Saturday, 6 August 2022

The Gwaelod y Garth Inn, Cardiff pub review

Eating. Drinking. Walking. 

They’re three of the simplest pleasures in life. 

But, whenever I go our for a meal, the emphasis very much tends to be on the former.

All too often I visit restaurants where there’s exciting food but the booze offering doesn’t extend beyond macro lagers, a traditional ale pretending to be craft beer, and a boring wine list.

And it typically involves a pleasant yet very familiar walk through Cardiff city centre to get there.

However, there’s a place near Cardiff which combines three of my favourite things very well.

Named CAMRA pub of the year for Cardiff for two years in a row, the Gwaelod y Garth Inn is located at the foot of the Garth Mountain on the edge of the city.

It means that before you sit down for a meal you can work up an appetite with a brisk walk up the mountain and take in stunning views of Cardiff and beyond.

Then, when you’re gasping for a drink, there’s an excellent rotating tap list which includes modern craft beer, well kept real ales, and Welsh ciders.

On our most recent visit we enjoyed delicious hazy beers from Glasshouse and Crafty Devil (Cloudwater and Deya were due on soon); a corker of a cask American pale ale from Thornbridge; and a fruity and funky Hedge Kipper cider from Llanblethian Orchards near Cowbridge.

With the option of eating either downstairs in the pub or in a dedicated upstairs restaurant area, the Gwaelod’s menu combines pub classics such as beer battered cod and chips and steak and ale pie, as well as more ambitious bistro dishes such as tournedos rossini and grilled salmon with cockle and laverbread sauce.

To start, a bowl of rust coloured Provencale fish soup (£9), had a great savoury intensity. It was served with the traditional accompaniments of a salty cheese topped crouton and a pokey pot of rouille.

A quartet of hyper-crisp crumbed chicken croquettes (£8.50) were served with a creamy and tangy cheese puree, green leaves, and shavings of parmesan. The only issue with this very tasty riff on a chicken Caesar salad was that it was a little on the dinky side.

Home boiled ham egg and chips (£14) was so close to glory. Thick slices of tender ham had a lovely honey-like sweetness and were topped with a pair of fried eggs which were semi-runny and semi-fudgey.

 A trough of golden and crisp proper chips were seen off without any bother whatsoever.

Mrs G raved about a special of huge trout fillets (£19) that were wrapped with thick cut crispy bacon and oat crumb and bathed in a decadent lemon butter sauce.

It was accompanied by a bowl of buttery and tender new potatoes. 

There was a big thumbs up for a crisp-skinned fillet of roasted hake (£18) with beurre noisette and plump capers.

A chalkboard of desserts offered classics such as sticky toffee pudding, warm chocolate fudge cake and a hearty apple and blackberry crumble (£6.50) with ice cream.

But it was the retro sherry trifle (£6.50) that caught my attention.

Served in a mammoth glass chalice, it was dominated by warming booze and fruit soaked sponge and whipped cream. It was a very tasty pud but it would have been better with a more obvious balance with layers of jelly and custard.

An excellent slice of white chocolate tart (£6.50) combined crisp pastry filled with a white chocolate ganache twanged with the warmth of Penderyn whisky and flakes of white chocolate.

We had a lush evening at the Gwaelod. With its hearty pub cooking, stonking selection of beers, first rate service and beautiful setting, it’s a place I’ll be heading back to in a flash when I’m looking to enjoy life’s simplest pleasures.

The details:

Address - The Gwaelod y Garth Inn, Main Rd, Gwaelod-y-garth, Cardiff CF15 9HH
Telephone - 029 2081 0408

Wednesday, 27 July 2022

Fowl and Fury, Nashville hot chicken, Cathays, Cardiff review

The fundamental question you must ask yourself when you visit Fowl and Fury in Cathays is not what you should order but rather how spicy you should order it.

Speaking from first hand experience, it’s the crucial factor in determining whether you enjoy a tolerable level of chilli heat or have to endure a weird and painful chilli endorphin high. 

With a menu focusing on various iterations of Nashville hot chicken and hot cauliflower, they're all available in six different spice levels. 

Country, the mildest, is chilli free and akin to Southern fried chicken whilst Fury, the hottest, is accompanied by both a health warning and a glass of milk.

I’m firmly in the mild camp and I wouldn’t recommend starting any hotter than this. It’s important to remember that even mild Nashville hot chicken is still pretty hot.

Owned by husband and wife team Jamie and Natalia Rees, the duo built up a loyal following at their previous pop-up location in Sticky Fingers street food market. So, the move to a permanent unit close-by seems like the logical next step.

With just four tables and no reservations, you’ll have to cross your fingers that there’s a seat free when you visit. When we rocked up on a Wednesday lunchtime around 1pm, we were fortunate to bag the last table and Jamie informed us this was the quietest they'd been since a very busy opening. Still, you can always order takeaway.

Fowl & Fury’s chicken tenders (£9) are always my go to order. A trio of whopping and gorgeously tender overnight brined chicken breast pieces are coated in a beautifully gnarly crisp crumb dusted with a spice mix with a lovely savoury and sweet complexity and lip tingling chilli heat.

They’re accompanied by cleansing dill pickles, enjoyably crisp yet pappy white sliced toasted garlic bread and a pot of comeback sauce (essentially a peppery thousand island sauce).

If you’re more of a chicken burger kind of person then their sando (£9) is excellent too. A squishy yet sturdy challah roll is stuffed with a whopper of Nashville hot chicken breast, light and crunchy cabbage slaw, tangy comeback sauce and dill pickles.

We wanted to give their Nashville cauliflower a run for its money too and so ordered a portion of their cauli’ loaded mac (£6.50). 

On the evidence of this dish, it’s safe to say their veggie options are no mere afterthought - the tender cauliflower pieces and rugged spiced crumb coating work exceptionally well together. They’re heaped onto a thick and peppery mac and cheese, slaw, herby ranch dressing, toasted garlic breadcrumbs and chopped pickles. 

Finally, a portion of crinkle cut fries (£4) were coated in a thick and rich buttery cheese sauce. Whilst very tasty, they weren’t as assertively crisp as on previous occasions, meaning they eventually became a bit soggy.

I’m a big fan of Fowl and Fury and there’s no doubt that they serve some of the best fried chicken in Cardiff. It’s great to see this excellent Cardiff independent taking the next step from pop-up to permanent.

The details:

Address - 99 Wyeverne Rd, Cardiff CF24 3BZ
Telephone - 07921 395438