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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!

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.

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.

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

Moroccan Sausage and Potato Salad

Although it is spiced with Middle Eastern spices this wouldn’t be a typical Middle Eastern dish due to the use of pork that is widely forbidden for consumption due to religious reasons but I found the flavours work well myself.

This makes an easy lunch for work or would work really well as a side dish for BBQ for a healthy alternative to potato salad smothered in mayo. 

Ingredients

  • 1 pack of Heck 97% pork sausages
  • 1 tin of chickpeas
  • 4 medium sized potatos peeled and cubed
  • 1 packet of feta cheese cubed
  • 1 red onion diced
  • 1 chilli diced
  • 8 cherry tomatoes quartered
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 1 lemon
  • za’atar seasoning
  • olive oil

Instructions

  1. Grate the garlic and add the juice of a lemon to a small jar. This will cook the garlic slightly and make it a bit more mellow compared to its raw state.
  2. Cook the potatoes in a pan of boiling water till done (You could also use leftover potatoes that have cooled down)
  3. Cook the sausages according to instructions and let cool.
  4. Cook the Chickpeas and let cool.
  5. When the cooked ingredients have cooled add them to a large bowl and add the garlic and lemon, red onion, chilli, tomatoes and feta then mix to combine.
  6. Add a good glug of extra virgin olive oil and mix again.
  7. Add a teaspoon of Za’atar seasoning and season with extra bit of salt and pepper to taste then give it one last mix to combine the seasoning with the rest of the dish.
  8. Add more Za’tar if the ingredients are not covered enough and even an extra sprinkle of sumac if you have any. I got both from Tesco from their own brand.
  9. Put in the fridge to chil and bring all the flavours together for a few hours or overnight for the following day.

Turtle Bay Restaurant Review Cardiff

Being a lover of independant’s it’s very rare I go to a chain restaurant these days let alone make a repeat visit within 6 months.

The restaurant in question is Turtle Bay, a Carribean themed restaurant located on St Mary Street next door to Kongs. If spice isn’t your thing you might want to skip this place as there are plenty of chilli’s of all varieties especially in the revered Carribean staple Jerk seasoning that pops up on many of the mains and sides with bottles to hand to smother some more onto the plate if you’ve not got enough heat to content with.

Turtle Bay is also a popular retreat for wetting the whistle as they are known for their cocktail happy hours offering 2 for 1 from open till 7pm then 10pm till close.

The Drinks

I’ve popped in for a cocktail a few times of late to take advantage of the 2 for 1 drinks offer. As i’ve got older and after being a recent gin convert I find most cocktails very sweet and remind me of 18-30 holiday in Magaluf compared to the subtle neutral flavours of gin.

There’s a good selection of cocktails in the offer to be had but you do need to choose two of the same. My first choice happened to be a Carribean take on the classic long island iced tea.

Not a bad choice as the cola substitutes the overly sweet mixers of most cocktails and had a decent kick to it compared to some other bars offering 2 for 1. I usually find the 2 for 1 cocktails at most places just means you get the same amount of alcohol just divided into two glasses so really you’re just getting more mixer. So instead of having a double shot in one for say £7 you get two cocktails for £7 but you get a single in each topped up with sickly pre packaged mixers.

After chatting to the barman and telling him we popped over to see what the place was about after being served watered down 2 for 1 cocktails nearby earlier in the evening.

Secret Cocktail Menu

I was glad to hear that they had a secret cocktail list not on the main menu and this happened to include gin martinis.

You get a choice of vodka or gin Martini and also get to choose Tanquery I think it was or Sipsmith, which of course I opted for the more superior Sipsmith option. Unfortunately they didn’t have any olives or lemon rind to hand to make a dirty martini or just a bit of citrus touch as I would normally use. They did have lime but I don’t like lime in my Gin and I couldn’t complain for that price.

Gin Martini at Turtle Bay Cardiff

The measures were spot on with the Martini too with a double helping of Sipsmith Gin, shot of Noily Prat Vermouth. So for around £7 you get two double decent quality gin watered down with fortified wine, what’s not to like but it’s not for the faint hearted. I let a few of my mates sample a sip and all but one winced in horrified fashion to the strength of the drink. I think they just need more practice.

The Food

As we’ve dined her twice i’ll mention the plates ordered on both occasions.

Starters and nibbles

First choice whenever we eat out is calamari or squid in whatever form they specialise in if it’s on the menu. Here they offered crispy chilli squid, which was right up both our street as we both love a bit of heat with the squid.

crispy chilli squid at Turtle Bay Cardiff

Served as described, spicy and crispy in it’s panko breadcrumb crust with a cooling citrus blast from the mango, lime and corriander mayo.

Second visit we fancied a few different bits from the starter menu so opted for the Just Jerked sharing platter . This included pit jerked chicken wings, glazed pork ribs, jerked beef riblets, sweetcorn fritters, spiced popcorn, salad and something i’d been craving since passing a random Carribean hut on the way back from Cardiff Bay Wetlands reserve the weekend before a Jamaican beef patty.

Jerk sharing platter at Turtle Bay Cardiff

This is basically like a Jamaican version of Wahaca in my eyes with each course oozing with flavour with a good punch of heat and spice from every bite, just how I like. I couldn’t fault any of the platter, you can’t go wrong with spicy sticky wings, the meat just fell off the pork ribs with a rich, spicy glaze on the beef ribs. The popcorn didn’t really do much for me mind and was just there to fill the try a bit I think.

Mains

First visit we ordered the pork ribs with sweet potato fries. Decent sized tender ribs with a slight spice, topped with chutney paired with something i’ve failed to ever create at home a really nice crispy sweet potato fry topped with cheese and spicy jerk sauce.

Jerk ribs with sweet potato fries at Turtle Bay Cardiff

We both loved the goat curry so much we opted to have another plate on the second visit. Slowly braised and very tender morsels of goat in a thick, spicy curry served with coconut rice and peas, chutney and a portion of dumplings. The rice made a lovely change with it’s subtle fragrance compared to somewhat bland offering of plain white rice at some restaurants.

 

Fancying a one pot wonder too my eyes hovered over the Bajan beef cheeks. The menu read “Six hour slowly simmered beef cheeks marinated in Caribbean spice, okra, potato, garlic, ginger, star anise, cinnamon, coriander & toasted coconut.” I mean come on, how could you turn your nose up to that?

Again I’ve not had a piece of meat that wasn’t tender and disintegrating on contact with my tongue at Turtle Bay yet and this was still the case here. A good bit of heat yet nothing too crazy warmed my sinuses with a little trickle of a runny nose is always a good sign in my eyes. The plate also came with steamed rice and roti flatbread to aid my favourite past time…making a sandwich out of absolutely anything on my plate.

 

Verdict

I would definitely recommend Turtle Bay for food and a cocktail if you’re going for the Gin Martini on the secret cocktail menu although it’s a shame they don’t have any olives or lemon to garnish it.

All the food i’ve tried so far was packed full of flavour and just the right amount of spice for me anyway. The vibe is very relaxed and always see big groups of people for what must be birthday’s and work outings in town. The bartenders are all very friendly and happy to help you pick a drink or food item. I don’t actually think i’ve ever seen bartenders so happy behind the bar anywhere like there saying that.

Starters are around £5 and mains from about £10 coupled with some 2 for 1 cocktails it’s a recipe for a good night with friends, family or work colleagues for an informal shindig.

I’m ashamed to say i’ve been there for food twice and still not tried the dessert so sadly I can’t comment but I might just have a side of dessert with my next cocktail visit to see if i’ve been missing out.

Curado Bar Tapas and Pintxos Restaurant Review in Cardiff

Popular Narberth and Aberystwyth Deli Ultracomedia’s Cardiff venue launched late last year after taking over the old Burger King building on the corner of Westgate Street and breaking from tradition they’ve rebranded the restaurant and deli Curado. Don’t worry they’ve had a refurb with exposed brick in white, new bar with seating around it and a deli set up in the corner to buy all the ingredients on the menu at the tapas and pintxos style restaurant.

I’d popped in to sample some of the plates during the Christmas holiday’s and then a few days later after being suitably impressed for a low key NYE nibble and beer sampling before midnight.

I’ve called in for the glass of vino and beer since then but not taken another stab at finishing off where I had left off on the food menu until yesterday so I thought I’d grace the visit with a blog post and review seeing that it’s my 3rd visit. I was also spurned on by the offer of two De La Cocina plates for £6.95 with Wriggle and seeing that it was two of us we got 4 for £13.90 up to the value of £26.

The Drinks

There are 3 beers on tap at Curado. They have their own brew, sea water based El Baroque and sherry barrel aged Torro that come in a choice of 3 glass sizes along with a selection of Spanish beers in bottle too. I’ve tried all three in previous visits and taken a bottle of Torro home to enjoy at my own leisure. All three were more than palatable but I’d not sampled any of the bottled options on the menu.

Curado have an extensive list of wines by the region although I found the menu somewhat confusing as they are categorised by region and not by wine type so you get white, red and rose all mixed up within each wine region. The person serving behind the bar has always been more than helpful choosing a good wine though and offering samples of each to find the perfect match to your preference.

Spanish Gin at Curado Cardiff

On to the Gin’s. Last but not least and seeing that a lot of the produce is imported from the Galician region of Spain I was delighted to see they stock mine and Mwsh’s favourite gin, the white grape based Nordes, which takes centre stage on the wine shelf at home.

There’s no Gordon’s here thank God and there are a few other Spanish Gin’s I’d not laid eyes on previously. The manager kindly gave us a small sample of some of the other Gin’s in the collection after frequenting the venue regularly since opening.

The Food

The food menu at Curado is split out into different sections. You have the bit’s to pick at, tinned stuff, from the deli, from the kitchen then pintxos with either meat, fish or veggies. Oh and a nice little selection of desserts.

Para Picar / bits to pick at

What i’d call beer snacks on the Para Picar section translated at bits to pick at. This featured olives, bread and oils, salami sticks and Iberian pork scratchings.

 

From this I tried a generous portion pork scratchings priced at £4 on a previous visit and as the menu suggests they pair very well with a Torro beer.

We’ve had the Spanish bread with oil and garlic mayonnaise 3 times now because who doesn’t love bread, olive oil and vinegar with an added bonus of the mother of all garlic mayonnaise to dunk in. I’m sure the two previous occasions it came warm and freshly baked in a small loaf but Sunday it came cold and was disected from a large circular loaf I noticed behind the counter when I came into the restaurant. Still good but nothing beats a freshly baked bread.

From the deli

From this section I’ve tried the octopus in onion, peppers and vinegar. A bit like a seafood salsa, this was enjoyable but with strong pungeunt flavours from the onion and tartness of the vinegar against the somewhat mild flavoured octopus, it was hard to make the favour of the octopus from the rest of the dish. Also from the deli I’ve tried the White Pig. Shavings of Iberico pork arranged in army formation on my plate. Teamed with the pork scratchings they give a double hit of porky fatty lusciousness.

From the kitchen

My favourite part of the menu and where I’ve been working my way through on my 3 visits to the Cardiff tapas bar.

Most of the rest of the menu is pre-prepared, sliced or emptied from a tin cold but the kitchen is where it’s at with it being freshly cooked to order.

Tatas bravas always sound more appealing that what you are presented with whenever I order them. Perhapds it’s just my expectations of little crispy potato nuggets like nanny Carole’s charred and crunchy roast potatos she piles high on my Sunday Roast but what I always get is small unseasoned, anaemic chunks of potato.

These were cooked a little better but I’ve never had a really good, crispy, fatty potato in my tatas bravas. Maybe the potato should be boiled a bit and fluffed up before frying but I’m still on the quest for the perfect tatas bravas. The alioli does try to make amends with strong garlic punch in the face.

Onto mine and Mwsh’s favourite dish the Champinones al ajillo or the garlic mushrooms in cream and sherry on toast for those not conversant in Spanish (like myself). These are unlike any garlic mushrooms you’ve ever tried, trust me i’ve had a few. The addition of sherry to the mix turns your average garlic muckroom on steroids. You might want to order an extra loaf of bread just clean the plate of any remnants of the creamy sauce.

Next up are the Gambas al ajillo / 4 Atlantic red prawns cooked in garlic butter. Priced at £6 in my eyes these were no less juicy or smaller that the £16 one I’d ordered in Asador a month earlier and you get 4 of the buggers for £10 less.

octopus potato and paprika at Curado Cardiff

The sliced octopus on warm potatoes with oil and paprika was probably both our least favourite dish we’ve ordered there. It was all just a little too bland for our liking, apart from a sprinkle of paprika on the potatoes there was no seasoning whatsoever so we had to douse them in salt and pepper but even then there wasn’t much to write home about with the octopus, which again seemed very bland in comparison to some of the other dishes we’ve sampled there.

If there’s ever squid or calamari on a menu we can’t not order a portion to nibble on wherever we are and we did try the chipirones NYE, which I found to be fine but Mwsh thought they were overly salty and a bit chewy so we skipped them this time on Sunday.

We’d tried the adobo marinated school shark deep fried with lemon previously and opted for them again Sunday as I enjoyed them back in December. They delivered again on Sunday, slightly spiced and fried yet tender and flakey meat doused in lemon juice they married well with the vino blanco we were sipping. It didn’t come with it but we had some garlic mayo left from the bread and this went perfectly with the white fish so you might want to try asking for a portion with yours or they should consider adding a pot with the dish as it was a lovely addition.

We didn’t opt for it Sunday but I did try the garlic and thyme marinated iberico pork, pan fried with lemon and allioli and basque peppers previously. A nice meaty dish after trying mostly fish dishes and very generous on the portions compared to the portion sizes of some other local tapas bars.

Although we never ordered it and it’s something for the next visit but someone sitting behind us had the strong goey ewe’s cheese baked in a pot fondue style and served like camembert with crusty bread and jamon butter and it looked devine. At £17 I thought it was a little steep compared to the reasonable pricing on the other dishes although it did look twice the size of a serving of camembert but the amount of bread it came with could of been a bit more generous. Brings me back to my constant frustration of having a council brick slab of pate and one triangle of bread to spread onto. This was confirmed when the dinners had to order an additional portion of bread to mop up the cheesy bowl of heaven.

I didn’t realise they also did Chuleton or dray aged 4 year old Galician beef a la Asador although Asador’s is 8 year old and dry aged for at least 40 days as oposed to 21 days here at Curado. The price did reflect this though coming in at £55 per kilo compared to Asador priced at £85 but I’m not sure how the breed compares as Asador use Galician Blond.

Pintxos

Most people have probably heard of tapas but I’d only heard of Pintxos as I build a website a few years back for a spanish chef who caters for paella and pintxos at food festivals. Pintxos is basically little bit sized pieces of food speared through a piece of bread. This could be peppers, olives, cheese, fish or cured meat.

pintxos at Curado Cardiff

Priced between £2 or £3 per piece, hese are handy if you just fancy a light snack and not a full on assault on the belly with a spanish feast. We tried the air dried beef and the anchiovy, boqueron and piquillo pepper with salsa verde pinxtos on a previous visit, which we both enjoyed but we had ordered enough bread and stodge this time already so we skipped this section.

Desserts

If you asked me to name a traditional Spanish dessert I’d probably be there for a few days thinking to be honest but what I’ve sampled at Curado so far have all been on point.

ice cream and sherry dessert at Curado Cardiff

 

A Spanish take on the Afogato with vanilla ice cream drowned in alcohol namely sherry in this instance but without the hit of coffee. Sweet sherry paired with creamy vanilla ice cream, so simple yet it does the job perfectly.

We had the good fortune of tasting the Gacilian baked cheesecake last time we were there and we were hooked. Never tried crack myself but i’m guessing it’s similar to my constant urge to drag myself into Curado every day i pass from work for my next fix of the mystifyingly addictive curdled like cream laden stodge. The first bite is very odd i’ll admit but stick with it kid because it will soon have you stabbing your fork in for another mouthfull.

Just because I always love the thought of churros until I see the plastic like chocolate gunk some food festival stalls attempt to pass off as chocolate sauce to dunk the cinnamon and sugar crusted dough sticks in I thought I’d take a punt this time seeing that they know a thing or two about them in Spain.

The churros came bundled into a mug, 3 ribbons of crispy doughnut caked in sugar. I like my sweet stuff but I had to give them a few bashes against the plate to get a lot of the sugar off as I would of turned diabetic after finishing them.

They were served with a little glass filled with faintly sweetened real chocolate sauce. This was a welcome decision seeing that the churros covered in so much sugar and didn’t really need anymore sweetness.

As I’d shared half the baked cheesecake with Mwsh, sadly I had to share my plate of churros and chocolate as I would of easily wolfed the lot down myself.

The Verdict

I’d highly recommend Curado as it’s my interpretation of the most authentic tapas bar in Cardiff and surrounding South Wales. Unpretentious, the menu serves exactly what I’d expect in a rural tapas / pintxos cafe in Spain. The prices are very reasonable for food there and you won’t go home feeling hungry even with even a small few plates between you.

If it’s your first visit I’d try and pick one or two dishes for each section just to have a true tapas experience but remember, you just must order the garlic mushrooms it’s the rules!

Prices are reasonable anyway but they do have some regular deals on Wriggle at lunchtime midweek for Cardiff workers like the one advertised on Tuesday 16th May with any 3 basque Pintxos for £4.95 instead of £9 or the one we took advantage of yesterday any two De La Cocina dishes up to £13 for just £6.95.

Find out more about Wriggle Cardiff discounts and also get money off your first order with the discount code AUHPSS when you add it to your account under refer a friend > Redeem Code.

Pettigrew Tea Rooms Review – Cardiff Castle

Pettigrew Bakery at Riverside Market

I’m a big fan of Pettigrew from first discovering them at Riverside Market on a Sunday with their arsenal of savoury and sugary goodies, tempting passing market visitors with generous helpings of tasters to hand. I think it’s fair to say i’ve gone through the whole menu at least once with the gargantuan Welsh Rarebit pasties, bombay bombs, goey brownies and the crisp and fluffy bread on offer, who could walk past empty handed.

After following on Instaweb I quickly learned they’ve not only got a fully fledged bakery up near Victoria park but they’ve also comandeered gatehouse lodge within the castle grounds offering afternoon teas, cake and an array of speciality teas at the Pettigrew Tea Rooms.

Pettigrew Tea Rooms Tea and Cake

Well it’s been nearly a year now and I still hadn’t popped into the Pettigrew Tea Rooms to see what’s on offer even though i’ve jumped ship from Newport and now working not even 100 yards up the road. I wasn’t quite sure whether they did take aways like pasties or breakfasts and did poke my head in once on a Friday morning requiring some much needed stodge or grease on the way to work after a few beers the night before but still was none the wiser.

Then last week Mwsh was finished for the day in work early so decided to walk half way to meet me but accidently fell into Pettigrew Tea Rooms on the way. Feeling left out, I clocked off to head over before they shut shop to see what was on offer.

Seeing as they were closing soon I didn’t want to be like that guy who orders 3 pints for themselves at stop tap and sitting there for 2 hours whilst everyone cleaned around him, clock watching as their waiting for their train home so just bought a cake from the treasure chest of delights next to the till. After some deliberating I opted for the coconut and passionfruit. A nice healthy slab of crumbly, tropical stodge. I begrunginly offered a meagre corner for Mwsh to try and we were both suitably impressed. She’d devoured one before I arrived so sadly didn’t get to try that one but I was more than happy with my choice. Would of gone nice with a cuppa but my own fault for arriving so close to closing although I’m sure they would of accomodated had I asked.

The Pettigrew Tea House Breakfast

After sussing the place out and having a sneaky peak of the menu I fancied trying some food there to see how they compare against the awesome selection of baked goodies from the bakery. I’d seen Wriggle starting to advertise breakfasts at Pettigrew a few weeks back but they were starting at 9am to 11.30am but I was usually in work by 9 so that didn’t work until I saw one on a Saturday that Mwsh happened to have off work too so I snapped the deal up for £5.50 each for a full Welsh breakfast instead of £8.50.

Unbeknown to me it was the Flower Show in the castle grounds that morning after getting into a conversation with Pettigrew on social media and they said to try and get there early but being a Saturday that was never going to happen. Anyway we got an Uber as we were running fashionably late to reach Pettigrew within the Wriggle time slot and it was like a sale in Marks and Spencer on a Sunday, oldies everywhere heading to the flower show and we had to weave in an out of the almost stationary human traffic. We managed to bring the sun with us from Italy as it had been sunny for a good week since coming home and they had laid out all the tables and chairs they could muster outside. Breakfast in the sun sounded awesome but to our dissapointment breakfast was only served inside it was just teas, ice creams and the baked goods from the bakery table parked up outside.

Luckily we got a table straight away inside after panicking we would be qeueuing down the street till gone midday and missing the breakfast as I was absolutely starving. I didn’t even need to see the menu a full welsh it was with a pot of English breakfast to help that breakfast vacate my eager fork.

Food wasn’t long at all and it’s not very often I get excited by a sausage but it was hell of a banger! Accompanying the meaty sausaaage was two eggs of your choice, I went poached as I masacre them whenever I try them at home and getting a bit sick of my egg griddle in the morning. Homemade beans, lavabread savoury scone or you could of gone with thick cut toast, 2 quality rashers of bacon, a generous helping of mushrooms and grilled cherry tomatoes. Buried underneath the mound of fried heaven on a plate was two rounds of black pudding.

The sausage tasted delicious, it was a proper farmhouse number, good proportion of meat to herbs and it probably would of been a struggle with two i’ll be honest. I liked the savoury scone although I wouldn’t of minded having a couple of pieces of toast just to make a sandwich with my bacon and egg. They had toast on the menu but came with jams and presserves and I wasn’t forking out £2.40 for them considering the whole thing cost £5.50.

Homemade beans were ok, eggs cooked perfectly with yellow york oozing all over my plate on contact with my fork. Being a bacon snob I always inspect any bacon from somewhere new with hawklike precision and this was of excellent quality. None of that shrivelled, laser cut tracing paper garbage here. This is only being picky and was the only thing we could both pick up on from the breakfast as it was an absolute treat of a plate and that was the casing was still left on both our black pudding. I was ok because Mwsh told me but it was a good job she noticed it in her mouth before swallowing.

I’d never cooked black pudding myself as I’m a recent convert but to the bloodied breakfast staple but I did make the same mistake cooking up some white pudding I’d picked up from Riverside a few weeks back and was wondering how the little disks were imploding on themselves.

All in all it was a very good breakfast and a good brew of loose leaf. I’d recommend and will no doubt be back for a 2nd visit in the near future.

They don’t always have the bakery table outside with pasties and other goodies from the Pettigrew Bakery I think it was just there to monetise from the increase passing traffic from the flower show but on speaking to them on Twitter on Friday evening they were more than happy to bring whatever I wanted down to the Tea Rooms for me to pick up during the day with the fresh delivery of bread so give them a bell on social media if you can’t wait till Riverside on a Sunday and don’t fancy a trek to Victoria Park.

Asador 44 Restaurant Review Cardiff

We’ve been busting to try Owen from Bar 44’s new venture Asador 44 since following their instagram account since November 2016 although they only opened it’s doors about a month ago. It’s been a busy month of late so we set the date of sampling some old cow for my birthday last Friday.

Asador the name comes from the method of cooking the meat BBQ style over charcoal. This can been over a mound of charcoal on the floor with half a carcas speared and scortched over the white embers as they do in Argentina or with modern methods of a metal Parilla Asador BBQ grill championed first in Wales by the girls down at Hangfire Southern Kitchen in Barry.

Parilla grill at Asador 44 Cardiff

With my inner caveman constantly wanting to break out inside eating mammoth slabs of meat cooked on open fires this was right up my street as Asador promised to lead the way in ethical meat production by using retired dairy cows that had time to enjoy life to the max, grazing on pastures and doig lots of chills to a grand old age of 9 years instead of the average age of 3 years that British beef is usually slaughtered after the BSE scare.

They also promised to bring us the Holy Grail of Beef, 10 year old “Galician Blond” or Rubia Gallega Chuleton from Northern Spain. This beef can be reared up to 17 years and some restaurants age it for up to 300 days making it much like an aged cheese but here at Asador they age theirs 45 days for a more mellow flavour.

Cheese cave at Asador 44 Cardiff

The place not only dry ages the steak in house they even have their own cheese cave.

 

The Food

I’d studied the menu for some time having seen other diners upload images of gigantic ribs of beef on Instagram over the past few weeks and was torn between the the Lomo Bajo, the 9 year old ex dairy cow or the Prized Rubia Gallega. The reason for not just going for the best steak on the menu was ultimately the price difference with the ex dairy costing £49 and the Rubia Gallega £8.50 per 100g of weight and seeing that the minumum weights were around 900g that was £76 for a single steak! Ok they were sharing plates but still that was pretty steep for a steak.

Bread and jamon butter at Asador 44 Cardiff

We or I decided we were just going to opt for some bread with jamon butter at £3 to nibble on whilst we decided the rest. The plate had two thick cut doorstop bread slices that had been lightly scortched giving a slight char to the dough and swirls of jamon butter to dollop in. I loved the smokey chared addition and the jamon butter was silky smooth unlike your standard continental breakfast where the butter has usually been put in the freezer just so the waitresses can laugh at your sorry attempt to butter your bread for breakfast and leaving decimated clumps of bread in your hands.

Cured belly pork and crispy pigs head starter at Asador 44 Cardiff

As I was hoping to go big on the steak for main it was just the one starter to share and that was the cured duroc belly pork, crispy pigs head and apple at £8. I was a bit dissapointed with this as I love a bit of belly pork and was hoping for something a bit more meaty. The cured belly pork was cut wafer thin and for me didn’t actually bring much to the table as it was a bit bland for me. The breadcrumbed crispy pigs head however did add a punch of much needed flavour to the dish and accompanying apple sauce gave a nice sweetness to the dish.

Seeing as prawns on offer are revered as the finest red prawn in the world according to the menu and it was my birthday I thought I’d splash out and see what the fuss was about. At £16 a pop for a single prawn I was expecting a whopper on my plate. After being bullied into downing a shot of Wray & Nephew at Mythos Greek restaurant in Chepstow by the guy behind the bar as a birthday “Gift” and the lions share of a bottle of pinot I was in high spirits and bit the bullet on the mains, opting for the Rubia Gallega and 940g of the stuff at £80.

Rubia Gallega and Carabinero prawn at Asador 44 Cardiff

The mains arrived and I was pretty impressed with the plate of severed ruby red, meaty portions cut from the bone and presented on a platter and the waitress kindly advised on the optimal method of eating the prawn. For £16 I wasn’t all that blown away by the size of the prawn and after removing the head, carefully decanting the juices into a bowl and unfolding the shell away from the body there really wasn’t that much meat left. The wholesale price for these prawns though are eyewatering, which reflects in the the higher price here.

I dipped the flesh into the rescued juices, had one bite and it was half gone. I couldn’t go it alone and I certainly wasn’t going to stump up that much for a prawn again so gave the other half to Mwsh so two bites and that was it. It tasted good and never used the juices to baste the flesh before eating before so that was a new one on me but considering you can get half a lobster for the same price in some restaurants I wasn’t overfly impressed and would pick lobster over it drenched in thermidor sauce any day.

The centre piece was next to delve into, the creme de la creme of steak lay before me ready to be gorged with my bare hands. It was unlike any steak I’d laid eyes on in terms of sheer size and colour. The living age and the post slaughter aging process had built a deep ruby like colour. Ready cut into manageble pieces of meat I was expecting to have to gnaw at it to chew and swallow but it just disolved on contact with my tongue. The same for the fat too I’d never experienced beef fat that just melted away in the warmth of my mouth it was quite sureal as the fat on steak is usually tough and chewy.

Rubia Gallega Steak, bean and saffron puree, fries with rioja and bone marrow sauce at Asador 44 Cardiff
With the giant steak option you got 2 sides of your choice, which we opted for the Asador fries because you simply can’t have steak without chips and we also went for the white bean, safron and roast garlic puree.

Portion wise I was a little dissapointed with the fries. When you’re paying £80 for a steak and it’s to share with someone else I’m expecting a generous bowl of fries to go with it. After grabing half a handfull and scattering on my plate there wasn’t even half a bowl left for Mwsh. I’d also bought a wheelbarrow full of real chip shop chips in Chepstow earlier in the day for £1.80 that could of fed a family of 4 in comparison. Having said that the small bowl of real fries were very good. None of that plastic fantastic pre cut and pre cooked rubbish here, I just could of done with a double portion size to what we got.

On to the white bean, safron and roast garlic puree. It didn’t really know how to take this i’ll be honest. The first dip of my chip was quite pleasant but with the dissapointing portion of fries I was quickly left with just a fork as a vessel to consume the puree, which became rather sickly and unpalatable. The bean puree I think would be great as a snack with some of the bread or flatbread to dip but as a side dish it just felt out of place and awkward to eat without some form of carb to give it substance.

One other thing I was a bit annoyed at with the steak was you didn’t even get one sauce to go with it included in the price. Ok I know they are only £3 each and if you were paying £10 for a steak at Harvester you would probably expect to pay a little bit extra for a sauce as it isn’t exactly bank shattering to start with but when you are paying £80 I would expect one sauce at least.

I wanted the Rioja and bone marrow sauce but Mwsh wasn’t sure on the bone marrow so went for the safe option of Torres brandy peppercorn so on top of £80 for the steak we had to pay £6 for a sauce to go with it. Ok I know it was my option to go for that steak and there were a lot cheaper options but when I’m paying tripple what I would normally spend on a steak a sauce to go with it in the price isn’t asking a lot in my eyes.

Both sauces were good although I did prefer the Rioja and bone marrow as it had a richer flavour and probably because I’d peppercorn sauced my steaks to death over the years but it was a good peppercorn none the less if you are thinking of going for that.

rice pudding and fig dessert at Asador 44 Cardiff

For dessert I went for the Arroz con leche, which is Spanish rice pudding croquetas, poached fig and green apple. I misread the menu and was expecting a bowl of rich creamy rice pudding and with my favourite fruit at the moment figs but as the menu clearly states they were croquetas. Breadcrumbed and fried balls of rice pudding with the soft poached figs and similar apple sauce to the starter. They were enjoyable but not what I was expecting although that was my fault for not reading the menu properly.

chocolate with cherry sorbet at Asador 44 Cardiff

Mwsh opted for the chocolate, hazlenut, olive oil, vanilla salt and cherry sorbet. This was delicious and my favourite of the two desserts and brought a refreshing end to a meaty meal. Both Desserts cost £7 or you could of gone with a cheese board with 3 for £7, 5 for £12 or 7 cheeses for £17.

cheese menu Asador 44 Cardiff

Drinks prices are quite reasonable with Mwsh option for a carafe of house white for under £10 and mine was a carafe of Garnacha Tinorera red was £16.50. They have over 100 wines to choose from with a good selection by glass or carafe if you don’t fancy the whole bottle. There was a nice selection of Gin’s I’d not heard of but didn’t get the chance to sample but I’m guessing they were all sourced from Spain.

The Verdict

Bread was good, an ok starter and wasn’t blow away by the best prawn in the world. It’s a prawn and cooked in the shell so there’s not much you can do there and not knocking the quality I was just expecting something a bit bigger although the price does reflect wholesale price that go for at least £70 per kilo, which I wasn’t aware at the time.

This was a fine steak and was the crowning plate of the meal. It was an epic, the best I’ve had in Cardiff to be fair and perfect for a celebration as it really does wow on delivery to the table.

Having said that it is more for the purist steak lover as it’s all about the meat here and for me it’s a tick the box kind of dish. You have to try it to say you’ve tried it and it was unlike any steak I’ve eaten before with it melting in the mouth on contact with my tongue, fat and all but it wouldn’t be something i’d probably order again becuase I’m not much of a steak person when eating out. I’m more of a game person or something with big bold flavours but with Rubia Gallega you can’t throw anything too complex into the dish as it takes away from the centre stage, which is the meat.

I’ll without doubt be back to Asador but I’ll probably go for something a bit normal next time like the suckling pigs leg or the lamb sounded luscious. I wouldn’t recommend the £16 prawn as for me it didn’t warrant the hefty price and now i’ve tried it I won’t be going Rubia Gallera again but I would give it a go if you haven’t tried it before and was glad I’d given it a go.

Portion size of the chips need to be increased if you ask me or one each of the current ones seeing as it’s a sharing plate. Maybe I would of been able to finish the bean puree if i’d had some chips to mop it up with but as it stands with a handful of chips I struggled eating my share of the dish with just my fork.

I think they should include one sauce into the price of the rare breed old cow fair enough charging for it with the smaller Picanha but for £80 I would expect at least one sauce thrown in out of principle. I think flavourwise though the sauces were spot on.

Desserts were good too and had no issues there on both options I tried.

Service was excellent as always and what I’ve come to expect from the team behind bar 44. They must have some of the best training in town in regards to product knowledge and you can’t beat someone actually having tasted everything on the menu and being able to pronounce it and background knowledge behind everything unlike someone on their first shift who has absolutely no idea about anything on the menu or what drink they have on draught.

I’m probably going to try the lunchtime deal some time soon for £10, which includes:

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

The lunch deal is available Wednesday – Friday, 12 – 3pm

They also have a children’s menu available for lunch too, which includes:

Welsh beef picanha steak, asador fries
or
Market fish goujons and asador fries

Both priced at £6