Saturday, 26 September 2020

Greek Village, Cardiff city centre restaurant review

On a sunny bank holiday weekend, Mrs G and I spent the day pounding the pavements of Cardiff.

Having worked up a good appetite we fancied an impromptu bite to eat for lunch. Almost ready to chew my arm off following a table availability wild goose chase, we ended up at Caroline Street’s Greek Village. 

A sister restaurant to City Road’s SouvLike, Greek Village serves an almost identical menu of charcoal grill meat plates, wraps, salads and dips. 

With an outside seating area and bifold doors, it’s the kind of airy spot I’m well into at the moment.

A pair of crisp Mythos lager (£3.50) tasted of Greek sunshine holidays. 

A deceptively hefty Greek salad (£6.50) was loaded with fresh cucumber, tomatoes, black olives and red onion and topped with a good hunk of tangy feta, olive oil and a dusting of oregano. 

Coarse hummus (£4) was big on chickpea flavour and served with slices of hot and squidgy griddled pitta. 

A groaning board of mixed gyros (£9.90) hit the spot big time. Golden, crisp and tender fat-flecked shavings of chicken and pork were well-seasoned with rosemary and heaped onto crisp chips and soft pitta. Fresh mixed salad and and garlic honking tzatziki completed the very tasty dish. 

We had a lovely and good value lunch at Greek Village. It’s a laid back city centre spot which fits the bill for a quick takeaway, light lunch or heftier feast.

The Details:

Address - Greek Village, 21 Caroline St, Cardiff CF10 1FG
Telephone - 029 2023 0720

Saturday, 19 September 2020

RomEat, Roath, Cardiff, Pizza by the slice review

To become the best, you have to learn from the best.

It’s certainly an adage which rings true when it comes to RomEat on Albany Road, a recently opened Roman-style pizza by the slice joint.

Owned by pizzaiolo Matteo, prior to opening his own venture he spent over two years under the tutelage of pizza maestro Tony Frawley at the brilliant Anatoni’s around the corner on Wellfield Road.

Whilst their pizza styles are dramatically different - one is Neapolitan and the other Roman - the attention to detail and quality of product from both businesses is of a similar ilk.

I visited RomEat on their opening day and was mightily impressed by their selection of pizza (£2.50 - £3.50 per slice) which were generously portioned and packed with toppings. 

It’s exactly the kind of all day venue that suits a glutton for all seasons like myself. I’ve since been back for weekday lunches, weekend brunches, light bites for supper and post-pub snacks; I’d probably have visited for breakfast too if I’d had the chance. 

Unlike the leopard spotted, soft and floppy Neapolitan style pizza which is so prevalent in Cardiff, Roman style pizza by the slice (pizza al taglio) is known for its airy and bubbly, crisp-based crust. RomEat’s iteration is damn fine. 

Highlights of our visits have been crisp salty pancetta with smoky provola and soft buttery potatoes (£3.50). 

Spicy salami, with sweet roast peppers and a dusting of chilli (£3) was a lovely combination. 

A margherita (£2.50) was a fine example of restrained simplicity - the light, fresh tomato sauce, creamy mozzarella and fragrant basil were all on point. 

Vegetarian options hit the mark too including lightly charred roast peppers, soft artichokes, fresh cherry tomatoes, mushrooms and basil (£2.50)... 

as well baked aubergine and creamy, tangy ricotta (£3).

Suppli and croquettas can both be filed under “tasty stodge” - an 'nduja, smoked provola and spinach suppli (£2) and ham, courgette and cheese croquetta were both full of flavour (£2). 

On one visit we had a blue cheese, ham and mushroom suppli fresh out of the frier and it was significantly lighter and tastier; melted cheese oozed from its core whilst the individual grains of rice fell apart with ease. 

Last and by no means least, RomEat’s tiramisu is well worth a look.

Light and creamy nutella and coconut tiramisu (£2.50) was every bit as much a guilty pleasure as it sounds.

A classic tiramisu (£2.50) had a lovely hit of coffee, light sponge and a compelling creamy custardy base. 

I’m already a big fan of RomEat and highly recommend a visit. Just be prepared for it to become an integral part of your lunch/brunch/snack/dinner repertoire.

The Details:

Address - RomEat, 123 Albany Rd, Cardiff CF24 3NS
Telephone - 029 2063 1171

Saturday, 12 September 2020

Le Champignon Sauvage, Cheltenham Michelin-starred restaurant review

It’s great to see restaurants’ regular customers itching to get back out and support their favourite places.

Take Cheltenham’s Le Champignon Sauvage, one of the UK’s most highly regarded restaurants and a bastion of French cooking. On a Friday lunchtime, it was a full house in the socially distanced dining room with owner Helen Everit-Mathias catching up with multiple regulars who she hadn’t seen in a few months.

With a cracking value £40 set lunch including snacks, bread, pre-starters and three courses of Michelin-starred cooking, I can see why the local customers were so keen to get back in the saddle. 

A pair of killer snacks set a very high standard which was maintained - a light choux bun was stuffed with a decadently silky and creamy taramasalata whilst a short walnut cookie sandwich was filled with addictively salty and funky blue cheese puree. 

A cup of sweetcorn veloute was the very essence of its headline ingredient. Sweet and creamy, it was topped with a crisp arancino fragranced with just the right amount of funky truffle. 

Bread is always a highlight at the Champion Sausage; a light and buttery brioche flecked with bacon and shallot and a soft crisp baguette were both lush slathered with butter. 

To start a meaty, flaky, crisp-skinned fillet of hake had a lovely note of umami-laden miso. Accompanied by al dente tender stem broccoli and smooth as heck puree, and a sweet-savoury miso dressing twanged with sesame, it was a lovely piece of fusion cooking. 

Pressed Cotswold white chicken was juicy of flesh and crisp of skin. Its accompaniments of verdant kale, meaty jus, a silky celeriac puree and a vibrant, citrusy, nutty kale pesto were absolutely bang on. 

Onto mains and a gurnard fillet was joined by light and soft squid ink gnocchi, citrusy and savoury ponzu dressing and a peppery watercress puree. 

Stupidly tender pork belly was topped with a wafer thin, glasslike crackling. A glossy, anise-twanged meat jus, sweet heritage carrots and another belting carrot puree combined to make a deceptively hearty dish. 

A gleaming glazed dome cocooned light and smooth bitter chocolate and nut-laced gianduja cremeux and light sponge. Vital cut through was brought to the pud by an orange ice cream which couldn’t possibly have tasted any more of citrus. 

Across the table, a wobbly and fragrant lemon verbena mascarpone panna cotta was topped with raspberry jelly and a super smooth raspberry sorbet packed with tart berries. 

At £3.50 for coffee and petit fours, it’s a bargain and an essential order. A cornucopia of delights didn’t have a dud - bubbly mint aero truffle and thick nutty caramel snickers truffles; smooth, fragrant salted lemon and coconut leaf fudges; a chewy almond macaroon ball; tangy blackcurrant jelly with marshmallow; gooey caramel topped chocolate brownie; and pistachio financier were all superb. 

We had an absolutely belting meal at Le Champignon Sauvage - it’s never disappointed whenever I’ve visited over the last thirteen years and it’s great to see the food and service on as fine form as ever.

The Details:

Address - Le Champignon Sauvage, 24-28 Suffolk Rd, Cheltenham GL50 2AQ'
Telephone - 01242 573449

Saturday, 5 September 2020

Eartha, Roath, Cardiff vegetarian and vegan cafe review

We've certainly started appreciating the wildlife on our doorstep a whole lot more since we’ve being cooped up at home.

We've taken up bird watching (buzzard, goldfinch, tufted duck, heron and great crested grebe have been my Cardiff highlights). 

And Mrs G has developed a succulent addiction which makes visits to City Road's Eartha all the more dangerous.

Located on the former site of Milgi, Eartha is primarily a rainforest-esque foliage boutique that also sells produce from some of Cardiff's best makers including Waterloo Tea, Heist, Hard Lines and Penylan Preserves. Their dining room and garden functions as a cafe with food served by Herbivore, formerly of Cathays Community Centre.

Herbivore's vegetarian and vegan food is full of interesting flavour combinations and local seasonal produce. Eating lunch in the calm of Eartha's yurt makes for a dramatic departure from the bustle of City Road.

A fine tousle of spiralised beetroot (£4.50) was seasoned with earthy spiced black cumin to make crisp and soft textured pakora served with a cleansing raitha flecked with cucumber and pomegranate.

Black olive doughnuts (£3.50) straddled the sweet savoury divide - I think I really liked them. Crisp of exterior with a slightly doughy and slightly cakey interior, they were nice dredged through a big citrus fragranced vegan aioli.

My pick of the dishes was a crisp black corn quesadilla (£6.50) stuffed with comforting soft-textured refried beans and tangy cheddar. Zesty pink pickled onions and spicy tomatillo salsa both added a punch of vibrancy whilst Cardiff salad leaves lightened the whole thing up.

Another standout was lightly toasted bread topped with fruity fresh tomato sauce, melted tangy goats cheese and soft textured marrow (£7). Charred courgette salad drizzled with black olive dressing was bursting with mediterranean freshness.

A crisp ciabatta (£6) was loaded with soft tofu, soft baked mushrooms and aioli with a whisper of gochujang. The tofu was billed as being marinated in maple and miso but it didn’t really make itself known - a shame as I'm sure a bigger hit of flavour would have seriously elevated things. Accompanying pickled slaw bought bags of crunch and bracing acidity to the dish. 

Stuffed, I of course ordered a slice of cake (£3.50) which was super moist, pleasingly dense and aromatic with orange blossom. It was topped with woody slices of pear which were the only element I wasn’t 100% sold on. 

We really enjoyed our lunch at Eartha. It's a lovely addition to the local community and they serve the kind of fresh veg focused food which I should be eating more of. It's just a shame that the added expense of a succulent purchase will be the consequence of every future visit.

The Details:

Address - Eartha, 213 City Rd, Cardiff CF24 3JD
Telephone - 07715 850530