Sunday, 27 January 2013

Where's the best place to eat in Cardiff? Visit Wales Cardiff city guide

I'm often asked the question "Where's the best place to eat in Cardiff?"

At this point, I normally stutter, stumble, break out into a cold sweat and respond with something like "What kind of thing are you looking for? It really depends what kind of food you like to eat" whilst mentally racing through a shortlist of my favourite gaffs.

In reality, there's a load of places in Cardiff which I love and it's almost impossible to pick a favourite. Depending on whether I'm in the mood for a kebab, curry or something posher, my opinion changes on an hourly basis.

So, here's a little list of 6 awesome places in Cardiff which I pulled together for a Visit Wales Cardiff city guide.

I've also previously pulled together a list of some of my favourite places to eat in Cardiff on the blog here.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

The Chapel, Cardiff restaurant review, Cardiff food blog - searching for Cardiff's best burger

Nobu, The Wolseley and The Ivy – the Big Smoke has its fair share of ‘sleb hangouts where you’re pretty much guaranteed to spot a discretely dining A-lister or a clutch of Z-listers scrabbling for paparazzi attention. 

With recent visits from Rebecca Adlington, Joe Calzaghe, Lip from Shameless and Ronan Keating, the newly opened Chapel on Churchill Way, is perhaps Cardiff’s safest bet for anyone wanting a napkin signed by a former reality TV show contestant.

You can understand why Chapel is a contender for Cardiff's hottest place to see and be seen - the no expense spared renovation, marrying original features and contemporary additions, has yielded Cardiff’s grandest dining space.

Chapel serves two different menus– the bar menu (served downstairs) and the upstairs restaurant menu. Clad in wellington boots on the icy Saturday lunch we visited, we opted for the less elaborate bar option.

As far as starters go, Chapel’s Gloucester Old Spot scotch egg (£4) is a right bobby dazzler. In fact, any restaurant which can cook a proper scotch egg pretty much gains my instant seal of approval. Crisp bread crumbs, warm herby sausage meat and an oozing yolk made for the bar snack of the Gods. A little pot of piccalilli was good but surplus to requirements.  

Mrs G’s ever-present chicken liver parfait (£6.50) almost ticked all the right boxes. The toasted brioche, smoky tomato chutney and flavour of the creamy parfait were all bob on. Unfortunately, the parfait was fridge solid – perhaps this is almost excusable as we arrived at the beginning of lunch service.

For main, Mrs G ordered a well executed Roquefort, chicory, walnut and pear salad (£6). Crisp, lightly-dressed leaves, punchy cheese, sweet fruit and crisp nuts combined well in this classic combination of flavours.

I ordered the Chapel burger with Gruyere cheese, Chapel slaw and Chapel chips – perhaps they haven’t managed to source Chapel cheese yet?

1. How was the patty? Served medium-well done, the juicy patty was enjoyably meaty tasting. Its cannon ball-like dimensions and juiciness made it the messiest burger I’ve eaten in Cardiff so far.

 2. How was the bun? I’m normally dead against ciabatta buns with a burger. However, in this instance the dryness of the ciabatta held together well against the extreme juiciness of the patty.  

3. How was the other stuff in the bun?  Melted gruyere added creaminess but didn’t overwhelm. Lettuce and a slice of tomato completed the picture. Pots of mayonnaise and tomato ketchup were also brought to the table.

4. How were the Chapel fries?  Crisp, well-seasoned skin-on fries - no complaints.

5.How was the other stuff on the plate? Chapel slaw aka purple cabbage slaw was crisp and slightly acidic with the right amount mayo. 

6. What was the price? £10

7. What’s the verdict? Chapel’s burger is rather good - its juiciness and simplicity are its major strengths.  

Nothing really grabbed my attention on the brief dessert menu. In spite of this, I persevered…

My Merlyn cream liqueur crème brulee (£5) was good. Smooth, booze-charged custard with a delicate caramel crust was accompanied by a couple of buttery chocolate chip cookies. Saying that, I’d prefer a vanilla crème brulee any day of the week.

Mrs G’s flourless orange and almond cake (£6) was the real success story. Moist, pleasingly dense sponge was served with faintly tart redcurrants, cape gooseberries and strawberries soaked in a citrus and rosewater dressing. A dollop of Jersey crème fraiche completed this interesting dish.

We really enjoyed lunch at the Chapel. In fact, I’m looking forward to returning on an evening to sample the more elaborate a la carte menu and hopefully share the dining room with a former contestant of Celebrity Love Island.

The details: 
Address - The Chapel Restaurant & Bar, Churchill Way, Cardiff, CF10 2WF
Telephone - 029 20222020

The Chapel on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Grillstock, St Nicholas Market, Bristol barbecue review

In the last 2 years since I've been writing this blog I've put on around a stone and a half in weight.

As my exercise regimen consists of a weekly walk to the van opposite my office to pick up a bacon and black pudding sandwich and because I don’t want to weigh 20 stone in 3 years time – something’s gotta give.

The plan is to revert back to my pre-blog weight by dieting for a couple of months and then... I’ll probably let the weight pile back on.

The one caveat is, I’m still going to eat out once a week whilst I'm dieting. Yesterday, a visit to Bristol to see an old school friend proved the ideal opportunity to finally try Grillstock in St Nicholas market. This BBQ stall, open 11:30ish-2:30pm Monday-Saturday, is owned by the people behind the festival of the same name.

The menu is brief, which is what you’d expect from a street food stall, but everything is chuffing lush.

All the food is smoked in what looks like a metal cupboard behind the counter. Apparently they’re pretty friggin expensive; otherwise I’d consider replacing one of my wardrobes with one.

Hickory smoked baby back ribs (£7) were absolute whoppers – some of the biggest they’d ever had delivered from the butchers. Sticky, smoky and tender, my face was plastered in barbecue sauce by the time I was through with them.

An accompanying portion of brisket burnt ends chilli (£1.50) is the reason I can never cook chilli con carne ever again. Smoked, impossibly tender beef was tempered with spices, onions and kidney beans.

Last up, an 18 hour hickory smoked pulled pork roll (£4.50) was my kind of sandwich. A decent enough seeded white roll was piled with awesome shredded meat. Light coleslaw (not the mayonnaise with a few bits of cabbage kind of stuff) provided crunch.

Grillstock is a must visit if you’re in Bristol. If the stall is anything to go by then I’d imagine the festival is too. 

The details:
Address - St Nicholas Market, Corn Street, Bristol, BS1 1JQ