On Monday evening a group of us visited Woods Brasserie to celebrate the birthday of Rhys 'the bottomless pit’.
This was my first experience of the Knife & Fork Food group. Woods Brasserie, the oldest member of the family, has younger siblings in the form of The Old Swan Inn in Llantwit Major, The new Conway in Pontcanna and The new Pilot in Penarth.
The exterior of the grand stone building gives way to a large, contemporary bar area and a long, glass fronted dining space. It’s all rather sophisticated. And, judging by the crowd we shared the dining room with on Monday evening, it's a popular ‘date night’ destination.
Half the group, including myself, ordered off the table d’hote menu (3 courses for £20, available all day) whilst the other half chose from the a la carte.
To start I had an excellent confit duck leg. The crisp skin and moist, rich flesh were balanced nicely by a refreshing citrus and crunchy fennel salad.
Rhys ordered roasted pigeon breast, pumpkin & pernod puree and caramelised brazil nut (£9.50). Whilst this pretty looking plate of food was packed full of interesting flavours, the dainty dish was not of ‘bottomless pit’ proportions. For the steep price, a second breast of meat wouldn't have gone amiss.
Morg enjoyed his epic sized bowl of carrot and fennel soup (£4).
For main I had fennel roasted pork loin, buttered spinach, white onion puree and crackling. An excellent, just pink, piece of pork was accompanied by a heavy hitting meat jus. However, the dish was let down by the other components – the spinach and white onion puree appeared in blink & you’ll miss them quantities. The crackling on the other hand was a complete no show. I only realised this when I got home and reread the menu – kind of funny when it’s the primary reason I ordered the dish!
A plate of highly decent thick cut chips added some welcome bulk to my main (£3)
There were no complaints with the portion size of Rhys’ main course. A generous quantity of unctuous, slow braised ox cheek (£16) was accompanied by smooth mash, buttered kale and an intense, star anise twanged meaty sauce. This was an excellent dish.
Morg also enjoyed his fish & chips (£11) served with pea & mint puree and tartar sauce.
To round off the meal I opted for warm ginger sponge and rum & raisin ice cream. This was a very good pud but it was at risk of being spoilt by a scattering of brutally strong rum soaked raisins .
Unfortunately, Rhys’ chocolate fudge pudding (£5) was the nadir of the meal. This dry and bog standard chocolate sponge was less enjoyable than numerous supermarket chocolate cakes I consumed over 2 years of work ‘Friday cake club’. It’s a shame because Rhys had memories of a damn fine chocolate pudding from another recent visit to Woods.
So, all in all our evening at Woods was a mixed bag.
Whilst the service was friendly, there was a lengthy wait between mains and dessert. However, this can partly be excused by the fact the pared back serving team were caught off guard on an uncharacteristically busy Monday evening.
Furthermore, there's some top notch cooking going at Wood’s and the 3 courses for £20 menu is generally good value. It’s just a shame the food was punctuated by a few bum notes and some erratic portion sizing.
Address - Woods Brasserie, Pilotage Building, Stuart Street, Cardiff, CF10 5BW
Telephone - 02920 492 400
Web - http://knifeandforkfood.co.uk/woods