Sunday, 28 September 2014

Frankie's Italian, Cardiff, Pizza takeaway review

One of the problems of food blogging is the obsession with the new – ordinarily I’m preoccupied with writing about the latest openings, often at the expense of older businesses which have been quietly doing their thing for many years.

So, whilst Cardiff is in the grip of a gourmet pizza renaissance, it’s not to one of the latest vans or pop-ups that I headed last weekend...

Frankie’s Italian in Roath was already open before I started writing this blog.

In that time, it’s been recommended to me on countless occasions and I can only hang my head in shame that it’s taken me until now to visit.

Primarily a takeaway (there are a couple of tables if you can’t wait until you get home to start noshing), Frankie’s menu is dominated by proper sounding pizzas (there’s not a trace of a hot dog stuffed crust or a bbq sauce base). If you’re not in the mood for pizza then pastas, risottos, salads & bruschettas also make an appearance.

Whilst most pizzas (12”) cost around £7.50, Mrs G and I took advantage of the “meal for two” deal which would have comfortably fed three. £16 bought us any two pizzas, garlic bread and two cans of pop. 

Even though I’m no “authentic” pizza expert, I’ve seen a lot them on t’internet and Frankie’s definitely fit the template.

A golden, bubbly, crisp, chewy crust. Check.

A thin base. Check.

A good smear of fresh, fragrant tomato sauce. Check.

My margherita bufala was simple yet lush. Topped with slices of creamy buffalo mozzarella and a couple of slivers of perfumed basil (a few more leaves wouldn’t have gone a miss), it’s the kind of thing I’d never get bored of. 

Mrs G’s pizza Frankie’s meanwhile was adorned with salty parma ham and iron rich spinach. 

A soft and chewy garlic bread pizza was drizzled with just the right amount of olive oil and whiffed mildly of garlic.

Frankie’s is a real gem. In fact, I liked it so much that I’ve attached their menu to my takeaway pinboard – a rare accolade indeed.

The details:

Address - Frankies Italian, 6 Mackintosh Place, Roath, Cardiff CF24 4RQ
Telephone - 029 2045 4234

Sunday, 21 September 2014

The Scran and Scallie, Stockbridge, Edinburgh pub review

Any restaurant which makes my fictional food fantasies become reality is a winner in my book.

I’d be a regular at any café which serves fizzy lifting drink.

And the drive-through which serves those ribs from the Flintstones would be a Friday night favourite.

The Scran and Scallie sell a Desperate Dan style cow pie which surpasses my childhood dreams and then some.

For this reason alone, I love the place.

However, there’s so much more that’s brilliant about Tom Kitchen & Dominic Jack’s Edinburgh pub.

The décor, a cosy mish-mash of exposed brickwork, animal horns, filament bulbs and and fur-backed chairs is the right side of trendy.

The beer menu showcases a broad range of small Scottish brewers – I ordered a flavour-packed flight (£4.50) which included a pair of lagers from Harviestoun Brewery and one from Fyne Ales

It’s the comfort food cooked with killer classical technique, however, which makes the place so darn astounding.

A sack of thick-crusted white and a light rye bread was served with soft, creamy butter.

A smooth, creamy chicken liver parfait (£7.50) without a hint of bitterness was matched perfectly with sweet and sour pickled cabbage. The only criticism – the toast was too dry. It sounds a bit ridiculous but the parched doorstops were just too heavy going and thinner slices would have worked better. 

A special of crisp endive, gloriously runny egg, caramelised onion, meaty gravy and wondrously soft textured black pudding (£6.50) was another superb dish.

And now to THAT pie (£16). In the middle of a golden quilt of puff pasty sat a hollowed out piece of bone filled with glossy, bone marrow rich bordelaise sauce. When lifted out, the sauce seeped into the pie, enriching the uber-beefy gravy which was chock-a-block with tender steak, mushrooms and onions. 

A boulder of supremely soft shredded lamb shoulder (£19) perched atop a fricassee of peas and carrots in glistening gravy. 

Golden-crusted cauliflower cheese was the best I’ve ever tasted (£5). Soft cauliflower, without a trace of tough stalk, was coated in a well-balanced cheesy, lightly mustardy sauce.

Roasted carrots (£3.50) were al dente and served in a not too rich glaze of honey and butter. 

Puddings were a pair of modern classics.

Creamy rice pudding (£5.75) with a hint of coconut sat beneath a crisp brandy snap topped with light raspberry sorbet. 

An immense blueberry tart (£5.50) with super thin pastry, a light frangipane and berries softened to the consistency of jam, was freshened up by the presence of fresh fruit and a stellar vanilla ice cream. 

As far as criticisms of the food go, there are none. In fact, it was my favourite meal of the weekend’s all star line-up.

However, as the restaurant was packed to the rafters and short-staffed on a bank holiday weekend, service at times ground to a halt. Thankfully, we weren’t in a rush so the two and half hours it took to eat three courses wasn’t too much of a bind. The waiter’s apology and complimentary coffees also helped somewhat.

The Details:

Address - The Scran and Scallie, 1 Comely Bank Road, Stockbridge, Edinburgh EH4 1DT
Telephone - 0131 332 6281

The Scran & Scallie on Urbanspoon