Ok first off apologies for the pun above but if I'm hoping to be hired as The Daily Star restaurant critic then I've got to show off my punning capabilities.
On Friday night we went to The Cricketers. I'm not sure whether it would self define as a gastro pub or a pub that serves good food but as far as Cardiff goes there aren't many places that fit the definition as well as this place. I've been interested in going for a while after reading somewhere that the Chef used to work for Gordon Ramsey.
Reading the menu and browsing the daily changing specials board I knew that there was great potential for a really good feed as there were plenty of exciting things I wanted to eat including Laver Bread and Cockles, Tempura plaice and Rabbit all served with interesting looking sides. But could the food deliver on its potential. The answer is largely a yes.
For starters I shared a deli platter with my other half (£12.50) which was nice but a little pedestrian. It must be saying something if the highlight of the dish was a really delicious griddled slice of bread soaked in Olive Oil. Other things on the platter included olives (of the plain black and slightly boring variety), semi-dried tomatoes (really good texture and flavour), gherkins (tasty but a bit yawn), a lovely fresh tasting houmous and what should have been the star of the show the Charcuterie. I think by putting Charcuterie on the menu there is a certain weight of expectation especially with the quality of local produce available but what emerged was really 5 slices each of a very bog standard chorizo and salami. The other starters were declared very nice (but not mindblowing). One person had the cockle and laverbread crostini. This was served in a rather fun way with the crostini served in one dish and the laverbread and cockles in another so you could make your own. It was tasty but a little underseasoned. The other starter was crab cakes served with chilli jam. I managed to snaffle myself a taste and they had a lovely intense taste of brown crab meat.
For mains 3 of the diners in our group of 4 had taken the unoriginal yet understandable step of all ordering the same dish. They plumped for the lamb rump served (cooked to your liking) with dauphinouse potatoes and spinach (£15 approx). My other half reported her lamb to be lovely and tender if a little on the fatty side and her side of dauphinoise as good but could have done with a litte bit more cream. The most thought provoking element of the dish was a discussion about the difference between potato dauphinoise and potato gratin (which was available as an extra side on the menu). We were unable to resolve the debate and neither could our waitress. If you have the answer the please let me know.
I however opted for the Sirloin steak served with chips and garlic butter (£15.95). I was seriously impressed with my main course. The steak was ordered rare and served that way (something that many places seem to get wrong). It was perfectly red on the inside and deliciously tender. However, it was the sides served with it that took the dish up a notch. The chips, described on the menu as 'fat', had a definite air of triple-cookedness about them. They were uber-crunchy on the outside yet pillowy soft on the inside. Immense. The grilled tomatoes served with the dish also had a whiff of semi-driedness about them giving them an extra intensity of flavour and a much firmer texture than your run of the mill example. This was a dish that I would return to the Cricketers for alone.
Suitably stuffed by the giant bowl of chips I felt unable to take on the pudding challenge. It was just as well because there was nothing that had tickled my fancy in the selection on offer (by this I mean there weren't any hot cakey style puddings or anything with chocolate in). The bottomless pit that is Rhys however took on a Vanilla rice pudding with Blueberry compote. It was nice apparently.
So all in all, a lovely place to sit and eat on an evening with a couple of pints. The service was incredibly friendly. Some of the dishes were a bit average but there was evidence of some really good cooking on show. I fully intend to go back and try some of the other dishes on offer and have some more chips.
66 Cathedral Road, Pontcanna, Cardiff, Wales CF11 9LL
Telephone: 02920 345 102