Your Last Mouthful

Cardiff based food blog

Category Archives: Restaurant reviews

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.

 

 

 

Hangfire Smokehouse- Good Food Doesn’t Have To Be Posh

Why have I waited so long to try Hangfire Smokehouse!

I’ve read the reviews, I’ve watched them trending on Twitter, I even used to live nearby when they were at The Canadian for goodness sake. Somehow though, every time we tried to go, something happened. Broken bones, baby making an early appearance, it was like we were cursed.

Finally, last week, we made it! We pulled up to the Lansdowne Pub at 7.30pm and the place was heaving! We didn’t think we’d get a seat but we were directed by a friendly cowboy to a perfect little table for two in the window.

I knew from that second that I was going to love it. Music was playing, people were chatting loudly, the Hangfire girls were making friends with everyone they passed and everyone was licking their fingers.

Now I love my fine dining but sometimes you can’t beat getting your hands in and getting covered in sauce. Good food doesn’t have to be posh and Hangfire Smokehouse certainly prove that. With their latest home currently at the Lansdowne Pub in Canton on a Thursday and Friday night, Hangfire Smokehouse have made a name for themselves with their authentic American BBQ pop up. After a 6 month stint in America, they have certainly picked up some BBQ knowledge and are producing some really exciting dishes.

After much debating (because we wanted everything) we opted for St Louis pork spares and 12 hour smoked beef brisket. Each meat came with 2 sides so we ordered all 4 between us; BBQ beans, maque choux fries, slaw and etouffee.

Despite the crowds the food arrived in 20 minutes delivered on a tray with the sides in cardboard pots. We both dug into the ribs and immediately wish we’d ordered extra. They were some of the best ribs I’ve ever had. So tender, the meat fell away from the bone and the flavouring was delicious. The accompanying sauces were good too but I prefer to taste the meat so I saved them for the chips.

Pork ribs

The Brisket was good too. We’d actually had brisket at home the night before and there was no comparison. It was just so tender served on Texas Toast which was greasy and garlicky.

brisket

We couldn’t leave without a slice of Pecan pie made by the talented Eira of Inner City Pickle. It was fantastic and at just £3.50, seriously good value.

Pecan pie

Hangfire Smokehouse was a hit with me as I fully expected it to be. I will most definitely be back. The Lansdowne is a great venue too, we were really impressed. Everyone was clearly loving what they were doing. It’s great to see people so excited and passionate about their food. There was a real buzz. I love a good casual dining experience with great food and that is exactly what Hangfire Smokehouse are doing. Fantastic!

Marriott Cardiff’s Zest Restaurant in Partnership With River Cottage

Zest, Cardiff

With the arrival of our little one last year, it’s been a while since Mr V and I have been out for a meal. I’ve observed the new partnership between Marriott Hotel and River Cottage with interest and enjoyed reading the reviews. I’ve been dying to try it out and now it’s our turn with an invitation for lunch at Zest Restaurant.

The unusual pairing is being piloted in two Marriott Hotels, one of which is Zest in Cardiff and if successful will be rolled out. Zest’s chefs have been trained at River Cottage and are creating dishes that use locally sourced ingredients and minimise waste. Menus change daily making the most of the produce available. The concept behind the restaurant really appeals to me and it is great to see a large chain taking on the River Cottage ethos.

Despite entering through the Marriott’s reception, once inside Zest we are pleasantly surprised by how un-hotel like it is. It’s welcoming, modern and casual with cosy booths or a more formal dining area. The only give away that we’re in a hotel is the very typical patterned carpet and air conditioning vents on the ceiling.

Arriving for lunch, we find out that we are the only diners. Zest currently only opens for evening service but as we have been invited as guests they have accommodated us without question. We are immediately brought freshly made bread as our waitress happily talks us through the menu and local producers which are proudly displayed on a chalk board behind us. Tick! Attentive staff and bread and water as standard. How it should be in our opinion. As we browse the menu we are already chatting excitedly about coming back before even tasting the food.

local suppliers, Zest, Cardiff

The menu is printed on paper because it changes so often mirroring the River Cottage ethos of sustainable cooking. Personally I love ever-changing menus because I always like to try something new. It keeps me coming back. There’s nothing on the menu that doesn’t appeal to me but we narrow our starters down to Marinated Rabbit Salad with pine nuts raisins and basil and Slade Farm Smoked Venison with winter leaves, horseradish creme fraiche and beetroot mousse. The descriptions of the dishes are kept simple and down to earth rather than pretentiously listing every ingredient which is all too common now.

Presentation, like the menu descriptions is appetising but without the pretence. Served chilled, the venison looks and tastes fantastic. The smoke is subtle and the mousse is delicate and creamy. Roasted garlic adds some texture.

Slade Farm Smoked Venison

The rabbit salad is fresh and nutty with a good balance of sweet and sharp.

Marinated Rabbit Salad

The mains are seasonal and heart warming. My choice is the Pork Loin Steak with sautéed potatoes, home cured bacon and leeks in a chestnut mushroom sauce. Everything is cooked perfectly and the sauce is rich, sweet and meaty. A lovely dish.

Pork Loin Steak

Mr V opts for the Beef Brisket with roasted Jerusalem artichokes, January King Cabbage, dressed in a mushroom jus. Marinated for 10 hours and then slow cooked for 10 hours the meat is stunning! A side order of honey glazed rainbow carrots is a nice accompaniment to both dishes.

Beef Brisket

Rounding off the meal we order desserts. I have had mine picked out from the beginning, I’m going for the rather unusual sounding Apple and Potato Pudding. It’s doughy pancake quality is filling but still light.

Apple and Potato Pudding

Mr V’s Sticky Date Pudding is moist and sweet as you would hope.

Sticky Date Pudding

Chatting to the chefs after our meal, it is clear that they are very enthusiastic about the partnership and relish the opportunity to have free reign on the dishes they create rather than being restrained by a corporate menu as they were previously. I love the concept and I think it could be very popular when it is rolled out. The only thing that I think might hold it back is the fact that it is so obviously based in a hotel. With so much choice when it comes to dining out, will people see a hotel restaurant as a contender?

Entering through the hotel’s main entrance isn’t ideal. Zest isn’t visible from the outside and I don’t like walking into somewhere I can’t see. It lacks an identity of its own which is a shame. It needs to become an establishment in itself rather than just part of a hotel. Park Plaza has achieved this with Laguna Bar and Restaurant and it has a solid reputation independent of the hotel.

If Zest can establish itself as a restaurant in its own right I think the partnership will go far. The concept is fashionable and ethical, the food is great and the price is right at on average £5.95 for a starter, £14 for a main and £5.50 for a dessert.

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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A Refined Sunday Lunch At The Celtic Manor Resort

Venturing only slightly outside of Cardiff for a review, Mr V and I were invited to the prestigious Celtic Manor Resort in Newport to try the Sunday Lunch menu at Terry M Restaurant. When I was at University, travelling back to Cardiff after holidays, I always used to get excited to almost be back when I saw the Celtic Manor looming over the motorway in all it’s finery. Despite living in Cardiff for 12 years now, I’m afraid I have never paid it a visit until this January.

The approach to The Celtic Manor is quite grand with long uphill windy roads before reaching the entrance laced with cars that cost upwards of a years salary for me. I started to panic that I might be under-dressed but as soon as we entered the restaurant I felt more relaxed. We were immediately greeted, coats were taken and we were offered a seat in the waiting lounge area. The service was very full on but it didn’t feel at all over the top. Sometimes I am put off by staff being so attentive and I prefer to be left alone to enjoy my meal but throughout our visit, the service was just right and in keeping with the tone of the restaurant which I would describe as relaxed fine dining.

After some appetizers and a drink, we were shown to our table. There were four other parties dining which resulting in a good atmosphere and a comfortable level of chatter which was nicely muffled by the sound of some soft, relaxing music.

Whilst waiting for our starters we were brought small rolls still warm from the oven which were delicious. These were accompanied by some butter topped with rock salt which I really enjoyed. To start, we both wanted the same thing from the menu as usual and on this occasion Mr V won the prize; The Salmon Mi-cult, salted cucumber and orange gel. It really was an excellent quality piece of salmon and a good size. The texture was soft, smooth and delicate. Melt in your mouth is a cliché but it really did. However I didn’t feel that the orange gel added much. It was a nice flavour but we were expecting something a little more exciting given the description.

salmon

My starter was in fact the one we both prefered in the end. The salad of warm baby beetroots, Suffolk ewe’s milk cheese with apple and horseradish. The different varieties of beetroot were very tasty and added interesting textures which were a lovely contrast with the soft creamy ewes cheese. It also looked very appetising as did all the dishes we saw appearing from the kitchen.

beetroot salad

For our mains, Mr V opted for the traditional Cefn Mawr Farm beef Sunday dinner as it was the Sunday lunch menu we were reviewing. The beef was served medium rare which was perfect and was carved at the table which was a nice touch. The beef was excellent and the accompaniments were also nice. It was a very good Sunday Roast but we felt that it was missing the wow factor. Mr V also had a slight niggle with the gravy because it was poured onto the plate by the waiter at the table but he would have prefered a small gravy boat so that he could decide the amount and where it went. I have to agree.

Beef

I chose the Free range pork fillet, fondant potato, salted cabbage and apple which was the star of the show. The pork was fantastic. It was cooked perfectly with crispy fat around the outside of the medallions. The dish was decorated with little balls of apple which seemed to pop in my mouth. I very much enjoyed this course and although we would happily eat both dishes again, the pork was our favourite.

Pork

Moving onto dessert, I chose the Snowball parfait, citrus salad and candied grapefruit and Mr V chose the chocolate fondant with tonka bean ice cream. The parfait was lovely. It tasted exactly like a snowball with a good hit of Advocaat. It went very well with the citrus flavours and the candied grapefruit added some bite to the dish.

Parfait

Mr V’s fondant looked the part. Chocolate oozed out as the spoon made contact and the flavours were very good but it was ever so slightly undercooked. It still hit the mark though and no plates were left uncleared.

Fondant

To finish a satisfying meal we were served coffee and homemade petit fours.

coffee

Overall, we had a very nice afternoon. It was a relaxing atmosphere whilst still being quite formal which worked well. Staff were attentive and still human, not too serious like they can be in a fine dining restaurant. I think the prices were very reasonable too at £22.50 for 2 course and £28.50 for three. I appreciate that this isn’t cheap and may not be what everyone would be willing to pay for a Sunday lunch but I think the quality and overall experience matched the price.

My last mouthful was: The Free Range Pork Fillet

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Happy Birthday Purple Poppadom! Celebrating With A New Menu

Nothing excites me like a good restaurant that changes it’s menu regularly and when it is the Purple Poppadom, there are extra squeals of delight. In honour of Purple Poppadom’s first birthday and to celebrate five successful years for Chef Anand George in Cardiff, the 501 game Taster Menu has been launched.

I love this time of year despite the cold because I just love game and all the dining possibilities it brings so I was very pleased to see that the Purple Poppadom were incorporating it into a menu. I gave rave reviews to their previous taster menus so I went along with high expectations.

Purple Poppadom lovers you’ll be pleased to know that this menu didn’t disappoint. The tasters included, rabbit, pheasant, goat, wild boar as well as a fish course and a selection of desserts. As usual the service was impeccable and the place was jammed packed with diners, even though it was a Wednesday night.

We started the evening off with the Lapin a Deux. A beautifully presented rabbit starter consisting of minced rabbit cooked in the tandoor and cubes of rabbit in a polti bag. The minced rabbit was delicately spiced so that the flavours didn’t overpower the meat but my favourite was the polti bag which is a flaky pastry parcel filled with cubes of tender spicy rabbit. I always enjoy the Purple Poppadom starters and this was no exception. As usual my photos do not do the food justice.

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The Halibut Vert fish course was next and as usual was perfectly cooked. The tender Halibut marinated in coriander and mint was so tender and juicy and the spiced cake of halibut was one of the nicest fish cakes I have ever had.

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I wouldn’t usually bore you with details of a pallet cleanser but the Granny Smith Apple and Chilli Sorbet was so good I would have been happy with it as dessert. If I could buy some to take home and put in the freezer I would.

Moving onto the middle course, the Ffesant Choux Fleur. My favourite course and my favourite French word for a vegetable all rolled into one! This course featured some unusual flavour combinations but they worked very well. The coriander and garlic crusted pheasant was served with cauliflower puree and pickled beetroot. Presented in a deep dish, once cut into, the pheasant was emersed in the puree. The combination of the warm cauliflower and cold beetroot made for some interesting textures and complimented the meat.

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The main course which was preceded by a passion fruit and ginger sorbet, consisted of two curries, a Thoran, steamed rice and two Indian breads. The first curry, the Chevre Royal was my favourite. The goat was unbelievably tender. Purple Poppadom have great skill when it comes to cooking meat. It is always executed perfectly and on this occasion, the goat was melt in the mouth good which I don’t always find with goat.

The Sanglier de Kerala was also lovely and went very well with the Thoran which is also a South Indian dish. The meat again was very tender (Wild Boar on this occasion) and the mild sweet flavours matched those of the delicious Thoran and the breads.

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Sad to bring the evening to a close but feeling full, we embarked on a trio of dessert. For me this was the weakest course but by no means poor. We had the signature chocolate samosa with caramelised banana which I always enjoy, a Christmas pudding cheesecake and an orange, coconut and Penedryn whiskey cake. Everything was nice but I don’t think it lived up to the desserts on the previous two taster menus. In fact, the Rose Hip Brulee on the original Taster Menu was one of the best desserts I have ever tasted so to live up to that was a tall order.

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I can honestly say that the Purple Poppadom is one of my all time favourite restaurants. When I recommend it to people they often start talking about other Indian restaurants they enjoy but I cannot stress enough that this is not your typical Indian restaurant and should not be compared as such. It is in a far superior league and the menu is so far removed from a curry house. Anand George calls his food Nouvelle Indian Cuisine and I think this is a good description. It is fresh, original, high quality food using Indian flavours.

If you haven’t visited yet, you NEED to! You won’t be disappointed. The Taster menu is £45 per person which may sound expensive but it is definitely worth the price and is the best way to experience what is on offer. The A La Carte is also fantastic though.

My Last Mouthful was: The Ffesant Choux Fleur

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The Kings Arms- My Kind Of Pub!

Pulling up outside The Kings Arms in Pentyrch, I remembered how much I loved it the last time I went. It was for a summer BBQ and I fell in love with this beautiful country pub then. With its welcoming exterior, low doors that make me feel like I need to duck even though I’m only 5 foot 3 and a roaring fire, this grade II listed building is my idea of pub heaven. It has that country pub vibe and on a cold December night, I couldn’t think of anywhere I’d rather be.

Inside is so cosy. The word rustic comes to mind but it doesn’t really do it justice because everyone is doing ‘rustic’ these days. The difference is this really IS rustic. It’s not pretend, it’s not pretentious, it’s cosy country pub with rustic charm.

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That fact that it’s Christmas and there were white lights adorning the dining room only added to the homely feel. The stone walls and large wooden beams combined with the twinkling lights and faint Christmas music made me feel quite festive. Although I love to be at home at Christmas with a home cooked meal, if I was going to go out for dinner, it would be here.

We had been invited to sample the Christmas menu. After a few Christmas meals already, I was very pleased to see that this menu had some non turkey options. For starters we were a bit torn but we settled for the carpaccio of Welsh beef fillet with watercress and pickled girolle mushrooms and the Arancini which in this case was deep-fried Hafod cheese and parsley risotto balls served with red chilli creme fraiche.

The Arancini was very nice. The flavours were subtle but they were well cooked and nicely presented. The red chilli creme fraiche was delicious and worked well to moisten the dish.

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The carpaccio came as a generous portion, seasoned with sea salt which gave it a nice texture. The addition of the pickled mushroom wasn’t quite to my taste because the dish also come with a balsamic dressing which made it all a little too acidic. It was still very nice though and we happily polished off the plate.

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Moving onto the mains, we knew exactly which two dishes we wanted, the question was, who had what. In the end, as it was a cold wet night and I needed warming up, I went for the roasted silverside of Breconshire beef with yorkshire pudding and horseradish sauce and Mr V had the pan-fried salmon with cockles and laverbread butter, wilted baby gem and truffle mash.

I was very pleased with my choice. My beef was tender, the roast potatoes were crispy and the yorkshire pudding homemade.

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The dish was served with some delightful parsnip crisps and seasonal vegetables. After tasting this, I will most certainly be going back for a Sunday roast.

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Mr V’s salmon was again delicious. The salmon was moist and well seasoned and a perfect partner to the salty and buttery cockles. The mash had a powerful taste of truffle which we both really enjoyed and it worked well with the other flavours of the dish. The wilted gem lettuce was an unusual but welcome addition.

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Full from the very generous portions, we had a break before dessert. Stuck between two, we had both and shared. We chose a lemon and lime tartlet with clotted cream and chocolate coulis and a chestnut and whisky cheesecake with crystallised ginger and vanilla syrup.

The flavours in the cheesecake were very subtle and although beautifully presented with mint and berry’s I think it needed something more.

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The tart however was packed with flavour. I loved the bitterness of the lemon and lime combined with the chocolate and the cream. The filling was a little runny but it still tasted great.

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The lovely setting, faultless service and great homely food make The Kings Arms a hit with me. The Christmas menu was £22 for three courses and the evening menu looked just as good. As it’s owned by Otley Brewing Company, it meant that we could also have Otley beer with our meal which pleased Mr V who rounded his meal off with a pint of O Ho HO.

My Last Mouthful was: The truffle mash

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A Mexican Experience With Oscars Wednesdays

After a few invitations to Oscars of Cardiff that I was unable to make, I was very pleased to finally make it to one of Oscar’s Wednesdays. Back by popular demand, every Wednesday through October and November, Oscar’s are offering a special ‘themed’ menu in addition to the Evening Menu. Accompanied by Hannah, writer of Love To Dine Blog, I attended Tacos and Twister Night for a Mexican themed meal.

When I arrived, Hannah was already there and I had to fight through a packed restaurant to meet her. I couldn’t believe how busy it was for a Wednesday night! I’m not sure whether it was because it was Halloween so people were out to avoid the trick or treaters or whether this was standard for an Oscars Wednesday. If it was, they have a winning formula. It made for a lively atmosphere and even though it seemed full to capacity, staff were still efficient and friendly. The decor was very much my thing. Lots of colours, big lights and seating at different levels. It was quite quirky but also cosy.

The Mexican menu was £12 for 2 courses and a shot of tequila or something else if you prefered. You could also take part in the Chilli Chicken Challenge for an extra £5. We didn’t take the challenge although I wish I had really. However, the two courses were plenty and we also had a few side dishes which we really didn’t need, the greed set in!

We started with flat breads and dip which were very nice. The flat breads were cut into manageable pieces and covered in guacamole and sour cream.

Flatbreads to start

To follow we had a choice of taco. I went for Piri Piri White Fish and Hannah had Beef Brisket. The fish was cooked beautifully. Tender, juicy with a hint of spice.  However, I’m not sure it was very ‘Mexican’. It was served with the same sour cream and guacamole that came with the starter and the taco was actually a flour tortilla. It was still tasty though and while it wasn’t traditionally Mexican, it was still top quality food.

Piri Piri Fish

Dinner with another food blogger meant there was no way we were leaving without dessert! I chose the Lemon Tart with Blackberry Ice Cream. It was the perfect way to finish the meal. The tart was fresh and light and the ice cream was delicious. Hannah had the Oscars Chocolate Macaroon Mess which also looked amazing, although I’m glad I went for the lighter option.

Lemon tart for dessert

I was impressed by Oscars and would love to go back and try their Evening Menu. I think Oscars Wednesdays are an excellent idea. A theme makes for a fun dining experience and is just that little bit different. This one was a very fair price too at just £12 (minus the dessert). The fact that you can still go for the Evening Menu means that everyone in a party should be happy even if they don’t fancy the theme for the evening.

My Last Mouthful was: The Lemon Tart with Blackberry Ice Cream

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The Pilot- The Perfect Local Pub

With The New Conway and Woods already established and popular with Cardiff diners, Knife and Fork Food’s new venture, The Pilot has shown itself to be a welcome addition.

Located in a residential area of Penarth with great views of the harbour, it is the local pub I wish I had. Although I like a rustic theme, I am getting a bit bored with the amount of new pubs and restaurants that are attempting it. The Pilot is not rustic and is not pretending to be. It’s modern, clean-cut and homely with a vintage feel.

The main dining area has tables arranged in straight lines with comfy leather sofas in the centre of the room. Combined with mismatched picture frames, vintage style lamps and a cosy wood burner, it has the feel of being in someone’s living room, albeit a full living room.

The menus are displayed on boards and you order at the bar so it is all very informal and definitely more public house than restaurant. When we were there the menu was substantial and it changes with the season. They use local suppliers, forage and even use produce from some of their staff’s allotment.

We found a table for two on a surprisingly busy Monday night. I love the layout of the place but the tables were awfully close together. Mr V and I are relatively little but had we been any bigger, it would have been a bit of a squeeze to get to our seats without getting a little too cosy with our neighbouring diners. This was pretty trivial though in the grand scheme of things.

To start, Mr V ordered Confit of Duck Ragout with white bean puree and I had Smoked Haddock with Bacon Croquettes. Our orders arrived very quickly, no longer than a 5 minute wait which was almost a bit too quick. My croquettes were crispy on the outside and soft and creamy inside as I’d expect and were a bargain at just £4.50. Ben’s rague was nicely presented with nice textures and colours and decorated with micro cress.

Again there was a very short wait and our mains arrived in 10 minutes. I chose Lamb Rump with Roasted Carrots, Mash and Peas with a Mint Dressing. The lamb was well cooked, medium as described and the vegetables were crisp. The mint dressing was actually a mint gravy but that suited me. The weather had just started to get chilly and I had the winter blues so it was the perfect homely pick me up.

Mr V chose the Grey Mullet with Chorizo and Tomato Ragout. The fish was a good size and well cooked. The ragout wasn’t outstanding, just tomato and roast potatoes but it was exactly as described.

Usually it isn’t an issue if food takes too long but the Pilot was the opposite. If anything the food came too quickly. We had finished our first two courses in half an hour which made the evening go far to quickly but this was my only complaint and I appreciate this would not be a negative for everyone.

For dessert we went back to the chalk boards. There was a very good selection and while dessert is my least favourite course, I was excited by the prospect. I chose the Banana Parfait with Caramelised Peanuts and  Mr V had the Chocolate Torte with Salted Caramel and Chantelle cream. We shared in the end because we both got jealous of each other’s choice.

The Torte was lovely. Rich and bitter and was complimented beautifully by the salted caramel which was artistically arranged in droplets on the plate. The only downside is that I would have liked more salted caramel.

The banana parfait was good although the peanuts were more sticky clusters than caramelised but nice all the same.

I really enjoyed my evening at the Pilot. It was nice to eat good, honest pub food done well and that’s exactly what it is. It isn’t pretending to be a bistro, the food is simple and reflective of a pub menu. On our visit the prices were competitive at £4.50-£5.50 for starters and £9- £13.50 for mains which puts it in the same price bracket as a far less superior establishment. The menu was fresh and original but still included pub food favourites like bangers and mash and fish and chips.

My Last Mouthful was: Lamb Rump with Roasted Carrots, Mash and Peas with a Mint Dressing

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Purple Poppadom- Still a Firm Favourite

If you’ve read my previous review or follow me on Twitter you will probably be aware of my love for Purple Poppadom. I think chef Anand George is a genius with his interpretation of Indian Nouvelle cuisine, turning Indian food into fine dining with a touch of fusion.

You can imagine then, that I was more than happy to sample the new Deep Blue Taster Menu when I was invited recently. Purple Poppadom’s menus change with the season and Deep Blue is their summer offering featuring a range of fantastic fish dishes.

The menu is extensive and I wanted to try everything so I love the idea of a Taster Menu. With this menu, we had the option to pair it with beer which was a great idea. A different beer came with each course and they really did compliment the food perfectly.

Our first course was a trio of starters; Salmon Mel (Salmon marinated with mustard, honey and cooked in tandoor), Golden Green (Cubes of mango and avocado with lamb lettuce and baby spinach with a passion fruit and chilli dressing) and Tune Pillow (Delicately spiced pattice of tuna, encased in crispy breadcrumbs).

The Salmon was amazing! It was beautifully cooked in a sweet sauce and worked very well with the other two starters on the plate. The Tuna Pillow was crunchy on the outside and sot on the inside, housing some delicate flavours. The sweet mango salad was also excellent. All of this was accompanied by Brooklyn Lager from the USA.

Moving onto the middle course, we were presented with Spirit Of The Sea (Swordfish loin marinated with coriander, mint and spices, grilled in tandoor, accompanied by a South Indian style risotto and a chilli garlic oil) paired with a Beer Lao bringing back memories of my travels through Laos.

This was a lovely dish. The swordfish was meaty but still beautifully tender, soft and moist. The coriander flavours were wonderful and worked well with the subtle tasting risotto which was beautifully soft and creamy with a welcome crunch of onion. This was my favourite course.


After a deliciously refreshing Green Apple and Chilli Sorbet, we were presented with Petits Filets and Kalamari (Pan fried Kerala style marinated sardine fillets on salad leaves, tomato and mustard dressing served with golden crispy battered squid) paired with a Cwrw Celt Welsh beer.

This was a light refreshing dish with a perfectly cooked sardine with a nice crispy skin. For me, this was the weakest dish but still perfectly lovely. The salad and the dressing had more of a mediterranean flavour than an Indian feel to me. However, the Calamari was cooked perfectly. Often like a rubber band, this was nothing of the sort. Tender, and beautiful, cooked in the most delicious batter! I’m not sure it really belonged with the sardine dish though.

For the main, we had The Halibut Islands (Tender white halibut supreme) which came with a choice of sauce. We chose Alleppey Sauce, a blend of raw mango and ginger. Ginger and Mango are favourites of mine so I knew this was going to be good. Again, the fish was cooked to perfection and the meaty fish was complimented by the sharp mango and heat from the ginger. It was delicious and the colours were beautiful.

The main was accompanied by a fresh and crunchy Stir Fry Vert (Asparagus, baby corn, mangetout, french beans, cashew nut and coconut tempered with mustard and curry leaves) and basmati rice. The beer for this course was an Erdinger Weiss which really brought out the fruity flavours of the curry. My only niggle here is that it would have been nice to have some naan bread with this course as there was plenty of sauce.

Finally, we were presented with a very eye-catching selection of desserts. Tandoori Pineapple, chef’s signature dish; a Chocolate Filled Poppadom on a Caramalised Banana and a Mango Brulee. The previous menu included a Rose Brulee which was one of my all time favourite desserts so I was interested to try the Mango version. It was delicious and definitely the stand out dessert for me but nothing is going to touch the rose one in my opinion.

The Chocolate Poppadom was very nice and the flavours worked well with the banana and the Tandoori Pineapple had a very unusual flavour but I’m not sure it was really for me. Overall though, I was impressed with dessert, they are always very innovative.

The thing that always strikes me with food at the Purple Poppadom is the outstanding presentation. Everything is beautifully designed and every plate looks the same. Each little Taster was exactly the same size and shape on both mine and Mr V’s plates throughout the night and everything was cooked to perfection.

The Taste Menu is £39.95 per person or £47.95 with beer. For the quality and volume of food included, I think this is a fair price and in my opinion, the Taster menu is definitely worth doing because you get to try so much. However, if the Taster Menu’s not for you, there are plenty of other options and they even do Take Away.

Aside from the food, the experience is heightened by the staff  who are clearly very proud of the success they are having. Manager Ramon is a fabulous host and makes everyone feel very welcome. We dined on a Friday night at 7pm and it was already full to bursting. I can understand why and if you haven’t been yet, why the hell not????

My Last Mouthful was: Spirit of the Sea

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