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The Alchemist Cardiff Restaurant and Bar Review

I went to the launch night of the much anticipated Alchemist a few months back, and i’ve been back since then for a cocktail or three. This time I thought i’d concentrate on what the molecular themed bar has to offer in the kitchen.

We were invited along to try lunch there a few weeks back, so we chose a Saturday afternoon to allow us the chance to tick a few more cocktails off the menu whilst we were there, without having to stumble back to work after.

We happened to sample some bite sized portions of some of the menu items at the launch, but there was far too much alcohol consumed to remember exactly what passed my lips that evening. This time I was back for a full portion and more.

The Food

Having just clocking off on the 3.5 hour Loving Welsh Food Tour 5 minutes ago, I had to dig deep into that special place in order to power through another three courses. For some this may be unreachable, but for me it’s second nature.

I opted for the duck gyoza to start. Llio was going for a salad for mains, so ordered two starters. Asian steamed pork buns with hoisin and a side of halloumi sticks.

The gyoza were soft and silky, filled with a fragrant mix of veg and shredded duck. A sweet, sticky dip added a burst of citrus. The steamed buns were decent in size, soft pillowy mounds, stuffed with soft pork. I drizzled the sweet, hoisin sauce for a tangy bit of moisture.

The halloumi sticks were fried in a layer of crispy, golden breadcrumbs, paired with a pot of mellow chilli mayo.

Not a bad start from all three dishes so far.

For mains I opted for a seared tuna, because I can’t remember the last time I ate fresh tuna. I opted for it pink in the middle and boy did they deliver on that front. Nothing worse than a sorry, dry and grey slab of tuna when it’s fresh.

tuna and rice cake - The Alchemist Cardiff

I’m not normally one to go for something with sweet chilli sauce, as I thought everyone had rode that wave to death a long time ago. I would of preferred something other that sweet chilli, that offered a fiery kick of freshness to add to the beautifully pink tuna but the dish sounded good apart from that. I loved the toasted slab of sticky rice that contrasted between spongy with a crisp outer layer, with ribbons of herbs layered through it.

I’m not sure what state the micro herb salad was in, when it went on the plate but it was a bit miserable by the time it touched our tables. It could of wilted in the heat of the kitchen or surrounding items on the plate, but the plate wouldn’t of missed it if it wasn’t there. The tuna was delicious though and made up for it.

crispy kale side - The Alchemist

I love a bit of crispy kale and often do them in the house to add to asian dishes for a seaweed like crunch so I went for a side of crispy kale with the main. This paired with the tuna really well with little crispy shards of garlic scattered amongst the leafy crisps.

The other half went for a Caesar Salad. More food her there.

caesar salad - The Alchemist Cardiff

After a bit of a breather to sample another drink after the mains, we decided on what sweets to order. I went for a white chocolate and rum mouse with coconut, rum, mango and lime salsa.

This was probably my least favourite dish of the meal. Not that I didn’t like it, it was just a bit boring. I couldn’t taste any rum what so over, but this might of been in part compared to the other desert, which was very potent in the alcohol department. I just thought the dish was a bit bland compared to the other dishes we had.

caesar salad - The Alchemist Cardiff

The other dessert was the cotton candy baked alaska. I’m not a fan of candy floss in cocktails as I think it’s a bit wanky to be honest so i was a bit apprehensive. I do like a baked Alaska mind, so we bit the bullet.

The mini mountain comes out with a mound of candy floss on, which I imediately though “Oh god, here we go” but they heated a little pan of spirit up, which was flambed and drizzled over the dish turning it a molten, sugar inferno. The candy floss didn’t last long and just shriveled into little pebbles of sugar luckily.

I saw the table opposite let her’s burn for a little too long before us and ended up a bit more singed that I would of hoped for so I blew out the flames just as the top of the Alaska started to turn golden in colour.

This was a much better dish that the mouse with it’s crunchy nuggets of warm sugar in a boozy syrup that I spooned with each mouthful of Alaska.

The Drinks

I’ve had a couple of cocktails here by now and tend to stay up towards the last block of boozy numbers that aren’t drenched in sugary syrups. Some of the tweaked classics like the white negroni, which was a lovely change and the old fashioned.

I was a bit disappointed with my last visit as I tried to order three drinks from the more potent, short and strong section but they didn’t have all the ingredients to make them. It was a Thursday, so I let them off. I was a bit peeved when the same thing happened with another couple of drinks this time considering it was a Saturday, you would think they would be fully stocked for t he menu.

cocktail at The Alchemist Cardiff

First up this time was the Penicillin drink, that came in a mini medicine bottle that i decanted over a large spherical ice cube. This was a bit more like some of the drinks I would order in Lab or Pennyroyal in terms of strength and lack of over the top sugary syrups.

My second drink, after not having the ingredients to my first option was a smokey number that came out in a round science lab beaker, on a tripod and was smoked in front of me. Having had my fair share of smoked old fashioned’s in my time, the drink would normally have been smoked in the glass, with a healthy chunk of ice to keep it cool.

smoked cocktail at the alchemist cardiff

This was smoked in the beaker and left on the tripod to sip at my leisure. The problem being the round beaker wasn’t the safest in the tripod and I just about managed to save it spilling several times. The other issue was the drink therefore couldn’t be chilled with ice, and i was left to sip the warm, smoked liquid like a 15 year old working his way through the ethanol in GCSE science.

I don’t care much for what glass the drink is in, well I do it should fit the drink. But I think the drinks tend to be a bit gimmicy here, whilst hindering on quality and taste. If you want to smoke it, fine. Just smoke it in a rocks or old fashioned glass with ice or a coupe as long as it’s been stirred the shit out of with ice. Just don’t give me a warm drink that I’m scared will plunge to the floor every time i put it down.

The Verdict

I was pleased with our starters, which were both flavoursome and decent in size. I really enjoyed the tuna and the rice cake, especially scattered with my side of crispy kale. I would of preferred something a bit less old school than sweet chilli, maybe a soy, gochujang or miso glaze but the rest of the dish was spot on.

Desserts were hit and miss. I enjoyed the boozy baked Alaska but the white chocolate and rum mouse was missing the main ingredient…rum.

I’ve had some decent cocktails here, don’t get me wrong but I don’t think the flavour and quality should be neglected just because you want to add a bit of dry ice for some theatrics or a bunsen burner and shitty round glasses that don’t sit in their tripod.

The staff are all really friendly and I like that they ask you before you even look at the menu if you have any allergies, so they can offer you a customised menu. That way you aren’t left disappointed, when you go through the menu ordering only to be told they contain something you’re intolerant or allergic to.

I’d probably have food here again, and it is a nice looking venue. There’s not much else like it in the centre of town, where you can get a decent cocktail (if they’ve pulled their finger out with the ingredients) and some good food that’s central.

It seems to be really busy in there every time i walk passed and every time i’ve been in there, which is unusual for Cardiff as most places are quiet apart from Saturday. If you are going for lunch on Saturday, I would recommend booking in advance as they turned loads of people away when we were waiting for the to clear our table.

Contact Details

117 St Mary Street
Cardiff
CF10 1DY

Web: thealchemist.uk.com
Tel: 02921 303755

Twenty Nine Park Place Restaurant Review Cardiff

The latest venue to open by the Knife and Fork Fork group, the team behind Cardiff and Penarth favourites The Conway, The Pilot, The Discovery and The Old Swan is Twenty Nine Park Place. Located at, you’ve guessed it 29 Park Place just across from the National Museum of Wales it is their most central Cardiff venue to date.

I’ve had a pint or two and lunch at both The Conway and The Pilot in the past and become acquainted with their no nonsense, good hearty pub food so it was interesting to see how the menu would differ being in such close proximity to the likes of Park House and The Laguna Restaurant at Park Plaza.
I’d followed the venue early on before they opened the doors and was impressed with the promise of a pretty decent selection of craft beers. They had one or two local beers at the two other venues under the Knife and Fork Food umbrella but they seemed to be ramping up their offering here, which had the thumbs up from me.

The Venue

I wasn’t fortunate enough to visit the venue under the previous management that sadly went under less than 12 months ago so I wasn’t sure how it compared to the previous incarnation. The venue seems to be suited to a casual pint near the entrance and around the bar and the restaurant with seating split between round tables of around 7 seats to each in the middle and rows sitting 4-8 along the sides within a conservatory like extension to the main building.

 

Craft beer board - Twenty Nine Park Place Cardiff

 

The illuminated craft beer board stops you in your tracks as soon as you walk into the venue, enticing you in to sample the ample selection of fermented hoppy nectar. On closer inspection they have a growing selection of craft gins for those who fancy something lighter on the waistline too.

The Food

We scouted out some of the starters we’d seen on socials from the recent launch night with them averaging £7 mark.

I was intrigued by the sound of the giant scallop, cauliflower puree, pancetta sand and sorrel for £7.50 as I honestly didn’t know if this was an actual living shellfish or some kind of mutant creation from the kitchen as it’s hard to realise scale on an Instagram photo.

 

fried muscles and cockles Twenty Nine Park Place Cardiff

 

The other half and her mum opted for the ox cheek scotch egg, rarebit dip at £7. We also opted for some nibbles whilst we waited, which consisted of crispy cockles and muscles at £3 and some homemade bread for £2.50. I’d had deep fried cockles before but it was nice to try the muscles too. And the bread…well who doesn’t love homemade bread.

 

Giant scallop starter at Twenty Nine Park Place CArdiff

 

The giant scallop was served in a standard sized shell, which led me to poking and prodding the white squidgy mass in the middle to see if it was real or not. Not needing David Attenborough to explain to me in the end that this was a creation from the kitchen and not dredged from the waters of the English Channel.

The soufflé type concoction of what must have been scallop meat with egg quite remarkably resembled a scallop with a lighter, airier texture and more mellow flavour of scallop. Generous in size, it was enjoyable at first but became a little sickly towards the last bite or two. The pancetta sand added a nice crunchy texture and hit of bacony, fatty, lovliness too.

 

Ox Cheek Scotch Egg adn rarebit dip Twenty Nine Park Place Cardiff

 

The scotch egg was decent in size although it could of done with a minute or two less as the yolk was almost hard boiled and meat a tad dry. The rarebit dip added a much needed dose of moisture though.

Opting to verge off main menu and try one of the sharing board specials. On the night, the options consisted of tomahawk steak, lobster or a picanha steak. Seeing as I was a tad hungry I know from past experience you don’t get much bang for your buck when it comes to lobster and even though the tomahawk looks pretty epic on a plate, you’re essentially paying for a steak plus what would normally be heading for the waste bin with the wing tip. If I was eating with dog Marley, I’d probably shared the tomahawk with him as it would have kept him quite for a few hours, gnawing at the bone.

 

picanha steak at Twenty Nine Park Place Cardiff

 

Opting for medium / rare, the steak came out pre-sliced more on the medium to well done, which was a shame as the thinner ends of the rump were a bit more chewy than I would have liked. I know the Picanha, a favourite in Brazil isn’t the best cut out there but when you’ve sampled it as part of the £10 lunch menu at Asador 44, you know how good it can be.

The fries were good though and we opted for garlic butter to dunk both the steak and chips in. There were a couple of cuts to choose from with varying weight and relative price around the £30 mark and ours came in at £31.50.

 

Lamb rump goats cheese risotto

 

The (future) mother in law went for the Roasted lamb rump, pearl barley risotto, radish, goats cheese with blackberries, which was a nice touch and priced at £16. Having had a taste of the dish I’d say it was the star dish of the night. Cooked a little less than our steak, the lamb was tender. The risotto still had a bit of bite, seasoned well and the goats cheese lent a rich, creaminess to the dish.

 

Argentinian Malbec red wine - Twenty Nine Park Place Cardiff

 

The Argentinian Malbec we opted for to wash both dishes down was a hit too at £23.

Onto desserts and after seeing it on Instagram whilst sitting down and reading the menu I opted for Thibault’s citrus tart, meringue, lemon and mint sorbet. Knowing the master creator behind said dish worked under Laurian at Cocorico Patisserie and made it onto BBC’s Crème de la Crème I was hoping for nothing short of a masterpiece.

 

Citrus tart with lemon and mint sorbet

 

Sadly it didn’t all work together for me. I think the citrus tart and meringue would have been fine as it was but the lemon and mint sorbet was rock hard and way to bitter for me. I struggled with the sorbet both chopping bits off to eat and because it was too bitter on the palate.

The Llio had ordered a coffee whilst we decided on dessert but decided to upgrade it to the Café Gourmand to include some small pastries. She said it was ok but nothing to write home about.

 

Pina Colada creme brulee at Twenty Nine Park Place Cardiff

 

Her mum chose the Pina Colada Crème Brulee, coconut and almond tuile. There was lovely crisp, sugary top encasing the core of the dessert but for both of us who tried it, it was too fruity and overpowered the custard base layer.

The Verdict

To be fair to the restaurant it had been open for less than two weeks so it was a new venue, new team and new menu so it takes some time for that all to gel. The food was ok but could do with a few tweaks to get it just right and just a bit less in the oven on a few dishes.

The ideas are good but it’s just the execution that will come when they’ve found their feet. The desserts in my eyes need a bit of looking at as the lemon sorbet spoilt the dessert for me and the fruit in the crème brulee was just too much.

I will probably be back to the venue in a few months to see how they’ve developed or even to sample a couple of the beers they have on tap.

Maria’s Greek Taverna Restaurant Review Cardiff

It was the other half’s birthday a few weeks back and unlike us, we hadn’t booked anywhere to go. She’s fancied Hellenic Eatery for a while but it’s always be chocka block every time we’ve passed.

We tried calling them as soon as we got home from work but again, there was no room at the inn tonight. I’d seen a few insta posts about Maria’s Greek Taverna recently and thought it was along the same lines as Haelinic so we rang and got a table.

The restaurant was small and cosy inside and they seemed to squeeze as many tables in to fit, which did mean there’ wasn’t much room between the back of my chair and the table behind. Luckily for me nobody was booked in whilst we were eating or we would still be fighting to get out from under the table.

I liked the decor though as it really did look like it could have been nestled in a back street in Greece and seeing that we hadn’t had a holiday for a good few months I felt like I was having tea in the Med, especially with the heat wave we were currently in.

The Food

We had a quick scan over the menu as we hadn’t looked prior as it was last minute. There were a few well known dishes and you could either go for a mezze of little dishes or go big (what I was under the impression at the time) with some of the mains.

Marias Taverna Menu Cardiff

 

Based on pricing from some other well known establishments who specialise in meat skewers blistered over hot coals such as Saray I thought the mains seemed a little expensive. Based on the price difference of about 30% I thought this would be made up in portion size.

We opted for a few mezze plates and one main as we’ve been satisfied with a main between us with some side dishes at some other Cardiff restaurants of late and we thought we might of gone overboard on our options at first. We even though we might of needed a bigger table.

For the small dishes we went for beer battered salt cod fritters (£6.95), spicy Greek sausage with peppers and red wine (£6.50), halloumi fries (£5.50) then a portion of dips, Hummus and Tzatziki priced at £4.50 each as they didn’t do a mixed selection. I would of had the smokey aubergine one too but I refused to pay £15 for 3 dips as I thought it was extortionate.

For the main we opted for a mixed souvlaki with one chicken and one pork kebab with chips and pitta.

The food did seem to take longer than expected but we did foolishly ask for it to all come out together, so that may have been the issue. The Halloumi fries were really good and probably my fav dish on the table. Golden brown, slight crisp on the outside and lovely salty core.

The spicy Greek sausage was fine, not that spicy to be honest but we did finish it all off. The salt cod fritters were ok. If you like salt cod you probably would have enjoyed them. They were plate I was least expecting to like and just ordered them because I’d never tried salt cod and took a thought I would take a punt on them.

The breads and dips were fine with hummus and tzatziki with toasted pitta. They were just ok really nothing special and would of liked something a bit spicier or a mixed selection with smaller individual portions like we had recently with our mezze in Turkey that had about 6-8 little portions of dips that were the star of the show there. For 6 of the dips you’re looking at £30 here, which is absolutely nuts if you ask me!

Then onto the main, which to be honest for £15 I was pretty pissed off at. I was expecting a bit more substantial on the skewers but they were beyond disappointing for the money. I would of expected either sub £10 or 4 skewers based on the meat content for £15 compared to what you get at some of the places you can pick a kebab up on that road into Cardiff.

The Verdict

I wouldn’t say I disliked the majority of the food The only dish I didn’t like was the salt cod and that was personal preference. The food was ok and that’s as far as it went really but at that price it was way over priced in my eyes. We’ve paid £20 between us at Saray for two skewers, chips, breads, a selection of dips and pickles, mint tea and even had some baklava thrown in for free and we were more than content. The food at Saray and Sham Nights was more tasty too to be honest and near half the price I’ll stick to them in future.

Based on that I can’t see me rushing back to Maria’s. I’ll definitely give Hellenic Eatery a try further down the road but I’ll stick to Saray or Sham Nights or some top quality meat and tasty accompaniments for a very reasonable price.

For what we had, one bottle of water and a carafe of house wine it cost just over £50. Not a huge bill by any means but for what you can get both in quality and quantity at half the price this is probably the first and last time I’ll be through the door.

 

Burger Theory Review at Kongs Cardiff

I was recently asked back to try out the burgers at Burger Theory at Kongs in Cardiff. I’d been a few times in the past and did a blog post after my second visit to the pop up kitchen on St Mary’s Street. I’m glad to say that things have improved quite a bit since then as it was still new on the scene and I did have a couple of issues on both my first two visits.

I decided to take my younger sister and her boyfriend to see how it faired against some of the other burger places a 16 year olds frequent in Cardiff these days and to get a younger persons perspective. I was offered a £35 voucher towards food so I paid extra for the rest of the food and drinks on the visit. Seeing as I wanted to compare against how they had progressed since the 18 months after they opened I thought I’d opt for the same burger I ordered on my first visit the Kimcheese featuring Beef patty, melted cheddar cheddar, kimchi, pulled beef rib with black pepper glaze, chipotle mayo (£11.95).

I was going to order the cola ham hock dirty fries I’d seen on the menu previously but they were a special and been replaed by the “You have goat to try these fries”, which were a Caribbean take on dirty fries, which consisted of Fries loaded with goat curry, melted cheese, lime and coriander aioli, pineapple and scotch bonnet sauce, coconut flakes.

My sister opted for the Cheese theory with Beef patty with crispy bacon, melted cheddar, house pickles, Dijonnaise, house ketchup (£8.75) and her boyfriend went for The Sherriff with Beef patty with crispy bacon, melted cheddar, onion rings, BBQ sauce (£9.25).

We fancied a chip fest so went for two standard fries (£2.95 each) and a side of halloumi chips (£6.50).

Soft drinks all round for the teens whilst I sipped on a pint of Tiny Rebel Cali till the food appeared out of the kitchen.

Kimcheese Burger at Burger Theory Cardiff

The Kimcheese burger had grown since my first visit and was an absolute whopper of a burger to be fair. I was close to doing a few tricep dips off the edge of the bun to allow my jaw to take it in for a bite. There was a lot of juice and I was glad I had my side of the table to myself so I didn’t drown the person next to me whilst I chomped away.

There was a decent amount of meat content with the patty, beef rib and combined with the other fillings it did taste really good. Again though there wasn’t much kimchi going on. I don’t think I had any of the advertised fermented Korean staple in my burger the first time I visited and I struggled to find much in it this time unless they had done a batch of their own quick pickled kimchi but there was none of the expected pungent condiment in my burger this time either. Apart from that I was pretty happy with the burger.

There was a bit of a mix up with the fries but probably due to me using the voucher to pay at the start for  part of the meal as the server wasn’t sure what to do with it. I ordered one portion of the goat curry dirty fries and two portions of the standard ones but two goat ones came out. They immediately gave us a serving of the standard and let us keep the other goat curry but wasn’t sure if I’d been charged for the two goat curries. I’d had £35 towards the food, which came to around £55 in the end so I wasn’t bothered too much about going back and checking with them or causing a fuss.

goat curry dirty fries at Burger Theory

The goat fries were amazing though and a great addition to the menu instead of the usual pulled pork or chilli beef you tend to find at most burger houses when opting for some dirty fries. They were a slow burner mind as the first couple of bites I thought oh, they aren’t too bad but a minute or two later I could of done with someone fanning me with a palm leaf whilst squirting my mouth with a super soaker 2000 filled with milk.

Not that I was complaining, I was expecting it to be hot spice wise but for me the meat could have been a tad warmer. They were pretty epic though.

halloumi fries at Burger Theory Cardiff

My sister has an obsession for halloumi fries and was very impressed with Burger Theory’s take on the deep fried slabs of cheese and so was I. Portion size was generous and they looked exactly like chips, I thought they had brought out two different thickness of potato kind at first until I bit into one.

She also smashed the Cheese Theory burger and gave it a massive thumbs up along with her partner who said it was the best burger he’s ever had. He attempted a stab at the goat dirty fries and like me thought they were fine at first but when the heat kicked in he bailed. They both enjoyed the standard fries, although they didn’t quite manage to finish them off. Not from lack of trying I might add, they were just stuffed from the burger and other bits and bobs.

The Verdict

I was a lot happier with my food compared to my first and second visit. The Kimcheese burger was still lacking on the Kimchi front though as I’ve always got a tub to hand in the fridge at home I was looking forward to a healthy portion in my burger.

The goat curry fries were a really nice change and if you like your spicy food, keep with them as they seem quite tame at first but they don’t take long to catch up with you when you’re least expecting.

I’ve heard rumours that Burger Theory will be opening up as a standalone restaurant in Cardiff in the near future so keep your eyes peeled on socials. I’m hoping they carry the bottomless burger brunch they do at the standalone Bristol venue to Cardiff too as that will be unreal.

If you’ve not been to Burger Theory before, it’s located at Kong’s Bar on St Mary Street, which is a basement bar next to Turtle Bay.

Bottomless Brunch Review at Revolucion de Cuba Cardiff

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

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

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

bottomless brunch menu revs de cuba cardiff

Brunch food menu options:

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

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

heuvos rancheros at revs de cuba cardiff

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

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

brekkie burrito at revs de cuba bottomless brunch Cardiff

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

Drinks

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

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

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

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

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

mojito at revs de cuba bottomless brunch cardiff

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

The Verdict

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

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

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

Park Plaza Cardiff and Laguna Restaurant Review

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

Gin, cocktails and wine

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

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

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

Afternoon Tea and Restaurant

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

Gentleman's afternoon tea at Park Plaza Cardiff

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

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

Sunday Lunch

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

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

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

Sunday lunch at Laguna Restaurant Park Plaza in Cardiff

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

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

Wine and nibbles

mixed starter platter at Park Plaza Cardiff

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

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

Lunch

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

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

Goats cheese and mushroom bruschetta at Park Plaza Cardiff

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

Pork and mustard mash mains at Park Plaza Cardiff

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

cheese board at Park Plaza Cardiff by the fire

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

The Verdict

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

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

ChamCham West African Supper Club Feast at Mocka Cardiff

I was recently asked to attend the first ever ChamCham supper club at Moka Lounge recently. Having sampled what they can do back back at the Roath Summer Fest in July I was more than happy to chow down on some authentic African cuisine.

I was joined by my partner (in crime) on the evening and fashionably late as usual but still rewarded with a welcome drink to get us in the mood for the imminent spice fest. The supper club was upstairs in Moka and was nicely decorated for the evening with some table nibbles of little crackers and what I found out to be some sweat inducing hot chilli chutney that certainly wasn’t for the faint hearted and glad i don’t fall into that category. It gave us a inkling of things to come and i was more than happy with a bit of heat.

Not having a chance to ponder over the menu prior to the event plus i thought it would be more fun having each course as a suprise although I hadn’t had anything like the menu read anyway when i did get a chance when we sat down.

The Food

I wasn’t sure on the plan of attack for the evening as there were quite a few dishes on the menu so I thought we would have a choice for each course. Little did I know how Nanu liked to party as we were having everything on the menu!

plantain and spicy beans at ChamCham supper club cardiff

 

First up on the starters was cubed sweet plantains with spiced baked beans with a twist, served with french melba toast. The guys told us the twist was they were actually baked beans used instead of the normal beans used in African cooking that take about 2 days to boil on low so they were more intwined with our palate back in little old Cardiff.

They weren’t no standard beans though. Delicately spiced and not to overpowering with plently of fresh limes on hand to add a citrus kick to each dishes. The soft plantains and crispy melba adding another level of texture to the homely dish. Luckily we were served each dish on it’s own to give us a bit of a breather in between.

oxtail soup at ChamChm supper Club Cardiff

Second starter was the oxtail soup with soft dumplings and crusty bread. This dish reminded me of my grans Welshy cawl she serves up for our tribe of 20 some Tuesdays up the pub and was so heart warming. Rich gravy with silky ribbons of oxtail mopped up with chunks of buttery bread. I could of filled up on this alone. I’ll be honest i’ve only had oxtail to my knowledge as a kid in Heinz oxtail soup but we all know that’s nothing to write home about.

granat chicken stew at ChamCham supper club

First of the two mains was chicken granat stew with basmati rice. Granat as I soon found out was peanut. Tender morsels of chicken with a very pronounced smack of nuttiness. I’ve played around with peanut and kimchi dishes but I’d never tasted anything quite like this.

Llio was a course of antibiotics from the doctors, which had led to a loss in appetite. Normally I’d doing a little dance under the table but seeing as we were only half way through and already had more than a normal 3 course meal I wained at helping her out.

In true African or at least in the ChamCham family the guys kindly offered to box up what she couldn’t get through. It wasn’t only her starting to struggle mind as the table next to us had taken up the offer to take leftovers home too.

jerk lamb shank at ChamCham supper club Cardiff

Something more towards what i’ve sampled in the past up next with jerk lamb shank, creamy sweet potato mash, red wine jus and side of seasonal root veg. I’d had their jerk chicken back at Roath Summer Fest along with a box of suprises but I absolutely love a good lamb shank if cooked well.

True to form the lamb was a behemoth of a portion especially considering we’d already had a main course with rice, but who am i to complain! The lamb was cooked to perfection and I could of eaten it with a spoon with it leaving the bone with little to no effort. A rich, sticky jus added a punch of flavour to the mildly spiced lamb mountain. The lamb was delish but the only feedback was it could of been a tad bit warmer for my liking but I didn’t leave a fleck of meat on the bone after resorting to what god gave me to get the last of it off.

Llio might of well have gone to sleep by now as the whafting trail of food being brought out turned her smile upside down as she struggled to eat more than a couple of fork fulls even though it tasted amazing. I wasn’t too disheartened as the lamb made it into my lunch box the day after and filled me up for the rest of the day too.

The group as a whole agreed on a half hour gap between the courses so we could do a few star jumps and squats to make room for not one but two desserts.

coconut loaf cake at ChamCham supper club Cardiff

First of the two was a homemade coconut loaf cake served with warm rum vanilla sauce. Expecting something lemon drizzle esque myself but the cakes were individually cooked somewhat like a muffin, doused in fragrant and boozy pool of white sauce. This was stodge porn to the max and we could of shared one between us…but i didn’t. I love coconut, i love rum and I put vanilla in most of my breakfast apart from bacon sandwiches. Coconut does have a tendency to dry things out, well at least when i’ve attempted coconut pancakes but the rum and vanilla sauce acted as the perfect lubricant between the spoon and my greedy lips.

ginger beer and coconut sorbet

Last but not least was as well earned dish to soothe the numbing gums from all the heat throughout the feast. A ginger beer, rum and coconut sorbet gave a pleasant zing and brought the tantalising journey through West African delicacies.

The Verdict

Well what can i say I absolutely loved the evening from start to finish. From the delicious and perfectly spiced banquet to the welcome and hospitality from what was a total family affair. The group we sat next to gave us a bit of insight as they were friends of the family and it was exactly like attended one of their parties in the house with mountains of food made with love.

Everyone working were family from Nanu (the grandmother) the head of the kitchen who cooked the majority of the courses to the father and children all digging in, helping out and talking us through each course. They were all so friendly and really felt like we were one of the adopted family members.

doggy bag at ChamCham supper club cardiff

I loved that they boxed all the bits that weren’t finished for everyone who couldn’t finish to take home, that didn’t include me obviously. We also had a pot of Nanu’s now famous hot sauce to take home, which i’ve put to good use more than once since I got home.

The price for the evening with 6 courses was just £25, which was an absolute bargain. We were both asked to attend the evening as guests but we loved the expeirence we did give £20 tip each just because we both loved the food, the hospitality amazing and everyone was just so lush.

If you like your spicy food and a lot of it then don’t hesitate to book onto one of the next events because I know i will if they do a different menu. Not because I didn’t like it but I was living off it for a week with the doggy bag we took home so i’d like to try something else if they do alter what’s on offer.

Make sure you follow ChamCham on Facebook to find out about their next supper club event or upcoming food festivals they’re attending.

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!

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

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.