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Ffresh – Great Food in a Great Building

Guest review by Mr. V

The Millennium Centre is an awe inspiring building. Being asked to review the restaurant, Ffresh,  inside this magnificent building just simply excited me. We arrived through the main entrance and walked down the large spacious foyer, arriving at the bar area which is situated in front of the restaurant.

On entering the restaurant you initially have to walk past the kitchen. We were warmly greeted by a waiter and as it wasn’t overly busy, he let us choose our own seats. We ordered our drinks and when they arrived they were accompanied with some crusty bread on a wooden board, some butter and a carafe of water. If I could have it my way, this would happen in every restaurant as standard!

The interior was clean-cut, brightly lit and well presented with wooden floors and tables and white serviettes. The one side of the room is completely made of glass so there is a nice view looking across to the main restaurant area of the Bay.

When we were presented with the menus we were told straightaway what was sold out and what was nearly sold out which was good, but sadly it just so happened that the best dish (in my opinion) was sold out – red mullet with saffron and carrots.

So, I went for the smoked salmon rillette and cucumber pickle. I was no longer disappointed. This was really good. The smoked salmon was wrapped around soft cooked salmon and the pickle was beautifully sweet and complimented the salmon very well. Delicious. I still think about it…

My accomplish Mrs V had the ham hock and leek terrine with piccalilli. Another good dish although the pickle was a little over powering for me but the terrine was good and the leeks  gave it a nice softness.

Onto the mains. I went for the fillet of sea bass, Jerusalem artichoke puree, curly kale and parmentier potatoes. This again was lovely. All the components were extremely complimentary, the fish was very well cooked and the potatoes were crisp on the outside and soft in the middle and the puree was smooth and very tasty. I simply can’t fault it.

Mrs. V had the baked celeriac pudding, tomato and garlic fondue and deep fried tortillas. An interesting dish. The pudding was very soft and smooth and although we thought it was an unusual combination it worked again very well. The crunch from the tortillas, the strong taste of the fondue and a pleasant mellowing of the celeriac pudding. This also came with green beans and the whole dish was very tasty. Although if I had to make a criticism I would say they were a little on the small side – especially if you only went in for 1 course. But if you’re in for all the 3 courses it’s actually a good size as sometimes you can end a meal and feel rather uncomfortable.

Now for the desserts. Mrs. V went for the rich chocolate mousse with poached clementines. The mousse was nice and smooth with a layer of jelly on top and the clementines being poached in a cinnamon concoction were also a good partner to the chocolaty sweetness.

Being a fan of fool I went for the pear and frangipane tart and pear fool. This also came with some raspberry coolie and a sweet thin biscuit. Nice tart and soft and airy fool but the subtle flavour of the pear was maybe a little too subtle for my palette. But a good ending to a good meal.

Price wise, I thought it was all pretty fair, on average from the a la carte, starters range from £5.50 to £6.95, mains from £11.50 to £19.95 and desserts from £5.50 to £7.50. You could also order from a set menu and have two courses for £18.50 or three courses for £22.50. The set menu was actually very good and has most of the dishes from the a la carte menu included.

Overall I was very impressed. The service was also excellent and efficient and the house wine – which I never raise my hopes for was actually quite decent, especially for the price.

My last mouthful was- the smoked salmon with cucumber pickle.

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Happy Birthday Ffresh!

Last week, I was very honoured to be invited along to Ffresh‘s 2nd Birthday celebrations and guest chef night with Shaun Hill of the Walnut Tree.

Along with other food bloggers from the Cardiff area and a number of paying guests, I was treated to a three course meal cooked at the restaurant with Shaun Hillworking as head chef with wine from Ancre Hill Estate in Monmouthshire.

I have to confess that I had never been to Ffresh before this but I have heard good things about it and I wasn’t disappointed. The restaurant itself is a perfect extension of the Millenium centre; modern, stylish, grand with a dash of sophistication. It certainly isn’t in the same league as many of the chain restaurants dominating the Mermaid Quay area.

The night began with welcome drinks which to my delight were a pink sparkling number. Now I don’t pretend to know a lot about wine but I know what I like and this was very nice. I just wish I had had a bigger lunch so I could have drunk more of it before it started going to my head and I had to reluctantly turn down a second glass. We also had some canapes of Arancini which were very nice and cheese and sesame biscuits which unfortunately I didn’t get to try. Too busy nattering (or sampling the wine!)

After chatting in the bar area with other food bloggers and the very welcoming staff, we were shown to our seats in the restaurant. I was happy to be on a table with fellow food and drink bloggers Cardiff Bites and Drinks from Wales as well as the owners of Ancre Hill Estate and Rhiannon and David from The Centre.

As the kitchen in Ffresh is in full view, we could see the staff efficiently preparing our feast which I always think is a nice touch and after a short speech from Shaun Hill, food was served quickly and professionally.

To start we were treated to an effortlessly beautiful dish of Red Mullet with Anchovies and Herb Creme Fraiche. This was my favourite dish of the night. The fish was cooked beautifully and fell apart at first touch. The sauce was subtle and delicious and I felt the need to make sure I moped it all up with my bread.

Being a huge fan of game, the next course was the one I was most looking forward too when reading the menu- Roasted Partridge with its own Pudding, Puffin Potato Fondant, Hispi Cabbage and Lentils. The dish was presented very well with the meat placed on the pudding and potato with the cabbage underneath. The pudding was wonderful; soft and spongy yet creamy and rich and the cabbage with lentils went very well with the dish. The partridge was cooked well but unfortunately, I did have rather a lot of small bones to fight with and the amount of bones seemed to be uneven amongst diners.

As I said earlier, I don’t know a lot about wine but even I could tell that the wine for this course definitely complimented the flavours of the dish and I was very impressed. Who knew Welsh wine could taste so good!

Our final course was a delicious Hot Chocolate Fondant with Hazelnut Praline Sauce and Wild Fig Vanilla Ice Cream. While I like dessert, it is usually my least favourite course but certainly not on this occasion. The fondant was probably the best I have ever had (the photo doesn’t do it justice). So often a disappointment with the promise of chocolate sauce that doesn’t appear, this one was perfect. As the spoon made contact, the chocolate sauced oozed out and merged with the lovely praline sauce. Seriously good! The ice cream was nice too although the fig was a little subtle for my palate.

Overall, this was a great meal and the night was a success. I had a really good time and am now looking forward to planning a visit to Ffresh to see how it fares on a normal night and I think a trip to the Walnut Tree might be in order too! Thanks to David Pearce and his team for the invite and for a great night!

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