Review by Mr V
Last week Mrs V and I were asked to review the Hodges Restaurant of the four star hotel, Mercure Cardiff Holland House. We arrived at the clean, marble clad hotel lobby and followed signs up to the first floor where the restaurant is situated. Through the bar area and into the restaurant, the barman showed us to the tables next to the large windows where we could people watch down onto Newport Road.
The decor was quite typical of a hotel restaurant, smart, stylish with patterned carpet and low level background music but very pleasant. It was a thursday night and was very quiet but apparently it does get very busy from Friday, through the weekend, even with non-guests.
The waiter came over, introduced himself and presented us with our menus. A first class waiter who instantly made us feel comfortable and welcome as he was friendly and jovial.
First for the starters. I opted for the prawn and crayfish salad, with cucumber salsa and micro herbs (£6.00). My guilty pleasure (amongst many…) is enjoying a massive bowl of prawn cocktail so I thought I’d order it and see how they get away from the ‘it’s just a prawn cocktail‘ response. Presented very nicely with a generous amount of crayfish tails and prawns wrapped in a long slice of cucumber, it was light and fresh with nice textures. There was a touch of marie rose sauce but was seperate to the prawns and crayfish tails. With the micro herbs and cucumber salsa it was a very pleasant way to start a meal – and not a cocktail remark in sight.
Mrs V had the bubble and squeak with poached hens egg and hollandaise sauce (£5.00). The knife went in and the yolk spilled out – a moment all foodies must enjoy… The bubble and squeak had a nice outer crispness which balanced nicely with the creamy sauce and egg. Nicely presented and very tasty.
Onto the mains. I went for the pan fried calves liver served with fondant potatoes, green beans and a caramalised red onion jus (£15.00). Perfectly cooked liver – very tender, al dente green beans and well cooked potatoes. Everything went well together, the sauce was just about strong enough to stand its ground againts the strong flavour of the liver but not so much as to overpower everything else. Overall a very nice dish.
Mrs V went for the market fish of the day which was grey mullet and was served with asparagus, spring onion mashed potato and sundried tomato butter (£14.50). The fish was cooked just right, a bit of crunch on the asparagus and lovely smooth mashed potato. It was a very good dish indeed – it hit all the right notes but sadly the potato was cold. When a dish is as good as that its very disappointing to have just a small factor mar the overall result. However, it was still very enjoyable.
Lastly, the desserts. Surprisingly the waiter gave us the menus again and then stressed that we should avoid the ‘taste of raspberries’ dessert. I thought he was just having a bit of a joke with us but he really wasn’t! Apparently the menu is decided by head office somewhere far, far away and despite the chef and staff asking for it be taken off it was still there – resulting in the waiter having to say that not all the items on the menu are good. When the chef is clearly very good it’s a great shame that his voice isn’t listened to.
Anyway, I went for the peach and nectarine tarte tatin with honey mascapone and butterscotch sauce (£6.00). Nicely presented, lovely honey mascapone making a good companion to the peach and nectarine.
Mrs V went for the lemon bombe (£6.00). This was a lemon meringue, with a berry compot and a small bundle of candy floss. Nicely presented with the candyfloss sat on top and a white chocolate stick sticking out of the candyfloss, envoking memories of childhood days at the fairground. It’s ceratinly nice to have something a little bit different!
Overall, the food was good and well priced. The atmosphere was hard to judge as it was very quiet but decor was warm and inviting. and despite being on the first floor of a hotel, it was still a nice place to come in off the street to have a good meal.
My last mouthful was: The bubble and squeak
Atmosphere and Decor-
Quality of food-
Diversity of menu-
Value for money-
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