Saturday, 28 September 2013

The Chef's Table @ Laguna at The Park Plaza, Cardiff review

Laguna at The Park Plaza does a good job at avoiding the obvious hotel restaurant clichés.

Couples, families and friends enjoy meals out; there’s no sign of the usual tables of 1 populated by Alan Partridges ordering dubiously named cocktails on expenses.

Laguna also has atmosphere - it feels like a restaurant rather than a breakfast buffet in waiting.

Most importantly, however, Laguna know how to knock out awesome food.

My previous visits to Laguna have involved a tidy Sunday Lunch and a solid Afternoon Tea. This time round, I was visiting Laguna to experience their new Chef’s Table concept.

Available for pre-booked groups of 6-12 people, the Chef’s Table offers a 5 course set menu and 4 glasses of wine for £45.

The Chef’s table itself is located a couple of metres from the pass and therefore in theory affords a view of the food being plated in the kitchen. However, this element of the meal is a bit of a red herring – there’s not that much action to be seen and half the table have their backs to the pass anyway.

Where the excitement really lies is with the lavish menu of crowd-pleasing food made using superb ingredients and the 4 large glasses of top-notch booze (bubbly, white, red & dessert wine) for £45. It’s a bit of a bargain…

A selection of bread was crisp and soft.

First up was an excellent plate of tender, gently smoked ribbons of Brecon venison, dollops of gently creamy Neal’s yard goats curd, chunks of earthy heritage beetroot, slices of fragrant muscovado baked peaches, a drizzle of opulent truffle honey and a scattering of coriander shoots. 

A sociable seafood platter to share was next; it’s exactly the kind of dish which is fit for a celebration.

Seafood platter for 2
The highlight was plump scallops served in a pastry-topped shell with paprika-spiked chorizo butter. A selection of cold smoked, hot smoked and dill topped, beetroot cured salmon was lush too.

Crevettes and lobster served in the shell with herby pilau rice were tasty but would have benefited from being a little juicier. Equally, a cold marinated seafood selection (mussels, octopus, whole baby squid) and a dish of cold buttered samphire and cockles were decent but pickled seafood is one of the very few things which doesn’t float my boat.

A palette cleanser of Bombay Sapphire Gin & Tonic sorbet was lightly citric with an unmistakable note of booze and quinine. It was the perfect prelude to the meaty goodness which was to follow. 

Laguna's open beef Wellington is one of the best dishes I’ve eaten all year – two sizeable pieces of blushing pink, deeply flavoured beef fillet, a slice of rich goose liver parfait and a layer of crisp pastry sat atop an unctuous garlicky potato fondant. Caramelised shallots, wild mushrooms and a potently meaty jus completed the picture. Shazam.

Dessert was equally banging. A Jersey cream crème brulee comprised of a hyper creamy, vanilla flecked custard topped with a thin & crisp sugar top. It was accompanied by textbook shortbread and a piece of passion fruit which counterbalanced well the dessert’s richness.

A matched glass of stunningly good Moscato Passitto dessert wine deserves a special mention too; the notes of honey and lemon curd made it very special.

Rounding off the meal was a safe yet enjoyable truffle selection.

Laguna’s Chef’s Table is cracking. Now I just need to find 5 friends so I can visit again…

I was invited to Laguna - all food and drink was complimentary.  

The details: 
Address: Park Plaza Hotel, Greyfriars Road, Cardiff, CF10 3AL
Telephone: 02920 111 103
Laguna Kitchen and Bar on Urbanspoon

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