Your Last Mouthful

Cardiff based food blog

Tag Archives: Knife and Fork Food

Cardiff Hit List- March 2014

Having been off the scene for a while, what with having a baby and all, it appears I have a lot to catch up on. It’s great to see that Cardiff is still a viable place to start a new food business and the area seems to be thriving. James Sommerin obviously thinks so with his new restaurant The Esplanade set to open soon in Penarth. Very excited about that!

With so many new places and a few oldies that I still haven’t managed to get around to yet, I thought I’d put together a hit list so I have something to aim for.

In no particular order….

Hang Fire Smokehouse– I say ‘in no particular order’ but this is definitely at the top of my list and has been for ages. I know it isn’t new but every time I have planned to give it a try something has come up. I WILL be tasting Hang Fire Smokehouse as soon as possible.

Kimchi– I love Korean food so I’m really excited by the opening of this little restaurant on Cowbridge Road East. It has had some great reviews so far despite not even having a website.

The Discovery– The next installment in Knife and Fork Food’s little empire. The Discovery opens this week. I can’t make the opening but I hope to go along and check it out very soon.

Urban Tap House– A bar devoted to craft beer and burgers? Say no more.

Mission Burrito– Cardiff blogger Gourmet Gorro has got me excited about this one. It may be a chain but it’s a small one and burritos are definitely a welcome addition to the Cardiff lunch scene.

The Deck– Now this isn’t new and I can’t believe I still haven’t been! I reviewed Love Peace and Cupcake a while back but I haven’t been to The Deck since their take over and I really really must go!

I’d love to hear any recommendations you have too.

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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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Woods Brasserie- A perfect blend of class and contemporary

To my excitement, Mr V and I were recently invited to review Woods Brasserie in Cardiff Bay. Part of the Knife and Fork Food group, contemporary restaurant Woods has been on my ‘to do list’ for quite sometime.

We arrived to an already busy reception but were greeted quickly and our coats were taken. The decor was very much my favoured style. Classy and contemporary but also a bit quirky. Feature walls of retro patterned wallpaper stood out along with pink walls and bright green seats and were complimented nicely by other more neutral colours and wooden tables and chairs.

After being welcomed at the door, we were welcomed again when we took our seats and then again by the person taking our drink orders. Everyone was very attentive and efficient throughout the evening but not so much so that it felt annoying or too formal like it sometimes can. Woods have managed to create a perfect blend of upmarket dining that is still relaxed, stylish and contemporary.
There were two menus to choose from. An  A la Carte menu and a Table d hote menu which was very reasonably priced at £20 for 3 courses. We chose the A la Carte menu because although the other menu was perfectly fine, there were a few dishes that we really wanted to try that were only available on the A la Carte menu.

One of these was the Caramelized Ox Cheek and Foie Gras Ballontine which was served with carrot, star anise pickle and crispy bread. It was exceptional and possibly one of the best starters I’ve had for a long while. The ox cheek was beautifully cooked. It was tender, smooth and sweet with a thin crisp of sugar on top. The foie gras was delicious. My only complaint was that it could have been warmer.

Mr V was the lucky owner of the ox starter but mine was also high quality. I opted for the Smoked Mackerel and Dill Choux Buns with Sardines and Tomato dressing. Although I like them, I’ve never quite got the hype around profiteroles but with fish…much more up my street! They were light, airy and delicious. The star of the dish for me though was the sardine and tomato dressing which was the perfect accompaniment.

Moving onto the mains, we were quite excited by the selection. However, the starters had set the bar very high and the mains were not quite at the same level, although still very good. Mr V chose the Slow Braised Blade of Beef with Roasted Carrot, Spelt and Wild Garlic with Braising Liquor. The beef was very well cooked and fell apart with a breath but Mr V felt that it just lacked some punch of flavour.

I continued along a fish theme and opted for the Loch Duart Salmon, Welsh Breakfast Garnish (Serrano crisp, Lavabread, Leeks and Cockle Butter). The salmon was beautifully cooked and encased in the Serrano ham. The soft salmon was perfect with the crunchy lava bread but I didn’t think the ham added anything. The leeks and cockle butter on the other hand were an excellent addition.

We added a side order of seasonal green vegetables and a side of mash potato with our mains as recommended by our waitress. This brought our mains up to £15 and £18 respectively which we felt was a little expensive for the latter but fortunately the desserts and starters were a much more reasonable price.

The dessert menu looked very appealing but we were quite full so we decided to share the Lemon, Pistachio and Poppy Seed Cake with Tarragon Mascarpone. I wanted to try this because I adore lemon cake but also because I like food that pushes the boundaries and I felt that the tarragon element was quite unusual.

The cake was crunchy and sweet and was complimented by the creamy mascarpone. The tarragon made it appear light and fresh and was the perfect end to a filling meal.

Reflecting on the evening, we were very impressed. I love the decor and the atmosphere was spot on. The menu had clearly been planned with thought and precision and boasted some unusual dishes. Chatting to Restaurant Manager Francoise after the meal,  we learnt Head Chef Wesley Hammond designed the menus and where possible, local ingredients are sourced. They like to have a Welsh twist on some traditional dishes, like my salmon main course.

The only complaint I have which is a general whinge nowadays is the addition of side dishes which I really think should be part of a meal. Other than that, we enjoyed our meal and the overall experience and will definitely be returning.

My last Mouthful was: Caramelized ox cheek and foie gras ballotine

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For more reviews and a list of all the green spoon businesses in Cardiff please see the Your Last Mouthful website

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