Saturday, 6 March 2021

Vegetarian Food Studio and Calabrisella Gelateria, Cardiff reviews

It’s been a very long time since my only visit to the Vegetarian Food Studio in Grangetown. Back in 2013 I was a little underwhelmed by a thali which featured fried goods lacking in crispness.

In the intervening years I’ve only heard good things about this multi-award winning vegetarian restaurant. So, it was time for a revisit.

With an extensive menu focusing on Gujarati food they also serve a range of Southern Indian and Indo-Chinese dishes. Whilst you can order via the usual delivery platforms, it’s much cheaper to purchase direct.

A thin masala dosa (£5.95), which had lost most of its crispness on its journey, was stuffed with a comforting mustard seed flecked potato curry. Its accompaniments elevated it no end; creamy coconut chutney and warming lentil sambhar with a good chilli hit.

A pair of behemothic vegetable samosas (£3) were golden, crisp and full of flavour. Filled with a meaty vegetarian mince studded with peas and sweetcorn, they were accompanied by sweet, tangy and spicy tamarind chutney.

Ringan no-oro (£6.95) tasted of time well spent on the hob. Soft roasted aubergine and thoroughly well caramelised onions and garlic were bathed in a multilayered sauce - sweet, savoury and spicy in equal measure.

Chilli paneer (£6.50) had clearly had a much briefer dalliance with the saucepan - the golden, slightly chewy cubes of paneer were coated in a sweet, spicy and sour Indo-Chinese sauce mingled with crunchy onions and peppers.

I really enjoyed my Vegetarian Food Studio revisit. A few of the dishes were a bit greasy but I was impressed by their big flavoured vegetarian food. I won’t leave it so long until my next order.

The Details:

Vegetarian Food Studio
Address - 115-117 Penarth Rd, Cardiff CF11 6JU
Telephone - 029 2023 8222

Calabrisella Gelateria, Canton

To go alongside their excellent pair of pizzerias in Canton and Cathays, Calabrisella have recently opened a gelateria on Cowbridge Road East.

I've heard that people queued down the street to get hold of a scoop of their traditional Italian gelato on the first sunny Saturday of the year. We of course visited for a mid-morning snack so were able to beat the rush. 

I've been trying to track down a brioche con gelato since a trip to Bologna around ten years ago. Calabrisella's version was worth the wait. A soft, rich and sweet brioche bun (£5.50) was stuffed with their super smooth and milky gelato; we had excellent pistachio and Ferrero Rocher flavours. 

Alongside their gelato, Calabrisella's fridges and freezers are filled with lush looking ice cream cakes and desserts. I spotted some cannoli on the counter waiting to be filled. If they're anything as good as the ones they sell at Calabrisella Cathays, you'll be in for a treat. Uber crisp pastry shells are loaded with a creamy and tangy sweetened ricotta filling. 

The Details:

Calabrisella Gelateria
Address - 187 Cowbridge Rd East, Cardiff CF11 9AJ
Telephone - 029 2280 1081

Saturday, 27 February 2021

St John at Home nationwide meal delivery review

Flavour comes first. 

Whilst I'm all for pretty looking plates of food, presentation is ultimately secondary.

Many of the best plates of food are simple in their appearance and St John's huge flavoured British cooking backs up this viewpoint. Their deceptively simple looking food is some of the best around and puts many overwrought multi-component dishes to shame.

When St John launched their nationwide delivery meal boxes via Dishpatch at the end of January they sold out of a month’s allocation in minutes. When they’re in stock again be prepared for a case of “fastest fingers first”.

Offering a three course meal for 2 for £75 delivered on a Friday, everything is vac packed and boxed to within an inch of its life and accompanied by slickly printed instructions.

To start was St John's most iconic dish, their bone marrow on toast. It's arguably the embodiment of their nose to tail ethos. 

A trio of bones were laden with soft, beefy and fatty marrow. Slathered over crisp toasted sourdough they were balanced by a vibrant parsley salad with the punch of caper and sharpness of lemon.

Main course, was hearty with a capital H; it was just the ticket on one of the coldest nights of the year.

Fall apart tender braised duck leg was topped with soft leeks and accompanied by the meatiest of roast carrots bathed in sweet caramelised onions (and I think perhaps some trotter gear). Citrusy honking aioli provided punch whilst my own roast hispi cabbage added some lightness. A minor quibble, but we did find a few bits of grit in the leeks.

I have to admit that I raised both eyebrows when I saw our meal contained a solitary eccles cake. But, after that whopping main course, it was a more than ample serving.

The flaky, buttery pastry coated confection was loaded with a soft, sweet, spiced sticky sultana mix. It was counterpointed nicely by a huge tranche of crumbly, salty, creamy and slightly funky Lancashire cheese.

We had an epic feast. The food from St John isn’t the prettiest that I've served up at home from a meal box. But, it's certainly some of the tastiest.

The Details:

Address - St John, 26 St John St, Barbican, London EC1M 4AY