Friday, 23 January 2015

Spit & Sawdust - Searching for Cardiff's Best Burger

Next time you’re heading to McDonalds on Newport Road, why not walk another twenty metres up the road and check out Spit & Sawdust instead?

The folks at this quirky social enterprise (comprised of an indoor skate park, art space, shop and café) are grilling burgers that would test the loyalties of even the Hamburglar. And, they barely cost a penny more than those at the Golden Arches.

Spit & Sawdust’s café is a relaxed and friendly kind of place - when I arrived at midday on a Saturday I was faced with the aftermath of a kids party.

It’s also a bit baltic so you might want to bring a coat and woolly hat. 

Having ordered from the dedicated burger menu, which includes a couple of very interesting veggie options, I sipped a can of San Pellegrino aranciata and waited for my food. 

The Burger – Classic with cheddar

1. How was the patty? A flavour-packed, golden-crusted, well-seasoned organic beef patty topped with a decent ooze of cheddar. Served well done, it would have benefited from a little less time on the grill.

2. How was the bun? A soft and sweet toasted brioche bun from Allen’s bakery in Roath. The burger:bun ratio however was a little off.

3. How was the other stuff in the bun? Shredded lettuce and finely sliced onion and tomato brought the freshness to the party.

4. How were the fries? Deep bronze, double-cooked, crisp, salty and tender – absolutely epic.

5. What was the price? Ridiculously cheap - £4.70 including chips. In terms of quality for your buck, Spit & Sawdust are very very impressive.

6. How was the other stuff? A huge bowl of onion rings (£1.50) were exemplary - crisp, light and golden with a soft filling. 

8. So what's the verdict? A damn tasty burger – Spit & Sawdust are a fine and bargainous addition to Cardiff’s burger scene.

The Details:
Opening - Spit & Sawdust is open until 9pm everyday except Monday’s,
Address - Spit & Sawdust, Rhymney River Bridge Road, Cardiff CF23 9AF
Web -
Telephone - 02920 494741

Spit & Sawdust on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Zio Pin, Roath, Cardiff Italian restaurant review

There’s an old school Italian restaurant like Zio Pin’s on nearly every high street in the UK.

You know the score – they’re places of familiarity when you’re craving a large plate of comfort food and an even bigger glass of booze.

Zio Pin’s does some things very well – the serving team were hugely welcoming and the bar area has had a bright modern makeover since my last visit a few years ago. However, some of the dishes we ate were a bit average…

Excellent, warm crusty homemade bread slathered with soft butter and a large glass of seriously quaffable house red (£4.25) kicked off the meal on a very positive note. 

A starter of arancini (£5.45) was a well-flavoured piece of homely cooking – the risotto balls, flecked with bolognese and ham, were topped with a fresh tasting tomato sauce and melted cheese. However, the soggy crumb coating and overcooked rice were a big letdown. 

Whilst Mrs G’s starter wasn’t easy on the eye, it tasted much better. A generous portion of prawns and baby mushrooms (£5.75) were coated in a flavour-packed sauce of garlic and white wine.

Mains were the strongest suit.

A brick of lasagne (£8.95) was everything it should be – tender pasta, creamy béchamel, meaty bolognese and oozy cheese. 

Mrs G’s main, Penne Zio Pin (£9.45), saw al dente pasta and a deliciously light sauce of chicken, pancetta and tomato. 

Unfortunately, things came tumbling down with what should have been a very interesting pair of desserts.

Chocolate Nemesis (£4.50), as made famous by the legendary River Café, was a fridge cold lump of overly-rich solid chocolate cake.

Limoncello tart (£4.50) was even worse – an average lemon tart was spoiled by a shot of limoncello which had been poured over the top. Soggy pastry and the harsh taste of alcohol were the notable features. 

There’s a lot I like about Zio Pin – I’ll most certainly go back for a plate of lasagne and a pint or two in their bar. However, I’ll definitely be giving their dessert board a miss.

The Details:

Address - Zio Pin, 74 Albany Road, Cardiff CF24 3RS
Telephone - 02920 485673
Zio Pin on Urbanspoon