Monday, 31 January 2011

Mediterraneo in the Village, Cardiff Review - Get your Group-on

---- Update -  22nd September 2012 - Mediterraneo has shutdown ---

I've been getting Groupon offers emailed to me over the last 6 months and nothing caught my attention until a couple of weeks ago when an offer for £40 worth of food for £16 at Mediterraneo dropped into my inbox. We've been to Mediterraneo's quite a few times and as far as neighbourhood Italian restaurants go I think it's pretty good, if a little on the pricey side. So as far as I was concerned, the Groupon offer was too good to pass up and I was interested to see if there would be any implications for our meal in terms of quality (would they skimp on portions knowing we're on a deal?) or service (I noticed over 700 people also bought the same deal!)? Well the answer is mixed....

We decided to make our booking for a Sunday evening and on arrival could immediately see the impact Groupon must be having on January trade. The restaurant was over 2/3 full compared to another Sunday we had dined when there must have only been 4 people in the place and this led to service being a little less than smooth at times. We waited over 45 minutes for our starters and it was only with a bit of gentle prodding that they turned up soon afterwards; a glass of wine which was ordered never turned up and it took a good while for someone to take our dessert orders. However it must be said that throughout the evening, the staff were warm and friendly which went someway towards compensating for the timing issues.

Onto the food and I'm glad to say that the quality was up to its usual standard. However, this isn't to say that all the dishes were a resounding success:

Starters included a good example of Calamari served with an enjoyably garlicky aioli. The batter was light and crisp and there was a reassuring lack of chew to the squid. Other starters included a Bruschetta pomodoro with anchovies. It was described as light and fresh with the anchovies (which were initially forgotten) providing an extra dimension to an otherwise pretty standard dish.

Calimari with aioli

Bruschetta pomodo e anchovies
Mains were also largely a success. I plumped for the spaghetti with chorizo and grappa. The spaghetti was beautifully al dente and combined with the chorizo, cream, grappa and tomatoes to make a delicously rich yet moreish combination. I must admit I couldn't particularly pick out the taste of grappa but to be honest I wouldn't know what I'm looking for!

Spaghetti chorizo e grappa
My other half's risotto was less of a success in my eyes. On paper, the dish had the potential to have stacks of flavour, combining scallops, leeks, pancetta, white wine and lemon zest. However, in reality it was just a little bland. The 4 plump scallops served on top were looked delicious but I had a taste of the risotto itself and felt that as well as somewhat lacking in flavour it didn't have the sauciness that a good risotto should and instead leaned towards the texture of a slightly dried out rice pudding.

Risotto Cappesante
The 2 other diners chose a veal with white wine, mushrooms and cream which was "slightly overdone but the creamy white wine sauce was delicious and accompanying veg were perfectly cooked" and a lasagne which had "a delicious tomato base with loads of meat and a lovely creaminess to it."

Vitello panna e funghi

I was getting pretty full by the time we got to dessert and was considering passing it up. However I couldn't be outdone by Rhys "the bottomless pit" who when questioned whether he was going to be taking up the challenge retorted with the classic rhetoric "does a bear shit in the woods?" My dessert turned out to be my biggest disappointment of the evening. An Opera gateau which supposedly combined multiple types of chocolate with a coffee ganache turned out to be a very bog standard, slightly on the dry side and bought in tasting chocolate cake (although the portion size was huge!). I had to ask for jar of cream to help it on its way. Rhys 'the bottomless pit' described his raspberry creme brulee as a 6/10. 

Opera gateau
Raspberry creme brulee
In spite its faults, our Sunday night at Mediterraneo turned out to be a very enjoyable evening. As far as neighbourhood Italian restaurants go I think it's a pretty safe option and I'll be going back in a flash if the same offer is ever on again.

The details:
Mediterraneo in the Village
Telephone: 029 2021 0063
Address: 22 Merthyr road, Cardiff, United Kingdom, cf141dh

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