++ Update July 2016 - The North Star has now closed ++
It feels like a long time since I was a University student with the dodgy eating habits of someone who’s left home for the first time and is no longer able to rely on their mother’s home cooking.
Distant are the memories of stocking up on 10 boxes of cinnamon toast crunch from the supermarket just because there was £1 off. Faded is the recollection of my cupboard shelf stacked with tinned curries to crack open on a ‘special’ occasion.
When we were feeling particularly flash, we’d either make a trip to the local noodle bar for a plate of number 54 - peppered beef ho yo fan, the local curry house for a 3 course banquet for £10 or to Nandos where our table of 6 would surreptitiously share a single bowl of refillable frozen yoghurt for dessert.
If I was a student in Cardiff nowadays then The North Star would probably be my eating den and watering hole of choice. For the North Star serves up some cracking food at cheap prices, they’ve got a good selection of booze on tap, it has a suitably hip yet homely atmosphere, they have live music, service is friendly and most importantly it’s close enough to Talybont halls that you could wonka roll all the way home after a heavy night.
In fact, if it wasn’t for The North Star’s annoying location by the side of North Road (car parking is available in the Kwik Fit carpark after 6pm) instead of round the corner from my house in Roath, you’d probably find me there most evenings to this day.
The quality of the food is little more than you’d expect from a restaurant which has been featured in The Guardian’s top 10 Cardiff budget eats and is a sister establishment of The Potted Pig.
Whilst we waited for our starters Mrs G drank a large glass of excellent house Merlot (£3.50) and I tried a bottle of the alcopop du jour, Jeremiah Weed’s Root Brew (£3.50). Disappointingly it bore no resemblance to root beer and had more of a herby ginger taste. In spite of this, it was rather pleasant and far more enjoyable than Crabbies cloyingly sweet alcoholic ginger ale.
To start Mrs G ordered the roasted tomato, buffalo mozzarella & basil leaves on a toasted flatbread (£3.50). Essentially, a caprese salad made with supremely creamy mozzarella sat on top of a warm & doughy pizza base. This was a winner in Mrs G’s book. The tomato wasn’t roasted as described but I’m not sure whether this would have improved it.
My pan fried Italian sausage and spinach on a toasted flatbread (£3.95) was equally delicious. The densely packed meaty sausage with a hint of aniseed combined well with the smoky tomato sauce and doughy flatbread. Oddly there wasn’t any spinach in sight but who needs veg anyway?
For mains I satisfied my meat cravings with a half rack of honey roasted hog ribs (£7.50). Tender ribs with a good meat to bone ratio were coated in just the right amount of moreishly sweet honey glaze. The excellent fat chips were crisp and fluffy.
Mrs G’s 10oz sirloin steak (£12.95) was equally impressive. Served a perfect medium-rare, the hunk of beef was well flavoured, tender and married perfectly with a jug of creamy blue cheese sauce (£1).
An excellent banana split (£3.50) rounded off the meal. Served in a retro dish like the one at the Potted Pig, the banana was laden with 4 generous scoops of lovely chocolate chip, strawberry ripple and vanilla ice cream, chopped walnuts and a drizzle of chocolate sauce. All that was missing was a dollop of cream.
It’s a good sign that I’m already looking forward to my return visit at The North Star. It’s just a shame I won’t be able to wonka roll my way back home.
Address - The North Star, 131 North Road, Cardiff, CF14 3AE