Saturday, 22 February 2020

Volare, Caerphilly Italian restaurant review

On a dreary Saturday night in January, Volare feels like the beating heart of Caerphilly town centre.

Alive with chatter, warmth and light, it’s the kind of place which could have been around for decades, especially considering Italy’s intimate ties with the south Wales valleys.

However, Volare has a much more recent history having only opened in 2017 by a pair of friends from Calabria who moved to Wales in 2008 to learn English.

The menu is very much classic Italian pizza-pasta fare with hearty portions and good prices. Prawn cocktail, stuffed mushrooms, meatballs, carbonara and lasagne all put in an appearance.

A Volare fish board (£7.95) is a fine fritto misto. Generous in portion, crisp of crumb and batter, and grease-free it features whitebait, tender calamari and a quintet of sweet king prawns served with a pot of enjoyably garlicky mayo. It’s let down slightly by a serviceable selection of mixed leaves. 

It’s the same with a whopper of a beautifully creamy liquid-centred burrata (£6.50) which is accompanied by a pedestrian selection of chopped iceberg, cherry tomatoes and a dusting of oregano. 

A linguini bolognese (£10.50) is a hearty winter warmer - the meaty mix of beef and pork mince is nicely seasoned and deep in flavour, the pasta beautifully al dente and topped with a good scattering of savoury parmesan. 

My pan fried pork fillet in breadcrumbs (£13.95) is quite average in comparison. The flattened pork fillet is a touch dry and its crisp-crumb lacking in seasoning. Accompanying linguine in a light and fruity tomato sauce is delicious. 

Desserts get things back on track.

A trio of dinky cannoli (£5.95) are reassuringly crunchy and filled with a smooth and citrusy sweetened cream cheese. 

A chocolate cheesecake (£4.75) is light, smooth and delicately tangy with a crisp buttery biscuit base. Fragrant mango coulis and a warm white chocolate sauce add even more interest. 

Overall we had a really fun evening at Volare. The buzzing atmosphere, brisk service and hearty cooking mean that despite a few glitches, it’s a place I’d happily return if I’m ever in Caerphilly.

The Details:

Address - Volare, 87 Cardiff Rd, Caerphilly CF83 1FQ
Telephone - 029 2132 2077

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Corkage, Bath wine bar and restaurant review

With a focus on interesting wines and eclectic small plates, Corkage in Bath has an extensive menu of plonk by the glass which thankfully includes informative descriptions for wine dumbasses like myself. Take for example a Dorset sparkling rose (“Strawberry jam and clotted cream on a scone. This does the same in a glass.”) or a Galician white (“A peach orchard with crushed cantaloupe melons underfoot.”)

Mrs G stuck to an “elegantly floral” (their words) and highly neckable (my words) Austrian Gruner Veltliner (£5) whilst I also drank a light and fruity La Galoche Beaujolais (£6).

Everything we ate was delicious.

Ham hock croquettes (£7), laden with shreds of porky goodness and silky bechamel, sat on a pokey kimchi mayonnaise. 

Padron peppers (£5) were nicely blistered and liberally sprinkled with sea salt. 

A crisp crumbed brick of shredded confit duck leg (£7.5) was nicely herbed and flecked with richness balancing greenery (capers, I think). A nutty, vinegary and sweet pickled walnut ketchup was a genius accompaniment. 

A silky babaganoush (£6.50) was topped with smokey and fiery harissa and texture-giving chickpeas. Shards of nigella-seed flecked flatbread were a little too well crisped rendering them on the chewy side. 

Fudgy caramelised heritage carrots (£8) were paired with a thick, tangy and creamy chickpea yoghurt, a liberal scattering of spiced mixed seeds and nuts, and a warming chilli oil. 

Well-aged complexly beefy bresaola (£7) was topped with shavings of pecorino and deliciously sweet yet sharp petals of baby pickled onion. 

Finally, the surprising star of the whole meal was delicately charred yet beautifully tender hispi cabbage (£7.50) topped with a ridiculous quantity of umami-rich miso butter and a snowdrift of pecorino. I think there may have been more cheese and butter than there was cabbage but I’m not complaining. 

We had an excellent lunch at Corkage. It’s exactly the kind of place I’d gladly spend a few hours leisurely working my way through a heap of booze and food.

The Details:

Address - Corkage, 5 Chapel Row, Bath BA1 1HN
Telephone - 01225 423417