Saturday, 30 November 2019

Calabrisella Cathays, Cardiff Italian restaurant review


Calabrisella is a Cardiff restaurant success story.

Owned by three Italian high school friends who moved to Cardiff to learn English, they opened their first restaurant in Canton in 2014, followed by a mobile pizza van in 2017, and now their third venture in Cathays in 2019.

Their well-priced menu covers the whole gamut from breakfasts to light snacks and substantial dinners with dishes including panini, fry-ups, arancini, salads, pizza, pasta and more involved specials.

Unsurprisingly for a restaurant located in Cardiff’s student epicentre, the place was bustling with youngsters on the night we visited. If it wasn’t for the smattering of parents treating their offspring to a meal out, Mrs G and I would have been the oldest people in the joint.

 
An Aprerol Spritz was very well priced at £4; it had a good amount of the citrusy aperitif in it but could have taken more spritz. All their other cocktails are cheap as chips too, including negronis, bellinis and espressos martinis. A Sardinian Ichnusa (£3.50) was light, clean and very refreshing. 

 
A pair of starters were tasty but totally unnecessary considering the size of the main courses which lay ahead.

A trio of gnarly mixed bruschetta (£5) tasted a lot better than they looked. The light and crisp toasted breads were sparsely topped with a slick of fiery 'nduja, a garlicky olive oil dressed dice of fresh tomato, and a creamy and savoury ooze of gorgonzola flecked with sausage meat. Three pieces of iceberg lettuce were the definition of "token effort". 


A bargainous arancino salsiccia and 'nduja (£2) looked more like a hockey puck than a rice ball but it was well-stuffed with distinct grained risotto interlaced with a good goo of melted mozzarella, sausage nuggets and a twang of spicy 'nduja. 

 
Things moved up a couple of gears with a pair of excellent pizzas - their mahoosive, thin, crisp, airy-crusted and super thin-based pizzas can hold their own amongst Cardiff’s best. 

 
A Special (£13.95) was the star of the show. This white pizza was topped with a megaton of gooey mozzarella, blobs of creamy Buffalo mozzarella, crumbled sausage, compellingly meaty and earthy porcini mushrooms, and a drizzle of contrasting cream of sun dried tomato. 

An Inferno (£11.50) was also excellent - the light tomato sauce topped with 'nduja, crisp and salty salami, black olives and slices of potent red chilli. We boxed up half a pizza’s worth to take home with us #ColdBreakfastPizzaBonus. 


I’m a huge cannoli fan (£3.50) and Calabrisella’s are the best I’ve had in Cardiff. The uber crisp yet brittle biscuit tube was stuffed to order with smooth citrus-twanged sweetened cream cheese. A dusting of pistachio crumb sealed the deal. 


I like Calabrisella Cathays a lot. It’s a buzzing and unpretentious place with delicious and good value food and friendly yet speedy service. I can see why their new branch is already so popular.


The Details:

Address - Calabrisella Cathays, 51 Cathays Terrace, Cardiff CF24 4HS
Telephone - 02920 227272

Saturday, 16 November 2019

Shawarma Laziz, City Road, Cardiff kebab review


With the quality of kebab shops on City Road, the difference between a decent kebab and a great kebab comes down to the minor details; like the fluffiness of the bread and the freshness of the salad.

Thankfully, Shawarma Laziz has it nailed on both counts. In fact, their bread and salad is probably the best I’ve ever had on City Road.


With shawarma in their name, it’s unsurprising where the focus of their menu lies. Chicken and lamb shawarma are available in samoon bread sandwiches (£3 - £3.50), wraps (£3 - £3.50) and plates (£6.50-£7.50). There are also a few shish, falafel, pizzas and fatayer (meat pies) thrown in for good measure. 


Mrs G and I both ordered a plate; a chicken shawarma with two naan bread (£7) for Mrs G and a mixed shawarma with chips and one naan for me (£7.50). Mrs G’s was the clear winner as the pile of chips on my plate meant she had room for a heck of a lot more meat. 


Both types of protein were well seasoned and very tasty - the chicken shavings crisp yet tender and the lamb shreds enjoyably soft.   

Chips were of the standard issue kebab shop variety; out of a freezer bag and into the fryer. They did the job.  


But, it was the bread and salads which were the star of the show. 

A trio of naan breads cooked fresh to order were as fluffy and soft as it gets. 


Impeccably fresh salads included zingy red cabbage, pitted olives, shredded carrot, marinated white cabbage, flat leaf parsley and a hot and sour pickle studded with gherkin and carrot which reminded me of curry house lime pickle. 


On a separate visit I ordered a chicken shawarma sandwich (£3) and this was the best of the bunch. The freshly baked samoon bread pocket was delightfully soft with a delicate chew. And it was stuffed with heaps of meat, fresh salad, and chilli and garlic sauce. 

 
I’m already a firm fan of Shawarma Laziz - and judging how busy it’s been both times I’ve visited there seem to be plenty of other Cardiffians who are too. In fact, their chicken sandwich is probably one of the tastiest things you can buy in the city for just three quid.

The Details: 

Address
- Shawarma Laziz, 154 City Rd, Cardiff CF24 3DR
Telephone - 029 2135 0843

Saturday, 9 November 2019

Janet's Authentic Northern Chinese Restaurant, Pontypridd Market


One of the primary reasons I write my blog is to celebrate the best independent restaurants in South Wales; places which otherwise might not get the airtime they deserve.

In the case of Janet’s Authentic Northern Chinese Restaurant in Pontypridd Market I don’t think they need any help.

It’s already been recommended to me countless times by people who live in the area and when we visited at midday on a Saturday lunchtime the compact yet stylish restaurant was already half full. When we left an hour later, it was pretty much a full house. 


Janet’s compact menu focuses on noodles, homemade dim sum, wonton soup and a handful of stir fries. There’s also a few Korean plates thrown in for good measure. 


Dishes were brought out as and when they were ready. This meant our rice dish came separately from our other mains; we didn’t mind but it might not work if you want your carbs served with your protein.

A groaning beef bibimbap (£8.95) saw sticky short grain combined with a mix of well-seasoned vegetables, tender stir fried beef, a runny yolked fried egg and a fiery gochujang based sauce. It mixed together to make a lovely melange of flavours and textures. 

 
Steamed siu mai (£7.50) were my standout of the meal. Spring onion twanged pork mince studded with sweet plump prawns was loaded into thin wonton cases. I could have happily guzzled a couple of baskets to myself. 


Korean spicy honey chicken (£6.90) was moreish as heck. A mountain of tender chicken pieces were coated in a crisp batter and well-drenched in a fiery, sweet and sticky sauce packed with garlic. 

 
Sizzling beef with spring onions (£7.50) was just tasty in comparison. Whilst the meat was tender and nicely fragranced with coriander, soy and sesame, the dish lacked sizzle and the meat tasted slightly stewed. 

 
We had a really tasty lunch at Janet’s. I’ll most certainly add it to my list of places to lunch after a swim at Ponty Lido.

A further bonus is that’s located just around the corner from the awesome Prince’s Bakery. A walnut, chocolate fondant, whipped cream and jam tart was exactly my kind of pud.


The Details:

Address - Janet's Authentic Northern Chinese Restaurant, Pontypridd Market, Market St, Pontypridd CF37 2ST
Web - https://www.facebook.com/Janetspontypridd/
Telephone - 07825 463685

Saturday, 2 November 2019

Asador 44, Cardiff Sunday roast review


As the nights start to draw in, it’s the time of year where I crave roasted meats, crispy carbohydrates, glossy meat sauces and excessive amounts of alcohol.

Wait a second, that’s any time of year. But perhaps a little more during the autumn and winter.

Having had one of the best Sunday roasts of my life at Cardiff’s Bar 44 the other week, I was pretty excited to hear that their sibling restaurant Asador 44 had just launched their own.


Alongside their usual menu of sharing meats and fish such as slow cooked Castillian milk fed leg of lamb and Segovian suckling pig, these Spanish charcoal grill masters have also added roast rump of beef to their menu. Having seen their Instagram video, there was only one dish I was ever going to order. 


Before we arrived at the main event we had starters to contend with.

A pork terrine (£8) was pig to the power three - coarse and soft of texture, it was loaded with spiced pork shoulder, salty jamon and earthy morcilla. Crunchy sourdough crisps, shavings of celeriac with the acidity of caper and cornichon, and a blob of a sweet yet sour puree were bang on accompaniments. 

 
Across the table, Mrs G really enjoyed her dice of beetroot (£7.50) with lovely notes of sweetness and acidity, drizzled with grassy olive oil and topped with a creamy and decadent hazelnut puree. 


Onto main course, and a hefty slab of 60 day dry-aged coal roast rump of Hereford beef (£18 including sides) was an absolute beauty of a piece of meat. Beautifully pink and ridiculously tender with a big beefy flavour, it had an enjoyably smoky exterior from being finished off directly on charcoal. 

 
Accompaniments were also very good; smooth and creamy cauliflower puree, a porky manteca Yorkshire pudding (which was a touch dry around the edges) and golden roast potatoes which didn’t have the same level of crispness as Bar 44’s. 

 
Sprouting broccoli and heritage carrots had just the right amount of bite. 

 
A leek gratin was the side dish star of the show. The sweet alliums were bathed in a thick, rich and tangy cheese sauce and topped with crisp breadcrumbs and salty nuggets of jamon. Woof.  

A mini jug per person of thick and glossy rioja and bone marrow gravy ensured there were no squabbles over the final drop of sauce. 

 
A family member also really rated their charcoal cod (£16) with spiced heritage tomatoes, prawn and tomato sauce; I wasn't quick enough to get a taste.


Desserts were mostly a huge success.

Burnt Castello cheesecake (£7) was beautifully light of texture with a good whiff of citrus and a smoky brûléed caramel top. It was joined by a nut-studded tuille and sweet baked fig. 

 
A smooth and creamy creme catalana (£7), heady with decadent saffron and orange, was balanced by small pieces of slightly tart poached rhubarb. 

 
However, a chocolate mousse (£8) was disappointingly grainy in texture. Even a genius accompaniment of sweet and savoury beef fat caramel couldn’t compensate. When the issue was flagged to a member of staff it was promptly whipped away and an alternative dessert offered (both desserts were also kindly deducted from the bill). 

 
Its replacement was a significant upgrade. Almond and quince tarta de Santiago (£7.50) was moist of crumb with plenty of aromatic fruit. Thin golden pastry, a dollop of floral moscatel cream and boozy tempranillo cherries completed the delicious pud. 


We had a delicious Sunday roast at Asador 44. Comparing it to Bar 44, I’d say Asador 44's meat is a definite standout. But, I think Bar 44’s roasties and Yorkshire pud just edge it for me. Both restaurants are unquestionably worth checking out for two of Cardiff's best Sunday roasts.

The Details:

Address - Asador 44, Quay Street, Cardiff CF10 1EA
Web - https://asador44.co.uk/
Telephone - 029 2002 0039