Your Last Mouthful

Cardiff based food blog

Tag Archives: orange spoon

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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The Ty Mawr- Stunning view but food could have been better

On a recent drive back into Cardiff via Caerphilly Mountain, we decided to stop at a pub for a cooked lunch. They seemed to be in abundance but as we stopped at one by one, we realised they were all chains and the food really didn’t appeal so we kept on driving. We didn’t mange to find a single place to stop.

Annoyed, I used an app on my phone to locate all the pubs in the area. One of the pubs on the list was the Ty Mawr so we decided to head there as it had been recommended by a friend.

On the approach, it looked great. A lovely looking building and a stunning view over Cardiff with a nice seating area outside. Unfortunately it was raining so we didn’t get to enjoy the view and went inside. Inside was very pleasant. It was quite rustic with a real fire, wooden beams and chunky wooden furniture. We found a quite table and sat down.

We were welcomed by a friendly waitress who brought over the specials board and some menus. The Ty Mawr is a Brain’s pub so the menu was very similar to another pub I had eaten at recently. The specials looked nice but as it was lunch time we decided to opt for something smaller and went for the burgers. Ben chose a pesto chicken burger with coriander creme fraiche and chunky chips and I chose a pork and mustard burger with apple sauce and chunky chips.

When the food arrived, it wasn’t quite as it was described. My burger had no trace of the promised mustard. I can only assume it was actually in the burger but I couldn’t taste it. It tasted ok but I do like to get what I have ordered. Ben’s was again not how it was described. In fact, his was a plain chicken breast in a bun minus the pesto so it was pretty bland and the creme fraiche was just normal creme fraiche, no coriander had gone near it!

This annoys me because had we known that a pesto chicken burger with coriander creme fraiche was not going to contain any presto and coriander we would have ordered something else.

It’s a shame the food wasn’t as good as it could have been because the pub itself is really lovely and on a good day, it would be the prefect place to sit outside. I can’t help think what a great place it could be if it was an independent pub serving proper home cooked food.

All in all, it’s not a bad place to eat by any means. The food tasted nice enough but it was nothing out of the ordinary and I don’t think it’s right to serve a dish with key ingredients missing.

My Last Mouthful was: Pork burger with apple chutney

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The Pear Tree- would you like an empty bowl with that?

A few weeks ago, my friend Mrs. J and I went out for a bite to eat at The Pear Tree in Roath. A few people have told me that I need to get down there and give it a try and I’ve been meaning to for a while.

We walked in and it immediately felt nice and welcoming, I often feel intimidated when I walk into pubs but I didn’t at all at The Pear Tree. The Pear Tree describe themselves as a cafe bar and I think this is a fair description. It’s clearly a bar but it has the coziness and relaxed feel of a coffee shop.

The decor is very unusual and is set out like an old house. There are book shelves, ornaments and lamps and old portraits on the wall that look like they came straight out of a museum or a very elderly relatives house.  There was even an old style sewing machine thrown into the mix.

We found a table for two and looked at the menu. The menus were on A4 paper but also displayed on boards around the room. There was also a tapas checklist on the table which you could take to the bar so you didn’t forget which tapas you had tried which was a good idea I thought.

I was a little disappointed by the choice of food available, the menu was quite uninspiring. We had gone for an evening meal but they seemed to cater mostly for lunch and breakfast with lots of sandwiches and paninis.  However, after we had ordered, I did actually see a board of specials which would have been a lot better for an evening meal than what we picked.

I ordered a spiced chicken breast burger with chilli jam and minted creme fraiche with chunky chips and Mrs. J ordered the tapas deal- 3 dishes with a drink for £7.95. She chose  spicy chicken wings, meat balls and squid.

My chicken burger and chunky chips

When it came to ordering the meals, we did have a few issues. While staff were very friendly and accommodating, they made a few mistakes. Firstly with the tapas Mrs. J was allowed a continental beer or a glass of wine. She wanted the beer but as this particular beer had run out, they didn’t offer her a different one, she was only allowed wine. I thought this was pretty poor and she should have been given the option of a different beer.

Mrs. J ordered bread and olives as an appetizer and half way through eating the bread, we noticed that she hadn’t got any olives, in fact she had been bought an empty bowl! Staff were quick to rectify this though but we were baffled as to how you can go as far has getting the bowl out and then forgetting to put the food in it!

Mrs. J's tapas. Note the empty bowl...

When our mains arrived, my burger was pretty small for the price I paid for it. It tasted fine but it didn’t come with the minted creme fraiche so I asked the waiter about this and he bought out a little pot of it. Mrs J enjoyed her tapas, especially the wings which were marinated in a spicy sauce.

Not quite full, we decided to have dessert. We chose apple rhubarb and gooseberry pudding and chocolate and cherry fondant. Both were mediocre and clearly bought in. They were a bit dry so we could have done with a bit more ice cream.

Rhubarb and Gooseberry pudding

All in all, I won’t rush back to eat at The Pear Tree but it is a lovely place for a drink. It has quite a ‘first date’ feel to it. The food wasn’t bad, it’s what you would expect from a Brain’s pub but when it comes to food, with other independent places in the area, I would choose them for food over The Pear Tree.

My Last Mouthful was: Chips dipped in minted Creme fraiche

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Phoenix Restaurant- Very average

Last week, Ben and I went to the Phoenix Chinese Restaurant on Crwys Road for a meal. We had a Groupon voucher each entitling us to £20 worth of food for £8 and it seemed like a really good deal, especially as the picture on the voucher was of some baskets of Dim Sum.

Next time, I will do my research. While there was nothing wrong with where we ended up, it wasn’t at all what I was expecting. Judging by the picture, I was expecting something along the lines of Ba Orient with baskets of Dim Sum and I was hoping for something a bit different. In reality, we were standing in an average chinese restaurant which I had in fact bought a take away from before, I just didn’t recognise the name.

We were seated in the ample sized restaurant and were the only people there apart from one other table of three chatting about whether they had ever been unfaithful to their partners. We could hear everything they were saying and it wasn’t that we were listening intently or that they were particularly loud, it was just so quiet in there.

We were given menus by the polite but timid host and gave our order. The food wasn’t what I was expecting as I have said. It was pretty much your average chinese menu but it also had Thai and Malaysian dishes although again, these were nothing out of the ordinary. We also noticed that they were quite pricey for such ordinary dishes at on average £8 for a main dish which didn’t include rice.

To start, we ordered Mongolian ribs and chicken and prawn parcels as these were the most unusual things on the menu. The Mongolian ribs were actually very tasty. The sauce was lovely and the ribs were meaty and well cooked. The parcels were ok too.

For our main, we chose Szechuan duck and a Thai pork dish in coconut milk and basil. Both were very edible but nothing extraordinary. I would compare them to something I would expect from a take away and for the price, I hoped for more. The rice with shredded chicken was £5 and it was basically steamed rice with a few pieces of chicken in it which was quite disappointing.

The restaurant itself was very basic which is fine but it looked cheap with paper table cloths and paper napkins arranged in glasses. It could have done with a lick of paint too. The pink walls had stains on them from messy diners and a dirty line the length of one wall which looked like it had been made by some furniture that has since been moved.

This isn’t a bad place by any means but it had the feel of somewhere you would go for a cheap meal. For the price (if we had paid full price) you can get more for your money.

My Last Mouthful was: Mongolian Ribs

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The Wharf- Perfect for a drink in the sun

I live very close to the city centre so I have no end of places to go if I’m feeling peckish! However, sometimes, I wish I had a local that I could pop to for a drink and a bite to eat but unfortunately I don’t. The Wharf is the closest thing I have to a local (even though it isn’t actually that local!)

I like the Wharf because it has lots of outside space. When the sun is out, its lovely sitting there surrounded by the water. There are ample tables and chairs and they are well spaced so you don’t feel like you’re sitting on top of each other.

The pub itself is a very good size. I like to interior with its laid back wooded tables and chairs although it is very dark in there so I prefer to sit outside if possible.

The wharf have lots of innovative ideas to pull in customers. On my last visit, there was a regatta on the river and the Wharf was packed with a very inviting BBQ going, sending out its delicious smells. There is also a very good pub quiz on a Tuesday and a Sunday and a function room that you can hire for free.

I usually just pop to the Wharf for a drink or the quiz but last week, some friends and I went along for a spot of lunch. It was a bit drizzly so we sat inside. It was quite busy but we managed to find ourselves a table near the bar. Two of us ordered chicken fajitas and my other friend ordered a chicken burger. Food came quickly and we tucked in. I was surprised to see that my fajitas came with chips. In fact I had quite a bizarre combination of food. My rather large plate was packed with chips and salad and the fajita filling (chicken onions and peppers) with three little pots containing guacamole, sour cream and BBQ sauce. The fajita wraps were folded and haphazardly flopped on top of the rest of the food.

I thought that the BBQ sauce was a strange addition and it was very difficult to assemble the fajitas with no room on the plate to balance them. Fajitas usually come with the filling on one plate and the wraps on another which makes much more sense to me. Presentation aside, the food wasn’t bad although the sauce that the filling was in was very thick and sticky and not the flavours I would have expected. I couldn’t eat everything and I thought that wraps with chips was a bit of a carb overkill.

My friend’s chicken burger wasn’t what she was expecting either. It was a chicken breast in a bun. She could have had cajun or tandoori flavouring but she chose plain. I’m sure one of the other two options would have been more flavoursome but we were expecting slightly more to her ‘plain’ option. It was very bland.

There was certainly nothing wrong with the food. We all ate our meals but I have had better. As bar food goes, it is better than most chains like Whetherspoons but I it just didn’t quite do it for me. If you’re already there for a drink, I certainly wouldn’t leave to go somewhere else for food but I wouldn’t go there especially with food in mind. I would love to give the Wharf a positive review in terms of the food because it’s a lovely place. It has a nice atmosphere when busy and a great range of choices on the menu but I think in the future I will be more likely to go for a drink than a meal. It has been awarded an orange spoon because it scored highly on other aspects but unfortunately, the food could be better.

My last mouthful was: Fajitas with sour cream and guacamole

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