Saturday, 26 November 2016

Time & Beef, Canton - Searching for Cardiff's Best Burger

I’m sure if you spent long enough on the Hipster Business Name Generator then Time and Beef would crop up. In fact, I spent 30 seconds on it and came up with dubious names like Jail and Salmon, Bourbon and Bath and Cocoa and Shoes.

But, what's in a name? It’s all about the food anyway.

Time & Beef, located on Canton’s main drag, is a burger joint-cum-cocktail bar. A mix of tiles, reclaimed wood furniture and exposed brickwork give an informal but trendy feel to the place.

In theory, they’ve got a good selection of draught beers like Tiny Rebel and Goose Island. But, on the night we visited they were off due to a technical problem. So, we more than made do with a hoppy can of Crafty Devil (£3.50) and a refreshing Modelo (£3.50).

Starters were a bit filthy. In a good way of course.

A trio of whopping spice-crumbed juicy chicken fillets (£5) were served with a pot of smoky barbecue sauce.

Deep-fried mac n cheese bites (£5) were well textured with firm pasta and a gooey sauce. However, they could have done with a bigger hit of cheese and the accompanying salsa lacked the freshness you’d expect from homemade stuff. 

Let’s rewind to explain “the concept” behind Time & Beef. On arrival, you’re given a burger tick list to select your bun, patty, toppings, sauces and sides. A basic burger costs £7, meat toppings £1.50, veggie toppings £1 and cheese £1. One you’ve made your selection you’re given the onerous task of naming your burger. 

Here’s what we ate.

Time & Beef offer four types of bread roll from the legendary Alex Gooch. We both looked no further than the demi-brioche. Super-soft, faintly-sweet and delicately-chewy, Mrs G declared it to be the best burger bun she’d ever eaten. That’s the type of bold claim I normally make.

We also both ordered the 6oz beef patty sourced from Braithwaites butchers (located just down the road). Both were served a juicy well done and were tasty but arguably lacked a first rate beefy flavour. 

Mrs G and I followed separate paths with our toppings.

My burger, “Dave” (£9.50), was topped with thumpingly good thick cut bacon, a generous amount of savoury melted stilton and a good squeeze of Tommy K. A side skin on fries (£2) hit the mark. 

“Kevin” (£9.50) was topped with mild melted monterey jack, piquant chorizo and mayo. A side of sweet potato fries were on the nail too (£3).

We dodged desserts as there was nothing available apart from a slice of salted caramel cake; a  missed opportunity to extract some money from my wallet.

All in all I really enjoyed my meal at Time & Beef and it's certainly up there with Cardiff’s best independent burger places.

But, here’s the rub. My burger weighed in at £11.50 including a side. But, the price could easily have ballooned. If I'd added a bit of salad and some gherkins then I would have paid two quid more for my burger. This seems a little steep. Perhaps a rethink of some of the salad pricing wouldn’t go a miss.

The details:

Address - Time & Beef, 169 Cowbridge Road East, Canton, Cardiff CF11 9AH
Web -
Telephone - 02921 158539

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Zi's Cafe, Cardiff Chinese restaurant review

It’s taken me far longer to get around to visiting Zi’s Café on Woodville Road than I would have liked.

The reason being, Mrs G is hardly ever in the mood for a Chinese.

So, on a dismal November night, I rounded up some mates to help me eat as much of Zi’s menu as is humanly possible.

The restaurant’s décor is enjoyably basic; metal chairs are clad in velour whilst paper lanterns hang from the ceiling.

The menu is an interesting beast too – there’s a load of familiar Cantonese classics as well as a clutch of more exciting dishes including hor fun noodles, congee and fried dumplings.

Prawn crackers (£1.20) were light and grease free. 

Tsingtao beers (£3) were ice cold. A good start. 

Curls of salt and chilli squid (£5.90) were the first standout of the night. Delightfully tender and crisp, the squid was fragranced with a big whallop of garlic, chilli and sautéed spring onion. 

A mixed starter (£12.80) comprised of filling-packed spring rolls, good prawn toast and crispy seaweed. Sticky ribs were the best thing on the plate – crisp and yielding they were seasoned with a savoury thwack of Worcestershire sauce. A bowl of lurid sweet and sour sauce was a curious addition. 

Empress duck cakes (£5.90) were so wrong but almost right. Deep fried prawn toast were filled with shredded duck. They were rich as heck but a bowl of sweet and tangy plum sauce went some way to balancing the dish. 

A half aromatic crispy duck (£14.90) was everything it should be – crisp and tender with soft pancakes, rich hoisin sauce and finely chopped spring onion and cucumber. 

Things stepped up a gear with mains.

Chicken with dried chilli and spring onion (£6.20) saw golden battered chicken pieces bathed in a sweet and spicy sauce flecked with onions and a ludicrous mound of dried chillies.

Stir fried lamb with cumin (£7.20) was arguably the dish of the night. Uber tender lamb in an Indo-Chinese-esque cumin and chilli rich sauce was accompanied by heaps of dried chillies, julienne carrot and onion. 

Beef with ginger and spring onion (£6.50) was good but the most run of the mill of our mains. Tender meat and spring onions were served in a well-balanced ginger-spiced sauce. 

Last up were stonkingly good cubes of crisp yet soft deep fried aubergine (£5.90) spiced with a shed load of salt, ginger and chilli.

A bowl of egg fried rice (£3.50) was generously portioned. 

Dinner at Zi’s Café was cracking. And, our bill for 4 including 10 beers came to £104. A bit of a bargain.

Now I just need to get Mrs G along on a Wednesday when they do a roast duck special.

The Details:

Address - Zi's Cafe, 94-96 Woodville Road, Cathays, Cardiff CF24 4ED
Telephone - 02920 216 294

Zi's Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Porro, Wellfield Road, Cardiff Italian restaurant review

Wellfield Road’s branch of Porro is the second in the family of Italian restaurants from the Potted Pig team.

With interesting ingredients like burrata, ’nduja and mocetta, Porro’s menu avoids the usual lasagne and pepperoni clichés. They've done a sterling job with the restaurant refurb too – I’m always a sucker for exposed brickwork, wood panels, filament bulbs and pretty tiles.

We knocked back bottles of Peroni Red (£3.90) with ease and warmed our palettes up with a snack of fiery and meaty 'nduja (£4) served on sourdough toast.

A trio of perfectly formed tortellini (£7) were filled with delicately sweet pumpkin puree and garnished with fragrant sage infused butter, crisp fried sage leaves and shavings of savoury parmesan. 

Golden arancini (£6) were packed with al dente risotto flecked with yielding pieces of ox cheek. They were joined by a punchy and vibrant salsa verde which counterbalanced the richness of the dish. 

Onto mains, and blushing pink lamb slices (£17) with well rendered fat were joined by a glossy sauce, buttery cavolo nero, stock rich lentils, a thunderously good piece of crumbed lamb belly and more of the excellent salsa verde. 

My main was delicious but not quite as good the one across the table. Al dente linguine (£13), earthy and sweet brown and white crab meat, tomatoes, thin slices of courgette, fresh parsley and the hum of chilli all combined well.

Dessert brought the only meh point of the night. A light and subtly tangy baked ricotta tart (£6) with slightly soft pastry was joined by a quenelle of creamy mascarpone. It was a pleasant pud but it needed a bigger hit of flavour. 

In contrast, my flourless chocolate torte (£7) was an indulgent corker of a dessert. The rich and gooey torte with a crisp exterior was drizzled with salty chocolate sauce and served with a scoop of nut studded hazelnut ice cream. 

Dinner at Porro was excellent. Despite the prevalence of Italian restaurants in the Wellfield Road area it’s undoubtedly bringing something different to the table. I can see myself becoming a regular.

The Details:

*Update - 16/06/2018 - Porro Roath is now closed. The Llandaff branch is under new ownership*

Address - Porro, 57 Wellfield Road, Roath, Cardiff CF24 3PA
Telephone - (029) 2240 2200

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Some of the best things I've eaten in Cardiff lately

As expected, I’ve been eating a lot lately. 

Here’s a quick round up of the best things I’ve eaten in Cardiff over the last few weeks.

Hellenic Eatery are still smashing it out of their park with their groaning platters of meat and feta-laced salads.

But, it seems like they’re serving a new type of grilled halloumi (£5) which is even more oozy and dreamy than ever. Get involved.

Sugar Ray’s is a friendly little cafe which recently opened in the back streets of Roath. They’ve been serving food for less than a week but their use of first rate local suppliers seems to be paying off.

A bacon cheeseburger (£8) utilised one of Moody Sow's award-winning 6oz patties cooked to a juicy well-done. It was joined by thick cut crispy bacon, a serviceable roll, pickles and melted cheese. 

Their poutine (£2.50 with a burger) saw crisp and fluffy chips drenched in a slightly underpowered chicken gravy and a good scattering of oozy mozzarella and cheddar. I’m yet to try authentic poutine made with cheese curds but this was a tasty substitute. 

Finally, a supremely delicious gooey salted caramel brownie (£3.50) from Cup & Cake Bakery was served hot with a generous glug of double cream. 

During November the super-friendly and super-tasty Early Bird bakery are running Friday pizza nights to showcase the talents of one of their apprentices. 

Their sourdough pizzas combine a flavoursome base with a good crisp & chew and toppings like smoked ham, garlic mushrooms and mascarpone or pepperoni, bacon and hot sauce. The evenings are BYOB too which is always a very good thing. 

I also scoffed one of their malted chocolate brioche doughnuts for the first time and it was unbe-frigging-leivable. You need to get one of these in your gob asap.

Drunken Sailor have been serving up their hotdogs of distinction at Brickstock this month and they’re set to appear at a number of other events around Cardiff in the coming months.

A Dudek (£7) combined a lush Polish recipe free-range pork sausage (with a reassuringly snappy natural casing) topped with curried ketchup, American mustard, tender fried onions and crispy onions.  

A second outlet of Porro has opened on Wellfield Road in Roath. I enjoyed their Italian(ish) food at their Llandaff restaurant and they’ve done a peach of a job on the refurb of the new place. A light snack of fiery nduja on toast (£4) and a Peroni Red kicked ass so I’m looking forward to heading back for a proper meal soon.

I’ve got a habit of drinking watery 2.8% lager from Aldi but I’m being slowly sucked into the craft beer vortex. Nat from the awesome Roath Bottle Shop has been providing us with recommendations from their flabbergastingly large selection of over 300 beers. This could become an expensive habit.

In the last day of my old job, my lovely colleagues arranged a cronut delivery from Cup & Cake Bakery. The Marc de Champagne flavour reminded me of a giant boozy truffle. I ate one for breakfast. I have no regrets. 

I've discovered that Moody Sow's already frigging delicious scotch eggs crisp up a treat in the oven in just 15 minutes.

After a big night out, I had the perfect restorative lunch at Chilli Basil on City Road. A plate of chicken Pad Thai (£5.99) and chicken satay (£3.50) was a bargain for less than a tenner. 

Finally, Le Cafe du Chat Noir’s Croque Madame (£5.95) is always one of my go to bits of comfort food. Just look at that beauty. 

Disclosure: I was invited to the Early Bird Bakery pizza night, all food and drink was complimentary.