Your Last Mouthful

Cardiff based food blog

Tag Archives: Cathays

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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Embassy cafe- The humble little cafe that serves great vegetarian food!

For a long time I watched Embassy Cafe’s daily menu pop up on Twitter and retweeted it but for ages that was as close as I got to tasting it. Everything always looks so delicious and unusual and I love the way the menu changes every day.

A few months back, Ben and I decided it was about time we tried it and met there for lunch. Embassy Cafe is a very humble little place, based in Cathays Community Centre. It is a vegetarian cafe and uses local and fairtrade produce and produce they grow themselves on the premises. They also make great vegan and wheat free cakes.

You can get  yourself the usual sandwich or salad and everyday the soup of the day and main meal option changes. I quite like the way they only have one main on offer, it’s like a food lottery!  Being such a meat lover, I don’t usually opt for vegetarian. Even if the veggie option looks good, I still usually go for a meat dish but at Embassy Cafe, the menu is always so appealing and very different from your usual ‘vegetarian lasagne’ or risotto that meat doesn’t even feature in my thoughts.

The day that we visited, the main meal was beetroot curry with chicpea side and pickled red cabbage with rice so we decided to give it a try.

I have to admit, after reading the menu day after day, I wasn’t sure that we had picked the best day but it was very nice. The beetroot curry was very unusual and was essentially beetroot with some curry spices but I enjoyed it. I particularly liked the chicpea side. Since my first visit, I have been back several times. It’s close to where I work so I often head down for lunch with colleagues. In the last few weeks, we have had chic pea and date tagine with a cous cous salad and flat bread and a lovely dish of cheese and broccoli paties with homemade chips and apple and tomato chutney. The main meals are £5 which I think is good value.

The cafe itself is very basic as you might expect for a cafe in a community centre. It’s very small inside with mismatch furniture and chequered red and white table clothes. A chalk board announces the specials   pay for your food at the counter, take a seat and it is bought for you. There is plenty of outside space too amongst the vegetables patches on old plastic patio furniture. It’s always popular and populated by a real eclectic mix of people.

It’s by no means fancy and it’s not exactly aesthetically pleasing but I think that’s the beauty of it. It’s not pretending to be anything special, it is what it is and the food speaks for itself. It offers some of the best vegetarian food I have had in a long time.

My Last Mouthful was: Cheese and broccoli paties with apple and tomato chutney

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