Lately, we have been invited to review a number of hotels. If you are away on business or simply for pleasure and daunted by the prospect of looking for somewhere to eat, it can be a great comfort to find that you have a decent restaurant in your hotel.
Our latest invite was for Stir restaurant which is part of the Maldron Hotel. Located at the top of St Mary’s Street it has a prime spot for tourists looking to experience our city. However when it comes to finding somewhere to eat, visitors may head for one of the many chains that line St Mary’s Street and the Brewery Quarter so Mr V and I were very interested to find out what Stir had to offer as an alternative.
We were briefed that since opening in May 2011, the Maldron have marketed Stir primarily to in-house guests. However they feel that now that they are established in the city they have the potential to appeal to the 25 – 40 year old ‘city crowd’ who are looking for an informal, affordable yet good quality express dining experience in the heart of the city. This is going to be the aim over the coming months.
We arrived at The Maldron on a Saturday night and headed straight up to the first floor in the lift which opened out onto the bar area. This was nice as we didn’t have to walk down any corridors, it was just there when the lift opened. Nice and easy! We were greeted at the restaurant entrance by a friendly waiter and showed to a table by the window. Our table looked straight out onto St Mary’s Street which was great for people watching.
We ordered some wine and were left to browse the menu and take in our surroundings. The restaurant decor was simple and pleasant with its greys and plums, making it feel warm and neutral. It was pretty standard hotel decor with patterned carpet and breakfast station just behind us. There were a fair few diners all spaced out around the restaurant and we assumed that they were guests of the hotel as we heard talk of room numbers.
The menu was quite traditional and was a set price depending on the amount of courses you chose (£12.50 for 1, £15 for 2 and £18 for 3). There was a good choice and everything was made very clear, no long-winded descriptions in sight. We decided on the Crispy Chilli Beef and the Chicken Liver Pate.
Chicken Liver Pate
My Chicken Liver Pate was smooth and the portion was a good size but I felt it lacked flavour and substance. Mr V’s Crispy Chilli Beef was a little baffling as although it tasted nice, it was not crispy or flavoured with chilli. In fact it was a kebab and was more like a kofta than any crispy beef I have ever ordered. After our visit I read a review by fellow blogger Cardiffbites and saw that the Crispy Chilli Beef that she ordered was very different and was in fact Crispy Chilli Beef as I know it. It’s a shame that we weren’t just told that it wasn’t available instead of being given something that didn’t resemble what we ordered.
Crispy Chilli Beef?
Moving onto the mains, the menu looked promising. I am a massive fan of the good old Sunday Roast so even though it was a Saturday, I opted for the Rosemary Scented Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding and Mr V chose the Lamb with Port Wine Jus and Fondant Potato.
Lamb with Port Wine Jus and Fondant Potato
The dishes were very similar and both very nicely presented with a generous helping of well cooked, well seasoned meat which I throughly enjoyed. Mr V had a very tasty fondant potato which I was a bit jealous of. Unfortunately the vegetables were a bit on the soft side and I was a little upset to find that I only got half a yorkshire pudding! My dish was advertised as Rosemary Scented Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding but with just a half (it was only small one in the first place) it wasn’t worth mentioning. We were just left wondering where the other half had got to. Why cut it half? Despite the Yorkshire pudding conundrum, all in all, the mains were very nice.
Rosemary Scented Beef with Yorkshire Pudding
After a visit from our very friendly waiter and a top up of drinks, we hit the dessert menu. I hate to be predictable but when there is Creme Brulee on the menu I find it very difficult to refuse and Stir’s was Bailey’s flavour so that was my choice. Mr V went for a Raspberry Syllabub as a light end to the meal.
Bailey's Creme Brulee
The desserts came beautifully presented on plates with intricate little designs drawn in chocolate and fruit sauce. They looked very quirky and I think they would appeal to a young crowd. My creme brulee was very good with a hard top and thick custard flavour with a subtle taste of Bailey’s. Mr V’s syllabub wasn’t quite what we had expected. It looked very appealing in pretty pink with sugar decorations but it was frozen solid. Even the raspberries inside were too hard to eat. The flavours were there but we could only assume that it was supposed to be defrosted before served and wasn’t. However, regardless of it’s state, I have certainly never had a syllabub like it. It even had a biscuity base and was much more like a frozen cheescake. Again, we were left slightly baffled.
All in all, we had a good night. The food wasn’t perfect but the basics were there and the prices were good. Service was very good but the whole place seems slightly confused. It is currently aimed at in-house diners which comes across, but I think with its location it has the potential to appeal to diners who are not staying in the hotel too but it needs to decide what it wants to be. The food is simple and well priced but the restaurant can’t seem to decide whether it wants to be informal and relaxed or a more formal affair. Our waiter was lovely but there was a lot of ‘madams’ and ‘Sirs’ and hints that they were aiming at a more formal fine dining experience. We were politely offered bread from a basket but this was followed by a sachet of Flora margarine which totally contradicted the first gesture.
I think that with a few tweaks of the menu, some work at making the decor and atmosphere more ‘hip’ and some time to decide exactly how they want to market themselves, Stir could be much better and could certainly attract young diners looking for a well priced, good quality meal before a night out on the town. It certainly has the prime location but it just isn’t quite there yet. Hopefully over the coming months, the changes will become apparent and they will do very well. Hopefully they will find the other half of my Yorkshire pudding too!
My Last Mouthful was: The Rosemary Scented Roast Beef
Atmosphere and Decor-
Quality of food-
Diversity of menu-
Value for money-