Known for their biblical wine list, Park House won the UK’s best wine list award in the AA Guide 2018-19. Unsurprisingly, both glasses of wine I have with dinner are absolute belters, especially an apricot-packed Montes Alpha Chardonnay (£6).
Head Chef Matt Waldron joined the restaurant in September 2018. His CV includes stints at the two Michelin-starred Helene Darroze at The Connaught and Michelin-starred Restaurant James Sommerin and Ynyshir.
The restaurant is a cavernous and tastefully decorated space with pretty original features. But, as there’s only a handful of tables occupied on our visit, the dining room has a library-like atmosphere.
In the evening there’s a choice between a five course tasting menu (£55), eight course tasting menu (£75) and a la carte. We opt for the a la carte which is punchily priced even by London standards - starters average £13, mains £27 and desserts £12. This kind of dollar sets a level of expectation.
Snacks are tasty - a warm cheese gougère and a crisp pastry cornet filled with whipped tangy cheese and salty pearls of caviar.
Warm bread includes airy oil-rich focaccia and a mini walnut and raisin loaf. The star of the show is a quenelle of whipped butter with a delicious yoghurty tang.
An amuse bouche of creamy cauliflower panna cotta is topped with a layer of dull grey oyster jelly, a dot of caviar and a leaf of edible gold. It’s nice but it’s all very subtle.
Starters are both good.
A whopper of a golden crusted scallop (£14) is sat atop buttery jerusalem artichoke puree and adorned with artichoke crisps, shavings of raw mushroom, funky truffle and a glossy sauce. However, the ingredients muddle together slightly rather than elevate each other.
A deliciously creamy and soft piece of oat milk tofu (£12) is bathed in a well-seasoned vibrant broth garnished with earthy girolles and salsify pieces which have a little too much bite for me.
Mains have a similar vibe, they’re tasty but they don't wow.
Loin of Preseli Mountain lamb (£25) is served a beautiful pink and is well-flavoured but a shoulder piece is a touch dry. It’s accompanied by dainty pieces of charred lettuce and onion, and aubergine puree which lacks its billed smokiness.
Highland Wagyu (£36) is introduced to us as the second fattiest type of beef in the world. It lives up to its description - spoonably tender, the sirloin melts like butter. But, it lacks the complexity of flavour that makes a first rate steak for me. It’s joined by rolled short rib which could be a touch juicier, decent mashed potato, bordelaise sauce and lovely shaved pickled kohlrabi.
A nice touch from our waiter sees a pre-dessert to share of the pudding we nearly chose.
Deconstructed treacle tart is a gooey, sweet and salty treacle tart filling topped with little crisp shards and fragrant lemon balm leaves drizzled with tangy buttermilk.
The meal takes off with dessert (£12) - a brilliant riff on tiramisu which is packed with intense flavours and textures that harmonise perfectly. A perfectly tempered half chocolate sphere cracks and yields at the merest tap of the spoon. Intense coffee jelly, light and milky ice cream, mascarpone granita shavings and a Werther’s Original-like chocolate caramel are all bang on.
Dinner at Park House was good. Our service was very friendly if slightly erratic (it took an hour after we arrived before we received starters), wines were brilliant, and the food was tasty.
But, for this kind of money I’d perhaps expect a little more.
Address - Park House Restaurant, 20 Park Place, Cardiff CF10 3DQ
Web - https://parkhouserestaurant.co.uk
Telephone - 029 2105 0505