Saturday, 31 December 2016

Bwyta Bwyd Bombai, Indian street food, Cardiff cafe review


It turns out that Cardiff’s Indian street food ventures are like buses.

A couple of weeks ago I visited Chai Street's latest City Centre branch.

Niche Indian Street Kitchen is opening on Crwys Road imminently.

And Bwyta Bwyd Bombai, also known as 3Bs, launched last month in the High Street Arcade. We visited for lunch on Christmas Eve to kick off a week of excessive eating.

Most dishes on the menu of snacks, dosas, sandwiches and omelettes weigh in at less than a fiver. Vegetarian options are very well represented too.

Top drawer chai (£1.90) was spicy, strong and creamy. It was served with a curious sweet crouton that was made for dunking.


Ice cold and fruity mango lassi (£2.20) was on the nail. 


Dahi puri (£3.50) were a good example of their type. The puris, which could have been a bit crunchier, were filled with tangy and sweet chutneys and topped with creamy yoghurt and sev (gram flour vermicelli).


A masala dosa (£3.50) was excellent. The crisp, thin rolled pancake was filled with velvety mustard seed twanged potato and pea mash. A bowl of spicy sambal and a fresh, sweet tomato chutney were lovely accompaniments. 


The main event was a whopper of a mixed thali (£9.50). The two vegetable curries could have been hotter temperature-wise but everything else was on the nail.

Tender chicken was bathed in coconut based curry sauce. Lentil dhal and Bombay aloo were both nicely spiced. A soft and slightly elastic chapatti, fluffy rice, moreish disks of battered potatoes, sour lime pickle and carrot and onion raitha were all lush. The generous portion size was right up my street too.


The 3Bs is another lovely independent addition to Cardiff City Centre. It's well worth checking out.  

The Details:

Address - Bwyta Bwyd Bombai, 16 High Street Arcade, Cardiff CF10 1BB
Web - http://www.3bscafe.com/
Telephone - 02920 372352




Saturday, 24 December 2016

Chai Street, City Centre, Cardiff Indian restaurant review


There’s still a shortage of good independent restaurants in Cardiff City Centre, so the arrival of anything decent is to be welcomed with open arms.

One of the latest openings is Chai Street Indian street kitchen, a sister restaurant to the existing Canton branch and a little sibling to the excellent Mint & Mustard

We visited on a bitterly cold weeknight. The restaurant’s bright colours, bunting, wall art and reclaimed wood panelling were a sunny relief from the bleakness outside.


A mango lassi (£2.95) was cool and refreshing but could have taken a bigger hit of fragrant fruit.

Chai St Indian Pale Ale (£3.25), the house brew sourced from Brecon Brewery, was delicious. Easy drinking with just a light hint of hop, it was a good foil for the spicy food to come. 


A trio of idli (£5.25) were pillowy soft fermented lentil rice cakes. Mildly flavoured with a slight tang, they were a frigging lovely match with the accompanying sambal that was dotted with green beans, okra and aubergine. 


Tawa fish (£4.25) saw a beautifully flaky fillet coated in a golden spice crust that hummed with ginger, chilli and garlic.


Onto mains and the standout was a stonkingly good paratha wrap. The crisp and flaky flatbread was stuffed with shreds of yielding deeply spiced lamb and a few leaves. At £4.50 this has to be a contender for one of the best sub-five pound lunches in Cardiff. 


A lamb thali (£9.95) was very good but lacked a bit in portion size. Tender lamb was bathed in a comforting sauce spiced with curry leaf and cinnamon. But, there were only 3 pieces of meat. It was joined by a lovely selection of tender potatoes tempered with mustard seed, mild lentil daal, super creamy raitha flecked with cucumber and mint, crisp poppadum shards, soft naan, fluffy rice and lip-puckering lime pickle. 


A pot of lamb biryani (£7.50) was a little corker. The fluffy, buttery, lemony, cardamom twanged rice nestled pieces of tender lamb (it too could have done with a few more bits of meat) and was served with more of that lovely raitha. 


Desserts were both killer.

A couple of scoops of creamy ice cream (£2.75) had a massive thwack of coconut. 


Warm carrot halwa (£3.50) was a lush bowl of comfort food. The soft carrots and crisp cashew nuts soaked in sweetened milk were reminiscent of a super moist carrot cake.


Chai Street is far more than a decent independent addition to the City Centre, it’s an excellent one.

Disclosure -  I was invited to Chai Street, all food and drink was complimentary.

The Details:

Address - Chai Street, 15 High Street, Cardiff CF10 1AX
Telephone - 02920 399 399

Sunday, 18 December 2016

My ten favourite dishes in Wales of 2016

2016 has been a great year for eating in Wales.

At the swanky end of the scale, the arrival of Richard Davies at the Celtic Manor and Allister Barsby at the Grove of Narberth has been a bonus for those who like a bit of fine dining. James Sommerin finally getting a well-deserved Michelin star was great news too.

Wales’s street food scene has continued to go from strength to strength with the trailblazing Hang Fire opening their first restaurant in Barry. Street Food Circus’s triumphant relocation to Bute Park in Cardiff also showcased what Wales’s finest traders are capable of.

In no particular order, here’s my list of the ten best things I’ve eaten in Wales over the last 12 months.

1. Grove of Narberth, Pembrokeshire – beef short rib

Allister Barsby is a huge talent. He was head chef at Gidleigh Park when it held two Michelin stars under Michael Caines. Barsby is now doing great things in Pembrokshire including this wondrous dish of spoonably soft beef short rib with roast shallots and potato puree.


2. da Mara, Cardiff – ‘nduja pizza

With places like Calabrisella, Dusty Knuckle and ffwrnes, Cardiff isn’t short of great pizzas. But, I’ve got a soft spot for da Mara. Their wood-fired pizza oven is the business and their Neapolitan style pizzas rock. 


3. JOL’s, Merthyr Tydfil – black fig tart

A protégé of the Hardwick’s Stephen Terry, Jamie O’Leary is cooking seriously tasty food in Merthyr Tydfil. This delightfully flaky pastry tart nestled thin slices of sweet roasted black fig drizzled with honey. A scoop of smooth vanilla ice cream sealed the deal. 


4. Zi’s Café, Cardiff – salt and chilli squid

Tender squid coated in grease-free breadcrumbs seasoned with a copious amount of chilli, garlic and spring onion. This stuff is just so so so moreish. So are a lot of the other dishes at this basic but friendly Chinese restaurant. 


5. The Hardwick, Abergavenny – crab linguine

Linguine with crab, shrimp, courgette, radicchio, anchovy and chilli topped with crunchy breadcrumbs. Woof.


6. Epicure Experience, Newport – Welsh lamb with baby onions

It’s surely a question of when not if Richard Davies will win a Michelin star for the Celtic Manor. His glorious showcase of Welsh lamb with sweet baby onions, wilted greens and baby leek was one of the standouts of our visit. 


7. Hang Fire Southern Kitchen, Barry – St Louis spare ribs

I don’t need to bang on any more about how much I love Hang Fire. But, they keep getting better and better every time I visit. Their Memphis style ribs are magical. 


8. Barley & Rye, Cardiff – lamb cannon

Barley & Rye was an unexpected delight on Cardiff's raucous Greyfriars Road. This dish of herb-crusted lamb cannon, smokey aubergine, sweet potato fondant, roast shallots and tangy goats cheese croquettes is an example of the quality of their cooking. 


9. Hare & Hounds, Aberthin – plum soufflé

So many dishes from the Hare & Hounds could make it onto this list but I’m going to single out their soufflé. Ethereally light, twanged with fresh fruit and served with top drawer ice cream, it’s impossible to find fault. 


10. The Fox & Hounds, Llancarfan - Rosedew farm lamb cannon and faggot

Mrs G is still banging on about the lamb cannon and faggot from this lovely pub in the Vale of Glamorgan.


Other notable dishes to pass my gob in 2016 include the cheeseboard from the Penylan Pantry, the garlic butter soaked prego steak sandwich from Amazonas, the malted chocolate doughnuts from the Early Bird Café, the chorizo, pepper and fried quail egg pintxo from Curado Bar, the grilled Halloumi from the Hellenic Eatery, the shawarma and falafel plate from Falafel Kitchen and the always incredible chicken joojah from Mowlana.

Happy eating in 2017!



Saturday, 17 December 2016

Smokestak, Shoreditch, London restaurant review



On the surface, Smokestak seems like the epitome of Shoreditch twittery. The restaurant’s name is barely visible above the door, the lighting is almost non-existent, tuuunes pump out on the stereo and the staff in their all black attire look almost to cool for skool.

But, looks are often deceiving.


Other than the phenomenal American style barbecue which we ate (Smokestak have been lauded members of London’s street food scene for a number of years), the serving team turned out to be the friendliest I’ve encountered in ages.  And, after a bit of acclimatisation, the music and lighting were tolerable.

Ice cold craft beers from The Kernel (£4.50) and Fuller's (£4.50) were served in glasses straight from the freezer. It's the little details that make the difference. 


We ordered a load of food to share and there wasn’t a single bum note. 

Brisket buns (£5 each) were a stellar start. The first rate toasted bun was filled with tender, smokey, fatty brisket balanced with fiery pickled red chillies. 


Crispy ox cheek cubes (£4.50) were unctuous wonders filled with shredded meat.


Pork tails (£4.50) were turbo-charged pork belly x scratching hybrids; crunchy, meaty, fatty and coated in a sweet and sticky glaze.


Pork ribs (£9) were top drawer. They were balanced by clean tasting pickled cucumbers. 


Smoked beef rib (£14.50) was another cracker. More of those pickled red chillies put in an appearance to counterbalance the dish’s richness. 


Sides of the best jacket potatoes (£5 each) would have been a meal themselves. The crisp skinned cocoons contained scooped out potato mixed with sour cream and chive topped with a load of oozy melted cheese. 


A whopper of a hot smoked salmon fillet (£13) flaked perfectly. Mild horseradish cream was the perfect foil. 


More of that killer brisket (£8) was served with a cracking barbecue sauce. 


Desserts were on the nail too.

A soft, molasses rich sticky toffee pudding (£6.50) was joined by smooth burnt butter ice cream. The delicate burnt taste of the ice cream intensified the flavour of the whole pud. 


Toasted oak ice cream (£4.50) was a bit weird but still a success. The aftertaste reminded me of the woody notes of a whisky.


Finally, plum crumble (£6.50) combined well textured fruit with a nut laced topping.


Smokestak serve serious barbecue. Go. 

The Details:

Address - Smokestak, 35 Sclater Street, London E1 6LB
Telephone - 020 3873 1733


Smokestak Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Mashup, Cardiff Jamaican restaurant review


When I heard that the sadly departed Jerkit had been resurrected as Mashup, a Jamaican fusion restaurant, I was a little bit worried. In fact, I had nightmarish visions of Jerk bolognese and saltfish sushi.

Thankfully, Mashup’s menu is dominated by traditional Jamaican dishes and there’s just a scattering of Cuban, Spanish and American inspired food. Also, Mashup’s owner is the former head chef of Jerkit. 


A cool corona (£3.40) and a good mojito (£4) with a decent hit of lime and mint kicked us off.


Starters were very good. A crisp, flaky pastry patty (£2.50) was filled with deeply spiced minced lamb with a good biff of chilli and a drizzle of jerk sauce.


A soft and crunchy quesadilla (£6) was filled with tender chicken and oozy cheese. It was topped with a vibrant tomato salsa with a good poke of jalapeno and sliced spring onions. 


Golden salt fish fritters (£3) were filled with a subtly flavoured and smooth but slightly claggy filling. 


The fritters were elevated by a good dip in some smoky homemade jerk sauce and a fiery homemade hot pepper sauce. Jerk aioli was also tasty but too thick to get out of the bottle. 


Onto the main event, a whole jerk chicken (£16) that was split into two and coated in a potent rub that hummed with allspice, spring onion and chilli. The meat was pleasingly tender with just the right level of char on the skin. 

Rice and peas were decent – the long grain rice was flecked nicely with kidney beans but could have been a touch softer. 


Finally, fried plantain (£2.50) were soft and sweet but lacked crunch.


I really enjoyed Mashup’s Jamaican food; I hope it sticks around longer than Jerkit did.

Disclosure - I booked my table at Mashup through Kukd.com, a table reservation and takeaway booking platform. Kukd provided my meal free of charge. 

The Details:

Address - Mashup, 22 Crwys Road, Cardiff CF24 4NL


Mashup Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato