Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Brat, Shoreditch, London restaurant review


More and more I feel like an adopted Welshman.

I cheer for Wales when the rugby is on (although I only really care about Newcastle United).

I’m learning beginners’ Welsh (for the second time).

And I love calling Cardiff home (but I’m still a Geordie).

So, when I heard that one of London’s hottest chefs was a Welshman, I ‘needed’ to eat his food asap.

 
Shoreditch’s Brat is owned by the Anglesey born chef Tomos Parry.

With a CV which includes pot washing at Beaumaris’s Ye Olde Bulls Head and training under Grady Atkins at Cardiff’s Le Gallois, Parry worked at London’s River Cafe (amongst other places in the capital) before becoming head chef of the critically acclaimed Kitty Fisher’s.

Brat opened in March 2018 and Parry picked up a Michelin star just seven months later.

The restaurant’s food is inspired by Basque wood-fired grills like Elkano in Getaria where first rate ingredients are treated simply. Instead of Spanish produce however, Brat champions Cornish and Welsh ingredients.

Brat’s menu consisted entirely of dishes we wanted to eat. There was a challenging decision making process as we decided between the turbot (after which the restaurant is named) and other mains like Herdwick mutton, beef chop and lemon sole. 


To start, a pillowy, almost neapolitan pizza style flat bread (£5.50) was topped with a good drizzle of olive oil and a trio of beguilingly savoury anchovies. 


The creamiest of egg mayos (£5) was served on top of wafer thin charred toast. Seasoning came in the form of salty bottarga. But, I think it could have done with a few more slices of the delicious cured fish roe as the egg tasted under-seasoned in the mouthfuls without it.


Young leeks (£8) weren't the sweetest but they were deliciously smokey and paired with a delicately creamy fresh cheese and textural contrast in the form of toasted crumbs. 


A bowl of wild mushrooms (£8) in a mushroom broth had a brilliant savoury intensity with the luxury levels dialled up by a runny egg yolk. But, a few of the 'shrooms were overly singed giving them a bitter note and bobbing pieces of barley had too much bite. 


We then waited a over an hour for our main courses. Our friendly server apologised a matter of moments before our food finally put in an appearance.

Roast duck (£19) was brilliant. Breast, with well rendered fat and crisp skin, and gorgeously unctuous leg meat were bathed in a light cooking liquor with a hint of spice. Accompanying roasted beetroot, onions and mushrooms had a lovely complexity of flavour. 

 
A whole John Dory (£19) was well-flavoured but it arrived tepid so was sent back and returned warmed up and a touch dry as a result. It’s a shame as this was the focal point of the meal. 

 
A side of charred and blistered tender smoked potatoes (£4.50) were seriously addictive. 


Whilst a generous winter green salad (£3) of bitter leaves was a lovely foil for all that richness. 


Cheesecake (£6) inspired by San Sebastian’s La Vina was almost as good as the original. Fluffy, burnished, creamy, twanged with citrus and delicately smokey, it was a great pudding. 


So too was a ludicrously wobbly, egg rich caramel cream (£5) topped with bitter caramel. 


Overall, our meal at Brat was delicious. Their confidently simple, flavour-packed food is right up my street.

But, a frustratingly long wait for a disappointing main course slightly sullied our experience. For that reason, I recommend Brat with reservations.

The Details:

Address - Brat, First floor, 4 Redchurch St, E1 6JL
Web - https://www.bratrestaurant.com/

Sunday, 13 January 2019

The Greek Spot, Cardiff restaurant review


January is a funny old month.

Many people seem to have a post-Christmas hangover and are avoiding booze, hunks of fatty meat, bricks of cheese and tubs of chocolate i.e. the foundation blocks of my diet.

So, whilst Mrs G is currently showing restraint, I’m constantly suggesting we go out for dinner and offering her a beer. Of course, this is all in the name of supporting local independent businesses at a quiet time of year.

On Saturday lunchtime, Mrs G finally caved in and agreed to go out for some grilled meat and salad.


The Greek Spot recently arrived on Whitchurch Road and it takes the number of Hellenic restaurants on the strip of Whitchurch Road, Crwys Road and City Road up to five (including the soon to open SouvLike).

A cafe-restaurant hybrid, the Greek Spot has a bright family friendly vibe. I’d be equally comfortable there munching on a light lunch or a hearty dinner washed down with a handful of bottles of Mythos.

The menu incorporates all of the Greek essentials including dolmades, meat balls, beef stifado, moussaka and homemade pies.

We kicked off with a bunch of mezze which were undoubtedly the high point of the meal.

Courgette fritters (£4) were properly crisp golden disks filled with a light and soft courgette mash seasoned with small bits of feta, chive and onion. They were a tiny bit on the greasy side but it was a lovely dish 


Little cheese pies were also top drawer (£4.30). Crisp filo triangles were loaded with an ooze of chive studded melted feta. 


A Greek salad (£6) was fresh and plentiful. It was topped with a brick of oregano scattered feta. 

 
The highlight of a generous mix of dips (£6) was tangy feta-laced and deceptively well-spiced tirokafteri. Enjoyably pink taramasalata and lightly smoked aubergine studded melintzanosalata were also good.


Mains didn’t hit the same level as starters but they were still enjoyable.

A pair of chicken souvlaki (£9) were brilliantly juicy but a little lacking on the seasoning front - a hit of herb or lemon juice wouldn’t have gone amiss. Accompaniments of bronzed hand-cut chips, fresh salad and dill-twanged tzatziki all hit the mark. 


A chicken gyros psomaki (£5) was described as made with “special bread” which actually turned out to be run of the mill hot baguette. 


This was still a tasty sandwich filled with crisp yet slightly dry chicken shavings which were lubricated by soft grilled halloumi, tzatziki and salad. 


Our friendly waiter, who had given us a beginners’ Greek lesson during the meal, brought a complimentary bowl of sweet and sour cherries to accompany the bill.


We had a very tasty lunch at The Greek Spot. I’d gladly return for a tableful of great value mezze.

The Details:

Address - The Greek Spot, 138 Whitchurch Rd, Cardiff CF14 3LZ
Web - https://www.facebook.com/The-Greek-Spot-Cardiff-Ltd-408495939687635/
Telephone - 029 2065 4007