Saturday, 25 July 2015

The Pickled Radish @ The Laleston Inn, Bridgend restaurant review

The Laleston Inn is a slightly tired, quiet, gloomy and dated 700 year old pub in the village of Laleston near Bridgend. So far so unexciting.

However, around the back of the building there’s something far more interesting happening - The Pickled Radish has taken over.

Enter through the kitchen (and give the chefs a wave) and you arrive in a cosy dining room where the gloom has been lifted with a lick of paint and the addition of spot-lighting.

The Pickled Radish’s creative take on crowd pleasing dishes has perked things up even more.

Chicken liver parfait (£6.50) was described by Mrs G as the best she had ever tasted. Smooth, light and with just the right amount of richness, the jarful of pate was served with an ace Welsh ale and shallot chutney, well-dressed leaves and toasted brioche. 

Cheeky Fish ’n’ Chips (£9.80) was a beautiful looking and tasting plate - perfectly caramelised scallops, crisp battered cod cheek, a whopping chip, lightly pickled fennel and text book tartare sauce all combined brilliantly. However, the dish’s name should be banished to Room 101 immediately. 

DIY soup was a bit gimmicky but very tasty (£5.70). A pestle and mortar containing herbs, crispy onions and edible flowers was presented at the table. Once I’d bashed up the contents, a milk bottle of super fresh-tasting pea soup was poured over the top. 

However, the herbs didn’t deliver as much flavour as expected and the onions lost their crispness after a good grinding… in fact it would probably have tasted even better if had just been prepared like a normal soup. 

Peculiarly, pre-dinner snacks arrived after the starters; they were both lush. 

Mini honey & Welsh mustard sausages (£4) were not as described - they were in fact pieces of deeply spiced, tightly packed merguez sausage. Black olives (£2.50) served over ice were also of a high standard. 

Onto mains.

A tender fillet of hake (£17.50) was served with white bean stew made with a potent stock, buttered samphire, small pieces of that merguez and a butternut squash puree. The only criticism, the fish skin could have been crisper. 

A 56-day aged sirloin steak from Rosedew Farm (£20), Llantwit, was intense in flavour and super tender. In fact, it was so tender that no steak knife was required. It was served with a buttery, fragrant béarnaise sauce, and chips. 

A plank of pork lived up to its plankful billing (£18). A heap of blushing pink pork loin, crisp curls of crackling, buttered spinach, sweet corn puree, crisp & smooth polenta chips and smoked paprika mayonnaise were all on the nail. A cube of belly pork was good but could have been juicier. 

For dessert, a gooey as heck salted caramel brownie, studded with bits of honeycomb, (£6.50) balanced salt and sweet perfectly. It was served with an ice-cold raspberry milkshake and light caramel ice cream. 

Another chocolate-based pudding (£7) dialled the richness up to 11. A light pistachio-coated chocolate marquise was joined by tangy raspberry sorbet. An accompanying slab of fudge was too sweet for Mrs G so I courageously stepped into the breach. 

Lastly, a flowerpot of creamy coconut cheesecake (£6.50) was crisp of base and topped with desiccated coconut and a scoop of ice cream. A handful of frozen grapes were a revelation - sweet yet refreshing. 

Dinner at The Pickled Radish was excellent. Interesting, big-flavoured and generously portioned, they serve my kind of food. And with the super-friendly service and well-priced booze from the pub (a bottle of house pinotage cost £11), I’d highly recommend a visit.

The Details

Address - The Pickled Radish, The Laleston Inn, Wind St, Laleston CF32 0HS
Telephone - 01656 652946
Web -

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Sunflower & I, Florist / Cafe / Bar, Cardiff Bay review

My first date with Mrs G wasn’t much cop.

Sorry, let me clarify, the company was amazing but the food was pretty pants.

We were supposed to be going to Tayyabs for the best lamb chops in the whole of London but couldn’t be arsed to queue. Instead we ended up at one of Brick Lane’s identikit restaurants. Fortunately, Mrs G didn’t judge me on my choice of limp naan and watery passanda and agreed to go on a second date…

If I had my time again, I’d probably take Mrs G to Sunflower & I in Cardiff Bay.

This hidden gem is arguably the most beautiful cafe/bar/florist in the whole of Cardiff. Oh wait, it’s the only cafe/bar/florist.

The high-ceilinged space is furnished with a cornucopia of flowers, nik naks, a twig tree, eclectic furniture and a baby grand piano.

It’s owned by a Polish couple, a musician and a florist, so there’s often live music on Sundays. When we visited one of the owners was practicing an Italian opera accompanied by an impressively long-necked lute.

Cakes are bought in from a Polish bakery in London. Choux buns, cream and fruit-stuffed pancakes and apple pie all looked delicious.

I opted for a lovely combination of chocolate, cream and coconut with a hint of vodka (£2.50).

Beers are Polish too. A Żywiec pilsner and a Perla honey beer (both £3.90) were both very drinkable. A packet of mushroom and cream flavoured bruschetta (£2.50) channeled the intensity of Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup - addictive.

Sunflower & I is a hidden Cardiff gem. Here's the opening times - go.

The Details

Address - Sunflower & I, 1 Mount Stuart Square, Cardiff CF10 5EE
Web -
Telephone - 029 2048 4211

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Jerkit, Jamaican Street Food, Crwys Road Cardiff review

*Update - this restaurant is now closed*

When you’re confronted by two huge oil drum barbecues and some serious air extraction kit when you visit a Jamaican takeaway, you know you’re probably in safe hands. 

Jerkit is a three week old Jamaican Street Food gaff located at the bottom of Crwys Road. They’re primarily a takeaway who offer home delivery but there’s also a couple of stools located in the window for eating in.

Jerk chicken, brown stew, curry goat, rice & peas, salt fish fritters, dumplings, rum fruit cake are just some of the Caribbean classics which appear on Jerkit’s extensive menu.

More unique options include Jerk lobster (£6.50), whole Jerk leg of lamb (£10) and slow jerked hog roast (Price on application). 

Whilst we waited for our order to be prepared, a can of Ting quenched my thirst (85p).

A Jerk chicken meal (£4.50) stole the show. A whopping cardboard box was laden with juicy, smokey, fragrant, spicy, charred chicken accompanied by bean flecked rice with just the right amount of bite. 

An accompanying pot of homemade coleslaw was lightly dressed with mayo. 

A special of a whole rack of jerk ribs (£10.50) was served with sweet potato fries and a soft drink. The ribs would have fed four people comfortably; I’m not kidding. 

Well licked with smoke but a little bit less spicy and tender than the chicken, this was another lovely dish. 

Sweet potato fries were well-seasoned with oregano but would have benefited from a good crisping. 

Stuffed, Mrs G and I rolled out into the street laden with a doggy bag of ribs. 

Jerkit is an excellent addition to the Crwys Road hall of fame. I can’t wait to get my chops around the rest of the great value menu.

The Details:
Address - Jerkit, 22 Crwys Road, Roath, Cardiff CF24 4NL
Telephone - 029 2019 7554

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Midsummer House, Cambridge restaurant review

Midsummer House in Cambridge is a restaurant which needs no introduction.

Located in a picturesque villa on the banks of the River Cam, Chef Patron Daniel Clifford has held two Michelin stars for ten years and become a household name thanks to his banquet winning dishes on The Great British Menu.

We visited Midsummer House for dinner when there is choice between a seven course (£82.50) and ten course (£105) tasting menu. You guessed it, we ordered the ten courser.

We kicked off with a light yet potent Bloody Mary foam paired with a quenelle of cleansing celery ice cream. A finely diced salsa of pepper, red onion and cucumber added some bite. 

A cute strawberry patch arrived next. Perched on the end of a stick, a crisp red pepper shell contained rich foie gras mousse sprinkled with crumbs of dehydrated strawberry. 

Crunchy cod skin was topped with stunningly fresh mackerel tartare.

A brilliant warm éclair filled with cream cheese was slathered with aromatic truffle spread. Another snack balanced cream cheese, zesty lime and chive. 

Bread was as good as it gets – wholemeal and plain sourdough were crisp of crust and complex in flavour with just the right amount of chew. 

Finally, the first of the night’s 10 courses arrived. Creamy smoked haddock brandade with tender flakes of fish was joined by warm smoked haddock foam, golden nuggets of grilled cheese and acerbic slices of baby pickled onion. Stunning. 

A trolley was wheeled in containing a miniature green egg cocooning charred beetroot. The sweet and smokey interior of the beet was scooped out and served at the table. 

Paired with beetroot puree, candied beetroot, pickled beetroot, quinoa crisps and goats cheese (which had been flash frozen in liquid nitrogen), it elevated the root vegetable to the highest level.

Next, a whopper of a sweetbread was topped with pistachio crumbs and joined by a punchy turnip and pistachio puree and a fragrant and sharp pink grapefruit puree.

Another of the evening’s highlights followed. Vibrant asparagus was joined by asparagus puree, burnt onion powder, a cleverly set hollandaise and pickled onions. What looked like a filo pasty wrapped asparagus spear nestled a fine dice of wild mushroom and asparagus.

The following dish brought together a trio of elements.

A killer piece of fried sourdough was topped with duck liver pate and grape and pickled onion slices.

A runny quail egg was wrapped in potato strings, deep-fried and then smoked. Oofh.

Pink quail breast was topped with an armour of grape slices and joined by smooth shallot puree studded with sourdough croutons.

The following three courses were very good but didn’t hit the standard of those which had come before.

A meaty mullet fillet, panfried with a slice of bread on top, was served with sweet grelot onions, oyster leaves and a blob of duck liver puree. However, the bread only served to make the dish a bit dry.

A perfectly pink pigeon breast, a slightly anaemic breadcrumbed leg and a brown meat lollipop were accompanied by sweet apple puree, a charred roast apple slice, wilted greens, chickpeas and a fragrant chamomile sauce. 

The highlight of the dish was a pot of offal rich pigeon puree topped with mashed potato and an uber-thin pastry dome – I’d have been happy with just a huge pot of this comfort food.

Segueing between sweet and savoury was a sort of delicious, sort of weird pousse café. Warm sweet maple syrup was topped with pasteurised egg yolk, a boozy bourbon foam and a scattering of chive.

A mix-up with the serving team meant that our two desserts were brought out of order. However, a pair of complimentary glasses of champagne more than made up for it.

First up was a chocolate dome nestling all kinds of goodies – chewy caramel, crisp chocolate crumble, jelly and mascarpone. A hot coffee sauce melted the dome in order to reveal its contents whilst a scoop of silky smooth almond ice cream balanced the richness of the dish.

Finally, fragrantly citric kumquat slices were joined by tamarind sorbet, carrot cubes and cardamom jus. A pretty piece of sugar work perched atop the dish. 

Peppermint tea was summoned to settle the stomach and a swan song arrived in the form of warm beignets served with a pair of dips – stonking salted caramel and crème anglais with a whack of calvados.

Our meal at Midsummer House was superb - a clutch of show stopping dishes were accompanied by perfectly paced and friendly service.

The Details:

Address - Midsummer House, Midsummer Common, Cambridge CB4 1HA
Telephone - 01223 369299