Your Last Mouthful

Cardiff based food blog

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A vegetarian meal at Laguna Kitchen and Bar

Review by Mr V

Last week along with a couple of other foodies, I was very kindly invited to sample a 3 course vegetarian meal at one of my favourite restaurants, the Laguna Kitchen and Bar in the Park Plaza Hotel. The reason being was because last week was vegetarian week. Being an enthusiastic carniverous being I thought it would be interesting to dine without the delicious cooked flesh of a dead animal upon my plate – although before I left my house I did slip a cold chicken leg into my pocket… just as a comfort thing…

So first up, we had a selection of very nicely presented chefs canapes. There were small crispy potato cones, half with potato mousse, chilli and mint and the other half with chickpea puree and tomato and garnished with a small herby leaf. Being a hot summery day they seemed very apt. We also had a chilled gazpacho and a small salad comprising of samphire, Wye Valley asparagus, fresh peas and lemon served in a chicory leaf. All were very fresh and appetizing.

For the first course we had Heirloom tomato, buffalo mozzarella and avocado salad with greek basil and Elanthy extra virgin olive oil. Lovely soft and ripe green, yellow and red tomatoes were served just below room temperature which is how they should be and together with all the other elements the dish tasted very healthy and fresh.

The main course was excellent. Pea, shallot and ricotta tortelloni with baby spinach, broad beans and a pea puree. As well as being an enthusiastic meat eater, I am also an enthusiastic pea eater! The main taste of the dish was the fresh pea taste which simply made me smile. The pasta was well cooked, veg was nice and crunchy and everything worked very well together. The bright green colours also made the dish very visually appealing. Although a touch on the heavy side, overall I very much enjoyed the dish in terms of its taste, textures and appearance and didn’t feel in any way it could’ve done with a bit of chicken on the side.

For dessert we were served a flourless orange and almond cake with rosewater fruits and jersey cream. A gluten free dessert which tasted lovely.  Often gluten free products can be a little dry or dense but this was no different to any other well made cake. It was very moist and light, lots of orange running through it,  a generous helping of good quality thick Jesery cream and with the fruits along side it, it made a fresh and great way to end a meal.

Overall I was very impressed with the vegetarian meal, I wasn’t actually expecting to be so full afterwards, but full I was and all courses were very fresh and tasty proving that the vegetarian option on the menu is just as good a choice as all the others.

That evening, my wife found a chicken leg in my pocket. She thought it was strange I hadn’t eaten it…

We have a website with another review for Laguna Kitchen and Bar, click here to read it at www.yourlastmouthful.com

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The Park House – A gourmet meal to impress

Guest Review by Mr V

Last week I was lucky enough to be invited to the VIP/Press launch of the Park House with head chef Jon Edwards and Michelin starred consultant chef Roger Jones. Knowing the standard the Park House aspires to and the quality of the new chef and consultant chef, I was very excited about the evening ahead.

I arrived at the listed and grand building and was welcomed with a glass of sparkling – A 2008 Del Fin del Mundo Extra Brut, Patagonia, Argentina – and a lovely Vietnamese roll canapé; a small wrap filled with lobster, crevettes and spices.

After a little mingling outside in the cool evening air we were summoned in to be seated at the large banqueting table and awaited the next 8 courses with matched wine.

First up was the cured wild sewin with smoked halen mon sea salt and fresh horseradish. A delicate, soft fish that melted in the mouth, with a sharpness from the wild garlic flower, it was a very pleasant entry to the evening although I didn’t get the horseradish coming through – possibly overridden by the garlic flower, but lovely all the same. This was accompanied with a 2010 Johnny Q Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc, Adelaide Hills, Australia – a soft wine matching the food very well. This wine was also for the next course.

After the fish we were then served a wild garlic and Wye Valley asparagus risotto with a pea jus. This was delicious – very fresh tasting with al dente asparagus and a slight crunch in the rice. With the bright greens and the white of the risotto it was a very appealing dish to look at as well as devour. Sadly wanting to dive in with immediate effect I forgot to take a photo.

Next up is, I believe, the chef’s favourite – the Little Haven lobster fish finger with ketchup. Certainly a delight to look at, it was fresh lobster meat rolled into a thin piece of crispy fried bread and served with a tomato sauce. It had a nice crispy outer and soft meat in the middle making it a fun and tasty little dish. This was served a 2008 Treasures Chardonnay, Padthaway, Australia.

The next dish was a caramelised Kelmscott pork with chilli squid. A juicy square of pork and lovely, perfectly cooked squid with a gentle kick of spice. A combination I haven’t really come across before but it worked excellently. I prefer my pork belly a little more soft and ‘melt in your mouth’ but was still delicious but for me the chilli squid stole the show on that plate – an absolute delight! This was paired with a 2005 Saumur Vieilles Vignes, Langlois-Chateau, Loire, France – a wine with body and strong flavours matching up to the richness of the pork and spice of the squid – a very pleasant wine.

The next dish was in my view the best of the evening. It was a carpaccio of Roe Venison, Fois Gras, Bara Brith served with a fig chutney and a caramel from reduced 1927 PX sherry. I was already looking forward to this from the moment I read the menu. When it arrived I smiled even more as the carpaccio was about 6mm thick – two beautiful, tender pieces of rare venison that had been gently seared just around the edge. The caramel sherry and fig chutney and – unexpectedly- the bara brith were superb accompaniments, not to the mention the delicious fois gras torte. The highlight of my evening. This was all matched with a 2006 Del fin del Mundo Gran Reserva, Patagonia, Argentina – a pleasant red not overpowering the venison.

Last of the savoury dishes was an asian style shin and oxtail of highland beef and a taka dhal – ‘made by a Welshman’ – with some mint yoghurt on the side. I love my spicy food and this was good. The beef fell apart as you breathed on it and the level of spice in the very tasty dahl was just right. The mint yoghurt was a nice addition as it brought about more freshness to the dish. The wine that was paired, in my view, was the best match I’ve had with a dish. The flavours of the wine seemed to create a fluid, natural progression in flavours in the mouth – like the final chapter of a well written novel. The wine was a 2008 Treasures Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonwarra, Australia.

Now for desserts. The next course simply stated ‘Boiled Egg’. With no description I knew this was bound to be a lovely tasty little surprise. And it certainly was. Served in an egg cup it was a mango puree with crème anglais topped with a sticky sweet meringue and served with a soldier of shortbread. A delight to look at and a delight to eat.

The final course was a coconut panna cotta with Mojito sorbet. A good way to end the meal with a freshness of the sorbet – icy cold with fresh mint – and the slippery texture of the panna cotta with small pieces of mango and chilli to give a little bite to it. This was all washed down with a cocktail of Mojito itself. Chin chin!

Overall the food was excellent – stylish, tasty and making good use of high quality products. This is a fine dining establishment with building and food to match and I’m sure that the new head chef Jon and consultant chef Roger will be an invaluable addition to the venue.

For a similar gourmet tasting menu, they charge £59.00 per person plus £25.00 for matched wine with each course. If you order from the a la carte menu, the starters are £10, mains £26 and desserts £7.

For more information on menus and prices please browse the Park House Website.

Our previous  reviews can also be read on our website www.yourlastmouthful.com

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There are going to be some changes around here…

I would like to start by thanking everyone who reads my blog, everyone who has subscribed and all of my followers on Twitter and Facebook.  I am very grateful for the support and input with the blog.

As you will know, I also have a website- yourlastmouthful.com which the blog feeds into. The website and the blog are similar and currently both feature reviews of local food businesses in Cardiff as well as news from events that we have been to.

The website is doing very well but there is a lot of ‘doubling up’ so I have decided to make some changes…

The Website

Nothing will change with the website. If you are looking for reviews on food businesses in Cardiff and a list of the best, the website is where you need to be! The website is run by myself and my husband (Mr V) and we have a small team of reviewers. We have a ‘Green Spoon Directory’ where we list all of the businesses that have been reviewed and received a green spoon. We also have articles on the latest foodie events that we have attended, foodie news and anything local to Cardiff along with a monthly competition and exclusive deals.

You can subscribe to the website to get regular updates similar to those you receive from the blog via the home page or by emailing ‘subscribe’ to nikki@yourlastmouthful.com

The Blog

Historically this blog has been specific to Cardiff and largely made up of reviews. I have a passion for all things food related and I feel that just writing about Cardiff is restrictive so going forward the blog will cast the net a lot wider and will include reviews from anywhere I visit as well as recipes, informative pieces and general food related ramblings.

I hope that you will continue to subscribe to the blog and to the website as well.

Nikki. x

Mercure Cardiff Holland House – A four star hotel with food to match!

Review by Mr V

Last week Mrs V and I were asked to review the Hodges Restaurant of the four star hotel, Mercure Cardiff Holland House. We arrived at the clean, marble clad hotel lobby and followed signs up to the first floor where the restaurant is situated. Through the bar area and into the restaurant, the barman showed us to the tables next to the large windows where we could people watch down onto Newport Road.

The decor was quite typical of a hotel restaurant, smart, stylish with patterned carpet and low level background music but very pleasant. It was a thursday night and was very quiet but apparently it does get very busy from Friday, through the weekend, even with non-guests.

The waiter came over, introduced himself and presented us with our menus. A first class waiter who instantly made us feel comfortable and welcome as he was friendly and jovial.

First for the starters. I opted for the prawn and crayfish salad, with cucumber salsa and micro herbs (£6.00). My guilty pleasure (amongst many…) is enjoying a massive bowl of prawn cocktail so I thought I’d order it and see how they get away from the ‘it’s just a prawn cocktail‘ response. Presented very nicely with a generous amount of crayfish tails and prawns wrapped in a long slice of cucumber, it was light and fresh with nice textures. There was a touch of marie rose sauce but was seperate to the prawns and crayfish tails. With the micro herbs and cucumber salsa it was a very pleasant way to start a meal – and not a cocktail remark in sight.

Mrs V had the bubble and squeak with poached hens egg and hollandaise sauce (£5.00). The knife went in and the yolk spilled out – a moment all foodies must enjoy… The bubble and squeak had a nice outer crispness which balanced nicely with the creamy sauce and egg. Nicely presented and very tasty.

Onto the mains. I went for the pan fried calves liver served with fondant potatoes, green beans and a caramalised red onion jus (£15.00). Perfectly cooked liver – very tender, al dente green beans and well cooked potatoes. Everything went well together, the sauce was just about strong enough to stand its ground againts the strong flavour of the liver but not so much as to overpower everything else. Overall a very nice dish.

Mrs V went for the market fish of the day which was grey mullet and was served with asparagus, spring onion mashed potato and sundried tomato butter (£14.50). The fish was cooked just right, a bit of crunch on the asparagus and lovely smooth mashed potato. It was a very good dish indeed – it hit all the right notes but sadly the potato was cold. When a dish is as good as that its very disappointing to have just a small factor mar the overall result. However, it was still very enjoyable.

Lastly, the desserts. Surprisingly the waiter gave us the menus again and then stressed that we should avoid the ‘taste of raspberries’ dessert. I thought he was just having a bit of a joke with us but he really wasn’t! Apparently the menu is decided by head office somewhere far, far away and despite the chef and staff asking for it be taken off it was still there – resulting in the waiter having to say that not all the items on the menu are good. When the chef is clearly very good it’s a great shame that his voice isn’t listened to.

Anyway, I went for the peach and nectarine tarte tatin with honey mascapone and butterscotch sauce (£6.00). Nicely presented, lovely honey mascapone making a good companion to the peach and nectarine.

Mrs V went for the lemon bombe (£6.00). This was a lemon meringue, with a berry compot and a small bundle of candy floss. Nicely presented with the candyfloss sat on top and a white chocolate stick sticking out of the candyfloss, envoking memories of childhood days at the fairground. It’s ceratinly nice to have something a little bit different!

Overall, the food was good and well priced. The atmosphere was hard to judge as it was very quiet but decor was warm and inviting. and despite being on the first floor of a hotel, it was still a nice place to come in off the street to have a good meal.

My last mouthful was: The bubble and squeak

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For more reviews, foodie news, competitions and the Green Spoon Directory, please see our website at www.yourlastmouthful.com

New rating system

As well as a green, orange or red spoon as a rating for each restaurant or food business, from now on, I will be rating individual elements to arrive at the final rating. For restaurants, the following elements will be considered:

Service

Atmosphere and decor

Quality of food

Diversity of menu

Value for money

For food businesses, the following elements will be considered:

Service

Quality of food

Variety of products

Presentation

Value for money

Your Last Mouthful reviews- How do they work?

Your Last Mouthful Blog is where I write all of my reviews about everything I eat in Cardiff. I review restaurants and cafes as well as take aways and local businesses who sell food products online and at markets and events.

Later in the year, I will be launching a website showcasing all the best food businesses in Cardiff but they will only be featured on there if I can give them a positive review on this blog.

If you love food, you will know why your last mouthful is so special. It’s the part of the meal that you save until the end because it is the bit that you want to remember and taste even when your plate has been taken away. Using this concept, at the end of my reviews, I will tell you ‘my last mouthful’ which will mean the best part of the meal or product I have tasted. I will include a spoon in either green, orange or red to highlight whether the review has been positive neutral or negative. Only businesses with a positive review will make it onto my website when it is launched. I will also have a golden spoon that I will give to exceptional experiences!

Sometimes I review products and restaurants or cafes because I have been invited along by the company. On other occasions I am reviewing products and places that I have visited or tasted without their knowledge. Either way, I will tell you this in my review. If a company gets a negative or neutral review, I will happily review them again if asked.

I hope you enjoy my reviews! If you are a food business and would like me to review you, please get in touch. If you have any suggestions of where to eat, I welcome those too.

Nikki. x

Welcome to our new and improved blog- Your Last Mouthful!

I have really enjoyed working on Eat Out Cardiff but it is no more. As of today, we are now called Your Last Mouthful. This is really exciting for us because our new name marks the first of several developments. Eat Out Cardiff started as a blog reviewing places to eat out in our capital city, along with deals and vouchers to make the experience easier on the wallet. Since this started in January this year, it has developed considerably and we have been invited to eat in many restaurants as well as working with small businesses who sell their homemade produce online, market sellers and cafes.

Your Last Mouthful would like to continue working along these lines and we feel that the name incorporates all of the businesses we work with, it is no longer just restaurants. We will continue to review food businesses, both those that we are invited to try and those that we try ourselves. Even if a food business invites us to experience their goods, I will always write an honest review. A business will not automatically get a good review just because they invited us to eat. This is something that we take very seriously as I want Your Last Mouthful to be a source that the public can trust for an honest opinion.

What’s to come?…..

This blog, www.yourlastmouthful-blog.com will always be the place to come for reviews of food businesses in Cardiff. For the time being I will also continue to post deals for eating out and it will continue to be the place to find Tweet and Eat competitions and exclusive deals. However, later this year, we will also be launching a website. The website will be your comprehensive guide to everything that is good about food in Cardiff. It will include an up to date list of all the best restaurants, cafes, market sellers, cakes makers, produce sellers, organisations working with food and more in our city and surrounding area. The website will also host special deals, news and competitions.

Exclusive!

Your Last Mouthful will only promote the best food businesses in Cardiff. Businesses will only feature on our website and have access to the services we will be offering if I have been able to give them a positive review. So many websites and services claim to only promote the best but how many truly do? I want to stay true to the original Eat Out Cardiff ethos and make sure that you can fully trust our reviews.

I will continue to tell you about our future plans over the coming weeks but in the meantime, continue to read my reviews and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for competitions and exclusive deals.

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