Saturday, 17 July 2021

Bully's, Pontcanna, Cardiff restaurant review

I think it’s fair to say that since I last visited Bully’s almost ten years ago, Cardiff's dining scene has changed a hell of a lot. 

However, since it originally opened in Llandaff 25 years ago before moving to Pontcanna in 2009, this 2014-15 AA Wales Restaurant of the Year has steadfastly gone about its business serving refined French food. It’s an impressive achievement for any restaurant.

Bully’s doesn’t have the feel of a hushed temple of gastronomy. The eclectically decorated dining room has a warm homely vibe. It’s a place where you can come for a romantic meal or a raucous Saturday night with mates.

I’d have happily ordered anything from the menu, which focuses on crowd pleasing dishes such as scallops, ham hock, steak, lamb and chocolate mousse, and the concise wine list of French classics.

Throughout the meal we worked our way through some lovely bottles of wine - gluggable Domaine Astruc viognier (£27) and Jules du Souzy fleurie (£39) and a nectar-like Domaine de Grange Neuve monbazillac (£41). You can tell how much fun we were having from the wonk on the picture below.

A complimentary bowl of tomato and red pepper soup combined sweetness with the warmth of black pepper and the richness of dairy.

A black truffle and cauliflower cheese mille feuille (£9.50) was always going to be a success, after all it contained “cauliflower cheese” and “truffle” in its title. Crisp pastry, caramelised cauliflower pieces and puree, a big ooze of blow torched comte and a generous drift of funky truffle were a lovely comforting combination.

Sweet white Cornish crab meat (£10.50) was cannily bound together with the components of a gribiche; egg, vibrant green herbs and the light acidity of caper and cornichon. First rate Wye Valley smoked salmon, lightly dressed leaves and a hyper crisp cracker completed the delicious plate.

Both mains were lovely examples of classic cookery.

Gloriously tender and well-flavoured pink lamb rump (£27) was joined by perky broad beans and asparagus, a glossy lamb sauce and a killer Glamorgan sausage inspired croquette filled with a silky cheesy, leeky and mustardy sauce.

A properly rare piece of fillet steak (£32) was served with an earthy mushroom puree, shimeji mushrooms, crispy shallots and an excellent meaty red wine sauce. Beef fat roast potatoes had a lovely tenderness and richness but lacked the expected crispness of their descriptor.

 Nicely caramelised roast heritage carrots (£3.50) were dotted with aromatic green sauce heady with coriander and cumin.

An ugly delicious bowl of soft mash (£4.50) was whipped through with bacon and tangy cheddar. It would have been a meal in itself.

Buttered green beans and broccoli (£4) provided some welcome lightness.

A layered “strawberries and cream” pud (£7.95) was a refreshing combination of crunchy shortbread crumble, tangy strawberry jelly, light chantilly cream and smooth prosecco sorbet.

Thick, rich and sweet chocolate mousse (£7.95) was countered by a cleansing fragrant coconut sorbet, whilst crunchy coconut granola pieces dotted with chewy fruit brought welcome texture contrast.

We had a whale of a time at Bully’s catching up with friends over lovely food and wine. It’s great to see the place on such fine form after a quarter of a century in the business.

The Details:

Address - Bully's, 5 Romilly Crescent, Pontcanna, Cardiff CF11 9NP
Telephone - 029 2022 1905

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