We don’t go out for Sunday lunch very often. Don’t get me wrong, I love a mountain of meat and trimmings drowned in a reservoir of gravy. However, the Sunday afternoon self-induced meat-sweats tend to write-off a whole day. Furthermore, a roast dinner is one of few things in the kitchen I can do a half decent job of myself. My caveman-like instincts have blessed me with the ability to cremate a bit of meat in the oven. For these reasons, I normally cook my own roast dinner on a Friday night.
Last Sunday, we visited Laguna at The Park Plaza for a birthday Sunday lunch.
We had pre-dinner drinks in the bar area. With its dark wood, private banquettes, giant black & white photographs and spot lighting, it’s the kind of room which transforms even the brightest summer’s day into permanent night. In contrast, the dining room where we sat for lunch is light and airy; windows line one wall of the room providing a lush green vista.
Laguna’s Sunday lunch menu (2 courses £15.95, 3 courses £18.95) is peppered with contemporary and luxurious interpretations of Sunday lunch classics. A starter of Minestrone soup incorporates salt cod and summer vegetables whilst a main of Roast Loin of pork is served with black pudding mash and a thyme jus. Even a couple of the controversial non-roast options grabbed my attention for more than a few seconds; whole grilled lemon sole with fresh tartare sauce was particularly enticing.
Whilst we made our menu choices I munched on some excellent, crisp onion bread with olive oil and a viscous balsamic vinegar reduction.
Starters were excellent across the board. My unctuous ham hock and parsley terrine was packed with tender chunks of meat and served with toasted ciabatta. The accompanying piccalilli was the only disappointment. Lacking any discernible chunks of vegetable and overly vinegary, it rather killed the taste of the excellent terrine.
Mrs G is still raving about her chicken liver and foie gras parfait. A supremely smooth, meaty, buttery pate; it worked excellently with the toasted brioche and spiced plum chutney.
Mains too were largely of a very high standard. Generous hunks of slow roasted leg of Breconshire lamb were medium-pink, tender and well flavoured. Accompanying green vegetables were al dente; cauliflower cheese was every bit as indulgent as it should be; fondant potato was delicately crisp and delightfully soft & buttery; and rosemary jus added an extra dimension to normal gravy. The only let down on the plate was the Yorkshire pudding which I’d ordered as an extra. Whilst it looked the part, it was a little cold and didn’t capture the crisp doughiness of the best.
Mrs G’s roast sirloin of beef was equally as successful. Again, huge tranches of tender, flavour-packed meat covered a large surface area of the plate. Still blushing pink, the beef was served medium to well done. Other than the Yorkshire pudding, the only dud on the plate was the duck-fat roast potatoes. Not particularly crisp and curiously sweet, they lacked the artery blocking crisp, meat-fatty goodness that they should have had.
Desserts were exceptional. My soft, sticky toffee pudding had a light sponge-like texture and the smooth caramel ice-cream and toffee sauce provided multiple dimensions of caram-action.
A friend’s Jersey crème brulee ticked all the right boxes. A crisp, delicate layer of caramelised sugar adorned smooth, creamy, vanilla flecked custard.
Mrs G’s caramelised orange tart with lemon sorbet was also bang on. The tart comprised of crisp pastry, fragrant citrus filling and a crisp sugar topping whilst the smooth, refreshing lemon sorbet was a perfect foil.
Except for a couple of minor flaws, Laguna’s Sunday roast is rather excellent. It certainly gives my own burnt offerings a run for their money.
Address: Park Plaza Hotel, Greyfriars Road, Cardiff, CF10 3AL
Telephone: 02920 111 103