pork & Apple Corn Dog with chiptole mayo priced at £12 or the Miso Glazed Rabbit, Roasted cauliflower, suet biscuit and crispy cabbage at £12 but went for the smaller of the two the corn dog just because we didn’t want to overdo it and eat too much and ruining the evening’s plans. This was tasty and quite different to what I expected as I thought it would be more of a minced pork like kofta kebab but was more pulled pork covered in a batter.

apple corn dog chipotle mayo at Duck and Waffle

Feeling quite full at this point and knowing we had a good few hours left of eating that night we opted for a coffee to finish the meal instead of a dessert but there were a few dishes that caught my attention.

The Verdict

All in all it was a great experience and would definitely recommend trying Duck & Waffle if you’ve not been and was a very memorable event. The food was a bit pricey but it is London and you’re paying for the novelty of dinning so high up. Unlike the shard who charge £30 just to go up to the top and have a minimum of £30 spend if you fancy dinning although I’m sure you would blow that in no time.

The food was good and I liked the tapas style small sharing plates as opposed to a starter, main and dessert. You have to try one of the cocktails and does make a great instagram pic too if you’re sat by the window as we were.

Bwyta Bwyd Bombai

I’ve been to Bwyta Bwyd Bombai (3B’s) a few times previously but only had a takeaway biryani on the way home from work when I’ve been feeling lazy and not sure if i’d make it through the journey home without something in my belly.

I was invited to drop in and sample some of the lesser known items on the menu at 3 B’s last week to my excitement as I follow them on instagram and been intrigued by some of the food they’ve been dishing out and posting lately.

Bwyta Bwyd Bombai differs to your standard indian restaurant as they primarly focus on street food you would most certainly seen being cooking up on the roadside in Mumbai, which is where the chef and owner  Shakshi was brought up and taught her trade by her family.

The restaurant is located in High Street Arcade a few doors down from the  Cardiff Institution that is New York Deli.The place offers a more relaxed dinning experience making it great for lunch or a good dose of energy before carrying on a bit of shopping.

The Food

The guys took me through a good ole journey through the menu and offering some dishes i’ve never even heard of before, which is right up my street.

The great thing about 3 B’s is it’s proper finger food meaning you can get stuck in with your hands and make a mess especially with the fuzz i’m sporting on my face at the moment.

Bwyta Bwyd Bombai mixed bhaji puri and batata vada

I started on a few nibbles to get my apettite in check with the crispy rice puffs of Sev Puri and Dahi Puri with some with yogurt and mildly spiced and the other filled with chopped, fresh veggies and vermicelli noodles adding a nice crunch and texture. I was told they should go down in one so i was glad there weren’t too many others there at that time to witness my hamster cheeks chomping through each one.

Next up was a mixed bhaji selection with onion bhajis, that were more bhaji flatties compared to what i’ve become accustomed too but this meant that they were less stodgy and crispy throughout unlike some some i’ve tried at food festivals that were giant balls of bland stodge that i struggled to finish.

There was a tamarid dip to add another punch of flavour to the items. Also on the plate were battered spinach leaves. Single leaves of spinach dipped in batter and fried that meant they kept their shape and had a nice crunch. I like a bit of spinach on my salad but never too keen when it’s added to warm dishes as it can get slimey sometimes but this worked perfectly deep fried in batter. So simple, yet effective.

batata vada at Bwyta Bwyd Bombai Cardiff

The third item on the mixed plate of goodies was the batata vada and it was something else. Creamy mashed potato and herby centre, which was deep fried leaving a luscious soft centre and golden hue crust. I could of eaten a plate of these on their own they were delish!

Indian street food in Cardiff samosa chole Bwyta Bwyd Bombai

You can’t have an indian without a samosa and the samosa chole comes pilled with chickpeas in a mild spiced curry adding an extra hit of protein. I’d attempted to make only my 2nd ever attempt of a curry a few nights before and wanted something with chick peas in instead of carb loading on rice so used some spices from Riverside Market but these were next level flavour compared to my first attempt.

chicken dosa at Bwyta Bwyd Bombai Cardiff

Struggling on I went for a chicken dosa. A light and crispy pancake type eating vessel made from lentils that i’m told is gluten free and vegan (apart from the chicken filling obvs). I was going to cut into manageable pieces but thought i’d embrace the traditional indian etique and just dived straight in with what i was born with. Tearing off golden shards of dosa and dipping in the chutney and medium spiced sauce.

There was also another option similar to the dosa but it used slightly different flour and was told it has a more earthy flavour compared to the dosa ingredients used.

Seeing as I was dinning alone I was getting pretty full now but after some careful deliberating I decided to power on through for a final dish of paneer bhurji. Paneer is an Indian cheese and i’ve used it once before, cutting into cubes, frying to give a nice crip coating before adding to a curry to add something extra to the chicken in the pan.

paneer bhurji in Cardiff

Here it was combined with spices and herbs in shards and presented like you sometimes have with rice and accompanied with a toasted buttered roll.  It seems they had kept the best till last, not that I didn’t enjoy the rest but with each plate I was presented each became my plate of the day in quick succession. The slithers of perfectly seasoned paneer were silky smooth and did look like rice from a distance but were much richer and morish.

Having a 2nd stomach for dessert I obviously had a little room left for a sweet. I asked for a suprise and to my suprise I had two come out on a tray…winning!

One was a bowl with two syrupy balls of Gulab Jamun. I’d had these previusly in Chai Street so already knew they didn’t look like much but were ample in size due to the sweet, sticky stodge. Again I liked the dish but I’d had them warm before and think i prefered them served warm to cold here.

gulab jamun dessert at Bwyta Bwyd Bombai Cardiff

The other dessert I had to work through was a pistachio and milk lolly. I absolutely adore pistachio and the milk worked well to sooth my slightly warmed gums after a baquet of spices and garam masala.

panha - raw mango juice

I also got to try raw mango juice called panha that was a bit oowooo i’m not sure about that but it’s a grower and a few sips in I was converted.

The Verdict

As I mentioned i’ve eated here a few times previously but it was the first time I got to try the street food offerings from the menu and loved that I got to try such a varied never before tasted dishes on the menu.

I used to be a phall or vindaloo type person going for the hottest on the menu but i’ve grown wiser in my years and like a good bit of heat and spice but nowhere near what I used to. Bwyta Bwyd Bombai from what I tried was all expertly seasoned and spiced but they were a mellow heat bordering on mild / medium so you won’t get any nasty suprises if you’re not a fan of spicy food.

I love my visit and as I was dining on my own i’ve been told I need to show Mwsh through the best options on the menu very soon as she was tied up (not literally) at the time.

I’ve seen regular deals for Bwyta Bwyd Bombai on the Wriggle Cardiff app during lunch time if you fancy giving it a try. Don’t forget to use the code AUHPSS to get money off your first order on the app too!

Spatchcock Harissa Chicken Kebabs

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken around 1.8kg
  • 3 cloves of garlic finely grated
  • 1 shallot finely grated
  • juice and grated zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • 3 dessert spoons greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons harrisa paste
  • Salt and pepper
  • Drizzle of olive oil

homemade harissa marinade

marinaded harissa chicken

Instructions

  1. To Spatchcock the chicken, turn the chicken over so the breast is facing down. Either take a sharp scissors or knife and cut down either side of the breast bone, remove and discard.
  2. Turn the chicken back over so the breast is facing up and the and the cut side underneath. Open up the carcas so that it spreads out on a flat clean surface or roasting tin and press down in the centre of the breasts until you hear it click and lays flat on the surface. Spatchcocking is great for reducing the cooking time down as the internal core temperature inside the bird doesn’t take as long as it’s one flat piece of meat now.
  3. Use a fine grater like the one used for Parmesan to grate the garlic and shallot very fine. Place all the other ingredients into a bowl and stir. I don’t tend to weigh or measure the ingredients so you can play around with exact quantities to your taste putting in more or less harrisa depending on how spicy you want it.
  4. Make some incisions in the chicken all over to allow the marinade to penetrate and work it’s magic. Pour the marinade over the chicken and massage it in making sure to work it into all the incisions for ultimate flavour.
  5. Leave to marinade for at least 30 minutes or longer in the fridge if you have time.
  6. Once the marinade has had chance to absorb and leave it’s mark on the chicken, place the chicken in the roasting tin in the oven and cook for around an hour depending on weight on around 180-190C. Check the colour of the skin before that time to make sure it isn’t burning and amend the temperature and time accordingly so that it doesn’t blacken too much but cooked through.
  7. The juices should run clear on the thickest part of the thigh. Leave it to rest for a few minutes to save your little pinkies when carving or just yanking the spicy, slightly chared legs off.

filled harissa chicken and tzatziki pitta

Serve with

I served mine with with griddled or toasted mediterranean style pittas from M & S, halloumi, hummus, tzatziki, salad and a sprinkle of summac. Not that I have to say but would go great with a crisp white wine.

Jols Restaurant Review Merthyr Tydfil

I’ve been a fan of Jamie, the man behind the Jol’s brand and restaurant for a few years after sampling most of his streatfood plates he’s dished up since I first stumbled on him about 3 years ago.

I’ve also known about his first restaurant venture in Merthyr since it opened about 18 months ago but just never got around to trying it sadly till now. When I saw a Travelzoo deal on for 3 courses for £45 I snapped it up just for an excuse to venture up the top end of the valley in Merthyr. I used to work over Merthyr college for a year a while back so I was aware there wasn’t much in the way of competition of that standard although Nant Ddu wasn’t bad for food but Jol’s being based smack in the middle of town it was a little more accessible with the train station less than 100 metres away.

Anyway Jamie O’Leary the owner and Chef learnt his trade under the wing of well respected Steven Terry of the Hardwick, which gives you a bit of an idea on the standard he’s used to cooking.

Jol’s the restaurant took over a hotel I visited once for an authentic Aussie Pie and Mash for lunch one afternoon whilst working over Merthyr although it’s been re-done and fitted out a lot better than the dark and dingy decor that stood before it when i visited last.

The Food

The menu changes frequently and is seasonal making the most of fresh ingredients in season and to hand for the restaurant and when we visited last night I was quite suprised by how many dishes were on the menu compared to a smaller menu I’d seen previously when browsing on their social media pages. Not that that’s a bad thing although it did mean it took me twice as long to decide from the salivating induced state it left me in from reading it.

After some deliberating I bit the bullet and chose the brown shrimp, hummus, raisins and ras al hanout spiced cauliflower to start.

Mwsh originally opted for the pork terrine but sadly they were all out so the waitress came back and asked her to choose something else. Again it was a toss up between a few contenders such as wild mushrooms on toast, salmon or Welsh Rarebit but eventually opting for the later. As standard we opted for the bread to share whilst we waited for our first plates to arrive.

house made bread and brown butter Jols Merthyr

First out of the kitchen doors came a tray of pipping hot, caramel esque mound of dough glistening with egg wash, which led Mwsh to quote it as the most amazing portion of bread she’s ever seen or eaten. It resembled mini hovis loaf with a healthy Quenelle of brown butter and flakes of smoked salt to sprinkle on top. The combination of hot spongy freshly baked bread, slathered and saturated glutinously in brown butter and shards of the smoked salt set the standard for the evening really. Perfectly simple but it put a smile on both our faces from the first bite.

The first course wasn’t long behind. A genous bed of hummus topped with raisins, corriander, ras al hanout cauliflower, almonds, dainty brown shrip and a mopping vessel in the form of chargrilled flatbread. There was a lot going on with the plate and I was a bit dubious as I don’t usually go for little prawns, only  king prawns as they are meatier but it was bloody lovely!

Welsh Rarebit starter Jols Merthyr

Mwsh’s plate of homemade bread with rarebit more than packed a punch and a daily helping of bacon as it was the first time in four days we hadn’t had bacon. Rich with sharp cheddar balanced with the saltiness of the bacon it was delish. Mwsh was ever so jealous of mine in comparison even though hers was good so seeing as it was her birth month celebrations still I let her swap halfway through.

Mains next and I opted for the roast rump of lamb with cauliflower, red currant gel,cavolo nero, anchovy and red wine sauce with a side of tripple cooked chips for good measure. I seemed to be living off cauliflower the past two days between Asdador and Jol’s so it must be in season. Luckily there wasn’t too much to get through even though I don’t mind a portion with my meal but can get a bit hard to stomach with too much unless it’s smothered in cheese sauce.

lamb main Jols Merthyr

The lamb was tender, slightly pink and easy to cut through. Accompanying it was a rissole / bon bon like lamb parcel to get through too, which was a nice suprise. Crispy crumb with soft, flaked lamb centre. The plate was brought together with a rich emulsion of red wine and anchovy sauce to add moisture to the contents of the plate and help me through the mountain of crunchy triple cooked chips.

It’s very rare we just take a punt on a dish on our own as we usually make a joint decision so we get to taste a few dishes we both like, but luckily for us theres usually two strong contenders we’re both torn between so this makes it easier and we get to try both then too. She opted for the Roast Duck & Orange this time. A contemporary take on a french classic featuring seared breast & confit leg roll with caramelised endive, buttered kale, burned orange dressing and skinny fries.

duck and orange main Jols Merthyr

The classic Duck a l’orange for me is way to sickly and I’ve felt my teeth disolving from the barrel load of sugar in the sauce in the past but this was more complex and the burned orange meant it was more tart than the usual sweet sickly flavour that would put me off normally. Crispy skin yet tender breast alongside the confit leg falling off the bone into rich, meaty and juicy ribbons of duck with ease.

Dessert was include in the deal so who was I to pass up an opportunity to sample some sugar laden stodge. Again it was a joint effort in pinning down two desserts to share so I decided to go for the chocolate brownie with salted caramel, macadamia nut praline and brownie ice cream. I don’t think it takes anyone with more than a average IQ to work out it tasted just as good as it reads. Gooey centre in the brownie with extra creaminess from the brownie saturated ice cream. The nut praline added a good crunch and texture with hit of saltiness from the caramel.

chocolate brownie ice cream dessert Jols Merthyr

My only feedback was it could of done with a bit more salted caramel as I could eat it by the bucket but luckily Mwsh had a small urn full so I stole some of hers. For dessert she opted for the Apple and sultana bread and butter pudding with caramel sauce and clotted cream. If we weren’t already over the edge this was pushing us close and we both had to battle the demons to finish our plates even though they were both superb but we were absolutely stuffed after 4 days of eating like kings for Mwsh’s birthday.

The Verdict

Mwsh’s verdict was it was faultless and couldn’t give one criticism and mine was basically the same apart form a little bit more caramel with the brownie but I was lucky she had loads with her dish so I couldn’t really complain not that it warranted a complaint I just have an unhealthy addiction to the stuff.

We will most definitely be back and if you haven’t tried Jol’s in Merthyr yet then what are you waiting for, get booking now! As I mentioned we had a deal on Travelzoo for 3 courses for £45 but we paid for a few extras such as bread for £3, tripple cooked chips for £3, bottle of Sauvingnon Blanc for £19 and £1 or £2 supplement on our mains as I think we got up to £22 value but ours came in at £23.

Starters come in at around £7, mains £22 and desserts around £7 too as a rough guide and the latest menu can be seen at http://www.jolsfoodco.co.uk/menus. Jamie will be bringing the Jol’s streetfood trailer to Womamby Street for Feast Fest Cardiff for a month starting last weekend to the end of August both Saturday and Sunday if you want to see what he’s rustling up in the mean time.

Calabrisella Review Cardiff – Italian Restaurant Cardiff

After passing Calabrisella, which is based on the main high street in Canton a couple of times on the way to St Cannas and Pettigrew along with hearing the rave reviews all over the social web I was eager to try it for myself and so was Mwsh. Having fallen in love with Italian food from a trip to Rome earlier on in the year I was dying to see how it fared against the real Mccoy and the new wave of pizza eateries bombarding the Welsh Capitol of late.

We happened to have an impromptu visit whilst out on a sunny Sunday evening breaking our newly delivered cycle to work bikes in around the bay that saw us venture back into town and around Bute Park. Knowing they had a couple of tables out on the street outside the restaurant we thought we would make the most of the rare sight of sun in the sky and see what the fuss was about.

The Food

Neither of us were feeling that hungry but just an excuse to try Calabrisella so we went for the standard one pasta and one pizza to share between us. I’ve been on a mission to find the best Carbonara so this has become a staple choice and go to pasta dish for comparison when we do go to an Italian restaurant then we just choose whatever pizza we fancy there which happened to be the spicy option the Calabrese featuring Tomato, mozzarella cheese, black olives, chilli, pancetta and a first for me on a pizza baked potatoes. They also happened to have every San Pellagrino you could ever imagine in the fridge too, which had a huge thumbs up from me.

 

I was given the option of with or without cream in the Carbonara and for some reason said with without thinking, which I regretted at the time as I should of went as authentic to the real Roman recipe as possible and I never put cream in my famous interpretation either. Saying that the dish was very good when it came not that it would be any less with cream I just find sometimes it can be a bit over rich like the one I had at Cafe Citta recently. This wasn’t as loaded with cream so we managed to polish it off without struggling this time.

Calabrese Pizza Calabrisella Cardiff

The Calabrese Pizza though well and truely hit the spot. Thin, cripsy and not too overloaded yet not as tight as some pizza producers who basically give you a margaritta whatever topping you ask for as you will be hard pressed to find any toppings on them. This had just the right balance so that it didn’t all slide off when attempting to chomp on the slices. The right bit of heat with a bottle of chilli oil to hand if you wanted to up the ante a bit. The potatoes were absolutely devine as a topping and don’t know why I’ve never seen it before.

The Verdict

This has to be in my top 3 pizzas I’ve tasted and that includes the visit to Rome. A decent size pizza with ample toppings for sub £10 compared to the barely there and measly toppings I’ve had from street food vendors for not far off that price it goes top of the list of Pizzas in Cardiff to date but not qute beating number one spot from Ambers Wood Fired Kitchen with her goats cheese and proscuitto at The Eisteddfod last year in Abergavenny and 2nd spot being Pizza Sizza Caffetteria next to the Vatican in Rome with their mixed platter finger sized array of cheese beasts.

If you haven’t been to Calabrisella yet then get your ass there soon and if you have been there then you need no futher encouragement for a second trip.

Chipotle Corned Beef Hash with Crispy Parmesan Potatoes Recipe

Chipotle Corned Beef Hash

Ingredients

  • 1 tin corned beef cut into chunks
  • 1 red onion sliced (or I used a small red and half a white onion)
  • 2 cloves of garlic grated
  • 1 birds eye chilli
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Tin of good quality Italian plum tomatoes
  • Chipotle hot sauce
  • Mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste

chipotle corned beef hash

Parmesan roasted potato cubes

Ingredients

  • 2 large potatoes chopped into chunks ( I left the skin on)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Parmigiano Reggiano or Parmesan if that’s all you have

roast parmesan potatoes

Instructions

  1. Add the cubed potatoes to a pan of salted water and bring to a boil. Cook for around 10-15 minutes to soften but not break up. Drain in a colander and shake to bash them about and fluff up a bit so they go crispy in the oven.
  2. Mix the potatoes with a bit of oil, salt and pepper and add to the oven to crisp for around 20 minutes to finish around the same time as the hash.Add the sliced onions to a hot pan with some olive oil to brown between 5-10 minutes. I added a bit of salt and a sprinkle of sugar for the last few minutes to help caramelise the onions.
  3. Add the grated garlic and chilli to the onions and maybe a splash more oil if itís been absorbed by the onions so it doesnít burn and cook for about a minute.
  4. Add the cubed corned beef and mix to combine. Cook for a couple of minutes to warm up the corned beef then add the tinned tomatoes to the pan.
  5. Mash the tomatoes with a spoon or fork so there are no large chunks left.
  6. Give a good glug of Worcestershire sauce, a spoonful of mustard and a couple of dashes of chipotle hot sauce. Season with some pepper but you can skip the salt as there is plenty in the corned beef.
  7. I added a bay leaf to the mix and cooked on a medium for about 10-15 minutes.
  8. Check the potatoes and if they are crisping up nicely and nearly done, grate a good helping of Parmigiano Reggiano on top but not too much and return to the oven for 5 minutes to crisp up some more.
  9. Taste the hash and if it needs a bit more pepper or spice add pepper, Worcestershire sauce or chipotle sauce to your liking.
  10. Spoon the crispy potatoes between two bowls but make a well or put to the side and then add the corned beef hash in the middle of the well or on the other half of the bowl not to make the crispy potatoes soggy.

Asador 44 Lunch Menu Review Cardiff

So after trying the eagerly awaited opening of Asador 44 for my birthday back in April for the evening menu and having our first taste of Old Cow, the revered Rubia Gallega aka Gallician Blond we have been meaning to come back to compare against the lunch time menu. Thankfully the lunchtime menu offer features Picanha steak and fries for just £10, which was a welcome relief as I don’t think I could ever justify an £80 steak for lunch.

It just so happened I’d booked two days off for Mwsh’s birthday so it seemed the perfect opportunity instead of going for our normal breakfast outing on a day off and we’d had a few the past few days having camped on Flat Holm Island then stayed the night at Holm house in the 2 days prior.

I told myself I was only going to order the £10 lunch deal on the menu but that was never going to happen really after seeing the standard menu peaking up behind the smaller lunch menu offerings.

The Food

There were four options for the £10 lunch menu

  • Charcoal squash, chard, beetroot, goats curd, hazelnut
  • 40 day dry aged welsh rump cap, asador fries, salad
  • Mackerel, endive, charcoal mayonnaise, capers, asador fries
  • Charcoal market fish of the day

They also do the following childrens menu for lunch:

  • Welsh beef picanha steak, asador fries
  • Market fish goujons, asador fries

I did fancy the fish option but had seabass the day before for lunch at Holm House so it was steak option for me cooked medium rare.

charred bread and jammon butter Asador 44 Cardiff

As I wasn’t sure what the portion size was going to be like for the price I thought I’d throw in some house made chared breads with the jamon butter and oil to nibble as we waited. I loved it last time with the little meaty nuggets of cured ham mixed into soft butter allowing you to actually spread or dip into the bread without masacring the doughy chunks unlike some restaurants who think it’s acceptable to store their butter in what seems to be liquid nitrogen sometimes. Sorry just a pet hate of mine frozen butter, just why!

 

Not one to pass off scallops on a menu they offered them by the portion baked with breadcrumbs and samphire so I just went for the one to turn my steak dish into a surf and turf. Thinking it might be an idea to eat my first vegetable in four days I went for a side of spiced charcoal cauliflower too and pot of the Romesco sauce as I can’t eat my fries without something to dip them in and I daren’t ask for ketchup at this joint i think i’d be barred for life.

I was suitably impressed with the portion size when the mains did come out I have to be honest and not just the steak but the portion of fries too. This was one thing I mentioned in my review of the evening menu where we had one portion of fries between us with a massive steak but the bowl of perfectly cooked, crispy skin on fries was probably bigger than the sharing one we had previously.

medium rare steak picanha lunch Asador 44 Cardiff

We both ordered our steaks medium rare with Mwsh snatching the first plate that came out that was a perfect medium rare whereas mine bordered more along the medium end of the scale although this wasn’t too much of an issue as it was perfectly pink and succulent. I love the charred, bbq effect the Parilla grill has on the steak crisping it up yet locking and sealing in all the juice and flavour.

The romesco sauce was ok to dip the skin on fries in but as we asked the waiter what was in it and the word chilli was in there I was hoping for something a bit spicier. It was an ok dip but we tried the peppercorn and the rijoca and bone marrow last time and it didn’t quite live up to those tasty numbers.

charcoal spiced cauliflower Asador 44 Cardiff

The spiced charcoal cauliflower was a good sized portion with a whole head of purple cauliflower slightly chared in the centre atop a creamy mayo like sauce. I’d only ever seen a purple cauliflower the day before in a fruit and veg shop in Penarth and was going to buy one for my nan for a Sunday roast or cauliflower cheese on the way back to the car but the heavens opened and had to make a run for it shortly afterwards.

The dish here was fine, I like anything with a bit of char on it from a grill and the sauce gave an extra hit of flavour but I couldn’t work out where the spiced bit of the dish came in as that wasn’t coming through for me so it could of done with a bit more of the spice they added for my liking.

baked scallops and samphire Asador 44 Cardiff

Last but not least the scallop came baked in it’s shell with a breadcrumb topping. It said baked with sampire although I only had one little sprig on my shell. The star of the dish though was the scallop though so I wasn’t too worried about a bit of greenery on the side. Soft and tender with added texture from the breadcrumb it did exactly what I was expecting. I only opted for the one so you can control the portion size depending on how hungry or how big your wallet is.

The Verdict

All in all I was very impressed, in fact I’d go as far as saying I enjoyed this visit more than the first as it was a more casual affair and the price was excellent value for money. We paid £45, which included £5 each for a glass of wine with the lunch, which wasn’t too far off 1/4 of the price we paid in the evening. Ok you don’t get the Gallician Blond here but the Picanha and fries on the evening menu comes in at £22 but was a steal at £10 for lunch.

I’d like to try one of the fish and chips options on my next visit for lunch but I’d highly recommend the steak on the lunch menu for the price. Ok you have to buy a drink but the £10 for steak and chips is probably the best lunch deal in town considering the quality of the beef being used and not some laser cut piece of gristle you might get from other restaurants for around the £10 mark.

Zuma Restaurant Review Rome

So it was our final night in Rome and it was only by chance we found this place because it was recommended to us by a guy in Bocci when I was buying a shirt on the way past after our cocktails in the Stravinskij Bar.

Instead of heading back to the Vatican for our bus back to the hotel we realised it was more or less the same distance in a straight line to the hotel so we thought we would scout out somewhere for another cocktail and maybe some nibbles. I got distracted by Boggi as I had a gander around the store at the Venice train station and we asked for a recomendation for some cocktails nearby and the guy said they do good cocktails and sushi at Zuma at the Fendi store.

Just a short walk up the street and just on a street to the right of the Spanish steps was the Fendi store with the Zuma restaurant taking up the the rooftop terrace with a bar and Japanese restaurant underneath.

It took us a while looking for the entrance to the restaurant / bar inside the store but we managed to find it taking the lift to the top floor. We were met by a concierge at the top who kindly showed us to a table for two on the rooftop terrace. It was around 7pm so still quite early so wasn’t too busy up there and we were hoping for a sofa with better views of the surrounding City horizon but unfortunately they were reserved for groups of 4 or more.

After spending 22 euors per cocktail in Stravinskij Bar i was quite relieved to see the damange of around 12 euros a pop here.

I decided to follow on with another Martini but a more fruity one this time although it wasn’t quite as potent as my previous offering at Stravinskij. Armed with the menu we had a browse through the snack menu when all of a sudden I had the insatiable urge to order one of everything off the menu. We had a quick chat to the waiter who informed us that the resaurant downstairs offered a larger selection of food than the terrace so we decided to book a table ASAP downstairs.

The Restaurant

A short descent one floor in the lift and again we were kindly welcomed by the concierge at the front desk who escorted us to a vacant table, passing the open kitchen with smouldering hot coals kissing juicy chunks of meat sending whafts of smokey bbq scents across the room and a big massive smile on my face.

The decor with dark frames with ambient lighting behind fusuma portraying a traditional japanese building inside.

The Food

The good thing about the Zuma restaurant in Rome is that they have not only 1 restaurant but 3 restaurant menu’s but with the choice of ordering something from each to give you a different take on japanese food on your journey through the evening.

The waitress was ever so helpfull in explaining the menu and giving recomendations on what to order and quantities to suit.

So were weren’t sat in hunger we decided to opt for the spicy tuna sushi as we pondered over the menu, which was like a Japanese tapas / sharing type of afair. This suited us as we could have a little nibble, a bit of wine and order a bit more if we were still peckish rather than have one giant plate, eat the lot, feel bloated, unable to finish the wine and leave feeling sick.

Spicy tuna sushi roll Zuma Rome

Sold to us as spicy, the parcels of rice, with tuna chunks had a smudge of semi spicy mayo esque sauce on top with the standard pickled ginger, wasabi and soy. I don’t mind a little bit of sushi but I’ve been scared after a bout of food poisoning after grabbing a Spicy Tuna wrap at Yo Sushi in Paddington before boarding the train back to Cardiff a few years back.

We wolfed the sushi down, which was good don’t get me wrong but I just feel like i’m eating sushi as it’s healthy and not because i’m actually enjoying it if I’ve got a massive slab of sashimi in my mouth but luckily there were only little slithers of tuna. It was spicyish but not overly spicy for my taste.

coal fired chicken skewers Zuma Rome

Next up were the coal fired chicken skewers. The plate arrived with two skewers with dainty pieces of seasoned chicken wings attached and some fresh lime. This was probably the least exciting plate albeit one of the cheapest. Chicken was edible but it wasn’t in the same league as any of the other plates and there wasn’t much meat after you disect it from the skewers and bones.

chilli squid - prawn and black cod gyoza at Zuma Rome

Still on the bite sized and snack menu, we ordered the prawn and black cod gyoza and a bowl of chilli squid as standard.

Tender rings of squid with a nice crisp and spicy texture to the dish, these were up there with some of the best calamari I’ve tried and boy I’ve tried a few. The gyoza were just devine. A nice caramelisation on the base but silky smooth parcels filled with suculent and juicy nuggets of seafood. I could of eaten two plates to myself.

I think I would of died and gone to heaven if i’d had my way and ordered the Wagyu Tomahawk Steak although it would of cost me more than the 3 day trip to Italy altogether so I opted for the spicy beef tenderloin as a compromise.

Spicy beef tenderloin Zuma Rome

They don’t mess around here and don’t have you waiting long at all for each course. The beef arived already diced into manageble chunks. The meat was so tender, doused in soy, sesame and flecks of chilli. I don’t know how they managed to get beef this soft and melt in the mouth cooked over hot coals but i’m guessing they must of braised it or tenderised it in some kind of soy based marinade first. After my first chunk I immediately remembered buying some beef braising sauce from a Japanse deli a few months back my mind went wandering off thinking of how i could re-create the dish when I got back. This was easily the best plate of steak I’d ever tasted.

soy glazed bbq sweet potato Zuma Rome

After ordering a couple of meat dishes we thought we’d get some vegetables down us too, so we ordered the sweet potato dish. Also fired up over the hot coal they came slightly chared, yet soft in the middle with a delicious, salty soy glaze. These will definitely be making an appearance come BBQ season back home too.

We had probably had more than enough to feed a family of 4 by this point but the waitress finally twisted our arm and we opted for the lamb chops to finish off the main feast as she said it was her favourite on the menu.

lamb cutlets Zuma Rome

Flame licked, crispy lamb fat cooked perfectly pink in the middle. I don’t know how it took me 6 dishes to convince me I needed this lamb in my life but I’m glad I came around to the idea as lamb is one of my fav’s especially gnawing every last crispy morsel off the bone at the end. My innner caveman making an appearance.

Any other waitress would of looked at us in disgust at the amount we had just ate but ours was so lovely and on point with the food and drinks from start to finish. Well we were in Rome so I planned on eating like an Emperor before the curtain closed on our blink and it’s almost over trek across Italy. Dessert it was!

chocolate and Nikka Japanese Whisky dessert Zuma Rome

I was tempted to have a Japanese Whisky on the side with my food but the white wine was flowing ever so well so I decided to opt for some of it in my dessert instead. One hell of a concoction filled my dessert bowl with chocolate parfait, tonka bean marshmallow, Nikka Japanese Whisky jelly and chocolate shards. I’m sure there must of been another 10 ingredients working their magic in there but I couldn’t pick them out.

This was decadent but the whisky jelly wasn’t as potent as I’d hoped and the whisky didn’t come through that well but it was a very good dessert.

banana green tea and peanut caramel dessert Zuma Rome

As we were doing a sharsies one dessert just wasn’t enough so also on the table to share was a banana and green tea cake, coconut ice cream and peanut toffee. This surely was the finishing dish to top off an amazing first experience at Zuma in Rome.

Soft sponge, sweet sticky and nutty caramel puddles complimented beautifully with the coconut ice cream and smashed peanuts. Again I wept a little at the thought of having to hand over half of it although that was probably wise considering the 20 million calories i’d just consumed in such as small space of time.

The Verdict

This was probably the most expensive meal I’ve ever had out but I’d also say it was probably the best dinning experience I’ve ever had to date. We did have a feast fit for an Emperor and the service was first class. The waitress was so attentive filling the wine, checking we were ok, giving recommendations, the speed they delivered each plate was insane. The flames must of just licked the meat with never more than a few minutes from ordering to tucking into each plate but what came was absolutely spot on flavourwise and quality.

We just ordered more of a grazing, tapas style meal but they cater for those looking for premium cuts and quality with the Wagyu tomahawk, lobster etc. I can only imagine how amazing the lobster would of tasted and that will be top of my list if I ever come back again.

I’d go back in a flash and would recommend anyone visiting the Zuma in Rome or any of the other sites around the world if this one was anything to go by.

Price cost around 170 euros but that included two cocktails, bottle of wine, 7 dishes and 2 desserts.

New summer menu launch at Chapel 1877

I was kindly asked to attend the new summer menu launch at Chapel 1877 this week on Churchil Way in Cardiff.

I’d been twice previously for food but on both occassions for the Christmas dinner menu with work two years in a row but I’d not actually dinned from the main menu. I do remember making quite a dent in the cocktail menu on both occasions mind and they were pretty good from what i can remember.

The restaurant is located in yes you guessed it a beautifully restored aunate Chapel with perfect attention to detail everywhere. I love the fact that the upstairs toilets both male and female toilets are located in old confession booths, so there are touches of character all over the place.

I didn’t realise till I attended Tuesday night either that you can get married and hire out the whole venue for weddings, with the ceremony taking place on a raised platform on the 1st floor, with guests taking view from seated areas surrounding the platform. They’ve also got, which was news to me too an underground room available for events and parties too although I didn’t get chance to see it but I had images of tales form the Crypt scenes and would make an awesome halloween party.

Tequila cocktail Chapel Cardiff

We got a welcome drink on arrival, some tequila concoction with lemoncello to wet the whistle and was the first time in a while i’d had a tequila on a Tuesday.

The Food

The aim of the new menu was to be fresh, seasonal but light yet filling enough that you could take outside and nibble on in the terrace in the sun with a lusicous cold glass of bubbles.

We had a condensed version to choose a course from each with 3 options for each course but from what I could see they looked like the stars of the show anyway.

I’ve fancied ceviche for ages and very rarely see it on a menu in Cardiff and it reminded me of my one and only occasion I’ve tried it in Miami and it was so fresh, fragrant and zingy with the citrus cured seafood I could of eated mountains of it. However the ceviche option on the menu this time was my arch nemesis Salmon one of only two food stuffs banned from my diet as I’ve tried and failed many times to condition myself to eat. Never the less if you like salmon, which the majority of the rest of the population do then I’d definitely recommend that one.

scallops and grapefruit starter Chapel Cardiff

Top of my list then had to be the scallops. served with grapefruit and fennel this was a welcome change to the standard pancetta, black pudding or proscuitto it gets served with 95% of the time at other restaurants. I wasn’t sure how it was going to work when I first saw the grapefruit but after a good year pairing my Portabello Road Gin with grapefruit twist I think I’ve built up a taste for it and it worked beautifully with the scallops. The fennel was subtle and not overpowering the delicate white meaty morcels and they even had those very chefy caviar balls i’ve seen both perfected and masacred on Masterchef recently.

Welsh lamb main Chapel Cardiff

Mains was a toughie to decide on with the pork dish coming with my fav potato gratin, crispy proscuitto and I’m a succer for a crispy sea bass and salty bed of samphire. In the end I settled for Welsh Lamb with crispy polenta and tapennade. The lamb was cooked to perfection with juicy pink flesh glistening and inviting me in with the sticky and rich sauce working in perfect harmony. I loved the crispy polenta, which added lovely texture to the dish and warm tomatoes and greens adding a good balance to the meaty dish.

I’d have to admit that usually I would of been wishing for a mountain of carbs and potatoes to fill me till i felt like exploding but I think that’s were I’ve been going wrong all these years as I just need to lie down after eating usually but I had just the right amount on my plate. I think it was nice not to have the plate not overcrowded and for those who want to fill up on extra stodge and carbs could easily order a side portion of potatoes, gratin or fries but more me I was just right. Plus I had to leave room for dessert obviously.

Sadly for me and this is nothing i can put blame on The Chapel for but the only two food items I don’t like crept into the menu with salmon on the starter and banana ice cream paired with what is usually one of my favs chocolate and salted caramel. I know i’m a rare bread and everyone else I know likes both of these so I can see both plates being popular with others.
The lemon posset sounded like a strong contender too but I’ve a new found love of creme brulee after being late to the show from only trying it a few weeks back from Wild Fig with their sticky toffee pudding offering at Roath Yard / Streetfood Circus.

Cherry Bakewell Creme Brulee Chapel Cardiff

Here at The Chapel, they went for a bastardised version of the creme brulee by morphing two dessert favourites into one with the cherry bakewell creme brulee with lemon shortbread biscuit to dunk. Crispy shards of hardened, molten sugar crust with silky custardy centre and cherry bombs hidden away within the mix too. It was a strong dessert and with only my 2nd experience of creme brulee I was still suitable impressed. What would of been the cherry on top so to speak for me would of been some boozy Luxardo Marachino Cherries they drop in the bottom of a gin aviation cocktail instead of standard cherries but then that would probably add a few extra quid on top of the price but the dish was good as is, but here’s to dreaming.

The Verdict

The new menu launched on Wednesday 5th July for those interested in sampling what’s on the menu and I saw on my Twitter feed yesterday they are even doing a lunch menu for £5 and i think it was just £2.50 to add a pint or glass of house wine too. I could really fault anything on my plate to be fair and ejoyed my two other visits for the Christmas Dinner menu.

They do a 7 course taster menu that i’ve seen show up on Travelzoo now and then, which I might snap up the next time I see if floating about if this experience is anything to go by.

Details

Address: Churchill Way, Cardiff, CF10 2WF
Tel: 029 2022 2020
Website: www.chapel1877.com