Saturday 20 April 2024

Cosy Corner Lounge, Porthcawl restaurant review

Porthcawl’s Cosy Corner Lounge is an independent restaurant and bar that sounds like it should be part of the 250 strong Loungers chain, with its name an uncanny cross between the Cosy Club and Juno/Ocho/Fino Lounge (delete as appropriate). 

In fact, during our Saturday lunchtime visit to Cosy Corner, a couple of groups who were clearly expecting something more run of the mill like the above establishments, came in, sat down, looked at the menu, got up and left. 

It was very much a case of their loss as Cosy Corner is far better than any chain restaurant or bar that we’ve ever visited.

With its combination of wooden beams and industrial metal fittings, Cosy Corner has a warm and relaxed nautical vibe. In keeping with the maritime feel, their star attraction is the sea view, which we admired on a characteristically grey 2024 day in Wales. On a sunny day, I bet it would be lush to sit outside on their terrace and watch the world go by. 

Cosy Corner Lounge’s lunch and dinner menu consists of Asian influenced small plates, which are thankfully more like medium plates in portion size. Influences range from across China and Japan to Korea and Cambodia, with dishes including tempura soft shell crab with Japanese pepper sauce (£10), satay chicken curry with jasmine rice (£14.50), and Chinese lettuce wraps (£9.50). Traditionalists will be happy to see that the menu pivots towards roast dinners on Sundays.

An equal amount of thought has also clearly gone into Cosy Corner’s cocktail menu, which features creative concoctions like a Yuzu 75, Coconut & Szechuan Mai Tai, and Thai Spiced Pineapple Daiquiri.

As we were about to set off for a decent hike after lunch, neither of us wanted to get on the booze. However, both alcohol-free cocktails we tried were excellent. A Yuzu Shandy (£5) delivered on its promise of crisp alcohol-free lager twanged with a fragrant hit of citrus whilst an Elderflower Mule (£5) combined the warmth of ginger beer with fruity apple and fragrant elderflower.

With its seaside location, it’s great to see that fish cookery is a real strength at Cosy Corner.

We were advised to order the Portchawl caught seabass (£14.50), which had been brought ashore just over the road, and it was a fine recommendation. The thick fillet of fish was beautifully flaky yet hyper-crisp of skin and accompanied by a rich and silky chilli and tomato sauce and crisp and cleansing kimchi with the most delicate of funks.

A meaty octopus tentacle (£13) with a crisp, lightly charred exterior was coated in a well-spiced marinade. Chilli ponzu dipping sauce, served in a pot on the side, delivered a big savoury note of soy and fragrant citrus.

Cosy Corner’s meat dishes were very good too. A trio of boulder-like beef croquetas (£9.50) were stuffed with cubes of tender slow-cooked beef that were held together with a meaty gravy cum bechamel. They were dotted with blobs of gochujang alioli which added a lick of spice.

Mammoth nuggets of Korean crispy chicken (£11.50) were exceptionally juicy and coated in a light crisp batter which was drenched in a sweet, savoury, sour and spicy, and sesame-twanged gochujang-based sauce.

A bowl of golden triple-cooked chips (£4), which were all rugged gnarly edges and fluffy interiors, were accompanied by a flavour-packed alioli which had been spiked with Cosy Corner’s homemade Indonesian sambal. The chips also came in very handy for mopping up all the delicious sauces on our other dishes.

Rather stuffed by this point, we ordered a single dessert to share. A knickerbocker glory glass of the creamiest yuzu posset (£8.50) was cut with just the right amount of sharp citrus whilst a frisbee of crumbly and buttery shortbread was the ideal pairing.

If Cosy Corner was on our corner we'd certainly be regulars. We're both big fans of their huge-flavoured small plates, creative cocktails and friendly service, and it's definitely worth a trip down the coast to Porthcawl to check it out. 

The Details:

Address - Cosy Corner Lounge, 33 Esplanade, Porthcawl CF36 3YR
Telephone - 01656 503245

Saturday 13 April 2024

Hench Burger, Cardiff city centre review

Whilst its architectural appeal might be questionable, it’s great to see the rejuvenation of the area around Churchill Way, which now forms Cardiff’s Canal Quarter.

Wouldn’t it be lovely see food and drink businesses lining the waterside, packed with diners and drinkers enjoying some al fresco hospitality? That is if it ever stops raining.

One hospitality business leading the charge is Hench Burger and Café Hench.

Hench Burger first briefly popped up at the Royal Oak on Newport Road in 2023 and made a name for themselves with their deliciously crusty and caramelised smash burgers. Sadly, the pop-up was short-lived and Hench have since done stints at Canton’s Corporation Yard and Kongs in the city centre.

At the beginning of March 2024, they opened their first bricks and mortar venue on the former site of The Sandwich Bar on Churchill Way. It’s a functional venue with just a few seats inside, but their outside bench seating will be a dream when the sun finally appears for more than ten minutes.

Hench’s menu, which is served at lunch and dinner from Monday to Saturday, focuses on smash burgers, buttermilk chicken burgers and loaded fries. Whilst we ordered some of their more straightforward flavour combinations, if you’re looking for something a bit different then their Kiwi burger comes topped with charred pineapple, beetroot and tomato chutney, and the Beirut Badboy is loaded with hummus and crispy chickpeas. For non-meat eaters, Hench offers vegan Symplicity patties with any of their burgers.

Hench also serves a café menu which is available at lunch times. But during our visit I didn't spot it as only their burger menus were prominently displayed on the wall. 

A New Yorker (£10.50) was a big messy beast of a burger. A sturdy yet light Alex Gooch challah bun cradled a pair of well-crusted, nicely beefy and seriously juicy 4oz smashed patties. Warming American mustard mayo, thick salty bacon, a gargantuan ooze of American cheese, lettuce, sweet soft onions, and dill pickles completed the excellent burger.

A Straight Up (£9) was a more no-nonsense affair, and both Mrs G and I decided it was the pick of the two. Another pair of those gnarly edged smashed beef patties and melted American cheese were supplemented with a big dollop of Bovril mayonnaise, which added a good beefy and umami intensity. On the side, sweet and sharp red cabbage slaw and crisp iceberg added light relief to both the rich burgers.


Katsu curry loaded fries (£8) saw exceedingly crisp skin on fries topped with comfortingly spiced curry mayonnaise, crispy onions, sprunions, and melted cheese. Nuggets of tender battered chicken perched on top were very enjoyable, but I’d probably prefer a more rugged crumb instead of batter. Most impressively, the chips remained crisp for the duration of our meal rather than gradually becoming a soggy mush.

We had a delicious lunch at Hench and their burgers and loaded fries are some of the best Cardiff has to offer. I hope they become part of the furniture in the city’s rejuvenated Canal Quarter.

Whilst you’re visiting the area, I’d highly recommend pairing it with a visit to the Flute and Tankard, which is just a few minutes’ walk away on Windsor Place. They serve an excellent range of craft beer, which includes brews from Arbor, The Kernel, and North, in a pleasingly unhipsterish setting. However, it’s worth bearing in behind they open at 3pm daily, as we found out when we were planning a post lunch pint.

The Details:

Hench Burger
Address - 7 Churchill Way, Cardiff CF10 2HD
Telephone - 
Flute and Tankard
Address - 4 Windsor Place, Cardiff CF10 3BX
Telephone - 029 2039 8315