Saturday, 27 February 2016

The Classroom, Cardiff and Vale College restaurant review

With its top floor location in Cardiff and Vale College’s spanking new City Centre campus and sweeping views of the city, The Classroom isn’t your typical catering college restaurant.

The swish website, ambitious prices, almost regular opening hours (Mon - Fri lunch & dinner) and pedigree of the team overseeing the young trainees all make The Classroom feel, well, like a restaurant.

So, before I arrived for a mid-week dinner with a gang of friends, I needed to remind myself that this is a training restaurant where youngsters are learning their trade. Expectations must be kept in check. 

The Classroom’s menu reads very well with technically challenging sounding plates and local Welsh produce scattered across it.

To start, a trio of golden scallops (£8.50), cleansing & fragrant citrus segments and crisp salty Camarthen ham pieces made for a cracking flavour combination.

A succulent rabbit terrine (£6.75) was served with a distinct salad of carrot tops, dandelions and lightly pickled carrot. The terrine itself would have benefited from a touch more seasoning to make it deliver a bigger punch of flavour. 

I’m a sucker for crab on toast (£8.50), and The Classroom’s is a fine example. A huge amount of crab mayonnaise packed with earthy brown and sweet white meat was balanced by fresh pickled cucumbers and capers. 

Finally, a creamy risotto (£6.50) studded with tender globe artichoke pieces and peas and topped with sweet, caramelised button onions was a big hit across the table.

A generous bread basket was left at the table for us to devour throughout the meal - the wholemeal was good but a moreish cheese and chilli variety was inhaled quickly. 

The meal threatened to veer off course with the arrival of mains. Thankfully, some decent customer service and quality cooking kept things on track. 

I ordered the lamb. 

However, a mix-up with the electronic ordering system in the changeover to the new Spring menu, meant I’d in fact ordered the John Dory (£14.95). 

With the prospect of a 25 minute wait for a fresh lamb dish to be cooked (I’m incapable of watching other people eat without being able to get involved), I decided it would be wiser to stick with the fish.

It turned out to be a fantastic dish. A whopping piece of perfectly cooked fish, meaty of flesh and crisp of skin, was accompanied by soft and light herb gnocchi, salty samphire and a cream sauce studded with cockles. And, it was deducted from the bill after a number of sincere apologies had been made. 

Not the lamb
Pink duck breast (£15.50) was joined by savoy cabbage, a potato hash cake flecked with shredded duck meat and a meaty jus twanged with blackcurrants and the earthiness of wild mushrooms. Mrs G loved it. 

A brimful bowl of juicy mussels (£14) was topped with sweet charred baby leeks and bathed in a cream sauce pepped up with shellfish liquor, parsley and cider. 

Finally a golden corn-fed chicken breast (£13.75), sweet onion puree, chanterelles, fricassee of peas and asparagus and a glossy sauce were all on the nail. However, the dinky piece of chicken and lack of any substantive carbohydrate meant our friend was reaching for the bread basket. 

Desserts brought the only disappointments of the dinner.

Golden caramelised pear balls (£5.25), crumbled gingerbread pieces and creamy vanilla ice cream were delicious but a triangular pear parfait was light on flavour, slightly icy in texture and meant the dish was cream overload. 

A superb dark chocolate and rum torte deftly balanced richness, bitterness and booze (£5.25). A crisp biscuit base, creamy yet refreshing white chocolate sorbet and hazelnut brittle completed a very good dish. 

Finally, a tasty yet safe cheese selection (£7.25) contained punchy blue, funky goats and sharp cheddar accompanied by a well-spiced fruit chutney and disappointingly stale and unadventurous crackers. 

Overall, we had a very good dinner at The Classroom. The meal wasn’t without its faults, but with it’s impressive dining space and interesting backstory, it’s another fine addition to the City.

The Details:

Address - The Classroom, CAVC City Centre Campus, Dumballs Road, Cardiff CF10 5FE
Web -
Telephone - 029 2025 03 77

The Classroom Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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