Wednesday, 30 July 2014

The Coffi House, Roath - Hunt for Cardiff's Best Breakfast

The Coffi House on Wellfield Road is a greasy spoon with plenty of old-fashioned charm.

Wood flooring and fittings, a neon sarsparilla lamp behind the counter, and huge bay windows (with coveted seats) all give the place a ton of character.

The Breakfast – The Big Breakfast

The Price – £4.99

Pros – 2 rashers of thick crispy bacon, well-reduced baked beans, a runny fried egg, a ubiquitous triangular hash brown and fried mushrooms

Cons – Generic sausage and white sliced toast - I say they’re cons but really I’ve got a soft spot for both.

Beverage – A cup of tea (£1)

Verdict – The Coffi House’s fry-ups aren’t luxury but they’re very good value and fulfil the needs of many a hung-over Roath resident on a Sunday morning (including mine).

The Details

Address - 3 Wellfield Road, Cardiff, CF24 3NZ
Telephone - 029 2045 5198

Saturday, 19 July 2014

The Bombay - Hunt for Cardiff's Best Breakfast

When The Bombay first opened on West Bute Street in Cardiff Bay in 1953 it was Wales’s first Indian restaurant. Having closed in the 1980s, it was reopened this year by the grandchildren of the original owner.

The Bombay’s characterful café interior is the home to a menu familiar from the cafés of Mumbai – breakfasts include bun maska (a toasted bun with butter, traditionally dipped in chai) and naan rolls, whilst lunchtime and evening curries are authentically cooked on the bone.

It was a dish recognisable from the menu of Covent Garden’s much-lauded Dishoom which immediately grabbed my attention.

The breakfast – Bacon naan roll

The price - £2.95

Pros – A crisp, nigella seed-laced naan cradled 3 rashers of crisp and salty halal beef bacon, a light smear of cream cheese and a scattering of fragrant coriander. A pot of fiery and sweet tomato jam on the side completed the picture.

Cons – There’s no hiding from the fact that beef bacon isn’t quite as good as the porky real deal. Also, a bigger smear of cream cheese wouldn’t have gone amiss.

Beverages - Sweet, milky, warmly spiced Bombay chai (£2).

The Bombay’s iteration of the bacon naan is lush (if not quite up to the faultless level of Dishoom’s) and very good value. Based on this breakfast, I’m looking forward to checking out the rest of the menu.

The details:

Address - The Bombay, West Bute Street, Cardiff Bay, CF10 5LJ

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Cafe Citta, Cardiff food blog, Italian restaurant review

Cafe Citta’s reputation for good food is almost as well known as Sam Warburton’s egg-chasing talents. It’s a little ridiculous that’s it’s taken me so long to visit.

Such is the fan-base of this diminutively sized, city centre Italian restaurant that snagging a weekday booking required planning a good week in advance. However, it’s worth noting that there were a few successful walk-ins when we visited - the uber-friendly and efficient front of house team successfully managing to play table Tetris.

Cafe Citta’s menu isn’t gimmicky, it’s a hit parade of Italian classics. Furthermore, a specials board presented to the table on arrival provides greater choice for the regulars who’ve probably worked their way through the entire menu.

A Moretti (£3.60) served in a frosted glass straight from the freezer, immediately put me in a good mood. Mrs G meanwhile worked her way through a couple of glasses of seriously drinkable Sicilian house red (£3.50).

To start, Mrs G ordered gamberoni saltati (£7.50). A handful of whopping, juicy shell-on prawns were served in a broth rich with garlic, parsley and wine. Slices of tomato and shavings of carrot provided added substance whilst tranches of toasted bread were an ideal mop.

I ordered the bruschetta fave (£6.50) from the specials board. A doorstep of toasted bread was topped with a mountain of al dente broad beans and salty pancetta in a cream sauce, and shaving after shaving of Parmesan. If I’m being critical then the broad beans would have benefited from being double-podded - but who the heck has the time for that?

For mains, I couldn’t resist the draw of Cafe Citta’s wood-burning pizza oven; the pizzaiolo effortlessly tossing fresh dough at the back of the restaurant sealing the deal. 

My pizza con funghi selvatici e salsicce (£11) from the specials board was top-notch. A thin and crisp base with a good chew was topped with a light tomato sauce, gooey mozzarella, wild mushrooms and hearty chunks of Italian sausage. 

The other main, pasta con spezzatino (£11), was also on the specials. Al dente penne were topped with a light ragu of tender slow-cooked beef, carrots, peas and celery. It was a lovely summer alternative to the ubiquitous Bolognese but I reckon the sauce would have benefitted from a bit more body.

A side salad (£3.50) of sweet tomatoes, red onion, mixed herbs, olive oil and balsamic was impeccably fresh. 

Dessert, a light and zesty lemon and orange cheesecake (£4.30), was magnificent. The mascarpone and cream-rich top was reminiscent of a lemon posset whilst a crushed amaretti base and a syrup-poached orange zest garnish provided extra complexity.

A strong cappuccino (£2) was accompanied by praline filled wafers – a nice touch to round of the meal.

Cafe Citta is ace - don't wait as long as I have to check it out.

The Details:

Address - Cafe Citta, 4 Church Street, Cardiff CF10 1BG
Telephone - 029 2022 4040

Cafe Citta on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Mezza House, Lebanese restaurant, City Road, Cardiff Food Blog

*This restaurant is now closed*

If I were restricted to eating out on just one street in Cardiff it would unquestionably be City Road.

The melting pot of Lebanese, Syrian, Turkish, Chinese, Japanese, Indo-Pakistani, Southern Indian and Veggie-hipster restaurants would mean that I could happily eat something different seven days of the week.

Or, more likely, I would eat seven different kebabs.

Mezza House, a new Lebanese restaurant on the former site of Casa Bianca, is one City Road restaurant which I’d happily add to my regular rotation.

The first thing worth shouting about is their brilliant bread which they bake fresh daily. Warm, soft and stuffed or topped with a variety fillings, they are each a snack in themselves.

Muhamar (£1.25), my favourite, was topped with a paste of tomato, olive oil and a good wallop of chilli.

Lahem b’ajeen (£1.50), Mrs G’s pick, was capped with a layer of mildly spiced minced lamb and tomato.

The other two excellent varieties were fatayer sabanekh (£1.50), filled with a layer of spinach, onion and sumac, and fatayer jibneh (£1.50) filled with a layer of pleasingly gooey, salty cheese. 

Whilst Mezza House’s main courses include wraps, kebabs and stews, we decided to stick to the restaurant’s namesake and ordered a gargantuan selection of mezza.

Complimentary pickles comprised of an eclectic selection of green tomatoes, gherkins, cabbage, carrot, purple coloured turnip and mixed olives.

A whopping mixed mezza (£6.50) comprised of warm and soft stuffed vine leaves; crisp and tender falafel; a pleasing yet run of the mill hummus; and a killer pair of smoky aubergine dips – a creamy muttabal (the pick of the bunch) and a pepper twanged babba ghanoush.

A bowl of intensely meaty and herby lamb meatballs (£2.75) were served in a tomato and pepper sauce.

Musaka (£2.75) wasn’t what I expected but turned out to be a hearty stew of aubergine, peppers, tomato and garlic.

Soujuk and halloumi (£3.50) combined two of my favourite ingredients in the world, spicy beef sausage and crisp salty cheese, in a no-nonsense manner. 

The only two disappointing elements of the meal were a slightly dry bowl of bread accompanying the mezza and fruit juices that tasted out of a carton. 

Accompanying the bill were a couple of complimentary pieces of syrupy and nut-rich baklava.

And here’s the thing, all this food cost £23. 

Delicious and a total bargain. And the service was super-friendly. 

Mezza House is a great addition to City Road and another go to destination for me to add to the mix.

The Details:

Address - Mezza House, 175 City Road, Cardiff, CF24 3JB