Last week, I was very honoured to be invited along to Ffresh‘s 2nd Birthday celebrations and guest chef night with Shaun Hill of the Walnut Tree.
Along with other food bloggers from the Cardiff area and a number of paying guests, I was treated to a three course meal cooked at the restaurant with Shaun Hillworking as head chef with wine from Ancre Hill Estate in Monmouthshire.
I have to confess that I had never been to Ffresh before this but I have heard good things about it and I wasn’t disappointed. The restaurant itself is a perfect extension of the Millenium centre; modern, stylish, grand with a dash of sophistication. It certainly isn’t in the same league as many of the chain restaurants dominating the Mermaid Quay area.
The night began with welcome drinks which to my delight were a pink sparkling number. Now I don’t pretend to know a lot about wine but I know what I like and this was very nice. I just wish I had had a bigger lunch so I could have drunk more of it before it started going to my head and I had to reluctantly turn down a second glass. We also had some canapes of Arancini which were very nice and cheese and sesame biscuits which unfortunately I didn’t get to try. Too busy nattering (or sampling the wine!)
After chatting in the bar area with other food bloggers and the very welcoming staff, we were shown to our seats in the restaurant. I was happy to be on a table with fellow food and drink bloggers Cardiff Bites and Drinks from Wales as well as the owners of Ancre Hill Estate and Rhiannon and David from The Centre.
As the kitchen in Ffresh is in full view, we could see the staff efficiently preparing our feast which I always think is a nice touch and after a short speech from Shaun Hill, food was served quickly and professionally.
To start we were treated to an effortlessly beautiful dish of Red Mullet with Anchovies and Herb Creme Fraiche. This was my favourite dish of the night. The fish was cooked beautifully and fell apart at first touch. The sauce was subtle and delicious and I felt the need to make sure I moped it all up with my bread.
Being a huge fan of game, the next course was the one I was most looking forward too when reading the menu- Roasted Partridge with its own Pudding, Puffin Potato Fondant, Hispi Cabbage and Lentils. The dish was presented very well with the meat placed on the pudding and potato with the cabbage underneath. The pudding was wonderful; soft and spongy yet creamy and rich and the cabbage with lentils went very well with the dish. The partridge was cooked well but unfortunately, I did have rather a lot of small bones to fight with and the amount of bones seemed to be uneven amongst diners.
As I said earlier, I don’t know a lot about wine but even I could tell that the wine for this course definitely complimented the flavours of the dish and I was very impressed. Who knew Welsh wine could taste so good!
Our final course was a delicious Hot Chocolate Fondant with Hazelnut Praline Sauce and Wild Fig Vanilla Ice Cream. While I like dessert, it is usually my least favourite course but certainly not on this occasion. The fondant was probably the best I have ever had (the photo doesn’t do it justice). So often a disappointment with the promise of chocolate sauce that doesn’t appear, this one was perfect. As the spoon made contact, the chocolate sauced oozed out and merged with the lovely praline sauce. Seriously good! The ice cream was nice too although the fig was a little subtle for my palate.
Overall, this was a great meal and the night was a success. I had a really good time and am now looking forward to planning a visit to Ffresh to see how it fares on a normal night and I think a trip to the Walnut Tree might be in order too! Thanks to David Pearce and his team for the invite and for a great night!