I first came across The Pot Bistro back last year whilst researching French restaurants in Cardiff to compile my list of places celebrating Beaujolais Day. After doing a bit more digging and seeing some of the pics of the food they are banging out of the kitchen i’ve been desperate to go try it there.
The only sticking point is it’s based up on Whitchurch Road, just down from Got Beef and Society Standard and being a French restaurant it’s against the law not to have a glass or two of wine to wash the food down with so that’s driving out and the price on Uber getting is recidivous.
Not one to follow tradition I didn’t fancy going out for food on Valentines night and basically pay double for what is pretty much the same food with just the odd dash of champagne tossed in the dessert and on the table so opted to go out on 15th instead.
I bit the bullet and offered to drive so we could finally sample The Pot Bistro, having to make do and ration a small glass of vin du for the entire evening with my meal, who said love is dead hey?
The Bistro is a no nonsense back to basics approach to decor and you couldn’t help but think you are sat tucked away in a back alley cafe in the shadows of the Chateaux de versailles, where I spent quite a few trips away with work back at my time with a well known French Aviation company a few years back. This being the reason I grew fond of French cooking, feasting on Foie gras for the first time, realising lamb could actually be served medium rare instead of resembling tree bark that i’d grown accustomed to with my nans Sunday roast, how much meal time was such a social event out there and how much wine they consumed with their food even at lunch time at the onsite restaurant in the office!
The Pot Bistro had an open plan kitchen setup with a little bar in front of the kitchen proudly displaying the array of spirits on offer. The place was a bit busier than I had expected being mid week but there were probably a few others with the same idea of me not wanting to be vomiting in a bucket watching new loves gazing into each others eyes over a candle lit dinner the night before on Valentines night.
The place isn’t huge though i’d say seating for around 30 but we did have a choice of seat from the waitress. It was just my luck I picked the worst seat i’ve ever perched my booty in, it was beyond painful to sit and basically had to lie back with my head just above the table to find a sweet spot on my back. All the chairs were different though they seemed to be miss matched so it could of been that was the only one like it in the restaurant. I should of just asked to swap but it was quite intimate in there and i didn’t want to make a fuss so my own fault for putting up with it really.
The waitress was lovely and went through the menu with us on what we could have and any extra we had to pay for some more expensive items as we had a 3 course and glass of wine offer through Wriggle Cardiff the app and website specialising in independent restaurants and offering daily deal type offers. Take a look here for more info and discount code AUHPSS will get you a bit more off your first order if you sign up, go to invite friends in the app and add the code in the top right.
I know i should start making my way through some different items on the starter menu but when you like something it’s hard to deter from that so I went with the seared scallops, french sausage, bacon and sweet potato puree. Mwsh liking scallops just as much as me gave me the death stare on announcing my option to the waitress so felt compelled to try something different and with her utter contempt for soup it was only going to be one runner up and that was the pate.
The scallops were perfectly cooked with nice golden sear on the outside yet succulent and tender in the middle. It was nice to have scallops with a bit of saltiness from a cured meat with the bacon but the herby French sausage brought through different levels of flavour I’d not had with the standard chorizo or black pudding that every Doug or Geraint knocks up in the kitchen of most restaurants these days. The smear of sweet potato gave a bit of sweetness to the salt and meatiness of the sausage and bacon.
The pate was presented in a nice little mason jar that has been a staple in my work bag the past few weeks filled with proats although this was a little smaller but still very generous portion size for one. The pate was so smooth, protected by a thick layer of set butter. I don’t know why but it always seems to be the case that you could feed a family of four with the portion size of the pate in almost all restaurants i’ve ordered pate at yet you only a portion of bread to feed an 8 year old child. Mwsh made her way through about half the pate, which tasted of velvet offally goodness when she ran out of bread. Then here comes the dilemma of do I just leave it or do I look like someone feeding pate to a dog by spooning it on the knife and smearing it onto your tongue scraping it off with your lips.
With some gentle persuasion she asked if there was a spare bit of bread to help mop up the remnants of the mason jar filled with prime french inspired livers and they were more than happy to accommodate the request without a second thought. I don’t know why i’ve never tried this before but sometimes us British are just too damn polite when it comes to dinning out. The extra bread about 3 or 4 toasted slices of baguette were greatly received and meant I could wean another portion off the plate for my own gratification.
The mains and the gloves were off once again with both myself and Mwsh favouring the same plate off the mains and I went with the duo of lamb because it reminded me of the best plate of lamb cutlets I’d ever had whilst on a trip over to France and wanted to relive the sumptuous occasion being in a French restaurant, which is a rare occasion for me in Cardiff with little other options in the City until recently.
She was more than welcome to have the same but we do like to sample a few different dishes so we can share when dinning out but her option might go some way in showing her stance on me picking the best two items off the menu as she went for the bouillabaisse. Basically a fish stew featuring my worse nightmare…salmon!
Out came the mains and my eyes widened with pupils dilated on the delivery of such a thing of natural beauty bestowed upon my stunned open mouth. The thing was epic but soon brought me down to earth with the upside down smile bent thrown across the table in disappointment compared to her dish. Mine was a monster and even though the bouillabaisse looked like it was a well of flavour waiting to be lapped up adorned with a huge prawn it did look a bit like a stew. Reading from the menu we both thought it would be more of a pie as it had potatoes and we saw something on the Instagram account that resembled the description but the potatoes were a side dish of crispy cubes but the place was more of a fish soup and she hates soup.
I was informed the lamb would be cooked medium rare and I was more than happy to agree to the Chef’s recommendation when ordering. There was a decent sized hunk of lamb rump, browned to perfection but plump and glistening with pink and red whilst expertly sliced with my steak knife. There were two lamb cutlets accompanying the rump, generously coated in thick, rich red wine jus. The cutlets were a bit thinner than my plate in France but they didn’t come with a thick juicy rump of lamb so I wasn’t too disappointed. The dish came with a big wedge of tartiflette, which must be French for potato gratin. Not quite as divine as my favourite potato dish, dauphinoise but couldn’t fault them and it was a decent portion compared to some measly slices i’ve had in the past.
There were a few nuggets of my newly acquired taste of black pudding, paired with sautéed leeks within the jus that offered another layer of flavour to the dish.
I only had a little sample of the Bouillabaisse as I’m not a fan of salmon but Mwsh did work her way through the array of fish chunks sitting in the bowl. She said it was tasty i think it was just the image of soup she couldn’t get out of her head as she was expecting a fish pie with fondant, crispy potato swirls pipped on top of the fishy underbelly of the dish. What was lacking in my eyes though as anyone who has a soup, pie, stew of any sort there’s one thing that is universally agreed upon is the broth must and i repeat MUST be mopped up with a big hunk of fresh crusty bread but there was none in sight. I’m sure the waitress would of offered if we had asked but we’d already asked for more bread on the previous dish so didn’t want to take the piss.
There wasn’t a flambeed crepe suzette in sight on the dessert menu thank god but wasn’t sure what to opt for on the choices that were on offer. Mwsh opted for the Cointreau bread and butter pudding with creme anglaise so I opted for the chocolate torte and cream so we could sharsies.
The bread and butter pudding reminded me a bit of a softened bara brith flavour wise and I couldn’t find any hints of the Cointreau but it was a heavenly plate of sugary stodge and the creme anglaise was the perfect touch.
My chocolate torte was so rich, it left swathes of chocolate inches thick inside my mouth and tongue on each spoonful. The creme added a good balance of creaminess to the plate and the smear of raspberry coulis gave a extra hit of flavour to the chocolate party going on inside my mouth.
I was impressed with the nights events and the food we ate and would definitely recommend it to anyone. The breakfast is next on my list there as it sounds right up my street and I need to start ticking off some places for breakfast in the city as I’ve only sampled a handful. There’s a decent selection of wine on the drinks menu, I didn’t enquire about cocktails and I didn’t’ see any draft beer on tap as I was driving but I’m sure there would be a few bottled European options to choose from.
The food was on the ball and the service was excellent. I would recommend the owners or waitresses to try sitting on the chair I was sat in and either take an axe to it or put a new back rest on it as it was so uncomfortable I was actually in pain sitting down and don’t be shy with the bread with the pate starter or the Bouillabaisse but apart from that I’d definitely go back.
They have a midweek deal on at the moment £20 for two courses and a glass of wine or keep an eye out on Wriggle to see if the £20 deal for 3 courses and a glass of wine.