Saturday, 26 January 2019

Bwydiful, Victoria Park, Cardiff burger review

It’s great to see independent Welsh restaurants, suppliers and traders working together. 

Whether’s it’s Cheese Pantry using Milgi’s kimchi in their toasted sandwiches or Dirt enlisting Pettrigew Bakery and Cocorico to make their tarts and chocolates, collaboration helps brilliant local businesses raise their game together.  

Victoria Park’s Bwydiful clearly embraces working with local suppliers. This newly opened burger bar namechecks suppliers which include next door neighbours Pettigrew Bakery, Canton’s Crafty Devil brewery, Monmouthshire’s Preservation Society and Newport’s Parc Pantry. 

With a bright and simple interior and concise menu, Bwydiful is equally well suited for a quick bite to eat or an extended beer and burger session. 

We kicked off with a couple of lovely Crafty Devil beers - light, hoppy and easy drinking Mikey Rayer (£3.95) and an Orange Juice Blues (£3.95) brewed with orange juice and a good hit of hops (it was a bit like a turbo-charged radler). 

A pair of sides were delicious. 

Golden onion-flecked mini hash browns (£2.95) were served with a tangy and fiendishly spicy mango sauce. 

Halloumi fries (£5.45), with a super crisp and golden exterior and a properly melty interior, were probably the best I’ve had. They were drizzled with punchy chimichurri and joined by a pot of thick sweet chilli jam. 

Onto the burgers and I’ll get my quibble out of the way first. 

There’s no doubting that Bwydiful’s ciabatta buns sourced from Pettigrew are a fine example of their type - they’re soft with loads of big air bubbles. But, our buns were served cold and I’m sure would have benefitted from a light toasting. Even still, I’m not fully convinced that the chew of a ciabatta is well suited to a burger, especially when Pettigrew also make such good demi-brioche buns. 

Everything else about our burgers was very tasty including the coarsely ground, well-seasoned patties served a juicy well done.  

A caws caws (£9.45) was topped with an ooze of Welsh rarebit with a big savoury and mustardy hit and a squeeze of Preservation Society barbecue sauce. 

The classic (£8.95) was loaded with a slice of first rate thick cut maple cured bacon and the tang of melted cheddar. 

Dessert was a warm Parc Pantry oreo-flecked brownie (£5.95) with a good hit of chocolate and a commendable goo. It was a lovely brownie and even better served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of white chocolate sauce. 

We enjoyed our meal at Bwydiful - service was super friendly, the sides were excellent and the burgers tasty. Add another bun option on the menu and I reckon they’d be onto even more of a winner.  

The Details:

Address - Bwydiful, 589 Cowbridge Rd East, Cardiff CF5 1BE
Web -
Telephone - 029 2056 8332

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Träkol, Gateshead Quayside restaurant review

I predict a future where more restaurants have great craft beer lists.

Not just token corporate craft beers like Goose Island and Camden.

But, instead, best-in-class IPAs, saisons and stouts from top British breweries like Deya, Verdant, Burning Sky and Northern Monk.

Newcastle's Wylam Brewery is another name that can hold its own amongst Britain’s best brewers.

They've recently launched By The River Co, a container park and microbrewery on Gateshead's Quayside, which includes a restaurant called Träkol and a hawker street food market. It’s set to remain in place for four years but I predict it will stay around a lot longer.

The restaurant’s beer list is awesome. Extensive, well-priced and offering 1/3 pints, I double parked so I could work my way through excellent hoppy brews from By The River, Verdant and The Kernel. 

With beer this good, Träkol could really have just phoned in the food. But, their interesting, seasonal wood-fired cooking is very good indeed.

Crispy pigs tails (£3.50) were little lollipops of crisp skin and fat-flecked meat coated in a complex spice rub rich in tongue tingling szechuan pepper and chilli heat. A couple of pieces had a faintly barnyardy whiff but I guess it's always good to remember where your food came from. 

Grilled pork jowl (£7.50) pieces were gloriously unctuous and crisp. Their richness was counterbalanced by a fragrant, citrusy, umami-laden, acidic and coriander-flecked XO slaw. 

Deep fried reuben fritters (£3.50) delivered on their American comfort food billing. Golden crumbed cubes filled with salt beef and cheese flecked mashed potato were cut through with cleansing pickles and the punch of French's mustard. 

Bread (£2.50) was best in class; beautifully bronzed of crust and light and tangy of crumb. 

Mains were Geordie-sized portions. There's no way you'd leave Träkol complaining the food was painted on the plate. 

A Barnsley lamb chop (£18) was nicely flame-licked, tender of flesh and cleverly combined with complex savoury seaweed and briny cockles and samphire. But, there was an unnecessary pool of oil on the plate. 

A bang on medium-rare 400g sirloin steak (£20) on the bone had a cracking crust, tender flesh and deep flavour. It's luxury levels were dialled up by a buttery and smokey piece of crisp-crumb topped bone marrow. 

A whopper of a cornish mackerel (£16) was cooked on point. Crisp of skin and oily of flesh it was elevated by the fragrance of fresh dill and mint as well as a dressing of warming peppercorns and lime. 

French fries (£3) were bounteous - we naively ordered four bowls for the table. Whilst they were most likely bought-in, they fulfilled their purpose. 

Mrs G raved about her chargrilled cauliflower steak (£11). Tender with a caramelised exterior and crisp leaves, it was enhanced by warming middle Eastern spices, the crunch of almond, acidity of pickles, pearls of pomegranate ands a silky tahini dressing. 

A plate of padron peppers (£3.50) were well-charred, judiciously seasoned with sea salt and served with more of that creamy tahini. 

Träkol serves delicious, well-priced food and exceptional beer. It's great for Gateshead to have a restaurant of this calibre.

The Details:

Address - Träkol, By The River Brew Co, Hillgate Quays, Gateshead NE8 2BH
Web -
Telephone - 0191 737 1120

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Bread and Salt, Canton, Cardiff Polish restaurant review

Fall apart tender slow-cooked beef and gravy on a crisp autumn night.

Aromatic Vietnamese summer rolls on a baking hot summer’s day.

Some types of food really are better suited to different seasons.

Polish food’s rib-sticking qualities put it very much in the cuisines of winter.

So, it was appropriate that we visited Cowbridge Road East’s Bread & Salt on an bitterly cold January evening.

Having relocated from Adamsdown’s Clifton Street at the end of last year, Bread & Salt’s hearty menu of Polish food includes dishes such as stuffed cabbage rolls, polish sausage and chicken devolay (it sounds chicken kiev-esque). 

A large bottle of Zywiec lager (£4.70) got us off to an authentic start. 

Pierogi (£7.90), aka dumplings, were the standout of the starters. We went for a selection and the best were an intense mushroom and cabbage type and a light cheesy mashed potato variety. A mild flavoured minced “meat” filling was tasty but a little non-descript. 

A soft blood sausage (£6.90) was closer to a haggis in texture. Flecked with barley and sweet onions it was very nice dolloped onto a hot crusty roll with a smear of warming mustard. But, I found the spicing a little unusual - I think this perhaps may have been a result of bayleaf. 

A frisbee-sized potato pancake (£13.90) was the winner of the two mains. Mega crisp with a soft interior, it was topped with a tender chicken and beef goulash in a light tomato sauce with a good hit of spice. An ooze of melted cheese brought the whole plate together. 

A big ol’ ham hock (£12.90) served with dill topped potatoes was fall apart tender yet pleasingly crisp in places. Dollops of mustard and sweet grated horseradish provided welcome punch as the spicing on the pork was fairly subtle. 

The accompaniments to both our hefty mains were vital in providing balance. Cucumber coated in tangy yoghurt, sour cream, sweet shredded beetroot salad and creamy carrot salad were all delicious. 

Stuffed by this point, a bought-in slice of moist apple cake (£2.50) was a totally unnecessary but nice end to the meal. 

We had a very tasty meal at Bread & Salt. Their huge portions of hearty food make it a lovely place to visit on a cold winter’s night. Some dishes stood out far more than others and I've also heard good things about their breaded bits of meat. 

 The Details:

Address - Bread and Salt, 155 Cowbridge Rd East, Cardiff CF11 9DW
Web -
Telephone - 07990 583988

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Brat, Shoreditch, London restaurant review

More and more I feel like an adopted Welshman.

I cheer for Wales when the rugby is on (although I only really care about Newcastle United).

I’m learning beginners’ Welsh (for the second time).

And I love calling Cardiff home (but I’m still a Geordie).

So, when I heard that one of London’s hottest chefs was a Welshman, I ‘needed’ to eat his food asap.

Shoreditch’s Brat is owned by the Anglesey born chef Tomos Parry.

With a CV which includes pot washing at Beaumaris’s Ye Olde Bulls Head and training under Grady Atkins at Cardiff’s Le Gallois, Parry worked at London’s River Cafe (amongst other places in the capital) before becoming head chef of the critically acclaimed Kitty Fisher’s.

Brat opened in March 2018 and Parry picked up a Michelin star just seven months later.

The restaurant’s food is inspired by Basque wood-fired grills like Elkano in Getaria where first rate ingredients are treated simply. Instead of Spanish produce however, Brat champions Cornish and Welsh ingredients.

Brat’s menu consisted entirely of dishes we wanted to eat. There was a challenging decision making process as we decided between the turbot (after which the restaurant is named) and other mains like Herdwick mutton, beef chop and lemon sole. 

To start, a pillowy, almost neapolitan pizza style flat bread (£5.50) was topped with a good drizzle of olive oil and a trio of beguilingly savoury anchovies. 

The creamiest of egg mayos (£5) was served on top of wafer thin charred toast. Seasoning came in the form of salty bottarga. But, I think it could have done with a few more slices of the delicious cured fish roe as the egg tasted under-seasoned in the mouthfuls without it.

Young leeks (£8) weren't the sweetest but they were deliciously smokey and paired with a delicately creamy fresh cheese and textural contrast in the form of toasted crumbs. 

A bowl of wild mushrooms (£8) in a mushroom broth had a brilliant savoury intensity with the luxury levels dialled up by a runny egg yolk. But, a few of the 'shrooms were overly singed giving them a bitter note and bobbing pieces of barley had too much bite. 

We then waited a over an hour for our main courses. Our friendly server apologised a matter of moments before our food finally put in an appearance.

Roast duck (£19) was brilliant. Breast, with well rendered fat and crisp skin, and gorgeously unctuous leg meat were bathed in a light cooking liquor with a hint of spice. Accompanying roasted beetroot, onions and mushrooms had a lovely complexity of flavour. 

A whole John Dory (£19) was well-flavoured but it arrived tepid so was sent back and returned warmed up and a touch dry as a result. It’s a shame as this was the focal point of the meal. 

A side of charred and blistered tender smoked potatoes (£4.50) were seriously addictive. 

Whilst a generous winter green salad (£3) of bitter leaves was a lovely foil for all that richness. 

Cheesecake (£6) inspired by San Sebastian’s La Vina was almost as good as the original. Fluffy, burnished, creamy, twanged with citrus and delicately smokey, it was a great pudding. 

So too was a ludicrously wobbly, egg rich caramel cream (£5) topped with bitter caramel. 

Overall, our meal at Brat was delicious. Their confidently simple, flavour-packed food is right up my street.

But, a frustratingly long wait for a disappointing main course slightly sullied our experience. For that reason, I recommend Brat with reservations.

The Details:

Address - Brat, First floor, 4 Redchurch St, E1 6JL
Web -

Sunday, 13 January 2019

The Greek Spot, Cardiff restaurant review

January is a funny old month.

Many people seem to have a post-Christmas hangover and are avoiding booze, hunks of fatty meat, bricks of cheese and tubs of chocolate i.e. the foundation blocks of my diet.

So, whilst Mrs G is currently showing restraint, I’m constantly suggesting we go out for dinner and offering her a beer. Of course, this is all in the name of supporting local independent businesses at a quiet time of year.

On Saturday lunchtime, Mrs G finally caved in and agreed to go out for some grilled meat and salad.

The Greek Spot recently arrived on Whitchurch Road and it takes the number of Hellenic restaurants on the strip of Whitchurch Road, Crwys Road and City Road up to five (including the soon to open SouvLike).

A cafe-restaurant hybrid, the Greek Spot has a bright family friendly vibe. I’d be equally comfortable there munching on a light lunch or a hearty dinner washed down with a handful of bottles of Mythos.

The menu incorporates all of the Greek essentials including dolmades, meat balls, beef stifado, moussaka and homemade pies.

We kicked off with a bunch of mezze which were undoubtedly the high point of the meal.

Courgette fritters (£4) were properly crisp golden disks filled with a light and soft courgette mash seasoned with small bits of feta, chive and onion. They were a tiny bit on the greasy side but it was a lovely dish 

Little cheese pies were also top drawer (£4.30). Crisp filo triangles were loaded with an ooze of chive studded melted feta. 

A Greek salad (£6) was fresh and plentiful. It was topped with a brick of oregano scattered feta. 

The highlight of a generous mix of dips (£6) was tangy feta-laced and deceptively well-spiced tirokafteri. Enjoyably pink taramasalata and lightly smoked aubergine studded melintzanosalata were also good.

Mains didn’t hit the same level as starters but they were still enjoyable.

A pair of chicken souvlaki (£9) were brilliantly juicy but a little lacking on the seasoning front - a hit of herb or lemon juice wouldn’t have gone amiss. Accompaniments of bronzed hand-cut chips, fresh salad and dill-twanged tzatziki all hit the mark. 

A chicken gyros psomaki (£5) was described as made with “special bread” which actually turned out to be run of the mill hot baguette. 

This was still a tasty sandwich filled with crisp yet slightly dry chicken shavings which were lubricated by soft grilled halloumi, tzatziki and salad. 

Our friendly waiter, who had given us a beginners’ Greek lesson during the meal, brought a complimentary bowl of sweet and sour cherries to accompany the bill.

We had a very tasty lunch at The Greek Spot. I’d gladly return for a tableful of great value mezze.

The Details:

Address - The Greek Spot, 138 Whitchurch Rd, Cardiff CF14 3LZ
Web -
Telephone - 029 2065 4007