Saturday, 27 June 2020

Chronic Fried Chicken, Cardiff fried chicken review

One of the few gaps in Cardiff’s culinary landscape is a gourmet fried chicken joint.

Mr Croquewich gave us a glimpse of the awesome parmesan fried chicken sandwiches he plans to serve at Barry Goodsheds when he held a Penarth pop-up at Crafty Devil back in March. This weekend he's also running a pre-order pop-up takeaway from Bridge Studios in Fairwater.  

And there’s no denying the deliciousness of Leyli Joon’s Korean Fried Chicken babs and Anand George’s Keralan Fried Chicken which both feature on their wider menus of spice-packed street food. 

We also really enjoyed Ji's Taiwanese fried chicken just before lockdown. 

But, perhaps Chronic Fried Chicken is the dedicated fried chicken shop to permanently fill the gourmet poultry-shaped gap in the market. 

From the team behind Blue Honey, Chronic Fried Chicken pop up at Sully’s Cafe in the middle of town on Friday evenings and offer deliveries and collections. You can pre-order in advance via Instagram DM or order on the night via telephone if there are any slots still available.

When we pitched up for our socially-distanced collection, the beats of Dr Dre’s 2001 and aroma of fried chicken wafted through the air. 

With a compact menu of three burgers and two sides, Mrs G and I were able to pretty much put the whole thing through its paces.

The star of the burger show was a Nashville Hot (£8). A whopping juicy boned out thigh was coated in the crispest of rugged well-seasoned crumbs and drizzled with fiery Nashville hot sauce. A commendably crisp-based, soft-crumbed and sturdily textured Alex Gooch challah bun, American cheese slices, shredded lettuce and crucial grease balancing pickles completed this very tasty burger. 

A Honey Butter (£9) saw the whopping fried chicken fillet this time topped with a sweet-slick of honey butter, crisp streaky bacon, lettuce and pickles. It was very tasty but delivered less of a flavour hit than the Nashville Hot. 

A trio of chicken strips (£6) was one hell of a portion. 

The uber-crisp and juicy bits of bird were lovely dunked in a Shake Shack-style velvety and buttery cheese sauce. 

The only major disappointment was a diddly portion of fries which were dry and tepid.

I was impressed by the quality of the fried chicken from Chronic. It was a touch on the greasy-side but everything was well-seasoned, well-crumbed and well-proportioned. I look forward to seeing how their menu develops; if wings and loaded fries are involved then sign me up.

The Details:

Address - Chronic Fried Chicken, Sully's Cafe, 5 Quay St, Cardiff CF10 1DZ
Telephone - 07872 042187

Saturday, 20 June 2020

Chez Vous Grady, Cardiff French meal delivery

Over the last twelve months, Grady Atkins has re-established himself as one of Cardiff’s most highly-regarded chefs with his Paysan residency at Bloc Coffee.

With the prospect of social-distancing making Paysan no longer viable, Grady recently launched Chez Vous Grady, a dinner delivery service firmly rooted in the hearty classics of French cooking. In the future he plans to evolve the business into private cheffing and a web-shop of dishes.

For now, Chez Vous Grady offers five course meals for two for £75. You email Grady for date availability and with dietary requirements and your your menu is announced the week before it's socially-distanced delivered. Only minimum reheating is required with most courses taking a few minutes to prepare and the longest twenty minutes. 

Slices of coarse, earthy meaty country pate were accompanied by richness balancing pickled turnips and spruce tips. It was a very good pate but would have perhaps benefitted from a bigger pop of seasoning. 

It was lovely slathered onto thick hunks of rosemary-flecked crusty white loaf.

A pair of plump salmon boudin were light textured, big in salmon flavour and studded with pieces of fresh fish. They bobbed in a deep-flavoured, mint-fragranced vegetable broth studded with sweet garden peas.

Tender brisket in a meaty and glossy red wine sauce and a rare fillet topped with piquant salami butter were the lead players in a hearty main. Wilted greens, golden baby spuds, soft sweet beets and heritage carrots were delicious supporting characters.

A Ty Caws cheese selection comprised tangy, citrusy hop-coated Worcester hop, airy and creamy Rosary goats, and oozy, salty and funky Baron Bigod. 

Buttery caramelised digestives and short nutty oatcakes were so good I never want their shop bought siblings to pass my lips again. 

Fragrant gooseberry and rhubarb compote combined well with the Rossalin and digestives to make a killer cheesecake approximation. It was less successful with the other stronger cheeses. 

A fraisier cake was a feat of engineering and tasted every bit as impressive as it looked. Some of the many components of this cake-trifle hybrid included elderflower syrup soaked sponge, set vanilla custard, strawberry mousse, strawberry jelly, elderflower jelly, strawberry pieces and chocolate coated honeycomb. Woof.

We only managed half in one sitting. The next day’s leftovers were pretty special. 

A bonus dish of freshly podded borlotti beans with a nice bite to them were bathed in a tomato sauce laced with the umami hit of parmesan. Combined with hunks of leftover bread and black pudding, it made for a killer fry-up the next day. 

Chez Vous Grady combines big flavours, hearty portions and technically accomplished cooking. If you're looking for a decadent meal delivery then Chez Vous Grady is the one.

The Details:

Saturday, 13 June 2020

Mercado 44, Spanish takeaway review, Cardiff

Since opening their first Bar 44 in Cowbridge in 2002, the Morgan siblings have helped raise the bar for eating out in South Wales with their menus of modern tapas and chargrilled meat, kick ass booze and excellent service.

And former Bar 44 chefs like Tommy Heaney and Leyli Homayoonfar have gone on to add even more strings to Cardiff’s culinary bow. 

So, one of the first places I'll be beating a path to when it's safe to eat-in will unquestionably be Bar 44. 

Thankfully, to keep me going in the interim, the 44 Group have started a takeaway “Mercado 44” service of booze, snacks, deli items and dishes to finish at home. Orders are placed online during the week and socially-distanced collection takes place on a Saturday at their restaurants in Cardiff, Penarth and Cowbridge.

Having resisted the allure of Galician cider cured salmon, milk fed lamb and duroc pork belly, I settled on enough food for three weekend meals.

Crisp skinned and yielding fleshed confit duck leg (£3.50) warmed up in the oven in no time at all. I paired it with simple homemade smokey beans made with cannellini beans, harissa, stock and tomato puree.

Alex Gooch’s sourdough loaf (£4) was a delight toasted and transformed into vibrant pan con tomate. 

44 bravas sauce (£5) was the linchpin for a number of portions of homemade patatas bravas.

Bar 44’s patatas bravas are acclaimed for good reason - in fact they were named the UK’s best patatas bravas in the Battle of the Bravas 2017. Following the straightforward recipe on Bar 44’s website (Owen has done a number of how to videos during lockdown), the resulting mound of rustling golden potatoes were served with Bar 44's brilliant spicy, smoky, savoury and sweet bravas sauce and my half-arsed aioli (mayo, garlic puree and lemon).

The bravas sauce was also delicious served simply with roasted cauliflower. 

Bar 44’s croquetas (£6) are one of my favourite dishes in the world. The golden panko-crumbed orbs are filled with the silkiest of nutmeg-fragranced béchamels studded with nuggets of jamón.

A lomo bajo (£15) sirloin of ex-dairy cow was a cracking piece of beef. Bronze of crust, well-marbled of fat and super tender, the 500g cut was an ideal portion for two people. 

I of course washed it all down with a bottle of dry, almondy and woody Gonzalez Byass Viña AB Amontillado sherry (£15).

It’s so heartening to see one of Cardiff’s restaurant stalwarts back in action. Whilst I'm waiting for the return of their sit-in restaurants, it's great to be able to get hold of some of their top notch produce. 

The Details:

Address - Bar 44 Cardiff, 15-23 Westgate St, Cardiff CF10 1DD

Saturday, 6 June 2020

Baba's Indian takeaway, Cardiff review

Sometimes only a curry house curry will hit the spot. When I’m craving a comforting hit of familiar spices and carbs then only a chicken tikka masala, onion bhaji and peshwari naan will do.

Baba’s in Splott has been on my hit list for quite some time. Their menu of well-priced curry house classics (with a few more interesting street food dishes too) has received positive reports from a number of the Twitterati. 

We ordered via their website as they offer a range of freebies on a different spends. For just over £30 including free delivery, we had a whopper of a spread with enough for three massive plates of food. Our order stated it would take 45 minutes to an hour to arrive and it took exactly 45 minutes.

Cubes of tikka paneer (£5.95) were nicely marinated, licked with char and mixed with soft peppers and onions.

Tender chicken pakora (£3.50) were coated in a compelling lightly spiced light batter. It certainly sated my fried chicken cravings.

A freebie of wontons were the weakest starter - crisp and grease-free of pastry they were filled with slightly dry and under-spiced chicken. They were pepped up no end when drenched in mint sauce.

A small chicken tikka naan wrap (£5.50) was a fine kebab. The soft bread was stuffed with big-spiced tandoori chicken, peppers and onions.

A black bhuna (£7.95) had a lovely chilli heat and thwack of garlic. Generous hunks of lamb were situated towards the more tender end of the spectrum.

It was accompanied by a soft and buttery paratha which was a lovely mop but had lost its flaky crispness on the journey.

A well-spiced tandoori chicken shashlik (£7.95) was loaded with tender meat and vegetables.

An accompanying pot of guilty-pleasure korma sauce was every bit as rich, creamy and nutty as you'd want. Is it more a dessert than a savoury dish? Either way it’s still delicious. 

We really enjoyed our takeaway from Baba’s. Nothing was stodgy or greasy and everything was well-priced and generously portioned. If you’re looking for a curry house curry with a few interesting street food elements added into the mix then it’s well worth checking out.

The Details:

Address - Baba's, 18 Broadway, Splott, Cardiff, CF24 1NF
Telephone - 02920 488015