Thursday, 2 January 2014

Take Me To The River - Cardiff Marriott and River Cottage restaurant review

The Cardiff Marriott might not instinctively be your first choice for a good dinner in Cardiff but a new partnership between the mega-chain and stalwart champions of local, seasonal food River Cottage might be just about to change your mind.

The principle is straightforward; to improve the offering at the restaurant by working with River Cottage and training the team to develop and deliver seasonal menus. The training included baking, butchery and a grounding in how to source ingredients from local organic and free range suppliers. It all sounds hugely promising but how would it fare in practice?

We started with Parsley Salad with Crab and a Soft Boiled Egg (£6.95) which was light and fresh, the richness of the crab cut through with capers.

Cardiff Marriott Parsley Salad, Crab, Soft Boiled Egg
Parsley Salad, Crab, Soft Boiled Egg
The second starter of Smoked Venison with Pickled Mushrooms, Crispy Garlic and Winter Leaves (£6.45) was rich and tender.

Cardiff Marriott Pickled Mushrooms, Crispy Garlic and Winter Leaves
Smoked Venison, Pickled Mushrooms, Crispy Garlic and Winter Leaves
A homemade focaccia was disappointingly under-proved and cake like.


The mains were rather special. Slade Farm Lamb, Smashed Celeriac, Chilli and Thyme (£14.95) was packed full of meaty goodness.

Cardiff Marriott Slade Farm Lamb, Smashed Celeriac, Chilli and Thyme
Slade Farm Lamb, Smashed Celeriac, Chilli and Thyme
Slow Cooked Organic Graig Farm Brisket with Anchovy and Rosemary Potatoes was comfort food at it's best. Softly yielding beef and rich dauphinoise hit the spot.

Cardiff Marriott Slow Cooked Organic Graig Farm Brisket with Anchovy and Rosemary Potatoes
Slow Cooked Organic Graig Farm Brisket with Anchovy and Rosemary Potatoes 
Sides of Chips and Aioli and Honey Glazed Rainbow Carrots (both £3) were completely unnecessary, but since when has that mattered? Both were excellent.

Cardiff Marriott Chips and Aioli and Honey Glazed Rainbow Carrots
Chips and Aioli and Honey Glazed Rainbow Carrots
The puddings maintained the high standard, an Almond and Orange Pudding with Red Wine Pear and Vanilla Ice Cream (£5) light enough to finish the meal.

Cardiff Marriott Almond and Orange Pudding with Red Wine Pear and Vanilla Ice Cream
Almond and Orange Pudding with Red Wine Pear and Vanilla Ice Cream
Despite the lacklustre presentation, a Vanilla Panna Cotta with Spiced Apricot and Biscotti restored my faith in the classic dessert after a couple of duff efforts recently.

Cardiff Marriott Vanilla Panna Cotta with Spiced Apricot and Biscotti
Vanilla Panna Cotta with Spiced Apricot and Biscotti
At the end of dinner I had a long chat with Executive Chef Anthony Barnes about local suppliers and the difference this new approach has made to the team at the Marriott.  Their enthusiasm is carried through to front of house with charming, knowledgeable service and can also be felt in the refreshed wine list (we had an excellent bottle of Rioja recommended by our server).

The menu showcases local suppliers and sets the tone.
I have to commend The Marriott for this new approach, going on the evidence of this dinner they have a talented team with more to offer than your standard hotel fare. Hopefully their buying power will be felt by the local suppliers with whom they engage and this can only be a good thing for us all. 



Disclosure: I was invited to review Zest at The Marriott and my meal was complimentary, thanks to Nylon Communications

Zest at the Cardiff Marriott in partnership with River Cottage
Mill Lane, Cardiff, Wales CF10 1EZ
Tel: 029 2039 9944

Web: http://www.marriott.co.uk/hotel-restaurants/cwldt-cardiff-marriott-hotel/zest-restaurant/5551607/about.mi 
Twitter: @CardiffMarriott  Zest on Urbanspoon
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