Your Last Mouthful

Cardiff based food blog

Tag Archives: Italian

Casa Bianca- A friendly encounter and good homemade fare.

Guest review by Mr. V

Having been very nicely asked to be a guest reviewer for Your Last Mouthful, last Thursday I met my associate Miss D and we went to Casa Bianca on City Road for a 3 course meal.

The exterior of the restaurant was clean, modern and stylish perhaps out classing the surrounding area along City Road. There were also outside tables which will be nice for the warmer weather next year.

We were greeted on entry and shown to our seats. The interior was not your typical Italian décor – but a mixture of old and modern paintings and photographs, some funky stripped walls, and a couple of dressed manikins.

Sounds a little odd but I thought it worked well and gave a quirky, more homely feel and made a pleasant change to the usual typical Mediterranean style. The lighting was just right, not too bright and not too dark and the music was at a good volume making the ambience exactly how I like it.

Sipping a cold Peroni, the friendly and accommodating waiter took our order. The meal titles were written in Italian and so I ordered the starters in my best Italian but then the main course meals seemed a little tricky so I went for listing the main ingredients in my best English. However, the keen waiter – having been impressed with my first attempts of Italian encouraged me to continue with the lingo. I think it’s always important to build up a good simple rapport with customers. It makes a big difference to the dining experience and the staff at Casa Biance were masters at this.

So, for the starters…

I opted for the Funghi Cacciatore which was mushrooms in a chilli and tomato sauce served with 2 discs of crispy polenta (not usually a fan of polenta but with the crispy outer it complemented the dish very nicely). My associate Miss D opted for the Funghi Bianchi which was mushrooms in a dolce latte sauce served with crusty bread. It was certainly a very tasty sauce and both were very nicely presented.

One thing I noted with the presentation – it was clear that there was a right way up and a wrong way up to the dish and the waiter was sure to turn the plate into the correct position for the customer. This shows in itself how much care the chef takes with the execution of his dishes.

Onto the mains. ..

I had Spaghetti Marinara and Miss D had sea bass in bread crumbs with a ginger and lemon sauce. The Spaghetti Marinara was presented very nicely, with mussels, clams, squid and prawns with tomato, garlic, chilli and parmesan. The whole dish was moist so no need for a substantial sauce. It was all very pleasant, although I would have liked to have been armed with a spoon and fork rather than a knife and fork.

Spaghetti Marinara

Miss D’s sea bass was again presented very nicely with a bit of balsamic glaze and cress artistry on the side. The fish was cooked well being meaty, soft and moist and a nice subtle sauce being able to taste both the ginger and lemon. It was accompanied with seasonal vegetables and roasted potatoes.

Sea Bass in Bread Crumbs with a Ginger and Lemon Sauce

Onto desserts…

After the appropriate amount of time to let the main course settle, the waiter came over and took us to the front of the restaurant to show us what was on offer. There were 3 desserts all personally handmade by the chef. There was an apple crumble tart, a lemon cheesecake and the all important tiramisu. I was very pleased to hear they were all homemade as so many restaurants buy in the desserts these days which I find very disappointing. The waiter sold them to us very well – especially the lemon cheesecake. I was torn. Miss D went straight in for the cheesecake, leaving me pained as that was what I was also going to order (and I don’t like to order the same). However even though they all looked good I caved and ordered the cheesecake too.

Lemon Cheesecake

Again presented very nicely with a bit of white chocolate sauce, a segment of lemon and a powdering of icing sugar, it went down a treat. I was concerned initially by the size of it thinking I’ll never finish it, but it was almost mousse like – very soft, light and smooth and finished the meal off very nicely.

Overall, it was a very pleasant experience with a good selection on the menu including meat and fish dishes – not just pasta and pizza, good varied prices from £9 to £19, excellent service and good tasting food.

My last mouthful was: The funghi Bianchi.

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Atmosphere and decor-

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Filini at The Radisson Blu- A great hotel restaurant.

This week, we were lucky enough to be invited to review the Filini Restaurant at the Radisson Blu in Cardiff City Centre. I was recently invited to The Radisson Blu’s 2nd birthday event where we had some beautifully presented canapes so I was looking forward to trying the menu.

When we arrived, we found the restaurant on the first floor next to the bar. The bar and restaurant were separated by a giant drinks cabinet which was a very nice touch as although the floor was open plan, the restaurant was very much a separate affair. It had a calm and relaxed ambiance with clean-cut contemporary decor. Large square tables were nicely laid and the staff keep it all immaculately clean.

We sat down and ordered some wine while we browsed the menu. The Filini is an Italian restaurant and sold the standard dishes that you see on most Italian menus but some different ones too. For our starters, we chose the carpaccio of beef and a dish of asparagus with a poached egg, shallots and capers. Both were very nice. My egg was cooked perfectly as I like it runny and it oozed out and covered the rest of my dish when I cut into it- lovely!

Our starters

For our mains, I chose Sea Bass fillet with potato cake, sautéed spinach and mussel juice and Ben had a rack of lamb with rosemary and black olive crust. Both were very well presented as were all of the dishes.

Ben’s lamb was cooked exactly as he asked and the herb crust was tasty and complemented the lamb. My Sea Bass was also very nice but I think it was a bit under seasoned and the mussel juice was a little too subtle. I would have maybe been less critical if it wasn’t for the excellent presentation.  I love well presented food, it’s like art but when the standard of presentation is so good, the food really needs to deliver, it raises your expectations.

Deserts were lovely and again came beautifully presented with phyllasis’ adorning the plates. I chose sorbet because I was full from the generous sized meal and it was very nice, especially the blackcurrant one. Ben had tiramisu which came in a glass. It was very good but the coffee flavour was a bit subtle.

Staff were very attentive and polite. It was a Sir and Madam affair. The restaurant seemed to be very much catered for business people which is to be expected in a hotel restaurant. The service was perhaps a little over attentive for my liking but it maybe what a business executive is looking for and this seems to be the market the Filini is aiming at.

Overall, this is a very nice hotel restaurant. If you were staying at the Radisson Blu, you wouldn’t need to venture into town to find good food which would be a real bonus if you were on business or on your own. Even for a Tuesday, the restaurant was quite busy and I assumed most of the people there were guests. Some people were dining alone and they looked perfectly comfortable and relaxed. Dishes varied in price so whatever your budget, you could find something to suit you. Wine was quite expensive but it was good quality. overall, a very good hotel restaurant.

Sea Bass with potato cake, sauteed spinach and mussel juice

 
My last mouthful was: Rack of lamb with rosemary and black olive crust
 
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