Showing posts with label Modern British. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Modern British. Show all posts

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Brown Eyed Girl - Browns Bar and Brasserie restaurant review

Credit where it's due, Browns Brasserie and Bar Cardiff have worked hard to create an 'authentic' brasserie atmosphere and they are largely successful. There's lots of shiny, dark wood furniture, twinkling lights and banquettes. The friendly and competent staff are smart and clad in white pinafores and the management are a constant and visible presence. This is a professional outfit.

The menu here is 'modern classics', think pastas, salads and grills. Everyone should find something suitable and for that reason Brown's is popular large groups and post work crowds and they pitch squarely at this group with a thorough drinks and cocktails menu but on a quiet Wednesday night we are here for the food.

An aperitif - Classic Bellini (£6.50) Browns, Cardiff
An aperitif - Classic Bellini (£6.50)
My starter of Crab and Avocado Stack (£8) might have been absolutely delicious and looked lovely but coming from the kitchen as it did, fridge cold, I might as well have been eating baby food which was a crying shame with such lovely (and pricey) ingredients.

Crab and Avocado Stack, Brown's Cardiff
Crab and Avocado Stack (£8)
The second starter of Roasted Goats Cheese (£7) came with wafer thin slices of beautiful golden beetroot and fared much better with a light, sharp, fruity dressing and pico de gallo salsa.

Roasted Goats Cheese, Brown's Cardiff
Roasted Goats Cheese
The Browns Burger (£12) was pretty good, flavoursome bread, a decent patty, classic sides and more of the pico de gallo salsa.

Browns Burger, Brown's Cardiff
Browns Burger
The Plat du Jour was the Duck Confit with a pork and beans cassoulet (£16), a duck quarter with disappointingly flabby skin and the cassoulet, powerfully flavoured with smoked ham, overpowered the duck completely and towards the end suffered from the monotony of the single flavour.

Duck Confit, Brown's Cardiff
Duck Confit
The desserts of Dark Chocolate Brownie with pistachio ice cream and Eton Mess (£6 each) were both solid efforts and delivered what was expected. A rich chocolate brownie topped with bright green pistacho ice cream and a blousy cloud of cream, meringue and fruit.

Dark Chocolate Brownie, Brown's Cardiff
Dark Chocolate Brownie
Eton Mess, Brown's Cardiff
Eton Mess
I can't really get very excited about the food at Browns, the menu is crowd pleasing and fitting for the area but there were some issues with the execution of the dishes that we tried, which at this price point isn't great. That said, we did have a very pleasant evening, the ambience and the service make this a reliable and solid performer for town centre.

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

Browns Bar and Brasserie
The Friary Centre, The Friary, Cardiff, CF10 3FA
029 2066 7096

Twitter: @brownscardiff

Browns Bar and Brasserie on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Saint or Sinner - The Saints at St Mary's Golf Club Pencoed Review

At St Mary's Golf Club in Pencoed, the times they are a'changing. A new restaurant, The Saints, a refreshed website and a new recruit in Head Chef, Paul Ngigi formerly of The Savoy was an intriguing proposition for a review.

The dining room of The Saints is quite old fashioned with dark green patterned carpets, pink tablecloths and is housed in the conservatory. Arriving as we did, in the dark on a Friday evening, we weren't best placed to appreciate any view of the location which I'm sure must be lovely in the daylight.

We settled in, and were brought an oversized amuse bouche of poached ballotine of turbot with spheres of tomato consomme and some sort of berry. Whilst the fish was well cooked, the curious mix of warm and chilled, fruit and cream, tomato and pickle wasn't particularly coherent.

The starters arrived but the very pretty presentation of a Perl Las Pannacotta £3.95 belied the flavour. My first clue that all wasn't well was the stubborn rigidity of the pannacotta which was missing any pleasing wobble. After carving a slice, the initial flavour was a hit of the fat with which the mould had been coated, which eventually gave way to a rubbery, fridge cold blue cheese.

A second starter of Smoked Haddock Fishcake was slightly better with a decent tartare albeit coated in suspiciously orange breadcrumbs and if anything, a little bland.

My main of Braised Lamb Breast £12.95, which came served with a five bean and chorizo cassoulet was unfortunately unpleasant. The lamb soft but the fat hadn't been fully rendered and the gloopy cassoulet seemed mainly composed of kidney beans.

The Corn Fed Chicken Breast £12.50, had been simply grilled and was tasty but quite dry, even with the madeira gravy.

With the dessert course, things suddenly picked up. A Dark Chocolate Fondant with Grand Marnier Ice Cream was surprisingly good and temptingly presented.

The Treacle Sponge was requested with custard rather than cream and the kitchen were happy to oblige. This was the high point of the meal, a classic dessert, executed beautifully.

Overall the meal at St Mary's was disappointing and incoherent. Elements of the menu are aiming for fine dining, featuring dishes such as Breast of Wood Pigeon in a Chocolate Orange Sauce or Pan Fried Calves Liver and this feels incongruous in a restaurant without a wine list. The most successful dishes by far were the puddings, which were well executed classics and I can't help wondering if there's a lesson in there for the team at The Saints?

Disclosure: I was invited to review The Saints and my meal was complimentary

The Saints at St Mary's Golf Club
St Mary Hill, Pencoed, Bridgend, Glamorgan CF35 5EA
01656 868900


Friday, 30 August 2013

Pork and Beans - The Potted Pig Cardiff revisited

2 years ago when I first started blogging about Cardiff food, a new restaurant called The Potted Pig was the first place I wrote about. It turned out that I was in good company and it has since been reviewed by Jay Rayner and named in OFM Awards as Best Regional Restaurant for Wales. 2 years and 1 day later I am back, this time for the Sunday roast.

I still think the dining room lovely, set in an old bank vault, and retaining some of the original fittings, it has great atmosphere. The frequently changing menu is Modern British, with occasional Italian or French touches and the encyclopaedic gin menu is also worth a mention, arranged into categories (dry, floral, fruity, spicy and so on) and paired with tonic suggestions, it is worth the visit alone. There are also a good selection of wines by the glass, although I found the Cabernet Sauvignon Villaraca disappointing.

The Sunday menu is £15 for 2 courses or £20 for 3. A starter of Truffled Welsh Rarebit was decent and has been on the menu more or less consistently since opening day.

The other starter of Fresh chorizo with char grilled squid & red pepper & rocket salad was a mixed bag. Excellent chorizo with sweet peppers but the squid had the rubber band twang of overcooked fish, the chunk of squid body pretty much inedible.

 The burger, served with cheese and crispy bacon was served well done and excellent. Straightforward and unfussy as a burger should be.

It gets better, the Welsh Topside of Beef was an absolute stunner. Thick slices of very rare beef with horseradish, marbled with fat, a crisp puffy Yorkshire pudding and a jug of properly thickened gravy (I don't appreciate 'pan juices' on a roast, I need gravy that has seen a spoonful of flour). I ended up with enough veg to feed about 4 people. The roast potatoes were beautifully crispy and tasty, I suspect they might have been finished in the same fryer as the chips. A mix of carrots and cabbage, and a bowl of cauliflower cheese that had seen a grill finished the meal.

We ordered just the one dessert, a silky smooth lemon posset topped with raspberries, perfectly balanced between sweet and sharp.

The bar that stocks 83% of the gin in Cardiff
This is straightforward food, the presentation disguises and hides nothing, you get exactly what is described on the menu. Refreshing, and to my mind, one of the very best roasts in Cardiff.

The Potted Pig
27 High Street (underneath Zizzi), Cardiff, CF10 1PU
029 2022 4817

Twitter: @thepottedpig

The Potted Pig on Urbanspoon
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