Your Last Mouthful

Cardiff based food blog

Category Archives: Orange spoon

Le Bistrot Pierre- Comme ci comme ca

I had never visited French food chain Le Bistrot Pierre until I was invited to sample the food at their latest addition on Caroline Street in Cardiff. Those of you who know Cardiff will probably know the location better as Chippy Lane, notorious for fights and filthy late night fast food. However, Le Bistrot Pierre isn’t nestled in amongst the chip shops, it’s on the corner of the Brewery Quarter, a popular area for those who like their well known chain bars and restaurants and it fits in well with its neighbours.

Le Bistrot Pierre say that they are a chain but that each restaurant is styled individually. This particular establishment was well designed with leather look booths, vintage French style furniture and street lamps not unlike rivals Cafe Rouge and Browns but it definitely had that ‘chain feel’ about it.

We went on a Tuesday which meant we were able to sample the Soirée Gastronomique; a six course set menu for £22.95. Sounds like a bargain eh? It certainly seemed popular because there were only a few tables free when we arrived at 8pm. However, we did struggle to see any sign of the menu we had been promised. We eventually spotted it advertised on a small board behind the booths on the way to the kitchen. We were eventually brought a paper copy of the menu but not before being given the a la carte to peruse.

Food arrived quickly but by the time we were brought our starters we had already been served by four different waitresses. Personally I prefer it when one person is assigned to a section so as a diner you know who is serving you and you know who you are tipping. It also prevents problems like we experienced later when we agreed a break between our dessert and cheese course and then the waiter went on a break or home leaving us waiting for a very long time as no-one seemed to know we hadn’t had our cheese.

Anyway, the food was very nice and excellent value for money. To start we had creamy wild mushroom soup with chives. It tasted good but was very salty.

Wild mushroom soup

This was quickly followed by the fish course; pan fried scallops with ratatouille. We thought it seemed like an odd pairing but it worked. The scallops were cooked nicely and it was light and fresh.

scallops and ratatouille

For the main course there was a choice of two dishes so we picked one each. I had Limousin beef, slow cooked with red wine and moutarde violet te de brive and Mr V had breast of chicken in a mushroom jus.

Slow cooked Limousin beef

Both meats were cooked very well and the meat portions were very generous. Our side dish of potatoes was especially good. However, when it came to the accompanying vegetables the dish was mostly cabbage with a small amount of broccoli and carrots placed on top. It seemed a shame to be so economical with the vegetables when they were so generous with the meat.

Vegetables

Dessert was creme brulee, a favourite of mine. Sadly it was very disappointing. I’m used to my creme brulee arriving in a deep dish so you can tap through the crispy top into the creme anglaise below but this was served in a wide shallow dish and spread so thinly that we ended up with more sugar than custard with every mouthful. Mr V couldn’t finish his. I persisted but I can’t say I enjoyed it much.

creme brulee

The cheese board was nicely presented with three different cheeses and the meal was finished with a freshly brewed coffee and chocolates.

cheese board

We left feeling full and agreed that if we had been paying customers it was very good value. Aside from the issues mentioned above, staff were friendly and knowledgeable and there was a good atmosphere. Other than the creme brulee, the food was good but forgettable. If you like your chain restaurants, I’d say Pierre is a good option but with so much choice in the city centre, I’m afraid it didn’t stand out for us.

 

 

 

Nutribox- Healthy Snacks Through My Letter Box

You may have noticed from previous posts that I do like a subscription food service. I love the excitement of opening a box of edible goodies and not knowing what is going to be inside. Nutribox is the latest one I have been sent to sample.

As subscription boxes go, Nutribox is very reasonably priced. You can choose between the Nutribox for £21 per month (if you sign up for 6 months or more) or the Nutribox Mini at £10.95 per month. I sampled the Nutribox Mini and I have to say I thought it was the larger option until I checked because there was certainly nothing mini about it.

When I tipped the contents of the box out on the table it all looked very appealing and colourful. Nutribox market themselves as providing healthy snacks and each box contains a mix of fruit and nut mixes, snack bars, savoury snacks and treats.

nutri

However, I did find the contents a bit of a mixed bag (or box!) and some of it wasn’t to my taste. Below is a run down of what I received.

Miss Wallflower Candy- Energise

This was a Goji, Flax and Maca Superfood Raw Fruit cookie. I can honestly say I’ve never had anything like it. I wouldn’t describe it as a cookie, other than due to it’s shape but it was nice all the same. There were some very unusual, interesting flavours with a strong undercurrent of coconut. The texture was soft with some crunchy texture. Although I enjoyed the flavours and it was meant to be raw, I couldn’t help but feel I was eating cookie mix that was waiting to be cooked.

Nutribox 3

Ombar- Goji Berry Chocolate bar

I had high hopes for this because I love goji berries and I thought it sounded like a very good accompaniment to chocolate and something I hadn’t tried before. The goji berry and chocolate mix was good but I didn’t like the chocolate. To keep with the healthy theme, the bar was made with 60% raw chocolate and sweetened with coconut sugar instead of cane sugar. This resulted in a dry and crumbly texture that wasn’t for me I’m afraid.

Ombar- Dark

This was obviously similar to the bar above although I did prefer this one. It may have been the 72% chocolate that I liked.

Pulsin’ Energy Bomb

I liked the packaging of this product. It was bold and exciting, but unfortunately the taste of the product didn’t match the wrapping. It fit with the concept of what Nutribox are delivering as it was vegetarian, gluten free, had no added sugar, no transfats and no gmo. Unfortunately, for me this didn’t translate into a very tasty product. In fact it was dry and sapped the moisture from my mouth. It had very little flavour at first but left a musty aftertaste and it smelt like something you might buy in a pet shop. I felt like it was something I should be feeding to my hamster rather than eating myself. I don’t like to be negative but I couldn’t even finish it.

Bounce Natural Energy Ball

Ok, time to be a bit more positive. I liked this product. I was sent the Cashew and Pecan variety which for me is an excellent flavour combination. It was nicely packaged, looked appealing and was packed full of nuts. It tasted healthy but still like a sweet treat. It was sticky and had a chewy texture but was juicy rather than unnecessarily sweetened.

Braw Apple and Pear Bar

This product was gluten free and dairy free. It was very fruity without being too sweet and had a nice chewy texture. It’s the kind of thing you could give a child as a treat without it actually being too bad for them.

Fruit and nut mixesHot Cross Bun, No Choc Fruit and Nut and Tropical Mix

I enjoyed all of these mixes. For me this is what a healthy snack is all about. Clean, simple and nothing added. Just dry fruit and nuts in interesting combinations.

Nutribox 2

All in all I think Nutribox have a good concept. There are other companies out there doing a similar thing but they do have some fairly unique products that I haven’t come across before. Unfortunately, not all of the products were for me. I have an issue with taking ‘treats’ and turning them into healthy options. I believe a treat should be just that, something you have once in a while in moderation. I don’t think they need to be made healthy. There are so many delicious healthy snacks out there, why not work with what we already have?

This is my opinion though and I’m sure many of you will love the products. The price is right, the packaging is good and fits through your letter box despite being a very good size. Nutribox’s website is effective too, very easy to navigate and clearly laid out.

My Last Mouthful was: Bounce Natural Energy Ball

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Overall rating- spoon-green80/ spoon-orange80

If you’d like to try a Nutribox, I have kindly been given a code for 10 of my readers to receive 50% off  their first box.

The code is YOURLASTMOUTHFUL50

All you need to do is enter the code when ordering your boxes on www.thenutribox.com/join

Miller And Carter Steakhouse- Surprisingly Good Steak

When it comes to eating out, a chain restaurant would be very unlikely to make my shortlist. I’m yet to find one I love but that doesn’t mean I won’t give them a chance so I was very grateful to be invited along to Miller and Carter Steakhouse in the grounds of the Cardiff Red Dragon Centre.

I have to admit, the location didn’t give me high hopes but once inside, I was pleasantly surprised. It was very busy for a Monday evening and we were promptly shown to our seats next to a lovely modern fire. The atmosphere was cosy with low lighting and candles on the tables. It had an obvious chain feel to it with staff in uniforms and their polished speeches ready, but it was nice and we felt relaxed.

Our drinks orders were taken straight away but we did have to wait a while for our food orders to be taken but it was extremely busy. The waitress who took our orders was very friendly and knowledgable. She was able to talk in detail to us about the different cuts of steak available and how they should be cooked. When I told her I usually like my steak rare but due to guidelines about eating rare meat when pregnant I had to have it well done, she politely suggested a different cut of meat to the one I had picked that was best served medium- well done. I was impressed, and I have to say she was definitely right.

Along with the steaks, there was a varied selection of alternatives available from fish dishes to burgers to pasta. For me it was all about the steak but it was very nice to see that they cater for everyone and the dishes looked very appealing.

To start, I ordered a Cherry Tomato, Mozzarella and Rocket Salad and Mr V had Black Pearl Scallops. Both were very well presented, and looked of a high quality. My salad was very nice. It was fresh and simple with a good flavour combination.

Mr V’s scallops were served on a bed of black pudding and pancetta with a balsamic glaze. The flavours worked beautifully together but the scallops were slightly over cooked. It could have been lovely if the scallops were cooked perfectly.

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For our mains, I went for a rump steak medium-well done with a peppercorn sauce. Mr V was going to have Barbecued ribs but they had run out (we were told this immediately and very apologetically) so he opted for a rare fillet steak with a Béarnaise sauce. The steaks arrived with fries, onion loaf and roasted cherry tomatoes. All steaks were also served with a lettuce wedge with a sauce of choice served as an accompaniment. I chose a bacon and honey mustard dressing and Mr V chose garlic and chive mayonnaise with Parmesan.

The lettuce arrived at our table about 10 minutes before the steaks which seemed a little odd. In fact I found the whole concept of an iceberg lettuce in a bowl with a meal slightly unusual but it did actually work quite well once the rest of the food arrived. It was nice to have something fresh and crisp with the meal.

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The steaks were very good. My rump was tender and juicy and cooked perfectly as was Mr V’s fillet. The chips were ok but I personally like to have chunky chips rather than fries with my steak but that is just a personal preference. The onion loaf was an interesting alternative to onion rings.

Fillet steak

Fillet steak

The only compliant I have was that the peppercorn sauce wasn’t very pleasant. It didn’t taste like any peppercorn sauce I have ever had before or would want to have again. It was thin and runny, not creamy like I’d expect.

Rump Steak

Rump Steak

Service was generally very good apart from when Mr V ordered another glass of wine when the mains arrived. The wine was not brought to us until after we had finished the mains and the plates had been cleared so we sent it back. That was disappointing and this is where I find some chains very lacking. Rather than having one waiter or waitress throughout the meal, each had a different role. Mr V ordered his wine from one person, when she eventually told the bar staff, a ticket was printed and put on a tray while another person made the drinks, another person then collected each tray and delivered the drinks. If any customers went to the bar for a drink, they were given preference over any waiting table orders.

Apart from this little blip we had a good night. The food was largely good as was the atmosphere. The selection of steaks were impressive and I would certainly recommend Miller and Carter to a steak lover. At just under £22 for an 8oz fillet steak it wasn’t cheap but the portions were large and the quality good.

As chains go, this is a good one and despite the location, if you’re into your steak, it shouldn’t be ignored.

My last mouthful was: The fillet steak

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Overall rating- small spoon-orange40/ small spoon-green40

Cardamom Indian Restaurant- Once upon-a-time there was a fine dining restaurant…

I seem to have been invited to a string of Indian restaurants over the past few weeks of which I will be reviewing in turn. The first in line is Cardamom Indian Restaurant in Canton’s Victoria Park.

Having never been to Cardamom before, I was intrigued after reading the description on their website:

‘…the award-winning Indian restaurant, in the heart of Cardiff, continues to be instrumental in changing perceptions of the subcontinent’s cuisine. With its amazing service and prices there is no better that the Cardamom when it comes to Indian cuisine in Cardiff. The restaurant offers a sophisticated fine dining experience with effortlessly charming staff, discrete service and tantalising food that few can compete with.’

Reading this I got very excited. How had I overlooked this one? To top things off, it is named after one of my all-time favourite ingredients.

We visited Cardamom on a Wednesday evening which is a relatively quiet night in even the best restaurants. However, we were pleased to see that we would not be dining alone as there were four other parties already seated when we arrived. Staff were very welcoming and efficient in showing us to our seats. Before we had even looked at the menu our drinks orders were placed.

Taking in our surroundings, it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. The decor was a bit tired with veneer peeling off the tables and some faint curry stains. The painted walls looked as though they could have used a touch up but there were echoes of superior quality with classy spotlights and high backed chairs. The bar area was also very attractive but all in all, it just looked like it needed some TLC and didn’t scream ‘fine dining’ as described, although it was clear that it had once upon-a-time.

The menu was very substantial and offered some interesting dishes. For starters I chose an unusual Chicken and Pasta Balti and Mr V went for the Mas Biran (a fillet of fish rubbed with spicy paste and fresh dill, sizzled in mustard oil). My pasta dish worked surprisingly well. I was asked whether I would like it mild, medium or hot and I was pleased that it was hot like I had ordered. So often ‘hot’ seems to mean ‘a little above mild for the delicate Westerner’.

Although nice, my starter did seem rather out-of-place on the menu that boasts authentic dishes. As Cardamom is a more traditional establishment than a fusion restaurant it seemed like a strange addition. Mr V’s fish was very good. It was nicely cooked with a subtle flavour. Our starters came with some deliciously tasty mint and tamarind sauces which were both homemade.

For our mains we chose Lamb Anawaka (lamb tikka with ground spices, tomatoes and green peppers) and Snapper Fish Masala. The stand out dish of the night was the lamb. It was cooked beautifully and had real depth of flavour served with chunky mushrooms and peppers.

The tender snapper was well cooked but the sauce was a touch bland and very oily. The accompanying garlic naan was very good.

Presentation wise, the dishes were that of a standard Indian restaurant rather than a fine dining establishment. Our starters were on plain white plates that were adorned with colourless salad and a slice of lemon. It didn’t reflect fine dining but then again, neither did the prices which were more than reasonable. Our starters only cost £4.50 each and our mains were well priced too.

Moving onto dessert, I was pleased to see quite an extensive menu including a number of home-made dishes. We ordered a coconut samosa and a pastishapta which was a pancake filled with a coconut filling.

The desserts were definitely value for money as they were very substantial. However, the pancake filling was very dry not as sweet as I would expect a dessert to be. It came with cream but that did seem like a strange accompaniment.

All in all, we had very mixed feelings about Cardamom. It has won lots of awards and have some confident statements on their website so expectations were high and it just didn’t hit the mark. An article in the Guardian in 2005 spoke of well dressed crowds and a ‘chic eatery’ but this isn’t the impression we got. Much of the good press highlighted on their website and the awards were several years ago and it seems that Cardamom has lost its way a little.

As an Indian restaurant, it is very good but it is not what I would describe as ‘fine dining’ and this is what Cardamom claims to be. It may seem that I am being harsh but I review restaurants on what they profess to be and Cardamom claim to offer ‘a fine dining experience’. Had this not been the case and I would have awarded a green spoon for quality of food but if they are marketing themselves as fine dining, they just fall short.

My Last Mouthful was: Lamb Anawaka

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For more reviews of local food, competitions and news please take a look at the website- yourlastmouthful.com

Henry’s Cafe Bar- Great cocktails but the food didn’t hit the mark

When I was asked to review Henry’s Cafe Bar recently I wasn’t sure what to expect. I have only eaten lunch there once but it was a long time ago but I am a regular when it comes to their wonderful cocktails.

We chose to go on a Friday so that we could experience it on a busy day but we also went early so that it wasn’t so busy that the staff were rushed off their feet. We actually unwittingly picked the time that lots of diners were enjoying a pre-theatre dinner so it was really busy when we arrived but we found a free table and despite the crowds, we were served immediately by a friendly waiter. The menu looked very promising. It was much more refined than we thought it would be and we became very enthusiastic about what was to come.

At 7.15, people started to leave but they left behind many tables full of dirty dishes and glasses. Half an hour later, the tableware was cleared away but there were still crumbs and unlaid tables and a washing up bowl left on one of the tables. I can understand that everyone left together which meant there was lots of work to do in a short time but I would have thought that this would have been anticipated as it happens whenever there is something on at the theatre and that more staff would have been on hand to help.

Nevertheless, the friendly efficient waiter continued to serve and promptly took our orders. Unfortunately, our top two starters were not available so I chose Avocado with Crispy Pancetta and Spinach. Mr V chose the Shallot Tarte Tatin but that wasn’t available either so the waiter offered him a beetroot (rather than shallot) option instead which he politely accepted.

The starters arrived promptly. Mr V’s tarte tatin was beautifully presented but it wasn’t cooked properly. In fact the pastry was raw and he couldn’t eat it.

My avocado with crispy pancetta and spinach was better but the ‘crispy’ pancetta was actually lardons and they were anything but crispy and the dish was quite oily and greasy.

We ordered another cocktail and hoped the mains would be better. Mr V chose Spatchcocked Poussin with Garlic, Thyme & Lemon and I chose the Chicken & Prawn Jambalaya. My Jambalaya was nice. It had a healthy kick to it and it was packed full of meat making it a fair price at £11.95.

Mr V’s main wasn’t quite as described. It was supposed to come with potatoes but the waiter explained it would be served with puy lentils instead. It arrived with puy lentils in a broth with over boiled celery and carrots. The Poussin was very well cooked and fell off the bone which was good but it meant that little pieces of cartilage and bone got lost in the broth making it slightly unpleasant to eat.

Feeling disappointed, we moved onto dessert. I soon cheered up when I noticed a Blueberry Cream and Mint Tart but unfortunately, they had run out of that one so I settled for an Apple and Blackberry Crumble and Mr V had a Chocolate Brownie.

Both were well presented again. Mr V’s brownie was ok but it was a little dry.

My crumble looked nice but it tasted very average and came with a jug of tepid custard that didn’t know whether it was supposed to be hot or cold.

All in all, the food was disappointing on this occasion. It’s a real shame because for drinks Henry’s is a real favourite of mine. I used to frequent it as a student for cocktails many years ago and now it is a favourite for after work drinks or on a night out. It’s the kind of place where there is a combination of people wearing suits, jeans or even fancy dress and everyone feels at ease, there is no discrimination.

I like the decor and the staff are always friendly. Our waiter on this visit was excellent but the food just didn’t hit the mark. Henry’s call themselves a Cafe Bar but I’m not sure that this fits with what they are offering. It seems to me that they are trying to do too much and as a result they are serving confit of duck with a bottle of ketchup which just doesn’t work.

For drinks, this is a great choice but with so many other options for dinner, I think I will go elsewhere in future.

My Last Mouthful was: Chicken & Prawn Jambalaya

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Boulders Cafe- Recharge after a good climb

Recently, we were asked to review Boulder’s Cafe located inside Boulder’s Climbing Centre in Pengam Green. We work with all food businesses and we are asked to review many cafes but I was quite surprised with this request. For one I didn’t know they had a cafe and two, it seems an unlikely place to go for food unless you are already there climbing but nevertheless, we went along to find out.

I had never been to Boulder’s before so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I imagined that the cafe would be quite separate to the climbing area, maybe with a window or platform that you could view the walls from, however, they were very much hand in hand.

The cafe area is large but it doubles up to be an area that climbers use to get changed and wait in for their turn on the wall. It seemed very social and full of people but it was quite difficult to find somewhere to sit that wasn’t dominated by people putting equipment on.

We did manage to find a seat and quickly reserved it with our coats while we went to the display counter to choose some food. Boulder’s are obviously making an effort with their food and I’m sure they do great business from climbers and spectators. The food looked good and there were a range of choices from baguettes, pasties and pizzas to more substantial meals and a nice range of cakes and sweet treats.

Mr V and I decided to taste the meal options. I had the Spanish stew with chorizo and cous cous and Mr V had a tomato and pasta bake with salad and tortilla chips. Both were £3.95 which we thought was very reasonable. To accompany our meals we both had a coffee.

Service was what you would expect. People ordered at the counter and waited for their food and then helped themselves to condiments including milk and sugar for drinks. However, as we had ordered hot meals, they were brought over to us. Staff were friendly and efficient but the cutlery needed a bit of a wipe over.

The meals were well thought out but I would be tempted to go for a sandwich next time because the meals obviously needed to be heated for each person and mine was hot in places but cold in the middle. The sandwiches looked good with some interesting fillings and there was also an extensive list of smoothies on offer. I wouldn’t advise people to come here just for the food but if you are at Boulders climbing, you have the added bonus of a nice cafe with a greater range of food than you might expect.

I can’t give Boulder’s a green spoon overall because of the categories we use to rate. I wouldn’t choose to visit Boulder’s for a meal unless I was climbing but the cafe is appropriate for the environment. If you are a climber or with someone who is climbing, it’s a good option but the food will always be secondary as the primary reason people come here is to climb. In my opinion it would also be better if the cafe area was further removed from the climbing area as trying to eat with people standing all around you putting on climbing gear is not pleasant. However, if you are also there to climb, this may be less of an issue.

My last mouthful was: The Spanish stew with chorizo and cous cous

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For further reviews as well as exclusive deals, news and events, please see www.yourlastmouthful.com

Bosphorus – Great location, shame about the service…

Guest review by Mr. V

All by itself on its own strand of pier, the glass clad restaurant sits at its prominent location jutting out from the rest of the forage of restaurants and welcomes any onlooker. After many a time of wandering by and saying ‘we should go there someday’, finally, last week, we did and went along for a taste of what the Bosphorus has to offer.

It was a Monday night so we weren’t expecting it to be particularly busy, but then on the other hand we were also hoping it wasn’t going to be empty. Sadly it was, although 3 more people did arrive shortly afterwards. But as soon as we sat down the speakers came to life and we were treated to some essential Turkish music.

The interior is very nice – all three sides fully flanked with glass facing the sea and a nice panoramic view of the Bay across to Penarth. (At least of the lights as it was dark…) Simple décor, high ceiling and some (rather annoying) flashing lights which I’m hoping were just left up from the Christmas period. But all in all, very pleasant.

On arrival we were greeted, just about, by a rather glum looking waiter who gestured to the whole restaurant implying ‘you really can sit anywhere’. So we took a seat around the corner next to the glass wall.

With the drinks ordered we perused the menu. Our drinks arrived fairly quickly and were accompanied with a bowl of flat bread which is always a nice touch, but with no butter or olive oil, it was a little dry. When we’d come to a decision on what to order, we waited for the waiter. Then we waited a little longer. And then a touch longer, and then finally he came and took our orders. Mrs V went for the stuffed aubergine, and I went for the golden triangles of filo pastry stuffed with feta cheese, spinach, herbs and cheddar cheese. The aubergine was nice but lacked a bit in taste and flavour.

The filo pastries were better, good colour and tasted nice. Both were presented quite simply but looked ok.

Onto the mains and after a rather lengthy wait (even if it was brimming with people it was still a good while) we finally put to rest the rumblings in our stomachs. Mrs V had the marinated swordfish served with salad and lemon butter sauce. Nicely presented on a large plate, the fish tasted good, the salad was a little basic and it would have been nice to have some carbs but all in all, quite a nice dish.

I went for the Kul Basti which is an escallop of lamb with boiled rice and sautéed vegetables. The marinated lamb was very tasty, juicy, tender and well cooked. But the rest was again a little uninspiring and perhaps could have done with a sauce to wetten the dish as a whole. But overall the mains were good enough.

I’m afraid that due to the rather laid service we decided to opt out of ordering a dessert.

The menu on the whole had lots of choice with hot and cold starters and some good vegetarian options. It has a good range in price from £9.95 to £16.75 for the mains and £4.45 to £7.15 for the hot and cold starters.

Overall,  the food was ok but nothing to shout about. The service, especially considering there were only 2 tables occupied including ourselves was desperately slow but also not a single smile. We felt more of an inconvenience, and had the waiter not forced a smile and opened the door for us on our exit they would have received a red spoon for service. The best thing about it however, is the location. I may have not have had such a dim view of the whole experience had the service been friendly and welcoming. It’s a simple thing but makes a big difference. Hopefully the waiter was just having an off day.

My last mouthful was: The marinated escallop of lamb

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Ba Rooba- Quality is key

On Friday night, Ben and I booked ourselves a table at Ba Rooba in Cathays. I have heard mixed reviews so I thought it was about time I formed my own opinion. It has recently been nominated for restaurant of the year in The South Wales Echo Competition so we had high hopes.

When we arrived, we were impressed with the cosy little venue. Marketed as a Bar, Lounge, Diner, I would have described it more as a cosy little restaurant. It was very welcoming with nice warm terracotta walls, tables packed in close together and friendly happy staff.

We settled down and browsed through the menu. There was a good selection of starters ranging from £4.25- £11.25. I opted for Arancini (Fried rice balls in breadcrumbs, filled with meat sauce, tomatoes, ham and mozzarella) and Ben went for  Capsante (Fresh scallops, cooked in Pernod and a touch of cream, served on toasted bread, with rocket salad).

The scallops were nicely presented, arranged on the bread but with only 2 scallops, it looked a little sparse. Ben enjoyed the starter which had a lovely sauce but the scallops were a little overcooked. I enjoyed my arancini and had a healthy sized portion.

Scallops with my Arancini in the background

Moving onto the main, I chose Veal Sorrentino (Baked veal escallop in a tomato sauce and topped with Parma ham and cheese) and Ben chose Agnello all Toscano (Rump of lamb, cooked in garlic, rosemary, balsamic vinegar, red wine and a touch of tomato sauce). I was a little disappointed by the presentation when I saw the waitress heading for our table. Both dishes came with a helping of colourless saute potatoes and a heap of broccoli and cauliflower. The presentation didn’t exactly scream fine dining and was not what I was expecting for the £19.95 that I was paying for mine.

Overlooking the presentation, we dug in. Unfortunately, the taste matched the appearance. My veal was topped with parma ham and was covered with a rather bland sauce. There was certainly no hint of the chilli in the menu description. It was basically like a pizza topping chucked over the top of the meat. Fortunately Ben’s was better with a good quality piece of lamb. The sauce was a bit rich but overall, it was a nice dish, not worth the £17.25 though as far as I’m concerned.

Moving onto desert, we didn’t get our hopes up. The menu displayed pictures of the deserts (and coffee!?) on offer and the pictures didn’t sell the dishes well. I chose an apple tart and Ben had raspberry  Panna Cotta. When Ben’s desert arrived, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry! It looked like something that would be served up at a children’s party. The Panna Cotta resembled a melting Mr. Whippy.  It tasted ok though and had raspberrys running through the inside but for some reason it had been completely spoiled by a thick, syrupy sauce like that out of a bottle for children’s ice cream. The Panna Cotta was floating in it! It was a real shame because it would have been lovely with a nice coulis.

My tart was nice, although it had the same bizarre sauce to accompany it only this time in toffee flavour. There wasn’t much of it though so it didn’t spoil it. Sneaking a peek at our neighbours desert, the Tiramisu looked like a good option but the picture on the menu just didn’t do it justice.

You may think I’m being over critical with this review and I suppose I am more than usual but when you are paying almost £20 for a main meal, you expect quality. When I compare this to other places I have eaten recently serving meals at this price, this just wasn’t a patch in terms of quality and presentation. The food certainly wasn’t bad but for the prices they are charging, it needs to be a lot better in my opinion. The starters were reasonably priced but some of the mains were simply too high for what they delivered. I’ve heard good things about the steak on a stone so maybe we will try that if we come back.

My Last Mouthful was: Arancini

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Y Mochyn Du- So much potential but didn’t deliver on this occasion

Sunday afternoon, I had a real hankering for a roast dinner. Having left it too late to cook one we headed out to hunt one down in a local pub. Unfortunately, we were a bit late and everywhere we tried had stopped serving or run out! Withered and hungry, we trudged down Cathedral Road only to find no joy. Our last tiny beacon of hope was Y Mochyn Du so in we went.

Sunday roasts had run out but broken and beaten, we decided to stay anyway and order something else. I chose lamb shank in minted gravy with mash potato and peas as this was the closest thing to a roast dinner on the menu. Ben had fish cakes.

I like Y Mochyn Du, it’s a nice location and I often end up in there for a drink if I’m down that way. The recent refurb means there is a nice modern section as well as the more traditional area and although the outside seating area doesn’t get much sun, it’s still a nice place to sit.

We took a seat in the new part and ordered our drinks and food at the bar. I don’t usually mind waiting for my food as it’s pleasant enough sitting having a drink but on this occasion as I was so hungry, I did notice that the food took quite a while to arrive, especially as the pub was fairly quiet.

When it did arrive, we were a little disappointed. My dish was devoid of colour with a rather grey looking lamb shank placed on the mash with grey peas. The peas I’m sure were tinned which I wasn’t happy about. How hard is it to boil some peas? It would have made the dish far more attractive and tasty. The lamb gravy was very nice though and the lamb tasted fine but not brilliant.

Ben’s fish cakes were another story. They came with giant potato wedges and salad and when he cut into the fish cake, it was basically just potato with a splattering of pink. I would estimate that in his fair-sized cake, there was about a t-spoon of salmon, so small in comparison to the wealth of potato that you couldn’t even taste it. Basically, he just had a plate of potato served with potato. Not good!

Nothing was inedible , it was mostly ‘fine’ so not worthy of a red spoon overall but the fish (cough…cough…potato) cakes would have been a red spoon alone. It’s a shame because the Mochyn Du is a nice independent pub and it could be so much better if they worked on their menu more. I definitely will be back to Y Mochyn Du, it’s a great pub but my reviews are based predominantly on the food and in this instance, it wasn’t up to standard. Y Mochyn Du was voted one of the top 25 pubs in Britain in 2008 so it shows what it can achieve.

My Last Mouthful was: The minted gravy

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The Ty Mawr- Stunning view but food could have been better

On a recent drive back into Cardiff via Caerphilly Mountain, we decided to stop at a pub for a cooked lunch. They seemed to be in abundance but as we stopped at one by one, we realised they were all chains and the food really didn’t appeal so we kept on driving. We didn’t mange to find a single place to stop.

Annoyed, I used an app on my phone to locate all the pubs in the area. One of the pubs on the list was the Ty Mawr so we decided to head there as it had been recommended by a friend.

On the approach, it looked great. A lovely looking building and a stunning view over Cardiff with a nice seating area outside. Unfortunately it was raining so we didn’t get to enjoy the view and went inside. Inside was very pleasant. It was quite rustic with a real fire, wooden beams and chunky wooden furniture. We found a quite table and sat down.

We were welcomed by a friendly waitress who brought over the specials board and some menus. The Ty Mawr is a Brain’s pub so the menu was very similar to another pub I had eaten at recently. The specials looked nice but as it was lunch time we decided to opt for something smaller and went for the burgers. Ben chose a pesto chicken burger with coriander creme fraiche and chunky chips and I chose a pork and mustard burger with apple sauce and chunky chips.

When the food arrived, it wasn’t quite as it was described. My burger had no trace of the promised mustard. I can only assume it was actually in the burger but I couldn’t taste it. It tasted ok but I do like to get what I have ordered. Ben’s was again not how it was described. In fact, his was a plain chicken breast in a bun minus the pesto so it was pretty bland and the creme fraiche was just normal creme fraiche, no coriander had gone near it!

This annoys me because had we known that a pesto chicken burger with coriander creme fraiche was not going to contain any presto and coriander we would have ordered something else.

It’s a shame the food wasn’t as good as it could have been because the pub itself is really lovely and on a good day, it would be the prefect place to sit outside. I can’t help think what a great place it could be if it was an independent pub serving proper home cooked food.

All in all, it’s not a bad place to eat by any means. The food tasted nice enough but it was nothing out of the ordinary and I don’t think it’s right to serve a dish with key ingredients missing.

My Last Mouthful was: Pork burger with apple chutney

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