I’m already a big fan of his eponymous restaurant in Bridgend. And he was a standout contestant on last year’s Great British Menu on the BBC.
Tommy has now taken over Pontcanna’s Arbenning and Arbennig Emporium and is running a six week pop-up in the latter whilst he refurbishes the former. He’s also in the final stages of Crowdfunding to help with the overhaul.
We visited the pop-up in week two and managed to bag one of the last two tables available (it’s walk-ins only).
The compact menu reads exceptionally well with interesting sounding flavour combinations across the board. We ordered three plates and a side to share and it was the right amount for us.
A bottle of Tommy Heaney House Beer (£4) from Bang On Brewery was very drinkable if unremarkable with a fairly old-skool ale flavour profile.
Toast and marmite, it’s a staple in our household. So, toasted sourdough with marmite butter (£3.50) was an essential order. The charred-crusted tangy bread and whipped savoury butter took it to the next level.
Barbecued lamb (£11) was an absolute belter - gorgeously pink with a beguiling lick of smoke, I’d have been happy with just a plate of the meat. But, silky umami-rich anchovy puree, a glossy meat sauce and briny samphire and sea purslane all added something to the dish.
Iberico pork tenderloin (£10) was super tender and served enjoyably rare. It was enhanced by the crunch of pistachios, sweet butteriness of burnt onion puree, freshness of cherry and crunch of kale.
Flaky crisp-skinned cod (£10) was joined by the creamy tang of buttermilk and verdant fragrance of dill oil. Charred courgettes and buttered spinach provided a bit of heft to this pretty plate.
I fell in love with Old Bay seasoning when we visited Boston and it’s great to see it on the menu at Heaney’s. Golden triple cooked chips (£4) with a textbook rustle were coated in a liberal amount of the compellingly savoury and slightly spicy seasoning.
Onto dessert and an indulgently rich log of salted caramel parfait (£7) and crunchy caramel popcorn were balanced beautifully by a light and delicately tangy yoghurt ice cream.
Strawberries, cream and basil (£7) are a killer combination and here they were cleverly brought together. Beneath a mountain of thin meringue shards was hidden rich sweetened mascarpone and fresh strawberries that were complemented by the herbal hit of basil granita and basil oil.
Dinner at Heaney’s Pop Up was brilliant. Tommy Heaney’s cooking combines huge technique and clever yet comforting flavour and texture combinations. But, it’s also well-priced for the quality - our food bill came to £52. Tommy Heaney’s arrival in Cardiff is one of the most exciting new openings in the city of 2018.
Address - Heaneys Pop Up, 6-10 Romilly Crescent, Cardiff CF11 9NR