Showing posts with label Restaurant Review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Restaurant Review. Show all posts

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Street Spirit - Le Bistrot Pierre Restaurant Review

In LA there is a street where two worlds collide. On one side is notoriously scuzzy Downtown LA and on the other is millionaire playground Beverley Hills. Chippy Lane may have improved its image in the last decade but the juxtaposition on Caroline Street of 'last stop of the night' favourite Dorothy's opposite the mega chains of the Brewery Quarter development is not lost on me, and it is to the 'sunnier side of the street' the we head on a Friday evening to try out mini-chain Le Bistrot Pierre.

First impressions are that the whole enterprise is très à dessein and slick, a smattering of gallic accents amongst the staff, white pinafores and shiny shiny dark wood everywhere. The menu is stuffed full of classic French home cooking and hits all the key marks you would expect. Moules, camembert, and boeuf bourguignon all present and correct.

The cooking is pretty decent too. A starter of Calamari £5.95 is crisp and light with no hint of rubber band twang. The Saucisse de Toulouse £5.95 (so popular it appears twice) comes with a suitably runny poached egg and sharp tomato dressing.

The mains keep up the cooking standards. A pleasing and precisely cooked Rib-Eye Steak well complemented by a Roquefort Butter and crisp skin-on frites.

Rib Eye Steak, Le Bistrot Pierre Cardiff

The Agneau au Cassoulet is perfectly tasty if awkward looking, but I can't quite forgive the use of the 'cassoulet' as an accompaniment and what we really have is braised lamb with a bean stew. I know, I know I'm being picky but the equivalent in Italian would be serving pasta as a side dish and it's just wrong.

Le Bistrot Pierre Cardiff

The desserts are lovely. The Delice au Chocolate £5.25 plenty gooey and rich and the Café Gourmand £6.95 a fun 'greatest hits' of lemon tart, sorbet, chocolate fondant and a lovely Gateau au Miel.

Le Bistrot Pierre Cardiff

It's really hard to dislike Le Bistrot Pierre and as chains go it is a good safe bet for town centre. The service standards are high, the quality of the ingredients and the cooking make up for the chain restaurant touches that are subtle but evident. Throw in a wine list that deserves more than a passing glance and while I may not be hopping up and down with excitement, there is more than enough here to keep me interested.

Le Bistrot Pierre Cardiff

Disclosure: I was invited to review Le Bistrot Pierre and my meal was complimentary

Le Bistrot Pierre
The Old Brewery Quarter, Caroline Street, Cardiff, CF10 1FG.
Tel: 029 2034 5990

Twitter: @pierrecardiff

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Poles Apart - Y Polyn, Nantgaredig restaurant review

It has taken me over a year to make it to Y Polyn. I've been thwarted by snow (twice), car trouble and a mistimed attempt on Mothering Sunday, but I finally made the trip and I'm pleased to say that although it was worth the wait I'm kicking myself that I left it quite so long. The restaurant is run by husband and wife team, Sue and Mark Mason who have a thriving business out here in deepest, darkest, loveliest, Carmarthenshire.

The menu name drops plenty of quality Welsh produce (Pantysgawn cheese, Carmarthen ham and saltmarsh lamb) and there is sufficient choice to demand a stiff gin and tonic before I could order. This is food for getting stuck into so bring your appetite.

I had been warned about the bread, and the sea salt and rosemary crusted white was something special.

Bread at Y Polyn

A starter of wild rabbit tagliatelle was lip smackingly, deeply savoury and pan fried scallops with just a hint of fivespice accompanied by shards of crisp Carmarthen ham and a celariac puree.

Wild rabbit ragu at Y Polyn

Scallops at Y Polyn

Dovey Estuary saltmarsh lamb was served pink with a confit breast and a pungent onion, garlic and thyme puree.

Saltmarsh lamb at Y Polyn

Whole lemon sole was simply fried and swimming in a beurre noisette and brown shrimp.

Whole lemon sole at Y Polyn

Crème brûlée is my ultimate dessert and this did not disappoint. I often find my heart sinking when I see it on a menu, so many restaurants feel the need to mess about with it adding lavender or Earl Grey.

Don't. This is how it should be.

Creme brulee at Y Polyn

A fun yet grown-up knickerbocker glory produced a huge smile from my friend who grinned pretty much all the way to the bottom.

I might be late to the game, but I really liked Y Polyn and this is my kind of food. Quality ingredients, economically presented; by which I mean that nothing superfluous makes it on to the plate. No twiddly bits and no gimmicks. Special mention has to go to the front of house team who run the dining room casually yet professionally. I relax because they are relaxed and I honestly can't think when I've enjoyed a dinner this much.

I don't think it will be long before I'm back. In fact, anyone fancy a mini bus trip out West sometime soon?

Y Polyn

Y Polyn
Capel Dewi, Carmarthen SA32 7LH
01267 290000

Twitter: @ypolyn

Friday, 7 March 2014

The Discovery - Launch night

Last night I went along to preview the latest offering from Knife and Fork Food, The Discovery in Cyncoed which is just a stone's throw from Roath. Opening night is tonight (Friday 7th March) and I'm pleased to report that they've done a smashing job with the refurb, tastefully decorated in shades of stone and slate and punctuated with Eames style teal chairs, there are fires and plenty of comfortable seating. Here are a few photographs from the evening...

Eating area at The Discovery
Eating area at The Discovery
The bar team at The Discovery
The bar team
The bar at The Discovery
The bar area
Blackboard menu at The Discovery
Blackboard menu which will change regularly

And here's the food that we tried, the menu and food style will be familiar to customers of The New Conway and The Pilot.
Flame grilled mackerel at The Discovery, Cardiff
Flame grilled mackerel
Crispy Aromatic Duck Egg at The Discovery Cardiff
Crispy Aromatic Duck Egg

Ox cheek chilli con carne - serious umami hit!
Ox Cheek Chilli Con Carne - a serious umami hit!

Discover the burger - a pork and beef patty
Discover the burger - a pork and beef patty
Plank of Pig - exactly as it sounds, plenty of crackling and black pudding.
Plank of Pig - exactly as it sounds, plenty of crackling and black pudding.

Snickers tart - one for the sweets lovers, very rich and gooey
Baked Alaska - well retro!
Baked Alaska - well retro and very pretty

The Discovery
Celyn Avenue, Lakeside, Cyncoed, Cardiff, CF23 6FH
Tel: 02920 755 015

Twitter: @thediscoverypub

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

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

Twitter: @CardiffMarriott  Zest 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


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