Saturday, 16 February 2019

Milkwood, Pontcanna, Cardiff set lunch review


A meal out for one is a always rare treat.

You see, I love food so much that every now and then it’s rather nice to have some alone time with a plate of protein.

Last week, I found myself with a day to spare having tactically booked annual leave after an epic beer tasting at The Bottle Shop in Roath.


As it was a weekday, it meant I could finally to take advantage of Milkwood’s ridiculously good value set lunch menu. This Pontcanna restaurant serves some of the best modern seasonal cooking in Cardiff and on Wednesday to Friday lunch they offer three courses and a glass of wine for a bargainous £21.

On the day I visited, the regularly changing set lunch menu comprised of two starters, three mains and one dessert.


A pre-lunch snack of dark rye and seed bread was pleasingly warm, crusty and soft crumbed with a good anise twang from caraway seeds. A cube of creamy salted butter was disappointingly fridge cold (the only mediocre element of the entire meal).


The glass of white included in the lunch deal was a light, fruity and very neckable Richebaron Blanc made with a blend of sauvignon blanc and chardonnay.


Onto starter, and thick cut meaty, smoky and oily slices of trout were balanced by the delicate thump of a horseradish dressing. Lightly dressed mixed leaves (grown and bicycled over from Bute Park) and crisp and tangy sourdough toast completed the delicious plate.


A refined take on a gallic comfort food classic was my main course. Perfectly crisp-skinned confit duck was tender of flesh with the fat rendered away nicely. The cracking piece of meat was perched in a vegetable based stew loaded with soft beans, kale and diced potato and joined by al dente tender stem broccoli and a vibrant herb pistou which gave lift to the whole dish.


The only dessert available did not disappoint. Thick, creamy vanilla-fragranced rice pudding (the grains retaining the merest amount of bite) was paired with a light, fragrant and tart rhubarb compote. Homemade biscuits were like a luxury Lotus Biscoff, a very good thing indeed. With their familiar caramel and cinnamon twang, they brought welcome texture contrast to the dish.


Milkwood’s lunch deal is an absolute steal and there’s no skimping on portion size either. If you ever find yourself with a weekday lunchtime to spare then I seriously recommend checking it out.

The Details:

Address - Milkwood, 83 Pontcanna Street, Pontcanna Cardiff CF11 9HS
Web - www.milkwoodcardiff.com

Telephone - 02920 232226

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Cocorico Patisserie, Whitchurch Road, Cardiff brunch review


I’m a big fan of Whitchurch Road’s Cocorico Patisserie.

Their refined take on afternoon tea is the best I’ve had in Cardiff.

Their macarons are my go to gift for Mrs G on any occasion.

And their swanky sandwiches, which include katsu chicken buns and reubens, are a cut above the usual egg mayo sarnie.


But, surprisingly, I’ve never visited Cocorico for brunch despite hearing great things time and time again.

So, when the mother-in-law suggested a visit for her birthday treat, I did a mini fist pump.

Alongside fresh pastries including pain au chocolat, croissants, jam stuffed doughnuts and bostocks (brioche with almonds), there’s an extensive brunch menu which includes sweetcorn and ricotta fritters, halloumi hash and smoked haddock bubble and squeak.   


An Americano was full of fragrance whilst freshly squeezed orange juice was the real deal. 


A hearty bowl of baked eggs (£7) was a big winter warmer of a dish. A comforting melange of tender sweet potato, lightly charred peppers, wilted spinach and soft onions were coated in tomato sauce and topped with a pair of fluffy broken eggs. 

 
Tender beans (£6.50) and soft sweet onions coated in a light and smokey tomato sauce were piled onto crusty toasted sourdough alongside a perfectly runny poached egg. An extra side of textbook smashed avocado (£1.50) added another layer of luxury to the plate. 


My Cocorico breakfast (£8) was a belter - everything on the plate was absolutely top quality. Crisp American-style streaky bacon and a warming spiced meaty merguez sausage were joined by smoky beans, a pair of poached eggs, lightly charred grilled tomato, portobello mushroom and toasted sourdough. The kicker was a sweet potato rosti made with perfectly crisped fronds of the root vegetable. 


With cakes and tarts of Cocorico’s calibre, their brunch dessert was not going to disappoint.

A mille-feuille was ridiculously good. Brilliantly crisp and flaky puff pastry was loaded with a supremely wobbly and egg rich custard topped with a layer of icing. If you like custard slices then you need this in your life. 


Brunch at Cocorico was absolutely delicious, good value and there’s an added bonus that they take table reservations too. If you looking for a tip-top brunch in Cardiff then I highly recommend it.

The Details:

Address - Cocorico Patisserie, 35 Whitchurch Road, Cardiff CF14 3JP
Web - http://www.cocoricopatisserie.co.uk/
Telephone - 02921 328 177

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Salkaara, Llandaff North, Cardiff Indian restaurant review


Llandaff North’s Salkaara is co-owned by Santhosh Nair, the former executive chef of Mint & Mustard.

Nair's CV is an immediate badge of quality for this restaurant’s refined take on Southern Indian cooking.

In fact, many of Salkaara’s dishes will be familiar to fans of Mint & Mustard and Purple Poppadom, from their crispy soft shell crab, through to their sea bass with raw mango sauce, chocomosa and tandoori pineapple. But they’re a quid or so cheaper here.

The spicing was excellent on everything we ate - multi-layered with bucketloads of flavour.

A superb mango lassi (£3) was big on tropical fruit with a yoghurt tang and a richness balancing hint of salt.

 
Dainty pieces of tender lamb tikka (£5.95) were coated in a big flavoured spice crust with red peppers, chilli and a good lick of char from the tandoor. 

 
Soft and creamy paneer tikka (£5.25) was marinated with a good twang of yoghurt and thrum of green chilli. 


Mrs G’s tandoori chicken (£11.95) was one of the finest examples of the dish I’ve ever eaten. Served on the bone, the bird was gorgeously tender, crisp-crusted in places and coated in an almost buttery and smokey marinade. A pot of rich and tangy tomato based curry sauce was a nice bonus. 

 
Coorgi gawti yerchi (£11.95) was a first rate showcase of Welsh lamb. Fall apart tender pieces of flavour-packed meat were served in a coconut-based sauce heady with the tang of tamarind, fragrance of curry leaf and warmth of chilli. 

 
Sides were just as interesting.

A light thoran (£4.50) saw stir fried shreds of beetroot mixed with a liberal quantity of grated coconut and mustard seed. 


Meaty pieces of okra (£4.50) with good bite were coated in a sauce of soft sweet onions with tomato and a good thwack of ginger. 

 
A lovely naan bread (£2.50) was dotted with pieces of soft and sweet fig and coriander. Arguably it could have been a bit more pillowy but it was still a commendable mop for all the curry sauce. 


Buttery and impeccably fluffy pilau rice (£3.75) was delicately fragranced with saffron and flecked with cumin seeds. 


We had an excellent meal at Salkaara and judging by how full the restaurant was on the Friday night we visited, they’ve already developed a loyal following. With cooking of this quality, Salkaara can comfortably hold its own amongst Cardiff’s most celebrated Indian restaurants.

The Details:

Address - Salkaara, 125 Station Rd, Llandaff North, Cardiff CF14 2FE
Web - http://www.salkaara.co.uk/
Telephone - 02920 567 100