Saturday, 28 November 2015

La Mangiatoia, Riverside, Cardiff Italian restaurant review

La Mangiatoia is the Italian word for a farmyard feeding trough for animals. It’s an apt name for this Riverside Italian restaurant as the whopping portions mean you’re guaranteed a good feed.

The chef-owner-waiter Alessandro hails from Tuscany and his extensive menu comprises of hearty comfort food from bruschettas and focaccias to pizzas and pastas.

The decor is no-frills and this is reflected in the prices too - pastas weigh in around the £7.50 mark, meat dishes around £6.95 and 12 inch pizzas around £7.50. 

The bargain continues with the BYOB policy with corkage of £1 a head. Cans of my old favourite chinotto (£1.55) are also available if you’re looking for a bittersweet fix. 

To start, 6 mahoosive tender king prawns were served in a potent chilli and garlic sauce. Freshly baked bread on the side was warm and crisp with a good chew. At £6.50 this was seriously good value. 

Bruscetta Fireneze (£5.75) was also served on the same excellent bread. Oozy mozzarella, wilted spinach leaves, black olives, ricotta shavings and a drizzle of balsamic were a great combination of toppings. Arguably, it would have been improved by softer ricotta which would have added some extra moisture. 

Onto mains and a groaning plate of linguini (£7.50) was served with a light sauce of anchovies, fresh tomatoes, artichokes and black olives. This was a simple but delicious tasting plate. 

Pizza (£7.95) was very good with a well raised rim and a thick, crisp and chewy base. Toppings of herby Italian sausage, crisp pepperoni, light tomato sauce and gooey mozzarella were on the nail. This twelve inch juggernaut could probably serve two so it’s worth noting that smaller nine inch pizzas are also available. 

A giant bowl of tiramisu (£4.50) was exemplary - the sponge fingers, well soaked in a mix of coffee and booze, were topped with light mascarpone, fresh strawberries and cocoa powder. 

Dinner at La Mangiatoia was lovely and an absolute steal. This a great little neighbourhood restaurant which is definitely worth a visit.

The Details:

*Update - 16/06/2018 - La Mangiatoia is now closed*

Address - La Mangiatoia, 26a Clare Street, Riverside, Cardiff CF11 6BB
Telephone - 07455 013298

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Mint & Mustard Penarth, Indian restaurant review

The newly relocated and refurbished Mint & Mustard Penarth looks awesome. Exposed brickwork, wall murals, contemporary furniture and a tiled bar all give a vibe of high-end informality.

In fact, it’s the finest looker of the Mint & Mustard family - more spacious and sophisticated than both the Whitchurch Road branch and Chai Street on Cowbridge Road East.

The focus of the menu is still the refined take on Southern Indian food which Mint & Mustard brought to Wales back in 2006. At the stove is a chef of some pedigree - Yousufuddin Mohammed, a former head chef at two of London’s most highly regarded Indian restaurants, Dishoom and Bombay Brasserie.

The menu reads well. Very well in fact. I’d have gladly ordered any dish going. 

Crisp poppadom shards (£3) were served with a trio of homemade chutneys - a punchy lemon variety, a sprightly mint number and a sweet and an earthy beetroot type which would have benefited from a touch of spicing. 

Pata Chaat (£4.95), one of the chef’s signature dishes, was absolutely stonking. Crisp, lightly battered leaves of baby spinach were topped with creamy yoghurt, tangy tamarind chutney and cleansing jewels of pomegranate. 

Kasundi paneer tikka (£5.50) saw three soft pieces of smoke-licked cheese marinated in a well-balanced combination of mustard and yoghurt. 

Onto mains, and the standard was just as high.

Banjara lamb (£11.95) comprised of yielding, slow-cooked pieces of meat bathed in a deep deep flavoured, tomato-based sauce fragranced with curry leaf. 

M&M pan fried sea bass (£13.95) was a stunner in looks and flavour. A pair of golden fish fillets, perched atop a pile of curry leaf-infused mashed potato, were surrounded by a deceptively spicy creamy sauce made with raw mango, ginger and coconut. 

Thoran (£4.50) was a light and crisp contrast to the main dishes. Finely sliced, al dente green beans, shredded cabbage and grated carrot were tempered with coconut and mustard.

Coconut rice (£3.75) was fluffy as can be. 

A fig and coriander naan (£2.75) was pretty frigging special - light, crisp and buttery it was studded with soft fig pieces. Whilst peshwari naans can be cloyingly sweet this avoided dessert territory. 

For pudding, a pair of piping hot gulab jamun (£4.95) were soaked in fragrant syrup. 

I went full glutton and ordered the dessert platter (£7.50). The standout was smokey tandoori roasted pineapple marinated in honey and saffron. A super-creamy mango creme brûlée and a warm, gooey, yet fairly run of the mill chocolate fudge cake completed the trio. 

Dinner at Mint & Mustard Penarth was superb. Alongside Bar 44 & Restaurant James Sommerin, Penarth’s restaurant scene is in excellent health.

Disclosure - I was invited to Mint & Mustard, all food and drink was complimentary.

The Details:

Address - Mint & Mustard Penarth, 33-34 Windsor Terrace, Penarth CF64 1AB
Telephone - 02920 700500

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Science Cream, Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream Parlour, Cardiff

Science Cream is alive.

Following three months of closure resulting from a flood back in July, Wales’ only liquid nitrogen ice cream parlour reopened its doors at the beginning of November.

So, just as the weather has turned pants, Mrs G and I headed out for a Sunday sundae.

Science Cream’s menu changes on a weekly basis with specials including vanilla ice cream topped with honeycomb & a white chocolate Oreo pyramid or dairy free peach ice cream topped with pecan crumble & peach sauce. 

All are frozen to order with a puff of smoke and a whirr of the mixer - the theory being that rapid freezing from the liquid Nitrogen results in smaller ice crystals and hence a smoother textured ice cream. The theatricality definitely delivers. 

Mrs G ordered a small Honey gingerbread lady (£4.95). Warming, creamy ginger and honey ice cream was topped with rich chocolate sauce and a fairly generic gingerbread person. 

I ordered a large Salted caramel snick doodle (£5.95). A whopping tub of creamy, sweet and savoury ice cream was topped golden crunchy peanut brittle and more of that delicious chocolate sauce. For just a quid extra, my ice cream was twice the size of Mrs G’s. 

Science Cream is great fun and serves great ice cream. 

There's only one negative - the entry level cost for a small ice cream is £3.95, a little on the pricey side.

The Details:

Address - Science Cream, 28 Castle Arcade, Cardiff, Wales CF10 1BW
Telephone - 02920 372 391

Science Cream Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Cameo Club, Wellfield Road - Hunt for Cardiff's Best Breakfast

I haven’t eaten breakfast out in ages. A fry-up just doesn’t go hand in hand with sunny skies. 

However, as the weather has started to turn I’ve begun to feel the need to add an extra layer of insulation for the winter months.

The Cameo Club on Wellfield Road is the younger sibling of the Pontcanna venue of the same name. They’re both swanky boozers where you can see and be seen, and take in a characterful selection of portraiture of Welsh celebrities adorning the walls.

Both also serve breakfast, lunch and dinner (about which I’d heard good things). On a dreary Saturday we decided to check out their breakfast. 

Alarm bells immediately rang as our table was covered in sticky pint glass stains from the excesses of the night before. It wasn't until just before the arrival of our food that the friendly waitress offered to give the table a wipe.

A flat white (£2.30) was serviceable whilst an Earl Grey tea was good (£2.50). 

However, both breakfasts were pretty poor.

My full Welsh (£7.90) was made using quality ingredients but let down by the cooking. Thick cut bacon and pork & leek sausages were both overcooked and consequently dry whilst scrambled egg was lacking in seasoning. A hash brown, single slice of toast, grilled tomato & mushroom and pot of beans were all fine. But, what was a handful of undressed leaves doing on a cooked breakfast? 

Eggs Royale was worse (£6.50). A generous quantity of flabby, fridge cold smoked salmon was served on a tepid chewy muffin with good poached eggs and hollandaise which was far too acidic. Again, I don’t know why there were salad leaves on the plate. 

Brunch at Cameo was disappointing. I’d certainly recommend a visit for a beer and a cocktail but their breakfasts not so much.

The Details:

Address - Cameo Club, 55 Wellfield Road, Roath, Cardiff CF24 3PA
Telephone - 02920 491520

Cameo Club Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato