Saturday, 23 July 2016

Amser, Yr Hen Lyfrgell / The Old Library, Cardiff Sunday roast review

I loves a good carvery.

One of my earliest memories as a wee nipper was visiting the local Toby whenever I stayed with my grandparents in Essex. The groaning plates of meat, the whopping Yorkshire puddings and the posh carrot batons all hold a special place in my heart.

However, when I last visited a Toby a couple of years ago it wasn’t as good as I remembered it. The meat was wafer thin, the potatoes weren't crisp and the gravy was as thick as treacle.

So the fact that Amser, the restaurant at Yr Hen Lyfrgell / The Old Library (the Welsh cultural centre in the city centre), do a banging Sunday carvery that lives up to my nostalgic memories is a very good thing.

Behind the stoves at Amser is the well-regarded Paj Jones; rumour has it his tenure at the long gone Le Gallois was the closest Cardiff has ever been to gaining a Michelin Star.

A single course will set you back £9.95 and you can add on a pud for £3 extra. There’s also a couple of cracking Pipes beers on tap if you want to make a day of it. 

I ordered the pork loin and belly which were sourced from the Vale of Glamorgan and Abergavenny. This was first rate meat and there was an added bonus of crisp crackling on the belly.

Mrs G ordered the lamb, sourced from a few miles away in Rudry. Also super tender and well-flavoured Mrs G could perhaps have benefited from an additional slice.

A roast dinner is only as good as its trimmings and Amser’s are pretty fine and rather plentiful.

Crisp and fluffy Yorkshire puddings were the size of a grapefruit. Golden roast spuds were all crunch and fluff whilst the cauliflower cheese had a potent honk of cheese. 

Buttery carrots, well-seasoned swede and carrot mash, creamed leeks, savoy cabbage flecked with bacon, flavoursome gravy and new potatoes completed the heaving plates of food. 

Whilst Mrs G and I were both pretty stuffed I’ve come to terms with the grim reality that I don’t know how to say no to dessert.

Apple crumble comprised of soft cinnamon spiked fruit with a proper thick crumble top and a good ladle of vanilla fragranced custard.

Meanwhile a good sticky toffee pudding was cannily flecked with nuts and sultanas but was a touch too cakey rather than sticky. 

Sunday roast at Amser is lovely. One of the most frequent questions I get asked is “where’s good for a roast dinner in Cardiff?” No doubt I’ll be adding Amser to my list of recommendations.

The Details:

Address - Amser, Yr Hen Lyfrgell / The Old Library,  The Hayes, Cardiff CF10 1BH
Telephone - 07342354356

Saturday, 16 July 2016

The Gallery, Barry, steak night restaurant review

Since I last visited The Gallery in Barry things have gone from strength to strength for this charming little independent restaurant. This year they were named Wales' Good Food Guide Readers’ Restaurant of the Year and they’ve also won Welsh Sustainable Restaurant of the Year for three years on the trot.

They've also started opening on Wednesday for steak night where for 50 quid you get 2 steaks, 2 portions of chips, 2 sauces, 2 flavoured butters, 2 wedge salads and a bottle of wine.

This, is a bit of a bargain. 

There’s no hiding the quality of their steaks which are sourced locally from Farmers Pantry in Llantwit Major - you can take your pick from a display which includes a mix of 28 day and 40 day aged cuts. 

To start, a crisp wedge of iceberg lettuce was the receptacle for a light Caesar dressing topped with shavings of savoury parmesan and plump briny anchovies. 

Mrs G enjoyed a potent blue cheese dressing with red grapes providing a counterpoint to the savoury cheese. 

A word of mention must go to the bottle of Los Picos Merlot included with the meal. It was seriously quaffable, in fact so much so that we ordered an extra bottle. 

An extra side of tender chicken wings (£2.50) had a crisp crumb and were served with a pot of tangy barbecue sauce. They were good but I'd have preferred it if the wings were served un-crumbed and coated in the sticky sauce. 

Onto the main event and it did not disappoint one jot.

A huge, juicy, tender 26oz Chateubriand (£9 supplement) for two was cooked a perfect rare. A couple of knobs of maple-smoked butter added an extra dimension to the already flavour-packed piece of meat. 

Everything surrounding the cow was on the nail too.

Hyper-crisp and grease-free onion rings; crisp, soft and slightly meaty chips; a fragrant thyme roast tomato; a portobello mushroom; a ramekin of silky bearnaise twanged with tarragon and a jug of warming peppercorn sauce spiked with brandy. 

We also ordered a basket of truffled polenta chips (£2.50) for the table. Super crunchy with shavings of umami-rich cheese and the right level of fungal twang, they were off the hook. 

By this point we were completely and utterly stuffed. In fact, I left an onion ring - the horror. We then ordered dessert.

Keeping it simple, The Gallery only offer one pudding on Wednesdays, the chef’s special sundae (£5). It changes every week and on this occasion it was white chocolate and berry. 

It was an absolute beauty, combining creamy white chocolate ice cream, fresh blackberries and strawberries, strawberry coulis, sweet golden biscuit crumbs and a thin shard of caramel. 

Steak night at The Gallery is excellent - there’s certainly not (m)any other places where you can get such a good steak and sides for two including wine for £50.

The Details:

Address - The Gallery, 2 Broad Street Barry, Wales CF62 7AA
Telephone - 01446735300