Saturday, 10 October 2020

Wellie Wednesday, Thomas by Tom Simmons, Pontcanna restaurant review

I love a retro classic - black forest gateaux, prawn cocktail, steak and kidney pudding, chicken kiev, sherry trifle.

They may be a bit naff but they’re the kind of big flavoured dishes which really float my boat.

Arguably though it’s beef Wellington which is the king amongst them. All those layers of flavour, the level of technique required to pull one off and its grandeur, make it an all time classic.

Mrs G decided she wanted a Wellington to celebrate her birthday and I was more than happy to oblige. Thankfully, Restaurant Thomas in Pontcanna have their very own Wellie Wednesday so I didn't even need to dust off my apron. 

Owned by chef Tom Simmons, a former Master Chef The Professionals quarter-finalist who hails from Pembrokeshire, he opened his Pontcanna restaurant on the former site of the Cameo Club just before lockdown in early 2020. Simmons also has a London restaurant, Tom Simmons Tower Bridge, which is still currently shuttered.

With its sweeping bar, dark green colour scheme, banquettes and parquet floor, Thomas has a classy speakeasy vibe going on. It’s a lovely place to spend an evening. 

Simmons' cooking is big on French technique and Welsh ingredients but on a Wednesday his focus is solely on beef Wellington. With a handful of snacks, a choice of two Wellies (meat or veggie) and a single dessert, it’s exactly the kind of concise and confident menu I like to see.

A stack of golden crumbed croquetas (£5), buried under a flurry of parmesan, were filled with intensely ’shroomy bechamel and joined by allium fragranced chive mayo. 

Juicy morsels of fried chicken (£6) were drizzled with lime mayo with a perky smack of citrus. Apparently they’d been brined in tea but it’s not something I picked up on; they were no worse off for their lack of PG tips. 

Whipped cods roe (£5) had a lovely silky and airy texture but could perhaps have taken a bigger oomph of fish. Salty salmon roe pearls and verdant basil oil thankfully delivered an extra punch of flavour.

Uber-thin sourdough crisps dotted with fennel seeds were a lovely vehicle to get that dip into my gob.

Light and crisp hunks of One Mile Bakery sourdough (4.50) were served with a stonking pair of spreads; deeply meaty and savoury beef dripping with marmite and whipped cultured butter with a beguiling funk of truffle. 

The snacks were all great but we were really only here for one thing and thankfully it didn’t disappoint. A generous tranche of ruby red beef fillet was the focal point of a handsome slice of Wellington (£28 including sides).

The ludicrously tender, well-flavoured beef was surrounded by meaty mushroom-studded chicken mousse and golden pastry. It was a lovely thing indeed and its accompaniments elevated it even further.

Robuchon-esque potato puree was probably more butter than spud. A delicate aroma of truffle added further decadence. 

Tender hispi cabbage had a compelling note of smokey char. 

A jug of beef and red wine jus delivered a further bovine hit. 

Warm chocolate mousse (£8.50) was everything I look for in a pud. Rich, slightly bitter, airy and topped with a crunchy crumb, it reminded me of a chocolate fondant in mousse format. Accompanied by silky, fragrant and slightly tart blackberry sorbet, it was a lovely contrast of hot and cold. 

We had a great meal at Thomas. If you’re looking for a decadent bit of beef then I highly recommend Wellie Wednesday. However, I'm sure you'd be in for a treat any night of the week though as Tom Simmons really knows how to cook. 

The Details:

Address - Thomas by Tom Simmons, 3 & 5 Pontcanna St, Pontcanna, Cardiff CF11 9HQ
Telephone - 029 2116 7800

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