Your Last Mouthful

Cardiff based food blog

Category Archives: Orange spoon

The Pear Tree- would you like an empty bowl with that?

A few weeks ago, my friend Mrs. J and I went out for a bite to eat at The Pear Tree in Roath. A few people have told me that I need to get down there and give it a try and I’ve been meaning to for a while.

We walked in and it immediately felt nice and welcoming, I often feel intimidated when I walk into pubs but I didn’t at all at The Pear Tree. The Pear Tree describe themselves as a cafe bar and I think this is a fair description. It’s clearly a bar but it has the coziness and relaxed feel of a coffee shop.

The decor is very unusual and is set out like an old house. There are book shelves, ornaments and lamps and old portraits on the wall that look like they came straight out of a museum or a very elderly relatives house.  There was even an old style sewing machine thrown into the mix.

We found a table for two and looked at the menu. The menus were on A4 paper but also displayed on boards around the room. There was also a tapas checklist on the table which you could take to the bar so you didn’t forget which tapas you had tried which was a good idea I thought.

I was a little disappointed by the choice of food available, the menu was quite uninspiring. We had gone for an evening meal but they seemed to cater mostly for lunch and breakfast with lots of sandwiches and paninis.  However, after we had ordered, I did actually see a board of specials which would have been a lot better for an evening meal than what we picked.

I ordered a spiced chicken breast burger with chilli jam and minted creme fraiche with chunky chips and Mrs. J ordered the tapas deal- 3 dishes with a drink for £7.95. She chose  spicy chicken wings, meat balls and squid.

My chicken burger and chunky chips

When it came to ordering the meals, we did have a few issues. While staff were very friendly and accommodating, they made a few mistakes. Firstly with the tapas Mrs. J was allowed a continental beer or a glass of wine. She wanted the beer but as this particular beer had run out, they didn’t offer her a different one, she was only allowed wine. I thought this was pretty poor and she should have been given the option of a different beer.

Mrs. J ordered bread and olives as an appetizer and half way through eating the bread, we noticed that she hadn’t got any olives, in fact she had been bought an empty bowl! Staff were quick to rectify this though but we were baffled as to how you can go as far has getting the bowl out and then forgetting to put the food in it!

Mrs. J's tapas. Note the empty bowl...

When our mains arrived, my burger was pretty small for the price I paid for it. It tasted fine but it didn’t come with the minted creme fraiche so I asked the waiter about this and he bought out a little pot of it. Mrs J enjoyed her tapas, especially the wings which were marinated in a spicy sauce.

Not quite full, we decided to have dessert. We chose apple rhubarb and gooseberry pudding and chocolate and cherry fondant. Both were mediocre and clearly bought in. They were a bit dry so we could have done with a bit more ice cream.

Rhubarb and Gooseberry pudding

All in all, I won’t rush back to eat at The Pear Tree but it is a lovely place for a drink. It has quite a ‘first date’ feel to it. The food wasn’t bad, it’s what you would expect from a Brain’s pub but when it comes to food, with other independent places in the area, I would choose them for food over The Pear Tree.

My Last Mouthful was: Chips dipped in minted Creme fraiche

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Phoenix Restaurant- Very average

Last week, Ben and I went to the Phoenix Chinese Restaurant on Crwys Road for a meal. We had a Groupon voucher each entitling us to £20 worth of food for £8 and it seemed like a really good deal, especially as the picture on the voucher was of some baskets of Dim Sum.

Next time, I will do my research. While there was nothing wrong with where we ended up, it wasn’t at all what I was expecting. Judging by the picture, I was expecting something along the lines of Ba Orient with baskets of Dim Sum and I was hoping for something a bit different. In reality, we were standing in an average chinese restaurant which I had in fact bought a take away from before, I just didn’t recognise the name.

We were seated in the ample sized restaurant and were the only people there apart from one other table of three chatting about whether they had ever been unfaithful to their partners. We could hear everything they were saying and it wasn’t that we were listening intently or that they were particularly loud, it was just so quiet in there.

We were given menus by the polite but timid host and gave our order. The food wasn’t what I was expecting as I have said. It was pretty much your average chinese menu but it also had Thai and Malaysian dishes although again, these were nothing out of the ordinary. We also noticed that they were quite pricey for such ordinary dishes at on average £8 for a main dish which didn’t include rice.

To start, we ordered Mongolian ribs and chicken and prawn parcels as these were the most unusual things on the menu. The Mongolian ribs were actually very tasty. The sauce was lovely and the ribs were meaty and well cooked. The parcels were ok too.

For our main, we chose Szechuan duck and a Thai pork dish in coconut milk and basil. Both were very edible but nothing extraordinary. I would compare them to something I would expect from a take away and for the price, I hoped for more. The rice with shredded chicken was £5 and it was basically steamed rice with a few pieces of chicken in it which was quite disappointing.

The restaurant itself was very basic which is fine but it looked cheap with paper table cloths and paper napkins arranged in glasses. It could have done with a lick of paint too. The pink walls had stains on them from messy diners and a dirty line the length of one wall which looked like it had been made by some furniture that has since been moved.

This isn’t a bad place by any means but it had the feel of somewhere you would go for a cheap meal. For the price (if we had paid full price) you can get more for your money.

My Last Mouthful was: Mongolian Ribs

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Khazana- were we reading the same menu?

On our hunt for a really good curry house, Ben and I tried Khazana in Whitchurch last week. It seemed quite impressive when we looked at the menu as it was serving regional dishes from all over India so we thought we might be able to get something different and quite unusual. I got quite excited when I noticed that they served momos and some fruity Bengali dishes. We spent some time in India last year and I really wanted to get stuck into some of the dishes I tried while I was there.

We were seated in a nice booth which I liked because it was quite private and even if the restaurant was empty (which it wasn’t) the booth still created a nice cosy atmosphere. The restaurant was a stereotypical Indian restaurant with red seats, paper table clothes and very smartly dressed staff. Staff were friendly and helpful and we were served quickly.

When it came to the important business of ordering, Ben chose a coconut and chilli crab cakes and I chose chillis stuffed with cheese only to be told that they were out of stock of and the supplier had stopped making them. What? Buying in chilli’s with cheese? Surely this is something that can be done by the chef? I was surprised but changed my order to potato momos.

When are starters arrived, we were a little disappointed. Ben’s crab cakes were very processed. They were flat, cheap and very basic. For the price of £6, we expected better. My momos were ok but not like any momos I have ever tasted. Traditional momos are like dumplings but these were made of a hard shell, like pastry. Momos (originally from Tibet) were my favourite snack when I was Gorhkaland in India but they were nothing like these.

Unfortunately, it didn’t improve much with the main. Ben’s Lamb curry was nice but it was supposed to include butternut squash and potato but it did not. My curry was a totally new culinary experience for me! My fillets of mint chicken cooked in herbs and spices and finished with carrot and cheese sounded very unusual and I couldn’t wait to try it. I was expecting a lovely minty flavour with a topping of grated carrot and paneer. However, my MINT chicken turned out to be MINCE and the carrot was cut into discs placed on top with grated melted cheddar! In fact there was a bizarre mix of chicken pieces and mince. It was more like a curried bolognese! Very odd but not unpleasant, just very annoying to not get what you ordered.

My 'mint' chicken curry

Overall, we weren’t very impressed with the food. The dishes were more expensive than your average curry house and if we had got what we thought we were going to get based on the menu description, it would have been worth it. However, we did not. On the plus side, staff were lovely and it looked the part. If you like curried bolognese then give it a try!

My Last Mouthful was: Ben’s lamb curry

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The Wharf- Perfect for a drink in the sun

I live very close to the city centre so I have no end of places to go if I’m feeling peckish! However, sometimes, I wish I had a local that I could pop to for a drink and a bite to eat but unfortunately I don’t. The Wharf is the closest thing I have to a local (even though it isn’t actually that local!)

I like the Wharf because it has lots of outside space. When the sun is out, its lovely sitting there surrounded by the water. There are ample tables and chairs and they are well spaced so you don’t feel like you’re sitting on top of each other.

The pub itself is a very good size. I like to interior with its laid back wooded tables and chairs although it is very dark in there so I prefer to sit outside if possible.

The wharf have lots of innovative ideas to pull in customers. On my last visit, there was a regatta on the river and the Wharf was packed with a very inviting BBQ going, sending out its delicious smells. There is also a very good pub quiz on a Tuesday and a Sunday and a function room that you can hire for free.

I usually just pop to the Wharf for a drink or the quiz but last week, some friends and I went along for a spot of lunch. It was a bit drizzly so we sat inside. It was quite busy but we managed to find ourselves a table near the bar. Two of us ordered chicken fajitas and my other friend ordered a chicken burger. Food came quickly and we tucked in. I was surprised to see that my fajitas came with chips. In fact I had quite a bizarre combination of food. My rather large plate was packed with chips and salad and the fajita filling (chicken onions and peppers) with three little pots containing guacamole, sour cream and BBQ sauce. The fajita wraps were folded and haphazardly flopped on top of the rest of the food.

I thought that the BBQ sauce was a strange addition and it was very difficult to assemble the fajitas with no room on the plate to balance them. Fajitas usually come with the filling on one plate and the wraps on another which makes much more sense to me. Presentation aside, the food wasn’t bad although the sauce that the filling was in was very thick and sticky and not the flavours I would have expected. I couldn’t eat everything and I thought that wraps with chips was a bit of a carb overkill.

My friend’s chicken burger wasn’t what she was expecting either. It was a chicken breast in a bun. She could have had cajun or tandoori flavouring but she chose plain. I’m sure one of the other two options would have been more flavoursome but we were expecting slightly more to her ‘plain’ option. It was very bland.

There was certainly nothing wrong with the food. We all ate our meals but I have had better. As bar food goes, it is better than most chains like Whetherspoons but I it just didn’t quite do it for me. If you’re already there for a drink, I certainly wouldn’t leave to go somewhere else for food but I wouldn’t go there especially with food in mind. I would love to give the Wharf a positive review in terms of the food because it’s a lovely place. It has a nice atmosphere when busy and a great range of choices on the menu but I think in the future I will be more likely to go for a drink than a meal. It has been awarded an orange spoon because it scored highly on other aspects but unfortunately, the food could be better.

My last mouthful was: Fajitas with sour cream and guacamole

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