Saturday, 24 November 2012

Hide N Sea, Cardiff pop-up restaurant review

When I was a chubby tweenager someone else in my class bought exactly the same Caterpillar school bag as me. To say I was hacked off was an understatement. I felt my unique sense of style had been violated (only 1 million schoolchildren across the UK had the same bag). However, my mum, who always knew the right thing to say, reassured me with the words “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”.

I’m sure Burger & Lobster in Mayfair, one of the London restaurant success stories of 2012, don’t need any such reassurance. For, a startlingly similar concept, a restaurant focusing on 3 dishes (burgers, steamed lobster & lobster rolls), has popped up in Cardiff for one weekend only.

The cleverly named Hide ‘N’ Sea is the Celtic Manor’s temporary Cardiff outpost. It’s located in the space where the short-lived Mimosa, Pontcanna was previously and except for the addition of some Hide ‘N’ Sea branding, the venue hasn’t changed one jot.

It’s normal to let a restaurant bed in for a while before reviewing it. However, considering Hide ‘N’ Sea is only open for 4 days, 1 day into service seems like ample time.

The first thing to mention is the slick front of house running the show. Hide ‘N’ Sea feels like a long established venue rather than a pop-up just finding its feet. Celtic Manor have clearly parachuted in their A-team..

On the booze front, they're on form too. Mrs G had a couple of excellent cocktails from the interesting list. Notable was a “The Bowrey” which comprised of a mix of champagne, Dubonnet, gin and bitters. I stuck to a couple of awesome bottles of citrusy Tiny Rebel Urban IPA.

This brings me to the main event, the burgers & lobster, and it’s disappointingly where things became a bit more average. As you could probably have predicted, neither Mrs G nor I could be faffed to crack our own lobster. Instead, we ordered a burger (£15) and a lobster roll (£20) to share.

From first impressions, both the heaving boards of poshed up junk food looked the part…

Turning first to the lobster roll, I could have eaten a bucket load of the sweet & tender lobster meat bathed in Marie Rose sauce. In fact this was part of the problem - there wasn’t enough of the stuff. Compared to the Burger & Lobster equivalent, which overflows with crustacean, it felt a bit stingy. It wasn’t helped by the disproportionately large and disappointingly dry brioche roll.

It was a role reversal on the burger front. This time the fresh, slightly sweet brioche bun was on the money. However, the well flavoured Welsh beef burger was served well done and was rather on the dry side.

Both dishes were accompanied by huge pots of excellent, crisp fries. A gravy boat full of buttery Hollandaise-like sauce in the case of the lobster roll and a pot of incredible Big Mac-like secret sauce in the case of the burger made for excellent dips.

Dessert too was hit and miss.

The crisp pastry of my delicious Peek’n’Pie (£4.25) overflowed with pecans and gooey caramel.

However, a fridge cold Holy Moly Mousse (£3.95) was a bit dense and hardly crackled with the promised popping candy.

I really wanted to love Hide ‘N’ Sea. It’s the kind of restaurant I’d love to see in Cardiff on a permanent basis and we had a really fun evening. It’s just a shame that the restaurant’s namesakes didn't live up to expectations. With a few details ironed out, Hide ‘N’ Sea could be brilliant. It’s unfortunate it’s not going to be around long enough for a revisit.

The Details - 
Address - Hide 'N' Sea 175 Kings Road, Pontcanna, CF11 9DF
Telephone - 01633 410 262

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