Saturday, 27 July 2019

Parva Farmhouse, Tintern, Monmouthshire restaurant with rooms review

It’s been just over twelve months since our last visit to Parva Farmhouse in the Monmouthshire village of Tintern.

It’s a meal which lived long in the memory thanks to the hearty dishes of technically accomplished food we ate and the warm and homely welcome we received.

With husband and wife team Roger and Marta Brook’s years of experience as head chef and restaurant manager at the brilliant Walnut Tree, it’s unsurprising we had such a great experience.

This time around Mrs G and I booked into Parva Farmhouse for the night. Having settled into our swish room (£120 bed & breakfast) with beautiful views over the River Wye, we set to work on a jar of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and biscotti before heading downstairs for aperitifs.

Whilst I knocked back an Aperol spritz and Mrs G guzzled a glass of fizz we enjoyed uber-cheesy parmesan biscuits topped with the tang of cream cheese.

Parva Farmhouse’s daily changing evening menu (2 courses £36 / 3 courses £45) consists of a reassuringly concise two options per course. Despite the menu’s brevity there wasn’t a single dud sounding dish. Of course, we ordered everything and divided the spoils.

A textbook warm, soft and crusty mini white loaf was delicious slathered with soft golden butter.

A perfectly flaky fillet of John Dory was bathed in a broth of perfect poise, deftly balancing salt, chilli, savoury, sesame and sourness. Added texture and interest was brought to this South East Asian influenced dish in the form of pickled mustard greens, and salted radish.

A pretty terrine of beautifully soft and sweet leeks was daubed with a zingy vinaigrette and elevated by Middle Eastern inspired accompaniments of delicately charred, crisp and soft sesame bread, creamy and tangy labneh and a mix of crunchy hazelnuts and fragrant parsley.

Mains smashed it out of the park and then some.

In fact, the first dish was the best ‘barbecue’ I've had in Wales save for the legendary Hang Fire. Ridiculously tender and flavoursome fillet steak and spoonably soft beef cheek were coated in the stickiest of bbq sauces.

A thumpingly mustardy and parsley-fragranced slaw provided balance whilst uber crisp roasties dialled the filth back up another notch. Finally, a scattering of funky chanterelles reminded us that we were in a fact in a high end restaurant and not eating the ultimate comfort food on our sofa back at home.

Across the table a sweet and crisp skinned fillet of sea trout was joined by a clever velvety chickpea sauce studded with more of the soft beans. Crisp and smooth textured chickpea fritters, baby courgettes and earthy roast beetroots all added extra interest to the delicious proceedings.

Desserts were both lovely but didn't quite hit the same levels as the other two courses.

A black forest ice cream was so much more than its billing. Light chocolate mousse, gooey brownie, juicy tart cherries, smooth vanilla ice cream and intense cherry sorbet were sat on a chocolate brownie base which was just a touch too firm to make easy work with a spoon.

A deceptively light blackberry and nectarine trifle saw fragrant juicy fruit, light vanilla custard and whipped cream sat on soft and sweet soaked sponge which could have taken a slightly larger whallop of sherry.

Breakfast the next day was just as good as the night before.

Plump syrup-bathed Agen prunes and apricots fragrant with honey, cinnamon and vanilla were delicious topped with pecan and fig granola.

A fry up was a cornucopia of delights including soft black pudding, plump sausages and a fried slice. Team #NoBeans would be pleased by the absence of any soggifying bean juice.

Crumpets were soaked in butter and beefy bovril and topped with golden yolked poached eggs. It’s the first time I’ve come across this killer combination but it most certainly won’t be the last.

We had an awesome stay, dinner and breakfast at Parva Farmhouse; hearty and homely but with bags of technique, this my kind of place.

The Details:

Address - Parva Farmhouse, Tintern, Chepstow, Monmouthshire, Wales NP16 6SQ
Web -
Telephone - 01291 689411

Saturday, 20 July 2019

Ten lovely places where I've eaten in Cardiff recently

Shock horror, scandal…I haven’t eaten anywhere new in the last week to review.

So, here are ten lovely places in Cardiff where I’ve eaten in the last month or so.

Some are new joints where I only had a dish or two and some are old favourites which I was glad to revisit. All are worth checking out.

KBS, Roath

KBS is my go to place for a weeknight kebab takeaway. When they closed for a couple of months for refurbishment I was barely consolable.

But they’re now back open with a spanking new interior; a charcoal grill; an extended menu featuring sharing platters, starters and lamb shawarma; and the same great kebabs.   

I’m all about the small mixed kebab (£4.90). It’s not fancy, but the salad, homemade naan and meat are all commendably fresh. 

Hanoi 1991, City Centre

Hanoi 1991 is a recently opened Vietnamese cafe located in the Royal Arcade. Whilst I’ve heard good things about their decadent egg coffee, we were there to eat their Banh My. 

A traditional pork cake and roll sandwich (£5.45) was tasty (if a little mystery meat-esque) but a roast pork special (£5.95) was the standout. The enjoyably light and crisp warm baguette was filled with well marinated meat, zingy pickles, spicy chilli sauce, crispy onions and fragrant coriander. 

Curado Bar, City Centre

Curado Bar is a great place for fooding and boozing. So, it's where Mrs G chose to celebrate the day she passed her PhD viva.

Highlights of our latest visit included pan fried mushrooms (£7) in a rich and super savoury sherry cream sauce, which was more than a bit reminiscent of the retro Diane sauce. 

Wobbly-interiored jamon croquetas (£7) were served with a compellingly fiery brava aioli.  And let’s not forget the awesome value fino on draught; £3.50 will buy you a 150ml glass of the good stuff. 

The Four Elms, Roath

The Four Elms in Roath was the winner of the UK’s inaugural Parliamentary Pub of the Year Award 2019. Now, that’s one cool sounding accolade.

They also have one of the best beer gardens in the city and often serve local craft brews from Pipes and Crafty Devil. 

Whilst their black and blue burger was serviceable, their double-cooked chips were magnificent. Golden, crisp and tender, I’ll be heading back to guzzle them more often. 

Pieporium, Pontcanna and Canton

Pieporium sell their homemade pies from Oriel Jones butchers in Canton and Pontcanna. 

I’ve only had the chance to try their stilton and pork pie which combined hella good crisp pastry with well-seasoned meat and umami-rich cheese. But, their coq au vin pies and cherry and vanilla pies are also on my ‘to snaffle list’. 

Ponnuswamy, Roath

The spice-packed Southern Indian food at Ponnuswamy on City Road is some of my favourite in the city. Yes, the service is often very very slow, but their delicious food and BYOB policy more than make up for it.

Cauliflower manchurian (£3.95) delivered cauli, onions and peppers with just the right amount of bite in a sweet, sour, fiery and soy-twanged sauce.

Their egg kothu parotta (£5.80) is proper comfort food. Diced and well-spiced soft parotta was flecked with egg, tomato, onions, spices and fragrant curry leaf whilst a pot of curry sauce and tangy raitha provided welcome lubrication. 

Hoof, City Centre

Hoof’s burgers are the work of Cardiff culinary polymaths Phill Lewis (Dusty Knuckle, Nook, Bite) and John Cook (Ember, Lamb & Flag Wick, Nook).

Based at Sticky Fingers in the Brewery Quarter, their burgers utilise top notch Welsh produce including robust yet soft Alex Gooch buns and dry-aged Welsh beef patties.

The standout on our visit was the Dirty Hoof (£9), topped with a smashed hash brown, cheese and a seriously beefy ragu. 

Milkwood, Pontcanna

Milkwood’s modern Welsh cooking is unpretentious, technically accomplished and full of flavour. It’s some of the best in Cardiff.

On our most recent visit with Mrs G’s work colleagues, 50 day aged beef dripping and anchovy on sourdough toast was so far up my street it could move into our spare bedroom. 

Lamb loin with crispy belly, borlotti bean ragu and salsa verde was a cracking take on a classic flavour combination. 

Uisce, Pontcanna

Tommy Heaney’s second Cardiff restaurant is just as good as his first i.e. it’s absolutely brilliant.

On our second visit in the space of a month, I adored a squidgy crumpet (£8) topped with tender shreds of lamb in a glossy gravy with a herb-packed salsa verde. 

Three behemothic king prawns (£7) were served with an intensely savoury XO sauce. All that flavour must be due to the sauce's constituent scallop roes, dried shrimp, pancetta, chilli and garlic. Woof. 

A quintet of light and squidgy cinnamon dusted churros (£6) were perfect paired with a dark and bitter chocolate mousse. 

Porro, Llandaff

I recently enjoyed a bargainous three course lunch (£15.95) at this Llandaff Italian restaurant. Crisp arancini were stuffed with well-textured risotto flecked with a herby ooze of mozzarella, and garnished with a breath-ruining garlic aioli. 

Their ox cheek pappardelle was just as good as ever - the slippery pasta coated in a thick, rich and seriously meaty sauce topped with even more meat for good measure.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

The Coconut Tree, Cardiff City Centre, Sri Lankan restaurant review

Some restaurants are more suited for getting the party started than others. 

Places like Curado Bar, Bar 44 and Sticky Fingers are all cracking options if you’re out for a night in Cardiff and want to line your stomach before, during or after your boozing session.

The recently opened Coconut Tree joins the list of places where you could have a raucous night out. 

This Sri Lankan restaurant is located on Mill Lane amongst some of Cardiff’s most bustling bars. Their upbeat playlist of tunes creates a party mood. And their extensive menu of two for one cocktails (including the Sriki-TIki and Not So Cosmo) mean it’s an ideal place to get faced whilst stuffing your face.

Their menu of Sri Lankan small plates naturally focuses on spice-packed vegan and vegetarian food with most dishes weighing in between £3.50 and £7.50. 

A can of Lion lager (£4.50) tasted like summer holidays sat by the pool whilst a Mango nectar (£3.50) was thick, fragrant, sweet and refreshing. 

A thin and crisp coconut milk hopper (£3.50) cradled an oozy egg. It was the ideal vehicle for a trio of spice heady accompaniments - a sweet and ferociously spicy Sri Lankan salsa, caramelised onions with a hit of cinnamon and chilli, and grated coconut sambal. 

A generous mound of crisp nuggets of paneer (£5) with a nice chew were coated in a filthily tasty, vivid red, sweet, sticky and ferociously spicy sauce. It reminded me a bit of Chinese takeaway crispy chilli beef (in a good way). 

Vegetable kothu (£5) provided a welcome carb element to mop up the various curry sauces. Soft and light shredded roti was flecked with egg and fresh veggies including shreds of carrot and onions. It was a lovely side dish but perhaps a little light on spicing in its own right (unlike Ponnuswamy’s version which takes centre stage all by itself). 

Deliciously tender pieces of cuttlefish (£7) were coated in a delicately spiced light crumb and garnished with soft and sweet red onions. 

A curry of spoonably tender pumpkin pieces (£4) were bathed in a thick gravy heady with coconut and turmeric. This is the kind of veggie food which ticks all of my boxes. 

Clay pot fish curry (£5.50) was loaded with tuna in a delicious hot, sour and pepper sauce. But, the fish itself was sadly quite dry and chewy. We mentioned this to our excellent waiter who spotted the barely touched dish and it was taken of the bill without asking. 

Watalappam (£4), a traditional Sri Lankan dessert, reminded me of creme caramel. Warm with a lovely wobbly texture, it was a comforting concoction of coconut milk and sweet molasses topped with the crunch of cashews. 

We really enjoyed our meal at The Coconut Tree. It’s a fun and flavoursome independent addition to Cardiff City Centre. Our food wasn’t faultless but the warm and enthusiastic service more than compensated.

The Details:

Address - The Coconut Tree, 10 Mill Lane, Cardiff CF10 1FL
Web -
Telephone - 029 20343266

Sunday, 7 July 2019

SouvLike, Greek restaurant, Cardiff review

SouvLike is a recent addition to City Road’s cornucopia of kebab places. Their concise menu of Greek food focuses on charcoal grilled meat plates and wraps as well as a few dips and salads.

Their basic dining space and counter ordering system give the place more of a fast food joint feel than restaurant. But there’s a nice atmosphere thanks to their open frontage which brings the outside indoors. 

With no booze on the menu I drank a cherry pop which tasted like it had a day's worth of sugar in one small bottle. 

My friend and I took on the platter for four (£25.90), offering a cross-section of the menu's entire grilled meat options.

There wasn't a dud meat element on the groaning tray - from shreds of crisp yet yielding pork gyros to a snappily good smokey greek sausage twanged with fennel seed. A trio of souvlaki were all impeccably tender, licked nicely with char and full of flavour - it's hard to pick a favourite between the lamb, pork and chicken. The wildcard option, a biftetaki, was a filthily good cylindrical minced beef patty filled with an ooze of cream cheese. 

A perky salad of shredded cabbage, red onion, leaves and tomato was a little light on dressing but there was no faulting its freshness. 

The carbs didn’t let the side down. Crisp potato discs were topped with paprika and oregano and pitta bread pieces were enjoyably squidgy with pleasing charred bits. 

Finally, pots of thick hummus and tangy tzatziki were welcome dips. 

We really enjoyed our meal at SouvLike. If you’re looking for lovely yet simple grilled meat, bread and salad then I highly recommend it.

The Details:

Address - SouvLike, 171 City Road, Cardiff CF24 3JB
Web -
Telephone - 029 2048 1629