Saturday, 21 March 2020

Ember, pop-up restaurant review, Cardiff

Eating in is the new eating out. 

With social distancing in mind, Mrs G and I made a last minute request to John and Ceri Cook for a takeaway option from their Ember supper club at Cocorico last weekend.

Having looked forward to it for months and never been to Ember, I really didn’t want to miss out and they very kindly accommodated.

With our four courses (£40 a head) bagged up to take up home, it was down to us to heat everything through (except for the steak which we cooked from scratch) and plate up.

It was all absolutely lush. And I don’t think my plating skills were too bad...

A thick, velvety and creamy celeriac soup was dotted with salty shards of smoked bacon and the sweet acidic lift of leek jam. A crunchy sourdough crouton was capped with golden tangy cheddar. 

A deep, sweet and smokey coarse chorizo ragu was accompanied by al dente pipe rigate pasta which cosseted the coarse sauce. 

With produce as good as Martin Player’s Himalayan salt-aged sirloin steak you’re already onto a winner. 

Super-tender and golden of fat with a properly beefy flavour, it was elevated further by it’s excellent accompaniments - a hugely umami and rich cauliflower puree; buttery, funky and caramelised truffled potatoes; and light and verdant greens. 

Finally, a brilliantly crisp and golden pastry case was filled with a soft frangipane and accompanied by tangy, richness balancing apple compote, barley fragranced silky custard and salted caramel.

This was an excellent meal from one of Cardiff’s most talented chefs and I look forward to eating John Cook's food again soon. 

In the coming months, Wales’ independent food outlets are going to have to come up with increasingly creative ways to make ends meet. This article from Find My Dine provides a useful guide to independent restaurants in South Wales which are now offering food to go. I'll be supporting them as best I can by eating as many takeaways as possible.

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