Saturday, 28 August 2021

The Glory Stores and Kuro, Roath

Since the Bottle Shop in Roath is still only open for takeaway and not for drinking in, I’m currently without my very own Central Perk, Rovers Return or Moe’s Tavern.

Prior to March 2020, I’d wander down there at least a couple of times a week and bump into mates in front of and behind the bar. And with a constantly changing roster of craft beers and wines by the glass, I’d never be short of something interesting to drink.

So, in the absence of my favourite boozing spot in Roath, I’ve had to explore potential new watering holes.

Two of the most promising have opened in the last couple of weeks.

The Glory Stores

The Glory Stores, on Upper Kincraig Street, is a provisions store selling quality booze, coffee, and snacks. They also have a small seating area and are open late until 9pm on Friday nights.

As well as selling delicious doughnuts and brownies from Pettigrew Bakeries, they offer a range of pies, cheese, cured meats and scotch eggs i.e. ideal food to accompany booze.

Top notch beers are available from The Kernel (£6) and Rothaus (£4.5), as well as the always very drinkable Cidre Breton (£4), which nicely balances fruit, acidity, tannins and barnyard funk.

Mrs G worked her way through some of the wines by the glass, including excellent glasses of albarino (£6.5), chablis (£8) and rosé (£8).

During a boozy evening we demolished a bevy of nibbles including compellingly smoky and salty fire roasted smoked almonds (£4).

Thick hummus (£4), with a sweet zingy tang of red pepper and tomato, was served with crisp crackers whilst a pot of dinky kabanos (£4) had a lovely chew and hit of smoke.

A killer half of game pie (£8) from Legges in Hereford saw crisp pastry and a layer of savoury jelly encasing coarse gamey meat adorned with tart cranberries. If that wasn’t enough, it was accompanied by pieces of milky Spenwood sheep’s cheese and cornichons.

We of course had to check out some more of the cheese on offer.

Sweet, salty and funky gorgonzola (£4) and nutty, grassy Pitchfork cheddar (£4) were both served with an excellent pear and nigella seed chutney that was sweet with an earthy hit of spice.

A focaccia sandwich (£6.50) was well stuffed with silky parma ham and more of that excellent chutney. But the bread itself would have benefited from a bit more softness of crumb.

I can see myself becoming a regular at the Glory Stores. The team running it are great hosts and it’s a lovely spot to while away a few hours.


The other place we visited recently is Kuro on Albany Road, which has taken over the site of the long-lived Trattoria Molisana. It’s another venue where there’s a very warm welcome from the front of house team.

Kuro's influences are global with a leaning towards Italian. Whilst the main restaurant offers unusual combinations such as lasagne with chicken, coconut and pineapple and risotto with mango, chilli and prawn, they also have a small bar area with a more familiar sounding snack menu.

They have a huge range of wines by the glass and we knocked back glasses of red-berry packed primitivo rosé (£12), creamy rioja blanco (£10), aperol spritz (£9), and a pint of San Miguel (£6).

One of the things which sets Kuro apart is their “aperitivo time”. In the Italian tradition, there are complimentary nibbles which accompany each drink (I guess it may be why the glasses of wine are generally a little pricier).

On our visit, this included stilton and manchego served with excellent olive oil-rich fresh focaccia and fruity grape chutney.

Indian-spiced chicken wings were nice and crisp but the spices could probably have been cooked out a little more.

We also had some more of that lovely bread.

We ordered some extra dishes off their snack menu including delicious blistered padron peppers (£4) with a punchy bravas sauce.

Macaroni cheese (£5) was made with al dente pasta, a light coating of savoury cheese sauce, crisp breadcrumbs and a grating of fresh truffle. It reminded me more of a grown-up pasta dish than the comfort food classic.

Crisp rabbit croquettes, filled with meat studded mash, would have benefited from a bigger hit of seasoning but were pepped up by a sweet pepper sauce and briny black olive tapenade.

Kuro is another spot that I’m glad to have in the area. There’s clearly a lot of passion from the team who run it and it’s another good option for a drink until I’m reunited with my beloved Bottle Shop.

The Details

The Glory Stores
Address - 1 Upper Kincraig St, Cardiff CF24 3HA
Telephone - 029 2169 0179

Address - Kuro Unit 11 The Globe Centre, Albany Rd, Roath, Cardiff CF24 3PE
Telephone - 029 2132 1331

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Thomas by Tom Simmons, Pontcanna restaurant review 2021

It’s been almost twelve months since we last visited Thomas by Tom Simmons in Pontcanna.

Then, it was for “Welly Wednesday”, a former weekly event where a condensed menu focused on the wonders of beef wellington. It made for a very special birthday meal for Mrs G.

In the meantime, Tom Simmons has firmly established himself as one of Cardiff’s best chefs, securing a glowing review from a national restaurant critic and recently opening Ground, a sister bakery just up the street.

This time we visited Thomas on a Saturday night, meaning the restaurant’s full menu was available - a range of snacks, starters, mains, sides and desserts focused on Welsh ingredients cooked with French technique.

Thomas’s dining space is unquestionably one of the nicest in Cardiff. Its dark green wood panelled walls, herringbone floor, and brass fittings all ooze sophistication.

With more dishes on offer compared to our last visit you’d expect us to put have something different through its paces. However, we ordered exactly the same snacks as last time because a) we enjoyed them so much and b) I’m a rubbish food blogger.

Tea-brined fried chicken pieces (£6) were ridiculously juicy and crisp and rugged of crumb with a background chilli heat and richness balancing lime mayo.

Ground bakery sourdough (£4.50) had a good crunch and chew - it was served with beautifully smooth umami-rich mushroom and salted butters.

Delicately golden crumbed croquettes (£5) were filled with a silky bechamel which honked of mushroom. A dusting of savoury parmesan and blobs of silky chive mayo added further decadence.

The finest of pastry tarts (£5) was filled with super fresh St Bride’s Bay white crab meat and a comforting old-skool spiced curried sweetcorn mayo.

Onto mains, and tender slices of blushing pink lamb cannon (£25.50) and yielding shreds of slow cooked shoulder were accompanied by an intensely savoury and tangy black garlic puree and a slightly thin but huge flavoured sauce. A lightly charred herb crust on top of the lamb shoulder didn't really add much to the plate.

A vegan main was top drawer. A seriously meaty, smoke licked steak of barbecued celeriac (£18) was joined by a flavour-packed thick romesco sauce, sweet onions, lightly crisped kale and an earthy and savoury aubergine jus.

Sides smashes it out the park.

Tom's chips (£6) outshone their billing. Fine slices of confit potato had been cut into chip sized pieces and deep fried to a perma-tan shade of brown.

Truffle mushroom mac and cheese (£6) combined all the good stuff - al dente pasta, a thick cheese sauce, a crisp breadcrumb top, and a huge savoury funk of mushroom pieces and puree and grated truffle.

Soldiering onto dessert, a muscovado tart (£8.50) had a wobbly set-custard vibe with notes of toasty brown sugar and an addictive twist of salt. Whilst it lacked a crisp base, crunch was provided in the form of a chocolate crumb. A malt-twanged ice cream and rich coffee caramel completed the delicious pud.

Thomas serves technically accomplished high end comfort food i.e. exactly the kind of nosh I like to eat. We had a cracking meal and I'll look forward to visiting again soon; that is if I can get a table as I gather they're now pretty hard to come by since they were featured in the national media. 

The Details: 

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

Saturday, 21 August 2021

A few great places to eat and drink in Bath, 2021

With its handsome Georgian architecture, numerous canal and riverside walks, and location just a short drive from Cardiff, Bath was our mini-break destination of choice for July’s scorcher of a heatwave. 

During the time we weren’t searching for shade and nearly fainting from heat exhaustion, we spent a great few days exploring the city’s excellent independent food and drink scene. Here’s our highlights:

Magu Diner

Magu cook their burgers the right way with smashed patties, steamed soft and sturdy buns, and a paucity of salad. I had the All American Smash (£9.50) with two well crusted hyper juicy patties, an ooze of American cheese and tangy burger sauce and gherkins to cut through the richness.

A Maple Bacon (£10.50) included crispy maple bacon and baconnaise in the mix. But, if you fancy something even more off the wall, their Flying Lotus features Biscoff spread, pecan peanut butter and chilli jam.


A great value city centre lunch option, Chaiwalla serves vegetarian Indian street food from their little hole in the wall. 

We had wraps (£5.50) filled with crisp freshly fried falafel and golden onion bhajis loaded with fresh chutneys and crisp salad

Suppliers of royally good cheese to the royal family, we purchased a small selection of Bath focused cheese including a creamy stilton-esque Bath Blue and a nutty Wyfe of Bath from the Bath cheese company.

An additional top tip, their refrigerated cheese room is an ideal spot to cool down during a heatwave.

The Scallop Shell

Beneath the Scallop Shell’s family friendly sea shack decor is a seriously good fish restaurant where there's a big focus on quality produce and precise cookery.

A well-caramelised and sweet plump diver-caught scallop (£4.50) was generously bathed in punchy and vibrant garlic and herb butter.

Fresh as you like crisp-skinned Cornish sardines (£7.50) and fried sourdough were balanced by a cleansing tomato salad with plenty of garlic and cutting acidity.

A whole Torbay sole (£17) pulled off the bone with ease. It was bathed caper butter.

Golden battered cold (£15.95) flaked into chunks beautifully. Accompanied by textbook tartare, old skool mushy peas and fluffy crisp chip shop chips (which could have been a shade darker), it was a cracking example of its type.

Electric Bear

Tucked away on an industrial estate a short walk along the river, Electric Bear is a quality modern brewery.

We smashed back a few crushable hoppy beers and mouth puckering sours such as A Zoom Landing pink lemonade sour.

Many of the UK's best breweries are present and correct at this city centre bottle shop and taproom from Deya and Yonder to Verdant and Pressure Drop.

We enjoyed a dank and hoppy Cloudwater New Normal IPA and a fruit-packed North triple-fruited tayberry sour.


Located in a bit of a tourist trap next to the cathedral, we were impressed by the cinnamon and cardamom buns (£3) from this Scandinavian cafe. Crisp crusted, super soft and heady with sugar and spice, they made for a lovely mid-morning snack.


Corkage wasn't quite as impressive as our last visit but we still enjoyed a few small plates and glasses of riesling and orange wine at this wine-focused restaurant.

Roasted broccoli (£6) was bathed in lemon and chilli oil and topped with a dusting of savoury grana padano.

Indian spiced tender cauliflower (£6.50) and sultana studded couscous were generously drizzled with tahini yoghurt.

Ras-el-hanout spiced roasted aubergine (£6) was accompanied by pickled cabbage and onions which slightly dominated with their acidity.

Beckford Bottle Shop

Another wine-focused small plates joint, Beckford Bottle Shop’s terrace is a lovely place to while away a few hours in the sunshine.

From Pierre Frick orange wine, to their own picpoul and coups of champagne, they've got a great range of stuff to drink.

Anchovies on toast (£4.75) were a simple combination of top drawer ingredients with mini pickled shallots bringing welcome cut through to the party.

Uber crisp courgette fritti (£6.75) were accompanied by golden honking aioli.

A first class raspberry fragranced brûlée (£6.50) was topped with thin toasty caramel, fresh berries, crushed pistachios and mini turkish delight pieces. It was the Middle East distilled into a dessert.

An affogato (£7.50), made with tonka bean ice cream and a bonus shot of caramel rum and a buttery oat biscuit, was a lovely boozy riff on a classic.

Natural wines, artisanal provisions and top notch baked goods, Landrace Bakery is right up my street.

A lovely tart was made with crisp shortcrust pastry, grownup hazelnut frangipane and a soft fragrant apricots. I'd have loved another one served hot with custard. Excellent cinnamon buns (£3) were crisp and soft with plenty of warming spice.

Yum Yum Thai

We knocked back some ice cold beers over a quick lunch at this Thai cafe, which is a member of the Sustainable Restaurant Association. Pad Thai (£13.95) was packed with whopping butterflied king prawns and licked with a good smoky hit from the wok.

Green curry (£9.95) was enjoyably fragrant and loaded with tender poached chicken and impeccably fresh veg.

We had a lush trip to Bath and there’s plenty more places I want to check out on my next visit from the Michelin-starred Olive Tree to the game-focused Elder and the new restaurant upstairs at the Landrace Bakery.