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

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