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February 2012

TAKEAWAYS ✙ ITALIAN ✙ INDIAN ✙ CHIP SHOPS ✙ COFFEE BARS ✙ ORIENTAL ✙ AND MORE

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South Wales Echo February, 2012

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From posh nosh to a sandwich at lunchtime, we’ve visited venues to suit all occasions...

GENERAL RESTAURANTS
■ Roast beef nicoise salad from Laguna Kitchen and Bar

T’S what you have been waiting for – our comprehensive guide to some of the best places to eat and drink in South Wales. Eating out is one of the nation’s best-loved activities and the standard of food is higher than ever. So if it’s an expensive meal at a posh restaurant, a takeaway on a Friday night, a sandwich at lunchtime or a family meal, we’ve visited venues to suit all occasions. We asked for your help in finding worthy winners of the South Wales Echo Food and Drink Awards 2011, and we weren’t disappointed with your suggestions. We were inundated with recommendations of your favourite places to eat out, including luxurious restaurants, takeaways, chip shops, coffee shops and pubs. The contest was divided into 11 categories: general restaurant of the year; Italian; Indian; Oriental; family; food pub/bar; local pub; takeaway; fish and chip shop; coffee shop and sandwich bar of the year. Our judges had the pleasure of sampling food at more than 150 nominated venues, all of which have been reviewed in this supplement. They have visited, tasted and deliberated and today we can reveal who the winners are. Standards were extremely high and as our judge in the Indian category said: “If any one of them was on my doorstep, they would become regular haunts because in all honesty there is not one restaurant I would not recommend you to try.” The quality and high standard of coffee shops, meant that this was one of the most difficult categories to judge too as many of them could have claimed top spot. As with all awards, there can unfortunately only be one winner in each category. But, as is evident from our judges’ reviews, many of the runners up are also well worth visiting. So sit back, relax and read our comprehensive guide to some of the hottest places in South Wales to eat and drink. Then all you have to do is decide where to go for your next meal out!

Laguna Kitchen and Bar
www.lagunakitchenandbar.com

Park Plaza Hotel, Greyfriars Road, Cardiff CF10 3AL 029 2011 1103
It’s hard for a hotel to create a true destination restaurant but the Park Plaza has succeeded thanks to a combination of first class food, highly professional and friendly service and a stylish and comfortable interior. It’s difficult to find fault with the Laguna where the subtle lighting gives it the feeling of a discreet and modern private club and tables are generously spaced. The food was among the best we ate. A jerusalem artichoke risotto (£5.50) was very rich, creamy and moreish while speck ravioli was silky and glistening with olives and artichoke hearts (£5.50). Sea bass came with a creamy crab risotto (£16) and a succulent chicken breast was presented with a rich, wild mushroom and tarragon sauce (£11). It’s the sort of food that makes you want to wipe the plate clean and it’s well priced, too.

READER OFFER: Free use of the Laguna health and spa facilities
when you buy an afternoon tea: See page 24 for terms and conditions

Walking into Bully’s, last year’s winner of the title, is a bit like entering a rather upmarket secondhand shop. Books are piled up and there is a bizarre collection of artefacts ranging from empty wine bottles and menus from restaurants visited by the owners to an old riding hat and Welsh rugby caps. The decor is informal but the food is taken seriously and the

5 Romilly Crescent, Canton, Cardiff CF11 9NP 029 2022 1905

Bully’s

service is highly personal and enthusiastic. The sophisticated menu, which changes monthly and has wines chosen to match each dish, included an enjoyable crab cake with cucumber, mussels and saffron bisque (£8.50) and an imaginative dish of chicken served with a chestnut tarte tatin, caramelised salsify and clapshot (£16). This is a restaurant serving good food with personality and professionalism.

Huddarts
RESTAURANT

‘For a unique taste in Fine Cuisine, whatever your occasion’
Winner of

Restaurant of the year 2002/2004 and 2008 Nominated for restaurant of the year 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2011

69 High Street, Cowbridge, Vale of Glamorgan CF71 7AF
For Reservations

Tel: 01446 774645

Don’t miss your Echo pull-out every Saturday for food reviews on all of our favourite

The food at Huddarts looks so pretty on the plate, it almost seems a shame to disturb it. But the well judged flavours and spot-on cooking makes its destruction worthwhile in this quaint restaurant which has become something of a Cowbridge institution over the last 16 years. The decor is traditional and rather safe, with tapestry on the walls and chairs but the food is always fresh and vibrant. Expect delicious nibbles with the menu and interesting ways with the vegetables. Roast quail was perfectly tender, filled with apricot stuffing and served with apple and parsnip puree (£6.95) while a supreme of guinea fowl was perfectly partnered with an orange and Cointreau sauce and sweet potato and carrot cake (£15.95). Very competitively priced for the quality of food.

69 High Street, Cowbridge CF71 7AF 01446 774645

Huddarts

with tapestries, candlelight and sparkling glassware, this restaurant has the feel of a baronial hall. In fact, it is a former malt house and the combination of its historic character and the bright modern art hung on the walls makes a visit feel like a real occasion. The £12.50 two course menu is remarkable value and the a la carte well priced. A chestnut and parsnip soup with wild cranberries (£4.50) was unusual and flavoursome while potted shrimps with crab meat (£7.25) was a generous, fresh tasting portion served with crisp watercress and two distinct dressings. Porchetta, slow roast pork loin, (£12.75) was wonderfully tender, stuffed with apricots and prunes and served with a cider and caraway jus which tasted of rich meat juices. Perfectly cooked mushroom risotto was turned into a feast with a pile of fresh asparagus and roast cherry tomatoes on the vine (£11.75). This is a restaurant with a lovely atmosphere and delicious food which deserves to be better known.
when two people order from the main menu: See page 24.

READER OFFER: FREE bottle of house wine

Ba Rooba

Illtud’s 216

eateries

Prospect House, Church Street, Llantwit Major CF61 1SB 01446 793800

With its 16th century walls, high ceilings hung

This cosy little restaurant in the heart of studentland was packed the night we visited but despite that, the service was really personal and efficient and the atmosphere lively with 1950s music. Stripped floorboards, bare wood tables and deep red walls give the place a casual, comfortable air. The kitchen must have been

97-99 Wyeverne Road, Cathays, Cardiff CF14 2BG 029 2037 3528

February, 2012 South Wales Echo

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mussels were full of the taste of the sea. Unusually, it was served with a bowl of vegetables on the side. An aged sirloin was succulent, flavourful and came with good fat chips (£18.50).

Mulberry Street
Iconic pictures of New York, home of the original Mulberry St, adorn the walls of this popular restaurant with its red and grey walls in the heart of Llandaff. The imaginative menu is ideal for those with smaller appetites as you can order all the dishes in tapas-style portions or stick to a traditional starter/main course format. Service was professional but the food was rather hit and miss. Best dish of the night was lamb rump served with a deep, rich redcurrant jus and decadently delicious sweet potato dauphinoise and well worth the £6.75 for a generously sized starter portion. A pea and mint risotto (£11.50) was nicely cooked and fresh tasting but the laverbread cakes (£5.95) were bland and over crunchy and the tempting sounding sticky lemon and honey chicken (£13.50) didn’t have a lot of flesh on the bones and was overcooked.

Garçon!

48 High Street, Llandaff, Cardiff 029 2056 4646

From the long mirrored walls, marble-topped tables and cafe chairs to the black pudding imported straight from France, this is a restaurant with a real continental flavour. The food is well cooked and tastes authentically French while the staff are chatty and welcoming. The strongly flavoured black pudding partnered scallops and cauliflower puree in an attractively presented starter (£8.95) while a meaty ham hock, duck and chicken terrine was served with a tasty grape chutney and light brioche (£7.25). Well judged sea bass was served with a delicious chive veloute, although we could find no trace of the advertised crab (£17.95) and a decent fillet of Welsh black beef with French fries was equally well cooked, exactly as requested (£24.95) but expensive. Drinks, too, can lift the bill with house wine £15.95 and a 250ml glass of bordeaux £8.90.

Upper 9, Mermaid Quay Cardiff CF10 5B2 029 2049 0990

under pressure but every one of our dishes was perfectly cooked. Tender scallops were served with a delicious Pernod and cream sauce (£7.25) while a salmon fillet (£11.50) was enlivened with a pink peppercorn and tomato sauce. Hake, too, was cooked just right and came with a delicate garlic and cream sauce with mussels and prawns (£12.75). Great crunchy sautéed potatoes, generous vegetables and an altogether enjoyable experience.

Wales Millennium Centre Bute Place, Cardiff Bay CF10 5AL 029 2063 6465
www.wmc.org.uk

ffresh

Caesar’s Arms
Cardiff Road Creigiau CF15 9NL 029 2089 0486
www.caesarsarms.co.uk

They’ve found a formula that works at this traditional country inn-style restaurant where you choose your raw ingredients from a vast chilled counter of fresh looking fish, seafood and meat. Quality ingredients are cooked simply but with precision and served up with baked potatoes or great crunchy chips. The decor may be a little old fashioned but the food is wholesome and delicious, turned out from an open plan kitchen area. Huge scallops (£8.95) were so succulent it almost seemed a crime to have them in a cream sauce, tasty as it was, and hake was beautifully cooked in a flavoursome Barbados sauce (£18.70). Good steaks too (plain ribeye £17.95) make this an ideal choice for fussy families and plain eaters as well as the more adventurous, although it is not a cheap option. ■ Welsh Black Beef steak served with salad, veg and new potatoes at Caesar’s Arms

With its partnership with Michelin-starred chef Shaun Hill and Wales the True Taste – champions of Welsh produce – this is a restaurant which showcases a fresh take on local ingredients. The large, light-filled restaurant overlooks the mix of old and new buildings in the bay and its modern interior is reflected in its contemporary and well presented cuisine. Roast figs were wrapped in Carmarthen ham and stuffed with Perl Las cheese (£6.25), an interesting and tasty take on an Italian classic, while pea mousse with minted salsa and pea shoots (£5.50) was wonderfully fresh and light. Taffy Apple cider braised pork belly (£14.95) was flavour-packed comfort food with a real taste of toffee apple. Mushroom stuffed chicken was served with a red pepper piperade (£14.25) given a real punch with chorizo. A restaurant befitting this impressive building.

This popular white-washed restaurant alongside a former railway station is a bit of a mish mash of styles, from its large comfy lounge filled with what looks like conservatory furniture to a dining area that has been made to look like an old fashioned railway carriage. What is consistent is the quality and value of its food and cheerful service which makes it popular for family celebrations. A three course set menu priced at £16.95 before 7pm and £19.95 afterwards is exceptional value for the standard of food and the ambitious a la carte menu with options including veal, pigeon and venison is ideal for a special occasion. Caramelised scallops from the more expensive menu were sweet and succulent, served daintily on sautéed courgette slices, carrot puree and saffron hollandaise (£8.50). A slightly overcooked piece of garlic roasted halibut fillet was served with tiny peppers filled with Mediterranean vegetables, pancetta wrapped asparagus and a basil vinaigrette (£17). With grilled steaks and homely dishes such as a rich liver on caramelised onion mash, there really is something to suit everyone.

Station Approach, Bassaleg Newport NP10 8LD 01633 891891

Junction 28

It is easy to forgive mistakes in a busy kitchen, what is less easy to forgive is poor service. After an hour and 10 minutes waiting for our starters, and a reminder to our waitress, our main courses were finally brought to us, minus the starters we had ordered. Too hungry to wait any longer we ate our meals – nicely cooked salmon in seafood sauce (£12.90) and a not totally successful pairing of crispy seabass (£11.75) served on salad with tomatoes and feta cheese – but were surprised that we received not a word of apology for the mix up. We were even more surprised to find that we then appeared to be studiously ignored for the rest of the evening, despite tables around us being offered desserts and coffee. We finally gave up and left without being asked if we wanted either.

25 Merthyr Road Whitchurch Cardiff CF14 1DA 029 2062 4000

Village Kitchen and Bar

The Esplanade Penarth CF64 3AU 029 2070 2512
www.thefigtreepenarth.co.uk

The Fig Tree

Mezza Luna
www.mezzalunacardiff.co.uk

113 Alexandra Road Pill, Newport NP20 2JG 01633 264 266
www.thewaterloohotel.co.uk

The Waterloo Hotel & Bistro

159 City Road, Cardiff CF24 3BQ 029 2047 2772
With exotic scenes painted on the walls trompe-l’œil fashion and a belly dancer who performs twice a week, this friendly restaurant serving Moroccan and Lebanese dishes is a good place for an evening out with a difference. Lovely, smiley staff serve up tasty, homely food. Highlights of our mezze (£12.95 for two) were herby rice stuffed vine leaves and roast aubergine puree enlivened with lemon juice. A generous portion of chicken shawerma (£11.95) was delicately spiced and had a real taste of home cooking. You can try a traditional tagine or barbecue where you can watch your meat being cooked in an open oven and you can eat two courses for £10.95 from Sunday through to Thursday.

In summer, you can sit outside for lovely sea views from this attractive restaurant on Penarth esplanade. There is great use of Welsh produce, lots of imaginative choices for vegetarians and an interesting beer menu. A Teifi cheese fritter with tomato and chilli jam (£5) made a great change from the usual brie and cranberry and arancini of butternut squash and sage (£5) was perfectly presented but a little bland. Bouillabaisse (£14.50) was packed with flavour and the fish and seafood perfectly cooked. Plump

Spectacular is the only word for the interior of this historic docklands pub reborn as a bistro. It is Grade II listed and the gold and turquoise Victorian tiled bar must be one of the finest in Wales. Original metal advertising hoardings adorn the walls alongside stuffed animal heads. When Newport Docks were at their height, the bar would have 100 pints lined up on it at the end of each shift. Now it’s a gastropub, locals queue up for the like of tasty scallops with black pudding and celeriac puree (£7.75) and Cajun and honey glazed duck with ginger and pak choi (£14.75), tender and with a good balance of sweetness and spice. A black pudding, gammon and chorizo salad with a portion of big fat chips on the side (£12.75) would have kept even a docker satisfied.

Indian restaurants: Pages 4, 5 & 6

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South Wales Echo February, 2012

INDIAN RESTAURANTS
Mowgli’s
I’ve found the dish of my dreams – Sumandar Kil Khazana (£12.95) – monkfish cooked in a light mustard and curry leaf sauce with coconut milk. The menu instantly appeals; there’s plenty of invention and different meats and shellfish to try. The ostrich starter – Anokha Tikka (£5.50) – is quirky, and has a texture and taste not dissimilar from venison. And the spicy crab cake (£5.50) starter was superb, coconut and chillies quickly kicking in behind the sweet crab meat. A duck main course in a tandoori sauce (£11.95) was a tad heavy for my taste but went down well with the Spanish red wine (£10.95). Food presentation is first class, there are nice touches such as fish-shaped dishes, and service is superb. Mowgli’s is simply laid out, quite minimal in appearance and lets the food do all the talking. It is easy to see why it has quickly established a strong following in a part of town where competition is fierce.

151 Crwys Road, Cardiff CF24 4NH 029 2034 4511

■ Mowglis owner

READER OFFER: 25% off your

food bill: See page 24 for terms and conditions

Zaman Ahmed, far left, and chef Nurul Ahmed, and some of their dishes. Above, the Shagor Jhinga and right, Lamb Shank

PICTURE: Richard Swingler ©

empire
Indian Cuisine
BANQUET NIGHT EVERY WEDNESDAY EVENING
151 Crwys Road, Cardiff. CF24 4NH

134 Whitchurch Road, Cardiff CF14 3LZ 029 2038 3222

Mint & Mustard

at the forefront of the very best in

Finalist in the Echo 2011 Food and Drink Awards
We welcome you to try our new inspirational Spicy Dishes as well as our tasty original ones. A real taste of India in a modern, sophisticated and relaxed atmosphere.

£12.95pp
Let us change your perception of Indian Dining

(Anything from the menu range eg starter, main meal, rice, naan/side dish, dessert or coffee to finish, includes all sea food.

157 - 159 Albany Rd, Roath, Cardiff, CF24 3NT Please call for more information Tel: 029 2048 5757 / 029 2048 5959 www.empirerestaurant.co.uk OPENING TIMES: Lunch 12pm-2.30pm every day except Friday’s, Evenings Mon-Sun 6pm til midnight

With this voucher. (Does not apply to other offers)

20% OFF

NORMAL MENU

asturi K
Authentic Indian Cuisine

Tel: 029 2034 3705 WWW.MOWGLIS.CO.UK
Kasturi Mega Deal

The Nandu (£8.50) – soft-shelled crab – was an exceptional starter, it raised the bar to new heights, and was beautifully cooked and presented with a taste to match. It was, to be fair, given a good run by the scallops in a tomato and basil sauce (£7), the melt-in-your mouth Syrian beef (£11.50) main course and superb sharp tiger prawns (£12.95) in a chilli and tamarind sauce. Attention to detail is first class, the presentation is outstanding and service was mostly friendly and informative. The atmosphere in this modern glass-fronted restaurant, which attracts all ages, is always lively with a good buzz. This is an exceptional restaurant.

Anything from the range of menu, e.g. starter, main meal, rice, nan, side dish. includes all seafood Starter, main meal, side dish, rice or nan. Excludes all seafood Starter, main meal, rice or nan. Excludes all seafood Takeaway Offer: Buy 2 or more dishes get 1 free ! For online order log on to www.kasturirestaurant.co.uk www.kasturicurry.co.uk

£13.95 £9.95 £7.95

5 Course Kasturi Special Meal

3 Course Kasturi Specail Meal

Save money and bring your own wine and beer when dining in !

Tel: 029 20233511

February, 2012 South Wales Echo

5

Balti Empire
157-159 Albany Road, Cardiff CF24 3NT 029 2048 5757
What a great little find this is. A lovely, intimate, modern and well lit restaurant with a menu that spoils you for choice with dishes that shout “try me”. The spicy fish cake starter (£3.50) was delicious, as was the king prawn chad puri (£3.90). The Empire special – stuffed chicken (£7.90) – was just what it said on the tin, special, while the king prawn Nawabi Bahar (£10.90) with aubergine and coriander was a delight. Presentation was superb, service attentive and it was good value for money.

Balti Cuisine

103-105 Woodville Road Cardiff CF24 4DY 029 2022 8863

Vegetarian Food Studio

If you sit in the heart of student land then you have to make that work to your advantage and the Balti Cuisine does just that. It’s a busy, modern full-length glassfronted restaurant, confident in its appearance and its delivery of very well priced food. While price is exceptional – naan and rice are included in the price of many dishes – quality is not sacrificed. The quails (£9.50) in a dry sauce disappointed, purely because of the lack of meat on the bone, but the coriander murgi lamb (£8.50) was a plus, the lamb tender and complemented by the medium spices in a yoghurt sauce. Minced lamb and spices wrapped in pastry (£2.95) was the stand-out starter. In a full sitting service was slow, but the restaurant has a good buzz.

Moksh

Bokhara Brasserie

This curry house is a complete contradiction – it should be so wrong, but in fact you end up loving its quirkiness. It’s little more than a café, serving Indian delicacies from a large fridge unit as you enter. The tables are basic and the portions almost too generous, particularly the mixed platter (£3.95). The food is largely based on southern Indian cuisine, lots of pancakes with chutneys and cheese. I particularly liked the roasted aubergine dish (£4.55) and spinach paneer (£4.55) but found the pudla (£3.15) – gluten-free chickpea flour bread – bland. The restaurant was busy and has a good following and it’s an experience every meat eater should explore. Take your own wine. A huge plus is the service and the explanation of the extensive menu.

109 Penarth Road, Cardiff CF11 6JT 029 2023 3506

5 Castle View Shopping Centre, Nantgarw Hill, Caerphilly CF83 1SN 029 2088 9993

Castlegate

Castlegate sits in a little shopping complex with excellent free parking on the fringes of Caerphilly. The interior is a treat – warm light and wood furnishings complemented by an aqua blue colour scheme peppered with colourful modern art. Service was superb, with recommendations to give a balance of dishes when sharing. The starters were huge, the king prawn puri (£4.95) a meal in itself, while the mixed tandoori (£4.95) offered tender lamb and chicken. The special chicken bhoona (£7.50) was beautifully spiced while the Lahore Balti (£9.95) with prawns, chicken and lamb with spinach disappointed, the tiny prawns tasteless. One negative – the poppadoms tasted stale and gave a poor first impression.

Ocean Building, Bute Crescent Cardiff Bay CF10 5AY 029 2049 8120

The first impression of Moksh is “wow”. Great styling, dark wood surrounds but well lit, TV screen and music but not overpowering. The second impression is the menu – original and innovative dishes that make you spoilt for choice. And then comes the presentation, when again the originality stands out – my lamb gosht (£13) was served in a sealer kilner jar which contained the medium lamb curry with mince, spaghetti and fried egg. The starters were exceptional, notably the Moksh three-way fish dish (£7) – soft shelled crab, crab cake with coriander and mint sea jelly bubbles, and fish Amritsari in a curry mayo. All were beautifully subtle tastes. Not far behind were the prawns in aromatic, mild curry sauce stuffed into miniature Yorkshire puddings (£6). It is hugely impressive, a special occasion restaurant of exceptional quality.

This Indian restaurant inside the Court Colman hotel sits out in the countryside a few miles north of Bridgend and has won many awards. On a midweek night it was almost full, which came as much as a surprise to the staff as to me, and as a result service was slow. But the food was excellent, the tandoori fish (£5.25) and well-spiced chargrilled lamb chop (£5.25) starters particularly impressive, while the main course of minced lamb with peas infused with garlic and ginger (£10.95) was a notable success, as were the prawns masala (£10.95). The atmosphere was good but the interior decor is a little staid and tired, and could do with a refresh. Food wise though, there’s little to fault.

Pen-y-fai, Bridgend CF31 4NG 01656 720212

Golden Spice

Here’s a restaurant that has built a strong and growing reputation for well-priced fine Indian food. The Pathili chicken (£7.50) with fresh herbs, coriander, garlic, mint and yoghurt was beautifully spiced, hot but not overpoweringly so, while the king prawn bahar (£9.95) was mild and sweet, the masala, almonds and fenugreek giving a distinctive taste. Pricing is competitive – the house merlot is £8.95 a bottle – and naan and rice come in under £2. Service is attentive but not OTT. One niggle: the menus had hand-written increases on them which didn’t give a good impression.

15 Boverton Road, Llantwit Major CF61 1XZ 01446 796050

Pontyclun might not be first on the lips when considering a drive out to eat, but it really is time to think again as the Palm Tree is one of several eating establishments with growing reputations in this town. The Malabar mussels (£3.75) and the Batara vegetable puri (£3.25) were stand-out starters while the main course of Chooze Aurchaulika Murghir (£7.25) was an excellent chicken dish of beans, coriander and green chillies; hot but not to the point of losing taste. A couple of minor niggles; the menus were grease-marked and seating in the booths close to the kitchen and toilets feels a little isolated. One big plus: excellent value for money.

79 Llantrisant Road, Pontyclun CF72 9DP 01443 237194

Palm Tree

Kasturi

129 Crwys Road, Cardiff CF24 2NG 029 2023 3511

Good value, good food, first class service. The Machee bhuna (£7.50) fish dish was superb, chunks of boneless white fish not overpowered by the mild sauce. Another top dish was the Achari chicken (£7.50) – ginger, lemon zest and homemade pickle giving a real kick to the meat. Garlic king prawns (£4.90) were beautifully presented as a starter, as was the Haryali chicken tikka (£3.50) in spinach leaves – don’t be put off by the vivid green colour, the taste is what matters. The food is first class and well priced. It does not have a drinks licence, but you can take your own. A special mention for the service – genuinely warm and helpful, it made you want to return.

You sense that the Bombay Blue is borderline to being very special. The food is excellent, a creative “want to try” menu of chef’s specials, a modern interior and definitely a feeling that you would want to come again. One quibble was that the menu was held together by sticky tape and a little grease-marked. The starters sparkled: barbecue chicken in a crisp pancake and garlic Jhinga prawns with garlic and coriander (£4.95). The well-cooked meat and seafood was not lost in the strong flavours. The Bawarchi Kadi Murgh (£9.25) – breast of chicken stuffed with mushrooms in a light well-spiced yoghurt based sauce – was a real find and one to return to, while the sizzling lamb (£9.55) was well presented and excellent. Service was superb.

27a Cardiff Road, Nantgarw CF15 7SS 01443 842828

Bombay Blue

More Indian restaurants: Page 6

An attractive restaurant offering an interesting menu is always a good starting point. But the quality of the food was mixed – a very good well-spiced unusual liver starter (£3.95) was countered by a very bland tasting prawn puri (£4.95). The Mumbai sizzler (£8.95) – strips of chicken cooked in onions, peppers and coriander – was excellent but the Goan fish masala (£7.95) suffered because the white fish, although well filleted, was tasteless, and overwhelmed by the ginger, lemon and aromatically spiced sauce. The naan was barely warm. Excellent service, a couple of quality dishes and good value for money are real positives.

66 Cowbridge Road East Canton CF11 9DU 029 2039 8748

Eurasian Tandoori

Don’t miss your Echo pull-out every Saturday for food reviews on all of our favourite

TREAT THAT SPECIAL SOMEONE TO A DELICIOUS VEGETARIAN INDIAN This Valentine’s day, open just for you and your loved one. Ring now for details

FOOD STUDIO



Open 11.00am- 10.00pm (Last Orders 9.30pm)

eateries

Booking is essential. Bring your own! Corkage £1 per person

AWARD WINNING RESTAURANT Finalist in the 2011 Echo Food and Drink Awards

www.vegetarianfoodstudio.co.uk

109 Penarth Road, Grangetown, Cardiff Tel: 02920 238222

ALL MAJOR CREDIT CARDS TAKEN

6

South Wales Echo February, 2012

INDIAN RESTAURANTS
handful of tables in midweek gave it an unexpected warmth in a restaurant that can handle 80 covers. Little wonder that it pulls in regular diners from the valleys, Cardiff and Bridgend. king prawn butterfly (£4.10), but again the single prawn was overwhelmed by too much batter.

Haveli

I loved the tapas-style starters, mixing and matching four starters for £7.95. The garlic mushrooms were sensational, as was the jhinga puri – big meaty king prawns topped with the puri bread. On the mains specials the chicken in spicy chilli sauce, Murgh Mirchi Lahsuni (£8.95), had a potent kick – we were warned – while the lamb Malabar (£9.95), though predominantly tender, was served in a dry coconut-based sauce. Sadly the cod (£12.95), in coriander and lightly spiced, was beautifully cooked but marred by poor filleting. Bones in a thick sauce are a complete no-no and spoilt what otherwise would have been a super dish. Haveli has a good buzz, is an attractive light and airy restaurant with contemporary artwork and service is excellent.

157 City Road, Roath, Cardiff CF24 3BQ 029 2048 2882

Janata Palace
■ Chooze Aur Chaulika Murghi

This is a fairly minimalist and well lit restaurant offering excellent service and an extensive menu of house specials at competitive prices. The standout dish was the tandoori king prawn karahi (£12), while the skewered chicken with spinach (£3.50) was an impressive starter. Staff were attentive and chatty, happy to explain the menu, and a

34 Cowbridge Road, Pontyclun CF72 9EE 01443 449899

Indiaah Cuisine

This is a traditional Indian restaurant with Indian scenes, music, red pillars, chandeliers and elephants, and the menu reflects that traditional feel. Portions are generous and prices are competitive. The tandoori mixed grill (£9.40), as you would expect, was a complete meat feast, but a little over-facing while the non-vegetarian Thali – individual dishes of chicken tandoori, lamb pasanda, prawn massala, “meat curry”, pilau rice and naan – was definitely a dish for two and at £10.20 great value. Best of the starters was the

325 Cowbridge Road East, Cardiff CF5 1JD 029 2038 3101

The screen at the end of the restaurant was showing a Bollywood film which was as hot, if not hotter, than the food! And for a Saturday night, trade for takeaways was a lot brisker than the sit downs, probably explained by the midweek offers. And this is a good restaurant with superb food, friendly service and competitively priced. The salmon (£11.95) main course was a major hit, with subtle spicing and a kick of coriander, while the Bengal Shai (£8.45) – lamb in a well-spiced mince sauce – was again a standout dish. The tiger king prawn (£5.95) starter and mixed tikka (£4.95) were well presented. On my return list.

89 Caerphilly Road, Cardiff CF14 4AE 029 2062 6220

Jamuna

Takaways: Pages 20-21
www.nahinspicecentre.co.uk

Est. 1987

As we celebrate our 25th year, The Star of Wales would like to thank all customers past & present. We look forward to welcoming you in our anniversary year!

AUTHENTIC INDIAN MEALS JUST HEAT AND EAT!

taken for Valentines Day ♥
Opening Hours: 6pm-12am

♥ Bookings now being

BANQUET NIGHT EVERY WEDNESDAY EVENING

151 Crwys Road, Cardiff. CF24 4NH

A new style of Indian takeaway. You pick up chilled Indian ready meals with heating instructions for Ovens and Microwaves A great idea, as you can collect the food earlier in the day and heat it when you are ready to eat. Also a large selection of spices in stock including fresh spices.

£12.95pp

(Anything from the menu range eg starter, main meal, rice, naan/side dish, dessert or coffee to finish, includes all sea food.

NAHIN SPICE CENTRE
TANDOORI TAKEAWAY 314 CAERPHILLY ROAD, HEATH, CARDIFF, CF14 4NT

SERVING THE COMMUNITY SINCE 1989

438 Cowbridge Road East, Canton, Cardiff Tel (029) 2039 3222 • (029) 2022 5848
www.starofwales.co.uk

With this voucher. (Does not apply to other offers)

20% OFF

TEL: 029 2052 0360 • FAX: 029 2052 0757

NORMAL MENU

e-mail: info@nahinspicecentre.co.uk Open Monday to Friday 3pm - 10.30pm Saturday 12 noon - 10.30pm Closed Sunday. Open Bank Holidays BEST TAKEAWAY OF THE YEAR 2005 & 2006

Tel: 029 2034 3705 WWW.MOWGLIS.CO.UK

HIGHLY COMMENDED 2008 & 2009

Est 1957
Our reputation for fine food with excellent service has established our name in the capital for more than 50 years. Whatever the occasion, our private function room makes the ideal destination. We look forward to welcoming new customers to join our established friends, in a warm and relaxed atmosphere whilst enjoying excellent food and service.

• Open 7 days a week from 6pm • Modern Design • Private Function Room • 25% off Takeaway Meals • Easy parking

CUSTOMER LOYALTY CARD
ask for details

Best Indian Finalist

103-105 Woodville Road, Cathays, Cardiff • Reservations

☎ 029 2022 8863

February, 2012 South Wales Echo

7

SANDWICH BARS
10 Mill Lane, Cardiff CF10 1FL 029 2037 7668

Juboraj

It seems as if the Juboraj has been around forever, part of the establishment of “top-end” Indian restaurants at the heart of the city and still a stalwart of Mill Lane. The food was of high quality, a superb duck dish (£11.95) and a chicken dish with olives (£11.95) were the highlights. A Shami kebab starter (£5.95) was also very good. Presentation of food in copper dishes was first class, but the service was disappointing, bordering on a little complacent on our visit. Shabby menus and tired decor didn’t help.

The chopped prawn and ginger deep fried balls (£2.95) were a subtle and very tasty starter, but the huge bowl of mussels (£4.95), while tasty, were overpowered by a thick clinging masala-style sauce. The chicken Nawabi (£6.95), in a sweet coconut, cream and yoghurt sauce, was very sweet, while the Hass Tarkari duck (£9.95) dish was a generous portion, the duck breast well spiced but overcooked for my taste. Service was outstanding, the waiters picking their moments to be attentive and offer advice with good humour. One quibble: I felt the long and narrow restaurant suffers for being too dimly lit.

25 Mill Street, Tonyrefail Porth CF39 8AB 01443 673081

Mouchak

■ A New York Hoagie

New York Deli

Star of Wales

This is a long-established “old school” traditional Indian restaurant with stand-out service, attentive but not overbearing and offering advice when asked. The Machli Biran (£4.95) salmon steak starter was beautifully spiced, not losing the flavour of the fish, while the tandoori king prawns (£5.25) were meaty, hot and spicy. The chicken stuffed with minced lamb – Hydar-e-bahar (£12.95) in a rich sauce – came complete with pilau rice and salad and could be a meal for two, slightly over-facing you on the plate. The Shatkora Ghost (£12.95) – lamb with tropical citrus fruit – was much lighter with the sharp fruits complementing the tender lamb and rich sauce.

438 Cowbridge Road East Cardiff CF5 1JN 020 2038 3222

20 High Street Arcade Cardiff CF10 1QR 029 2038 2388

The New York Deli isn’t really a sandwich shop, it’s a temple to the incredible things you can do jamming bits of meat, cheese, gherkin, mustard and tomatoes between two bits of bread, bagel or hoagie. It should be in a special temple-to-incredible-things category. It is a touch expensive. It’s somewhere city centre workers go on payday because it’s a bit too pricey to do every day. If there were a special-lunches -to-have-on-payday category it would have no competition. It also sells Snapples. These

are so outrageously good, the New York Deli might be more at home in the fine dining section. It has also launched a Richie Parks fundraising toasted rye-bread sandwich packed with salt beef and melted cheese that is both sensationally lip-smackingly fantastic and raises money for the heroic peak-climbing sportsman. This is the reason – against stiff competition – that it won. ■ Richard Parks special £4
coffee, tea or regular can with any bagel, sandwich or hoagie: See page 24 for terms and conditions

READER OFFER: FREE

It is good to see Indian restaurants delivering exceptional fish dishes beyond the normal prawns. It requires considerable skill to let the fish “drive the dish”, the spices complementing rather than overpowering. Cardamom scores highly here, with a well spiced salmon tikka (£5.95) starter and a superb sea bass Bengal Bhuna (£10.95). The tandoori lamb chops (£4.50) were another stunning starter, but I was less convinced by the king prawn noodles (£11.95). This growing experience of seeing pasta on an Indian menu jars, the rich sauces making the noodle dish just too heavy for my palate. Full marks though for invention. On a busy night there was a good vibe.

442c Cowbridge Road East Cardiff CF5 1JN 029 2023 3506

Cardamom

Fresh

185a Cowbridge Road East Cardiff CF11 9AJ 029 2022 0026
This restaurant opened too late to be entered in this year’s Food and Drink Awards but chef Annan George has created something truly spectacular in this part of Canton. Eating here isn’t cheap, but it is unforgettable.

Purple Poppadom,

You get the feeling that if the saintly and motherly Greek harvest goddess Demeter was wandering through Cardiff she’d be quietly impressed by Fresh. Demeter symbolised the fact that organised agriculture made man different from the animals. She was civilisation. Fresh, with its changing cast of specials, its selection of quality ingredients waiting to be happily made into baguettes or salads on demand, and its speedy and polite service, is one of the most civilised takeaway lunch spots in Cardiff. Not only does it feed the ever-replenishing queue that starts building before midday and rarely disappears before two, but it does so with a touch of class. ■ The Echo visited just before Christmas, and thoroughly enjoyed the turkey special at £3.50.

32 Royal Arcade, Cardiff CF10 1AE 029 2022 3158

B Getti Junction

312 Heathwood Road, Cardiff CF14 4HT 029 2075 5563

Comfy seat. Crispy bacon in a crusty baguette sliced in two with a generous dollop of brown sauce. Hot coffee in a mug and saucer. Soft rock on the radio. Outside, in the rain, seen through the wall of windows across the front of the shop, Cardiff unhurriedly goes about its business. If there’s a more comforting, and comfortable cafe in Cardiff than B Getti junction, it is well hidden. A stop here is like chamomile on a sunburnt back, a stiff drink after a long day or a break in the traffic

during a congested drive. With a menu of panninis, baguettes, salads and gourmet specials, and a decent coffee, this is a top notch sandwich shop. ■ Baguette and coffee, eat in, £3.80

Devonshire Pantry
117 Caerphilly Road, Cardiff CF14 4QA 029 2061 5800
A club sandwich is a tough prospect for a small cafe. Too dry and it’s inedible, too soggy and the tower of toast and contents just falls to bits. The person who served the Echo in the small Devonshire Pantry on Birchgrove Road nailed it, and even managed to do three other things at once. The contents were unusual – hot bacon and fresh, crunchy lettuce on one layer, coronation chicken on the other – but they worked. The Devonshire Pantry is a blackboard, a sandwich bar, a drinks fridge and a couple of stools. The friendly staff offer free delivery and you can order by telephone or even online. It’s an impressive little operation. ■ Club sandwich, £3

8

South Wales Echo February, 2012

ITALIAN RESTAURANTS
La Vita
From the second you walk into Gemelli, you know you are somewhere special. From the elaborate decor on the walls and ceilings, to the fresh lilies on the tables and the way you unwrap your cutlery from a small wooden case, you know that everything has been done with precision and careful thought and planning. It is extravagant without being distasteful and you can’t help but be impressed with everything you are

La Vita feels authentic and has a great ambience to it. You immediately feel relaxed and it is in a perfect location for people watching as it sits opposite the castle. The main meals are flavoursome and are good value for money, with most main meals around the £9-£10 mark. We were given a deal of two courses for £12, making it excellent value. The menu was varied enough, and both the calzone originale and calzone salmone were busting with ingredients. The service was polite but we were often left trying to get the waiter’s attention and felt slightly ignored. There was also no dessert menu, so the limited choices, mostly consisting of ice cream and sorbet, were listed by the waiter. However, we were offered homemade tiramisu, which didn’t disappoint, and was a highlight of the evening.

25 Castle Street, Cardiff CF10 1BT 029 2037 3433

42 Bridge Street, Newport NP20 4NY 01633 251831

Gemelli

presented with. The main courses, which were more like sculptures, were stunning, with the tagliatelle with fresh lobster and scallops in spicy tomato sauce (£14.95) presented in a huge seashell and cooked to absolute perfection. The duck breast with wild mushroom and fruits of the forest sauce (£16.50), was tender, well-cooked and packed with flavour that made the dish an instant favourite. The desserts are also full of grandeur, with a whole cabinet of delicacies to try. We went for the fruits of the forest gateaux (£4.20), which was delicious, but it was the warm chocolate and peanut cake (£4.20) that really stole the evening and was absolutely stunning. Can’t wait to return!

As soon as you arrive at Giovanni’s you are made to feel like part of the family. The staff are friendly and welcoming as well as being highly attentive. With a wide selection of meals to choose from, which combine traditional Italian dishes with Welsh classics, we were given time to make our decision while the waiter poured our wine. Our glasses were never left empty after that. The wine wasn’t quite to our tastes, but was perfectly drinkable. The atmosphere

38 The Hayes, Cardiff CF10 1AJ 029 2022 0077

Giovanni’s

in the restaurant is highly authentic – buzzing and friendly, yet still professional. The walls are covered in photographs of various celebrities that owner Giovanni has met, and provides a good conversation topic. The portions were huge with enough vegetables and potatoes to feed a small family. The chicken in a tomato sauce topped with cheese (£12.95) was succulent and incredibly tasty with the flavours in the sauce complementing the meat perfectly. The mediterranean risotto (£11.95)was delicious, crammed full of various types of seafood and packed with flavour. Despite feeling full to the

brim, we managed a pistachio ice cream (£5.25) and chocolate tart (£4.75) which were a perfect end to a delicious meal.

Prezzo

doughnuts with chocolate and caramel sauce (£3.95) were great for those with a sweet tooth but who can only manage a small dessert. Great for families.

Les Croupiers
Located above The Casino, The Jumbo offers an extensive choice of true Cantonese Cuisine Open 6pm - 2am

The Jumbo Cantonese Restaurant

Casino

Situated in the heart of the city centre, Prezzo provides a great place for people watching. The restaurant was very busy for a Monday evening, staff remained friendly and attentive and coped well with the rush. One of the appeals of the varied menu was the light options section for those who may want a healthier choice. The chicken and roasted pepper fusilli (£9.25) was tasty and filled with flavour and the side salad was fresh. The meatballs alforno (£9.95) was delicious with a spicy kick. The meatballs were tender and well cooked, but the quality of the meal was tainted by the overcooked pasta. For dessert, we chose a low fat option of frozen strawberry yoghurt (£3.50) and the special white chocolate and pistachio cheesecake (£5.25), which was creamy and smooth, packed with flavour with a perfectly crunchy base. An ideal place to go after work and popular with families.

106 St Mary Street, Cardiff CF10 1DX 029 2022 7785

Casa Bianca

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See page 24

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The chain restaurant benefits from the convenience of being set in the centre of town in the Brewery Quarter. It was fairly quiet when we arrived, but we were welcomed in by our waiter and although it got busier later, the service remained prompt throughout the evening. The restaurant walls are covered in mirrors and vintage posters which transport you to an early 20th century Italian cafe. The menu is wide and we selected the seabass (£12.75) and pollo cacciatore (chicken with a tomato sauce and mozzarella , £11.25), both served with potatoes and vegetables. Our meals were flavoursome, well cooked and pleasant enough. The lemon sorbet (£3.95) provided a refreshing finish, while mini

Brewery Quarter, Cardiff CF10 1AD 029 2037 4050

Independently owned Casa Bianca is a fairly new addition to City Road’s many offerings of places to dine. However, it immediately stands out with its intricate white exterior decor inspired by fine Italian architecture. Inside, the interior is just as impressive and classy, with big mirrors on the walls, lovely paintings and the same white architecture around the bar area. Although we went on a quiet weekday lunch time, it was easy to envisage the whole restaurant buzzing when it came to the evening and would certainly want to visit again. We selected a table, which turned out to be slightly too small to fit all our belongings on, so we were offered another table without having to ask, and all out items were moved by our waiter, with us not having to lift a finger. We chose the spaghetti marinara (£12.95), and although the restaurant had run out of king prawns, the chef accommodated by putting in some seabass fillet and it was stunning. The duck breast with honey and fruits of the forest sauce was exquisite – packed full of flavour and cooked to perfection. For dessert we chose homemade lemon cheesecake and raspberry cheesecake (£3.50 each). The portions were hugely generous and the cheesecake was deliciously creamy and smooth.

175 City Road, Cardiff CF24 3JB 029 2049 2817

READER OFFER: FREE bottle of house wine
when two people order from the main menu: See page 24 for terms and conditions

157 Cowbridge Road East Cardiff CF11 9AH 029 2039 6980

The Italian Way

A small, cosy, locally-owned restaurant just

February, 2012 South Wales Echo

9

42 Castle Arcade, Cardiff CF10 1BW 029 2034 1794
A charming little cafe tucked away in the Castle Arcade, Cafe Minuet immediately makes you feel as if you have walked into an Italian family’s household kitchen for lunch. The atmosphere is relaxed but the service is very friendly and you are welcomed by the chefs straight away as if you were an old family friend. The cafe, which is covered in a random set of traditional posters and relics, is so small, that there is only room for about half a dozen tables, but this just adds to the charm. It has no alcohol licence and is only open in the day so is an ideal place to drop by for a quick bite for lunch. For main course we had the penne al arrabiatta and the James Bowman – pasta in white sauce with bolognese and two cheeses. Our plates were piled high with food and for £5.50 and £6.90 respectively, there is no arguing that it is not value for money. It’s not fancy, but the staff, who were genuine and friendly, were definitely the highlight and with service being so prompt, the cafe is an ideal place to grab a bite to eat during your lunch break or while shopping.

Cafe Minuet

9-11 Talbot Road, Talbot Green CF72 8AD 01443 223399

La Trattoria

outside town, which could easily be overlooked squeezed between shops with big flashing signs. Service was great, our coats were taken, the wine was poured, and our waitress was friendly and polite all the way through. Although slightly dated in its decor, the restaurant achieves individuality, away from the modern minimalist restaurants, with a variety of antiques and vintage signs placed on shelves and hung on walls. The chicken tagliatelle (£9.85) was generously portioned and had a spicy kick but was otherwise fairly average. The chicken in mushroom and cream sauce (£12.95) was tenderly cooked and flavoursome, and a better choice. The fresh fruit salad (£3.95) would have benefited from some slightly more exotic fruit, such as melon and strawberries, rather than grapes and oranges, but was refreshing after such a big main course. The creamy and tangy lemon cheesecake (£3.95) was stunning and the highlight of the meal.

balcony at the scene below. However, this table was also tucked away and there were often occasions, due to the number of people at the restaurant, when we found it difficult and frustrating to get served. The penne arrabiatta (£9.95) was average, but the mushroom pizza (£10.50) was packed full of flavour and absolutely delicious. For dessert, we chose the mixed ice cream, which was a light and refreshing dessert and the truffle torte (both £4.50) which was smooth, creamy and didn’t disappoint at all.

1 Wedal Road, Roath, Cardiff CF14 3QX 029 2048 1700
This charming restaurant on the corner of

Scalini’s

Roath Park is well worth discovering. The service was perfect – our coats were taken and we were asked if we wished to taste the wine, with our glasses frequently topped up throughout the night. The service was very attentive without being annoying or making us feel pressured to leave. We went for the loin of lamb with gravy and the seabass, both served with potatoes and vegetables, but at £19.75 and £17.50 respectively they were a little more pricey than many of the other entrants. Both the seabass and the lamb were tender and packed with flavour, however a little more creativity could have been used with the presentation. The homemade ice cream (£1.95 per scoop) was stunning as was the apple pie (£4.95).

Setting foot in La Trattoria is like stepping into a cosy cottage retreat. With its stone walls and nooks and crannies, it could be set in the middle of the countryside rather than on Talbot Green’s busy main road. It’s appeal and popularity was reflected in the fact the restaurant was buzzing even on a weekday evening. Service was prompt and polite, although could have been warmer. The mixed grilled seafood (swordfish, seabass and king prawns £14.95) was beautifully cooked. The monkfish with spinach and artichoke sauce (£14.95) was also tender and full of flavour. Both came with a generous portion of fresh vegetables and potatoes. The affogato, vanilla ice cream with hot coffee, and the homemade chocolate tart (both £4.50) were delicious and the perfect way to round off a lovely evening.

28 Dunraven Place, Bridgend CF31 IJD 01656 660045

Zia Nina

paradiso
cafe bar restaurant

Zia Nina greets its customers with a home-from-home feel. The restaurant is full of warmth and as we went on a busy Friday night, there was a real buzz which created a feel-good atmosphere. The venue was very busy, but we were led to a table upstairs where we could watch over the

Join us at the Paradiso! We are a brand new 2 floor cafe bar/restaurant. Student Discount 15%

Lunch Time & Early Bird Menus: 2 courses for £12.75
(menus change daily)

• Baguettes • Paninis • Omelettes • English breakfast • Main Dishes & Deserts • 3 course meals

Valentines bookings now being taken

12pm - 1.45pm 6pm -7pm Scalinis would like to thank all of their past, present and future customers and look forward to seeing you all in 2012!
1 Wedal Road, Roath Park, Cardiff

Open 10am – 11.30pm • 7 days a week 8 Crwys Road, Cardiff CF24 4NJ • Tel 02920 488070

Tel 029 2048 1700

10

South Wales Echo February, 2012

FISH AND CHIP SHOPS
Youngers
This fish and chip shop reaps the benefits of seaside charm that only Barry Island can bring. Pastel blues and greens adorn the interior walls, where colourful signs, posters, and sepia shots of Barry Island in its past glory days vie for your attention. And the view of the sea was a fantastic sight, wonderfully framed by the columns of the Western Arcade. Sand lay across the floor amidst the scattering of stainless steel chairs and tables, but staff moved swiftly to make the shop more presentable. The slim-line chips were crispy, light and grease-free, while the fish had a golden batter, if a little chewy and oily. And despite the tourist destination location, the prices were among the cheapest of the shops tested. ■ Prices: large cod and chips: £5, small cod and chips: £3.70

Youngers injects an admirable character, passion and pride into the fish and chip business. From its cute ordering process – where your order number is handed to you on a wooden spoon rather than on a ticket – to the framed photos showing where and how the fish are caught, the shop is bursting with personality. There is room for some welcome tables and seats along the sides if you wish to eat in, and a spread of magazines for idle browsing purposes. In another lovely personal touch, those who eat in are given a laminated tablemat hand-drawn by pupils at a local primary school. Youngers purports to be the only chippy to serve monkfish – and what a welcome addition it is. If Youngers had better chips, it would have won the competition this year. While perfectly tasty and in no way soggy or oily, they simply lacked enough of a crispy texture. ■ Prices: regular cod and chips: £5.75, small cod and chips: £4.75, monkfish and chips: £7.95

73 Caerphilly Road, Heath Cardiff 029 2062 0678

1 Western Arcade, Barry Island CF62 5TJ 01446 734307

O’Shea’s

McGinleys Fish & Chips

READER OFFER: Free side order with your
fish and chips: See page 24 for terms and conditions

With its black-and-orange interior and silver fixtures, this Tonyrefail chippy is certainly in contention for the most stylish fish and chip shop in South Wales. The spacious interior is decorated with pristine white tiles and there’s a luxurious leather seating area for waiting customers. The menu included a range of homemade specials on offer, while staff wore smart black uniforms. And the meal was presented with style as well – in a sleek, black box with orange text. The chips were cut in a variety of ways. Whether this was intentional or not, it provided a range of crispy bites and full-flavour fluffy potato treats. The cod itself was slightly chewy, but was wrapped in just the right amount of batter. ■ Prices: regular cod: £3.75, regular chips: £1.30, large chips: £1.80

12 High Street, Tonyrefail CF39 8PG 01443 672111

The Crispy Cod

The service was lightning-quick, but even if you are kept waiting, a selection of newspapers are available to browse through and help the time pass. Patient, friendly staff and clean, functional surroundings helped to create a comfortable atmosphere. Presentation, however, was not as high a standard as other shops. The cod and chips wrapped in standard sheets of paper, with some chips unfortunately becoming stuck to the paper during the journey home. But the meal was tasty. The chips were rather fluffy and pleasantly free from excess cooking oil, while the cod had a fresh taste and crispy batter. The menu was not as varied as other fish and chip shops, but all the basic meals you would expect were present and correct at reasonable prices. ■ Prices: cod £3, jumbo cod: £3.90, small chips: £1.30 large chips: £1.75

6 Clifton Street, Cardiff CF24 1PW 029 2046 4835

■ Top Gun Spiro Gropetis with his tasty fish and chips From the warm terracotta walls and multi-coloured tiles to the rows of sauce bottles stacked neatly on shelves, Yans has a wonderfully wholesome charm, if a little lacking in finesse. Staff were very pleasant and took a genuine interest in their customers, while the menu was relatively cheap and cheerful. The fish and chips themselves really hit the spot. Sprinkled evenly with just the right amount of salt and vinegar, the fluffy, chunky chips were great. And the generous portion of cod was moist, juicy, and wrapped in a pleasant, crispy batter. A small and simple plastic blue fork was a welcome bonus to the meal’s presentation – something that surprisingly few entrants offered. ■ Prices: small chips: £1.40 large chips: £2.20 cod: £3.25 area, full of salad options and dressings for punters to choose from. The rather slender chips tested were surprisingly pleasant, although the cod was overdone and too greasy. It was also disappointing to receive no offer of a lemon slice with the cod, as this would be a must for many fish fans. The order was placed in a polystyrene plate and wrapped in plain paper. Not the best presentation, but certainly not the worst. ■ Prices: cod and chips: £4.30, mini cod and chips: £3.30

READER OFFER: Two cod suppers for £9.95:
See page 24 for terms and conditions

The quality of the food served by this fish and chip shop is clearly shown in its popularity among the people of Roath. Long queues of hungry punters snake through the shop, especially at weekend peak times. This means you will need to be prepared to queue to get a taste of its success. Once you finally get to the counter, the service is speedy and professional – even if it does feel like you’re on a conveyor belt. The menu was varied, from the standard cod and chips meal to homemade pies and pasties. An Albany-branded box gave the meal a neat presentation and the prices didn’t break the bank. The mouth-watering gravy sauce was the highlight of the meal, but the chips were slightly soggy. ■ Prices: large cod and chips: £4.60, small cod: £2.40, large chips: £2, small chips: £1.30

18 Albany Road, Cardiff CF24 3RQ 029 2048 2022

Albany Fish Bar

KT’s

Victoria Fish Bar
41 Old Church Road Whitchurch, Cardiff CF14 1AB 029 2062 5286
Tucked away on a relatively quiet suburban street in Cardiff, Victoria was inviting, popular, and the best value fish and chip shop in the competition. Its interior is plain but clean and bright, with the choice-filled menu clearly displayed for customers. The chippy also featured a separate burger

182 Whitchurch Road Cardiff CF14 3NB 029 2068 9585
This chippy makes you feel right at home.

Yans Fish Bar

The shop had an inviting, homely atmosphere due to its cream-and-yellow interior, with wood-panelled walls. The young female staff were pleasant, chatty and professional. The cod and chips were relatively reasonably priced, and were presented in a plain-but-functional polystyrene box within an acceptable waiting time. While the chips were slightly soft for some tastes, they were not overly greasy, and the juicy cod was well cooked. Both the chips and the cod could have had a little more salt and vinegar to add to the taste, but overall a rather good showing from the Ponty team. ■ Prices: cod and chips: £4.30

13 Market Street Pontypridd CF37 2ST

February, 2012 South Wales Echo

11

test, signs showed Topgun was to undergo a further facelift to stay ahead of the pack. The meal was delivered at a super-quick pace – but be wary of peak-time queues for this popular food destination. The cod was the very best Cardiff has to offer. Unlike many of other chippies’ overdone fish, Topgun’s cod was cooked to tender perfection. The chips, while slightly soft in texture, were tasty and fluffy. ■ Prices: cod and chips: £5.20, mini cod and chips: £3.85
Pictures: Richard Williams©

Its name suggests action-packed style and swagger – and Topgun more or less lives up to that promise. Despite one of the most sleek and modern interiors of the city’s chippies at the time of the taste

33 Merthyr Road Whitchurch, Cardiff CF14 12DB 029 2061 8693

Topgun

Frydays was delightfully hygienic, the bright and modern interior sparkled, the stainless steel cooking instruments shone and the staff wore pristine uniforms. Pride itself seemed a big part of this fish and chip shop. Its owners and employees were clearly proud of their store and the meals they produced. And the food itself? The chips were satisfyingly crunchy, the insides nicely floury, while the fish was fresh and enveloped in a crispy golden batter. With meals lovingly presented in clean, white boxes and the menu displayed on one, simple board, this was a fish and chip shop to remember. However, with costs at the higher end of the scale, quality certainly came at a price. ■ Prices: regular cod and chips: £5.25 large: £5.95

Old St Mellons Post Office Newport Road, Old St Mellons Cardiff CF3 5UA 029 2036 2060

Frydays Fish and Chip Emporium

The Chippy and the Café

As detected from the name, this chippy also has a café area, giving customers the option to sit in with their meals. The décor was a little dated and lacked a particular vision or style, but staff spoke of big plans to renovate the shop in 2012. Service was rather slow considering the lack of customers, but staff were very helpful, friendly and keen to make a good impression. The chips were chunky and flavoursome, and the lightly battered cod was almost cooked to perfection. It also soaked up the lashings of salt and vinegar very well. And all this was presented in a lovely little box at a fairly acceptable price – with a fork provided. ■ Prices: cod and chips: £4.90

35a/ 36 High Street, Hirwaun Aberdare CF44 9SW 01685 811522

READER OFFER: Free chips with every battered or grilled fish: See page 24 for terms and conditions
rather dirty following a busy period of custom, the counters were quite messy and cluttered and the cost was fairly standard compared to other chippies entered into the competition. But thankfully the fish and chips themselves shone through the poor initial first impressions. The fish was tender and free from excess oil, while the chips were tasty. The meal was also prepared very quickly by the friendly staff, and professionally presented with an optional lemon slice and plastic fork provided. ■ Prices: small chips: £1.40, large chips: £1.80, cod: £3.50

Taylors Traditional Fish & Chips

The cod and chips were packed up and ready within a minute of ordering – and this was on a bustling Friday night. A queue of customers lined up along the walls towards the counter, allowing for maximum speed and efficiency. Staff were pleasant to customers, but the lightning speed was an admirable priority at the popular chippy. The shop layout was relatively spacious, clean and functional, although its green décor did lack the artistic style of other chip venues. The meal itself was satisfying but generally unremarkable. Some of the chips were rather stodgy and soft, but cod had a crispy batter and light taste, and the prices were among the cheapest in the competition. ■ Prices: small cod and chips: £3.70, large cod and chips: £4.60

Flat 6, Lady Margaret Court Colchester Avenue, Penylan Cardiff CF23 9AW 029 2048 8236

Penylan Fish Bar

Beales is a fish and chip shop that clearly takes pride in its tradition and heritage. A family business dating back to 1937, Beales had a friendly, homely atmosphere and pride in its surroundings. Black and white photos of picturesque scenes of Porthcawl hang on walls in the side restaurant area. The cream walls and wooden floors are both homely and inviting, while maintaining a clean and contemporary style. Unfortunately after the promising first impressions, the service and meal were a slight let-down. Eating in the restaurant area, the cod-and-chips took a relatively long period of time to arrive, despite a sparse number of customers. And the battered cod broke apart quite easily, making it difficult to lift with a fork. Despite this, the cod was satisfying, and the chips were bang-on the money. ■ Prices: cod and chips: £4.80, restaurant: £6.60

2 Eastern Promenade Porthcawl CF36 5TS 01685 788223

Beales Fish and Chip Shop

Don’t miss some great readers’ offers: Page 24

Out of all the fish and chip shops tested, this Tonypandy store had by far the most intriguing chips on offer. Although the freshly cut chunks of potato were perhaps a tad soft, there was something unique about the taste that left you wanting more. The cod itself was satisfyingly moist, if slightly oily, and was wrapped in a golden batter. The cod and chips were also nicely presented in a large box and a handy plastic fork was provided. Service at the store was a no-fuss affair, with orders taken and quickly delivered upon with little chitchat. Unfortunately, the interior was slightly cramped, and would not be a pleasant environment to be waiting in on a busy Friday evening. ■ Prices: small chips: £1.20, large chips: £1.50, cod: £3.10

66 Tylacelyn Road, Tonypandy CF40 1JU 01443 442062

YAN’S FISH BAR
TRADITIONAL GREEK FAMILY RUN FISH & CHIP SHOP ESTABLISHED 1969

87 Plassey Street, Penarth, CF64 1EP. 029 2070 7101.

Plassey Fish Bar

Zero Plus Fish Bar
318 Cowbridge Road East Cardiff CF5 1HD 029 2023 1896
Zero Plus unfortunately had the least inviting interior of the chippies tested. The floor was

The small interior is unfortunately quite dated in appearance due to the faux marble walls and creaky plasterboard ceiling. Staff however dealt quickly and proficiently with the building queue of customers. They expertly wrapped the meal in paper and a lemon slice was provided, but a box would have been preferable. The generous portion of cod was one of the better cooked of those tested this year but the rather pasty batter was far too thick to dig through. And the chips – while being satisfyingly fluffy, chunky and not at all oily – needed an extra crisp. ■ Prices: cod: £3, small chips: £1.20, large chips: £1.50

BUY 1 FISH & CHIPS & GET ANOTHER HALF PRICE
POP IN, MEET THE STAFF AND TAKE ADVANTAGE OF OUR SPECIAL OFFER
OFFER ONLY ON TUESDAY 7th & WEDNESDAY 8th OF FEBRUARY WITH THIS COUPON 182 WHITCHURCH RD, HEATH, CARDIFF

TELEPHONE: 029 2062 1692

12

South Wales Echo February, 2012

FAMILY RESTAURANTS
Farmers Daughter
Croes-Carn-Einon Farm, Rhiwderin Newport NP10 8RR 01633 892800

Located in a beautiful spot with gorgeous views of the surrounding countryside, travelling up the long driveway you get the feeling you are visiting someone’s farm rather than a restaurant, but this is the charm of the Farmers Daughter. Sat in the restaurant the feeling of being in someone’s farmhouse home doesn’t disappear as the dining room is decorated with brass ornaments and horse regalia. On a Sunday the restaurant serves three courses for £14.95 for adults and £6.95 for two courses for children. We opted for delicious pan fried deer strips with a sweet chilli dip and beer battered courgette sticks with a creamy garlic sauce to start, followed by fillet of pork medallions with creamy wild mushroom sauce, and beef and chicken dinners. For dessert we had tiramisu, cheesecake and ice-cream which came with chocolate sprinkles and Skittles sweets. The food here was outstanding, by far the nicest Sunday dinner we had all enjoyed in a while.

Spice Route

Trying to find somewhere to eat to please the whole family can be a hard task but not here. There are dishes to suit everyone from India, the Far East, and the Mediterranean. Even the most fussy of eaters will find something they like and for those who like everything, they can keep going back for more with the eat as much as you like buffet. There are soups, a salad bar, curries, stir fries, a kids’ corner and you can’t get fresher than the noodle bar where you choose your ingredients and they are cooked while you wait. The open plan restaurant allows diners to watch the chefs at work which in itself is mesmerising.

Red Dragon Centre Hemingway Road Atlantic Wharf Cardiff CF10 4JY 029 2048 8820

Prices depend on what time and day of the week you visit but vary between £6.95 and £14.95 for adults and £3.95 and £5.95 for children aged under nine years.

A good old fashioned family-run Italian which shines through, starting with the welcome families get. The menu has all sorts of dishes including the traditional pasta and pizzas but do keep a look out for the specials on the chalk boards around the dining area. Homemade fish cakes (£5.50) were delicious as was the black pudding and chorizo warm

73 Merthyr Road Whitchurch, Cardiff CF14 1DD 029 2061 3110

Pizzeria Villaggio

salad (£5.50), for main I opted for a chicken cacciatore cooked in tomatoes, peppers and olives (£12.50) while my husband chose their spaghetti polpette (£8.50) homemade meatballs packed full of flavour cooked in a tomato sauce (£8.50) and we ordered an Hawaiian pizza (£7.50) for our daughter. The only down side was that our mains came out before our daughter’s pizza so she ate my chicken dish and I was left with the pizza but I did try all three which were perfectly cooked and seasoned. The homemade Italian cheesecake (£4) is a must but very filling after so many carbs. A hearty feast cooked up by a family which you can tell has food at its heart – that’s the feeling you get throughout your visit. You are welcomed as if you’re part of the family and treated to delicious home cooking.

READER OFFER: FREE tea or coffee when you order from the menu: See page 24 for terms and conditions

You can always tell how good a place is by how many locals visit it. Arriving at Benny’s there wasn’t a spare seat in sight but we were soon offered the table of customers who were about to leave. The menu had everything you could want from cooked breakfasts to sandwiches, jacket potatoes and hot meals. We went for a cheese and ham sandwich (£2), which was extremely fresh and very tasty, chicken curry and rice (£4.25) and a delicious lasagne and chips (£4.25). Everything we tried was very flavourful and the service was prompt and friendly. The slight disappointment was the custard on our apple pie (£1.75), was a little watery but the homemade apple pie hit the spot.

24 Holton Road, Barry CF63 4HD 07969 781638

Benny’s Cafe

Caffi’r Castell
After a walk around the castle grounds, the cafe was a perfect place to get something to eat and get warm. The café is open plan, leading into the visitor centre, and has big glass doors which in the summer are a fantastic feature opening up onto the castle green. Seasonal dishes are prepared so the menu can change but we opted for the faggots served with mashed potatoes and peas (£5.95), traditional homemade cawl (£5.74) and the children’s platter, (£3.95) which is good value for money as it includes a sandwich, crisps, yoghurt or piece of fruit and a drink. Our little diner loved the cawl after tasting mine, she especially liked the cheese it came with. Now, whenever we call in at the castle it’s the first place our little one wants to visit before we wander round.

Cardiff Castle Cardiff CF10 3RB

Mango

■ Spice Route in Red Dragon Centre

Liz Pearce©

Situated in the vibrant student area of the city, Mango is great for students and families with older children but I’m not sure it’s somewhere to go for food with youngsters under the age of 16. With the Mexican theme running throughout the restaurant and its furniture, we placed our order of black and green olives (£3.20), taco shell chicken with homemade salsa and melted cheese (£9.90), and homemade Mexican beef cooked in salsa served with mango rice and nachos (£8.90). Our young guests had the Hawaiian pizza (£6.90) and Mexican rice chicken with mixed peppers, garlic herbs and Mexican spices (£7.90). They weren’t that impressed with the pizza as the mozzarella cheese was too strong for them and preferred the nachos from our dish. The up side was they loved playing some of the board games Mango has for customers especially Guess Who? which during our long wait for food was played into double figures.

105 Cathays Terrace Cathays, Cardiff CF24 4HU 029 2022 8221

February, 2012 South Wales Echo

13

The Blue Pelican Cafe

The Barn

Mwyndy, near Llantrisant Pontyclun CF72 8PJ 01443 222333

Tucked down a lane, this charming looking pub is a great spot for families who enjoy community spirit. When we visited, the beer garden was teaming with families eating and watching a boules tournament taking place. After we placed our food order we spent most of the time in the beer garden watching the games while our daughter enjoyed the climbing frame. There is a good menu and there are also themed nights six nights of the week. The Barn is also well known for the cask ales it serves. During our visit we opted for the ultimate combo to share (£7.95), steak (£9.25), turkey Sunday lunch (£6.85) and our little one had sausage and mash (£3.49). For dessert we had peach and apricot frangipani (£3.60), tiramisu ice-cream cake (£3.35) and ice-cream. The most memorable part of the visit was most definitely the community spirit and family atmosphere.

both. All the beef burgers are made from 100% Aberdeen Angus and you can taste the quality. The children’s menu offers a choice of burger, chips, drink and ice-lolly which is good value at £6.25. Youngsters are also given a picture and crayons to colour in while you wait for your food and if your child would like their masterpiece on display staff put the pictures on the wall of the restaurant, which delighted our young artist. Staff are very friendly and service is quick. This is the burger lover’s heaven.

Penarth is a great place for families to visit and after a stroll around the seafront or shops The Blue Pelican Cafe is a great place to eat. Set above Hamptons department store, The Blue Pelican seems to be well known locally, with no tables free the day we visited. Staff greeted us at the entrance and we didn’t have to wait long for a table. We had the homemade Glamorgan sausages with tomato chutney (£7.50), lifeguard’s lunch box, a platter of honey roast chicken and ham, pickled onions, homemade salad and roll (£7.99) while our young diner had the junior surfer’s picnic (£3.99), which consisted of cheese, ham, tomatoes, cucumber, coleslaw, crisps and bread. One thing you won’t be able to resist here is the homemade cake and the coconut and lime sponge (£2.80) is a must. The food was delicious and well presented with staff friendly and very helpful. The only down side is there wasn’t a hot food option on the children’s menu.

Hamptons 10 Ludlow Lane, Penarth CF64 1EW 029 2070 5391

off the vast menu. After changing my mind for the umpteenth time, we finally ordered petite rump steak (£13.29), chicken quesadilla (£9.99) and our daughter had a very healthy grilled chicken and broccoli (£4.99). The all you can eat salad bar is a big draw with a wide variety, we went back more than once. When our mains arrived I was glad of my final decision as the steak was the nicest I’d had for a long while, cooked just as I’d asked and almost melted in the mouth. For dessert we ordered a slice of carrot cake which at £4.99 isn’t cheap but was huge and was enough for us all to share, it was so nice it even put our daughter off her ice-cream. The refillable soft drinks are a big plus. A nice place to take the family for a treat but a little on the expensive side.

The Greenfield
13-14 William Street Ystrad, Pentre 01443 435953
If it’s value for money you’re looking for then you won’t get better than the Greenfield. Their Sunday dinners will not be beaten on price. At £9.35 for a three-course meal everyone can have what they want without worrying about the bill. We had pork, chicken and beef dinners with plentiful amounts of vegetables and gravy to go around. Also a favourite with regulars, it’s wise to book a table to avoid disappointment. Adult prices are £6.95, £7.95 and £9.35 for one, two and three courses and child prices are £4, £5 and £5.95 for one, two and three courses. There are three sittings on a Sunday – noon, 1pm and 2.30pm.

Grills Steakhouse

Rear of the Llanover Arms Bridge Street, Pontypridd CF37 4PE 01443 492558
We were looking forward to our visit to the Grills Steakhouse, tucked behind a pub in Pontypridd. The restaurant has a modern interior and a view into the kitchen. We ordered the 20oz mixed grill (£14.95), a Sunday roast (£6.95) and fish fingers for our daughter. We were one of the first tables to order but the wait for food with a young child in toe was too long. To keep her happy one of us took her for a walk into Pontypridd town centre – twice. Once the food reached the table the vegetables on the Sunday roast were warm not hot and the mixed grill was average, although the steaks the table next to us were having looked much better and we began to regret our decisions. The waiting continued when it came to dessert – it took 15 minutes to be told one of our options was not on the menu and a further 10 minutes to tell us the other was also not available so we left. Waiting for food is not an enjoyable experience especially when you have a hungry child you are trying to pacify.

As soon as we were seated at this popular restaurant our little one was given an activity pack which kept her busy for a bit while we had the difficult task of deciding what to have

St David’s, Cardiff CF10 2EF 029 2034 9930

Ruby Tuesday

Gourmet Burger Kitchen
If you’re a fan of burgers then this is the place for you. There are burgers galore on the menu as you would expect but the problem is they all sound just as good as the next. We opted for a Wellington and Jamaican (£7.95) and they were both delicious so we split the burgers in half to try them

22-24 Mermaid Quay Cardiff CF10 5BZ 029 2045 4078

14

South Wales Echo February, 2012

FOOD PUBS
Sportsmans Rest
COUNTRY INN & DINING

The New Conway

■ The Bell Inn,
Carleon

Picture: Richard Swingler ©

PETERSTON SUPER ELY, VALE OF GLAMORGAN
Tel 01446 760675 www.thesportsmansrest.co.uk

Lunchtime Specials available Monday - Friday

FISH SPECIAL
Fish & a drink £8.95 Wednesday Night

Tuesday Night

PIE LOVERS
Pie ‘n’ a pint £8.95 Thursday Night

CURRY CLUB
Curry & Cobra £9.95 Choose from sirloin, salmon, gammon or marinated chicken & a bottle of selected house wine £22

With its fusion of Victoriana and Scandinavian design, this place is very much a contemporary take on a British pub. The menu is diverse and upmarket Our starters of warm and tender organic chicken satay had a strong nutty flavour, served with a carrot and peanut salad (£6.50), and deep fried squid (£7) stood up to its spicy chilli, chorizo and tomato sauce. A main of pork tenderloin (£12.50) was gorgeous. Lightly pink, it was tender and succulent, with clear flavours from smooth black pudding mash and a rich thyme jus. An innovative halloumi stack (£12.50) with pepper relish, came in a sweet bagel, with big onion rings and lovely chips. ■ The New

58 Conway Road Pontcanna Cardiff CF11 9NW 029 2022 4373

The Cricketers
As the name suggests, in this smart townhouse, you’ll find sporting memorabilia dotting the walls along with televisions poised to show internationals. It’s warm and welcoming, and the capably cooked menu has a distinct Welsh edge. To start, silky cod cheeks (£5) in a delicate Cwrw batter were served with a powerful chilli jam, and a delicious ham hock, chicken and mushroom terrine (£6) had an intense flavour with bursts of mushroom and a tart chutney, served with a cute wild mushroom loaf. A vibrant main of salmon with beetroot risotto, braised cabbage and herb oil (£11) was colourful, and the saltiness of fish combined well with the sweetness of beetroot and spice of the cabbage. Just as attractive was the lamb shank with roasted root vegetables (£16), a hefty portion with plenty of sauce and triple cooked chips. The meat had plenty of flavour and was so tender it came clean off the bone.

2 FOR 22

Friday Night

Conway manager, Neil Delahay

Picture: Liz

66 Cathedral Road Cardiff, CF11 9LL 029 2034 5102

Bookings now being taken for Valentine’s Week and Mothering Sunday
Coach and party bookings welcome by prior arrangement For bookings and information: Tel: 01446 760675 Sportsmans Rest Tel: 01656 880224 The Farmers Arms

SPECIAL OFFER VOUCHER £5 OFF a Meal for 2 £10 OFF a Meal for 4
Only off the main menu. Valid Monday to Saturday.
Can be used at the… Sportsman’s Rest

The Cricketers opened in July 2010 and has quickly established itself as one of the great food destinations in Cardiff. In 2011, we won the Publican’s Morning Advertiser Best Food Pub in Wales, which was a huge boost for all the staff and their efforts. Our style of cooking is very much about freshness and quality. The main menu changes seasonally and exciting specials are added to our chalkboard every day. Our culinary team focus on creating tasty, traditional food with a contemporary twist. Our beer garden is an enormous sun trap in summer, our open fires are roaring throughout the winter, our Sunday roasts are first class and our location is perfect for match days. The Cricketers offers a little something for everyone whatever the weather. We hope to see you soon.

Peterson Super Ely or o The Farmer’s Arms St Brides Major
Not to be used in conjunction with any other offer.
Offer valid until 29/02/12.

66 Cathedral Rd, Pontcanna, Cardiff, CF11 9LL Telephone: 02920 345 102 Email: manager@cricketerscardiff.co.uk Website: www.cricketerscardiff.co.uk

Not available on Sundays (excludes February 14th)

Only with this voucher.

(Offer applies Mon-Thurs, excludes Feb 14th) Please present this voucher

10% OFF YOUR FOOD BILL THROUGHOUT FEBRUARY

■ The Cricketers

February, 2012 South Wales Echo

15

The Bell at Caerleon

Zerodegrees

THE perfect excuse for a country jaunt, we loved this pretty 17th coaching inn for being friendly and relaxed but most of all for its terrific food. It is renowned for cider, but there’s also real ale from breweries such as Otley and Rhymney Valley. The emphasis is on Welsh produce and there’s a good lunch deal of two courses for £9.95. To start, roast pigeon (£7.95) was a well conceived dish with a depth of flavour. Nicely pink, it came with an appetising combination of smoked bacon, earthy lentils and a tart beetroot jus. And we were wowed by the hefty slab of barbecue ribs (£7.95), slathered in a sweet and peppery sticky glaze. A main of cod (£15.95) was coated in a light and crisp batter flavoured with lemon and dill, served with a bucket of fat homemade chips and pots of lemony mushy peas and tartare sauce. Hearty and delicious, the lamb and mint pie (£9.95) was full of flavour in dark, rich gravy, with a golden top of puff pastry, a big dollop of mash and buttery veg.
for terms and conditions

Bulmore Road, Caerleon Newport, NP18 1QQ 01633 420613

Spacious, modern and industrial, here you can eat and drink in the surroundings of a micro-brewery. And as much effort has gone into the food as the beer. Tasty and simple starters included king prawns in beer batter with a soy dipping sauce (£5.25) and mini-skewers of halloumi, sage and parma ham in balsamic dressing (£5.75). There are salads, pasta, sausages and a pizza oven in the bar with adventurous toppings including Thai green curry and pear with gorgonzola. We tried Italian sausage (£8.75), and on an authentic base, the spicy and sweet toppings were punchy and plentiful. They also do a variety of mussels. We went for Creole (£13.95), and a kilo pot was filled to the brim with big, fresh shellfish in a delicious sauce with a good chilli bite. They came with fries and mayonnaise. Portions were good and we received good service.

27 Westgate Street, Cardiff CF10 1DD 029 2022 9494

Milgi

READER OFFER: 25% off your food bill: See page 24

Carne Arms

Llysworney, Cowbridge CF71 7NQ 01446 773553

Blue Anchor Inn
East Aberthaw, Barry CF62 3DD 01446 750329
Brimming with old world charm, under the low ceilings of one of Wales’ oldest pubs is a labyrinth of snug rooms and open fires, scattered with brass and porcelain. There’s a good selection of real ales and to eat, there are lighter options such as baguettes and jacket potatoes along with an a la carte of country favourites. Smooth chicken liver parfait (£4.75) went well with a tart red onion marmalade, and slices of crisp ciabatta, and the halloumi and vegetable kebabs (£3.95) would have made a light lunch alone with its refreshing mixed bean salad and lemony mint dressing. For mains, three fat homemade venison sausages (£9.75) were meaty and flavoursome, sweetened with a celeriac and apple mash and a fruity Cumberland sauce. Pheasant (£10.50) was a touch dry but the good portion was great value – with nice accompaniments of red cabbage cooked with raisins in a rich game jus and buttery new potatoes.

O’Neills

Past patrons of this country inn include Charlie Chaplin and Clarke Gable, and you’ll appreciate why they came when you reach its lovely setting off the beaten track. Basking near the open fire, we enjoyed well-presented starters of rich and smooth chicken liver pate (£5.50) with red onion marmalade, and French onion soup (£4.75) topped with a melted cheese crouton and a sprinkling of chives. Sirloin steak (£15.75), from nearby Pwllywrach Farm was impeccable. Cooked perfectly to our request, it was juicy, flavoursome and tender. The pepper sauce had a nice sweetness. Game pie (£12.95) was just as impressive with a golden herby crust that kept its crunch, encasing lots of tender meat and mushrooms in memorable peppercorn gravy, with roasted root veg and chunky chips.

A beacon of light down a dark country lane, this pub has a farmhouse feel from its wood and wicker to paintings of the hunt. Along with classic pub fare, there are bolder dishes like Portugese espertada kebabs, which looked striking in the arms of a passing waitress. Lightly browned and tender to the bite, a starter of scallops (£5.95) was matched well with crisp and spicy chorizo, drizzled with sweet chilli and lime, while goat’s cheese bruschetta (£5.95) was simple and satisfying. For mains, I built a burger (£6.95 plus £1.95 for three extras), greedily opting for cheese, pineapple and egg. It arrived with three of the most enormous onion rings I’ve ever seen. The burger tasted homemade, meaty with a flavour of cumin in a soft and floury bun, with plenty of chips and a generous salad. Roasted lamb shank (£13.95) was pink and tender with a mound of mash swimming in minty gravy and veg.

Peterston-super-Ely, Cardiff CF5 6LH 01446 760675

The Sportsmans Rest

Heading to this Irish-themed chain pub, my colleague and I thought we knew what to expect. Guinness, hearty food and a lively post-work atmosphere smack bang in the middle of the city centre. I’m pleased to say we got all that – and more. Visiting on a Friday evening just after 6pm it was packed to the rafters. Thankfully, we were immediately found a table by a waiter who would continue to serve us the “black stuff” (Guinness) for the next three hours. Attentive service is not something you tend to expect from a big name chain pub, but boy does it make a difference. From the Emerald Isle-inspired menu, we opted for Bantry Bay mussels (£8.49) and the mixed grill (£9.49) of rump steak, gammon, pork & leek sausage, chicken breast and a fried egg. Hang around into the evening and you’re likely to find live entertainment.

85 St Mary Street, Cardiff CF10 1DW 029 2066 4103

Quirky and eclectic, there’s an art school feel to this colourful lounge with its bunting, fairy lights and oddities. It’s a bit like having a picnic in an antique shop. The menu is small and completely vegetarian, with organic and ethical produce that’s gentle on the wallet. Drinks include inventive cocktails like a blackberry and cracked pepper mojito alongside pear cider, smoothies and organic wine. To start, a big plate of nachos with five black bean chilli (£5) was slathered with plenty of cheese and sour cream, while cricket ball-sized onion bhajis (£3.80) with yoghurt had a nice flavour but were a little dry. Served on a mish mash of porcelain plates, Glamorgan sausages with masala mash (£7.95) was lifted by a tamarind and tomato chutney, and a blackeye bean burger (£7.50) was fresh in flavour topped with cheddar in a granary bun and chunky potato wedges. Wholesome home-cooked food with an international flavour.

213 City Road, Cardiff CF24 3JD 029 2047 3150

More pub food: Page 16

Caerphilly Mountain CF83 1LY 029 2085 9021

The Travellers Rest Fino Lounge 49 Merthyr Road, Whitchurch,
This smart country pub, with its thatched roof and open fireplaces, has a loyal following. Alongside British classics there’s mezze, risotto and specials like guinea fowl. A melting pot of Cornish brie (£6.95) topped with onion marmalade was a good sharer with ample toast triangles and celery dipping sticks, and the sesame tempura chicken (£4.75) had a lovely, light batter with a sweet dipping sauce of plum, chilli and coriander. We followed with a Lancashire hotpot (£9.95) with buttered veg. Hearty and gratifying, the lamb was tender in piping hot red wine gravy with the hidden prize of a lamb chop. Grilled seabass (£12.95) was a little overdone but we liked its pepper and smoked tomato dressing. And although busy, a charming waiter found the time to check we were happy with each course. This is the kind of place you can go for coffee, a meal or a night out. It’s casual but lively and its menu spreads across the walls on giant chalkboards offering lots of choice and decent vegetarian options. We started with tapas (£2.95 each) from a tempting selection including sweetcorn fritters and pork and thyme meatballs. Unfortunately, the peri peri chicken wings lacked spice and were a little oily, while the texture of the falafel wasn’t quite right. In contrast, our mains were great. A lamb and rosemary burger (£10.50) had a lovely chargrilled flavour with a sound combination of mint mayonnaise, handmade coleslaw, onion rings and paprika wedges. And the sweet potato, butternut squash, spinach and puy lentil curry (£8.50) was fresh and full of flavour with a nice fiery kick, paired well with a cooling mint raita, rice and naan.

Piano Bar & Restaurant
The newly opened Penylan Piano Bar & Restaurant is perfect for intimate dining or a family/works affair, and offers a unique destination for any event!

Penylan

Cardiff CF14 1DB 029 2069 2616

Valentines Nights
3 course meal & canapes £25pp includes a glass of champagne, a cupcake plus a pianist while you dine.
Book your Sunday Lunch with us today

Feb 10th – 15th

Booking essential: 01685 723179
Parking facilities available

12 Courtland Terrace, Merthyr Tydfil CF47 0DT

16

South Wales Echo February, 2012

FOOD PUBS
Ty Mawr
ribeye steak (£17.50), which, though cooked just beyond the medium we’d asked for, was smothered in a tasty cheesy rarebit glaze and came with spot-on triple-cooked chips. The kitchen produces its own jams and puddings and even bakes its own bread, which you can buy by the loaf.

■ The Butchers Arms, Llandaff and right, their
sweet potato wedges

From the piano in the corner to its walls decorated with pictures and autographs, this pub has rugby at its heart – and the local team wouldn’t be disappointed with its hearty, homemade meals.We found it welcoming and lively. They only serve at lunchtimes, with a small straightforward menu offering traditional dishes such as steak pie and fish and chips, along with lighter options and a roast on a Sunday. A cheesy lasagne (£5.95), with chips and a big salad garnish, looked and tasted homemade with plenty of meat. The chicken madras curry (£5.95) was made in traditional pub style and big enough to satisfy a tighthead prop, lots of chicken in spicy sauce with sides of chips and rice. There are no starters but big desserts (£3.50) like sticky toffee pudding and apple lattice flan served with lots of custard or ice cream

10 High Street, Llandaff Cardiff CF5 2DZ 029 2055 1000

Butchers Arms

into tart cranberry compote. A main of steak, ale and mushroom pie (£8.95) was comfort food, its tender beef in tasty, thick gravy. It came with a great pile of garden peas and chunky chips. The chicken masala (£9.95) was attractive and delicious, sprinkled with toasted almonds. It wasn’t that spicy but you could taste the fresh flavours of coriander in a fruity and creamy sauce.

bowl of leek and mixed spice risotto (£9.95) had a meaty texture in a crisp tempura batter while leeks provided clout. Pheasant (£9.95) was excellent, going nicely with salty bacon, braised cabbage and a mound of buttery potatoes. Wonderfully presented food and great value.

It’s easy to write off the chains for lacking personality – but this Brains pub proves the assumption wrong. It looks like a well-kept country cottage, with landscaped gardens overlooking Cardiff, and has nine gardening plots where it grows vegetables and herbs to cook with. Inside, it has romantic charm, full of nooks and crannies with the smell of firewood. To start, crabcakes (£4.95) were spicy with a tangy, chilli chutney, while Welsh rarebit (£4.45) had a nice crunch with a fluffy middle and a vivid beetroot chutney. A main of braised brisket of beef (£8.95) was tender and a good-sized portion. The warming dish came with mustardy mash and a tasty gravy. The guinea fowl (£12.95) was great – nice and juicy with a rich and dark peppercorn and madeira sauce, in fact I would have liked more of it. It was served with gratin potatoes, and both dishes included broccoli from the garden.

Graig Road, Lisvane, Cardiff CF14 0UF 029 2075 4456

Its origins are in the 12th century but this pub has been sensitively modernised into a warren of smart rooms decked out with a nod to the countryside. It felt snug under the restaurant’s low vaulted ceiling, surrounded by fairy-lit trees at elegantly set tables. Starters were generous. Two big salmon and prawn fishcakes (£6.25) had lots of fish to potato and came with a sweet and citrusy sauce of honey and lemon, while deep fried brie wedges (£5.75) were warm and melting

63 High Street, Cowbridge CF71 7AF 01446 774814

Bear Hotel

Church Road, Llanblethian Cowbridge CF71 7JF 01446 772995

The Cross Inn

The Deri Inn

Rural and rustic, this country pub’s décor may be a little dated, but it’s irrelevant when sitting next to its crackling fire with a pint of Butty Bach in hand. We were taken through the menu by the enthusiastic chef and his passion translated to the plate. Starters were tremendous. Comforting French onion soup (£3.95), delicious and dark, had the right amount of sweetness, with a cheesy crouton bobbing on top. Grilled goats cheese (£5.95) with sundried tomato and basil cous cous looked and tasted great with red wine syrup. For mains, a large piece of rock salmon in a

A Pub and Restaurant with Real Ales, Real Fires and Real Food Come and dine with us next to our cosy log fires. A warm welcome awaits you!

Cross Inn

This is a pub to take the family for a hearty feed without worrying about the cost. It had a bustling atmosphere, packed with diners enjoying favourites off a comprehensive menu. Deep-fried Somerset brie (£4.25) collapsed nicely when the crispy almond-crumbed coating was cut, and came with a sweet redcurrant and juniper jelly, and apple salad. Crispy beer battered mushrooms (£3.50), were well presented in paper on a wooden board. The batter had a nice peppery flavour to match the smoked paprika dip, but they were a little watery. The main courses were huge and great value. A juicy 10oz gammon horseshoe (£7.50) was accompanied by a mound of chips, a grilled tomato, grilled pineapple and peas topped with an egg. The steak, baby onion and London ale pie (£8.50) had nice flavour and looked equally remarkable with its huge muffin top crust, green beans and mash.

Heol Y Deri, Rhiwbina, Cardiff CF14 6UH 029 2062 6237

It’s the archetypical British pub, with a popular quiz, pool tables and Sky Sports on the telly. It’s likely you’ve encountered the Brains menu before – there’s something to suit everyone with salads, baguettes, fajitas, platters, burgers, rib and chicken combos, pasta and grills. To start, tandoori chicken skewers with minted yoghurt (£3.95) were plump with a nice flavour, and lamb koftas (£3.45) were crumbly but full of spice. A main of Penderyn Whisky chicken (£7.50) had plenty of creamy peppercorn sauce but the whisky flavour was lost. It came with lots of chips, peas and broccoli. The burger stack (£8.45) was a huge portion with two – unfortunately chewy – burgers made from Welsh beef that were piled with cheese, bacon, onion rings and lots of chips. Big food at inexpensive prices.

Excalibur Drive, Thornhill Cardiff CF14 9BB 029 2061 0550

The Pendragon

Sir Henry Morgan

• Seasonal value for money a la carte menu available • Welsh local produce food with daily changing: - Fresh Fish Specials Board - Meat & Game Specials Board - Children’s Menu

We cater for funeral wakes, christenings, birthday parties and weddings. Let us organise your special occasion or office party at our venue, your venue or a special venue’ We are easy to find: just travel to the west end of Cowbridge High Street and take the B4270 Llantwit Major Road and we are half mile on the left.

9x4 for The Old Rectory Hotel

635 Newport Road, Rumney Cardiff CF3 4FB 029 2036 1311

Telephone 01446 772995 • www.crossinncowbridge.com

Church Road, Llanblethian, Cowbridge CF71 7JF

Big strides are being made at this pub, with mornings held for new parents, afternoon teas and a different deal offered every day. It’s styled like an English gentleman’s retreat and the food is classical British fare. To start, slow roast belly pork (£5.50), was elegantly presented with sticky and sweet dried apple and a swirl of apple sauce. It was nicely cooked with crunchy crackling over juicy meat. Williams pear and perl las tartlet (£5.50) had a great blend of flavours dressed with walnuts and balsamic. A main of seabass (£13.95) was cooked just right, atop cherry tomatoes, green beans, roasted onions and sauté potatoes. As it was grill night, we had a Welsh black

At this community pub, you can watch the football, drink with the regulars or enjoy a celebratory meal without imposing on one another. The food is a step above your average boozer with light bites like marinated olives and Turkish hummus, traditional basket meals and a refined a la carte menu. To start, deep fried Welsh brie Perl Wen (£5.95) oozed nicely out of its breadcrumbs, boosted by a sweet tomato and chilli jam. A big portion of Thai-style salmon and crab fishcakes (£4.95) were dense with fish, with a tasty dipping sauce.For mains, a warming dish of fat pork and leek sausages (£7.95) came with a smooth mound of mash potato, swimming in rich onion gravy. But the medallions of pork (£11.95) was the better dish – tender and full of flavour, with a great sweet potato mash, sweet honey and mustard sauce and sides of buttery sprouts, carrots and swede.

22 Heol Y Felin, Rhiwbina Cardiff CF14 6NB 029 2069 3526

Ye Olde Butchers Arms

February, 2012 South Wales Echo

17

ORIENTAL RESTAURANTS
Thai House
Get a taste of the Orient right on your doorstep. We sampled four Oriental restaurants that you said were delicious 3-5 Guildford Crescent Churchill Way Cardiff CF10 2HJ 029 2038 7404

As soon as you walk through the door of this cosy city centre restaurant, you know you’re in for a treat. From the elegantly-dressed, warm and friendly staff to the stylish but relaxed dimly-lit interior, everything about Thai House points to your visit being a special experience. And this isn’t a case of style over substance as the food is the main star of the show. A mixed platter for two (£15.95) included the most succulent prawn toast you will taste and tender chicken wings as well as delicious homemade sauces. Our mains included a perfect roast duck curry with a kick (£9.95), fresh green vegetables in an oyster sauce (£5.50) and soft ribbon noodles with prawns and peanuts (£7.95). Everything was so beautifully presented that it felt a shame to tuck in! While the menu is a little more expensive than some other Oriental restaurants, you get what you pay for. The perfect place to go for a treat.

Delivery service now available!
We specialise in authentic, innovative and traditional Japanese Cuisine such as Sushi, Yakitori, Tempura, Soup Noodles and much more!
201 Cowbridge Road East, Canton, Cardiff 029 2066 8833 167 Albany Road, Roath, Cardiff 029 2046 3333 Book now at the Park Orient, Merthyr 140 seat oriental buffet tel - 01685 389888

■ Head chef Sujan Klingsong diner with a vibrant atmosphere. There’s a wide range of dishes available but we had to wait a while before our orders were taken. We plumped for the kushi katsu (£3.90) and the salmon teriyaki (£5.50) to start and katsu curry (£6.90) and cha siew chahan (£7.20) for mains. A mix-up with the orders meant our meal was delayed. When it finally arrived, the presentation was a little lacklustre but the biggest horror was discovering a hair in one of the dishes – and the waitress didn’t even flinch when we pointed it out. Until then, the meal had been enjoyable enough but this, understandably, put us right off.

The Whitchurch suburb of Cardiff has developed a reputation for its restaurants during the last few years and Thai Lounge has to be the jewel in the crown. With smart, stylish surroundings and friendly staff, you feel at home as soon as you walk in. And the restaurant offers a wide choice of delicious dishes which are reasonably priced for the high standards. We opted for a Thai platter to share, which included spring rolls, chicken satay and prawn toasts, (£12.50) and red chicken curry (£9.95) and fillet of seabass (£12.95) with lime and ginger for the mains. Our bottle of prosecco was £18. The food was all beautifully presented with lovely garnishes and perfectly cooked. The service was efficient and friendly. Perfect for a celebration or a regular night out, Thai Lounge deserves to be highly commended.

73 Merthyr Road Whitchurch Cardiff CF14 1UK 029 2061 1222

Thai Lounge

The Crispy Duck
SPECIALISING IN CHINESE AND JAPANESE CUISINE

PAN ASIAN BAR AND RESTAURANT

Thai Elephant

Tenkaichi

Having enjoyed a couple of meals here in the past, I was really looking forward to my visit. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a positive experience this time. With long wooden communal tables and minimalist decor, the sushi and noodle bar is an informal city

236 City Road, Cardiff CF24 3JJ 029 2048 1888

OPEN 6 DAYS A WEEK (CLOSED ON MONDAYS) Follow The Crispy Duck @Crispyduck21 12PM – 2PM 5PM – 11PM

R SPING L E F M UN CIA OR EN C L H U

The Thai Elephant offers a wide variety of food, costing just £12.80 per person as part of a set menu. The restaurant, which has been converted from a former pub, may be a little dated when it comes to decor and the lighting could be toned down a little, but if you’re looking for a family-friendly, down to earth place to eat then you can’t go wrong here. Although we had to wait a while for our orders to be taken, the staff were polite and friendly. There’s a good mix of Chinese and Thai food and, as part of the set menu, you can choose up to five starters and five mains. We opted for spring rolls, satay chicken and smokey chicken to start followed by chicken and cashew nuts, king prawns and chilli beef. While the choice was good, the food could have been better presented and some dishes were lacking in flavour while others were a little over seasoned. But despite a few niggles, overall the Thai Elephant offers a good value family night out.

Trebanog Road, Trebanog Porth, Rhondda 01443 688073

the crispy duck is an oriental fusion restaurant and bar, setting the standard for modern asian cuisine in cardiff. the menu has influences from Japan, China, Thailand, Malaysia and beyond. our mission is to provide delicious cusine with charming and timely service in a warm and vibrant atmosphere.

❤ ❤

VALE VALENTINES DAY BOOKINGS NOW OW ❤ BEING TAKEN
W 21 WHITCHURCH ROAD • CARDIFF • CF14 3JW

Tel (029) 2062 8008
www.thecrispyduck.co.uk

18

South Wales Echo February, 2012

COFFEE SHOPS
Thé Pot
138 Crwys Road Cardiff CF24 4NR 029 2025 1246

Brava

71 Pontcanna Street, Cardiff CF11 9HS 029 2037 1929

Coffee Barker

Stylish and sophisticated are probably the best ways to describe this coffee shop. It describes itself as a cross between a Parisian patisserie and a San Franciscan café, and the two influences are reflected in its menu. It stands out from the many chains of coffee houses and has regular live music nights and events. There is not much space, but it adds to the sense of intimacy and the mouth-watering scrambled egg was a real highlight. In keeping with the whole style we opted for an American breakfast (£6), streaky bacon cooked just right, light, fluffy pancakes with a dish of maple syrup to pour over them, toast and some of the best scrambled egg you have ever tasted. Cafe owner Natalie Eddins was more than happy to reveal her secret ingredient, but you will have to go along yourself to find out what it is.

Probably best described as an up-market coffee shop, it is elegant, friendly and the food was really first class. Situated in the leafy suburb of Pontcanna, it is the perfect place to watch the world go by and has seating outside. It can be very busy and space is limited, however staff are obviously expert in managing the tables and attentive from the minute you walk in. My latte (£2.05) and my partner’s americano (£2.10) were a bit on the pricey side, but it was excellent coffee and the food very reasonably priced. We both opted for specials. My smoked haddock and rocket burger (£7.95) was a mouthwatering taste combination, very fresh and something I would go back for. The moussaka (£7.85) was quite delicious, as were the crunchy chips that accompanied it. Meals are also served in the evenings when it turns into a bistro.

READER OFFER: 25% of the total bill after 6pm: See page 24 for terms and conditions

READER OFFER: Free bottle of wine when
you spend over £15: See page 24

We visited on a cold, wet and gloomy winter’s day but the warmth of the staff and the welcoming atmosphere soon improved our mood. Opened in a former butcher’s three years ago, it has quickly established itself as a hub for the local community and beyond with events and arts exhibitions. As the name suggests, it is more than just a coffee shop, there are more than 50 carefully selected teas on offer (prices from £2.50 to £4). My latte (£1.90) was a really rich blend, with just the right amount of froth. The beans they use are freshly roasted and it came through in the taste. The coffees are served in 8oz and 12oz cups, not bucket sized mugs that you get elsewhere. The cakes (£3 a slice) also come highly recommended. We tried out several and our favourite was the berry and apple crumble cake. It was light, full of flavour and fresh. There are some wonderful combinations including orange and chilli cake and ginger and pear cake. The majority of the cakes are also gluten free and some are vegan.

5 Waterloo Gardens, Penylan Cardiff CF23 5AA 029 2045 6073

Waterloo Gardens Teahouse

It is obvious from the friendliness between staff and customers that this traditional café has a loyal following. Coffee is a bargain £1.20 for a mug, but there are not many different types to choose from if you’re feeling fussy. If it is a breakfast you are after, this is the perfect place to go. There is just about every kind of combination you could ever want. We chose the traditional set breakfast (£3.70) and a sausage and chips from the child’s menu (£3). Everything arrived promptly, there was plenty of it and the tasty, thick rashers of bacon were a particular hit with us. All in all a nice, clean establishment with really lovely, welcoming service.

132, Cowbridge Road East Canton, Cardiff CF11 9ND 029 2022 0841

The Tuck Inn Cafe

Family-owned Coffee Barker has succeeded in bringing a touch of European cool to Cardiff. Barker has been an independent fashion outlet in the Victorian Castle Arcade since 1979, but to mark its 30th anniversary a café extension was added. And its success is evident in the fact that it has already doubled in size since opening. The loft-style design creates a pleasant, laid back atmosphere, the service is second to none and our food was fantastic. My smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwich (£4.49 to eat in) was obviously freshly made, used local produce and the coffee was excellent too. My latte (£2.15 for a regular) and my husband’s double machiatto (£1.65) were full-bodied and tasty. The latte is a bit on the expensive side, but the generous serving and flavour makes it worth if for that little something special, either for a lunch break or just for a sit down from shopping.

1-5 Castle Arcade, Cardiff CF10 1BW 029 2037 1491

READER OFFER: Coffee Barker Breakfast on us! (tea or coffee and a slice of chunky toast) between 8.30-11am: See page 24
cup of coffee while looking out on a lovely view. It overlooks an outdoor children’s play area and small farm with goats, donkeys, pigs and poultry. The menu is sourced locally and you can see the food being freshly prepared. I had a homemade vegetable soup (£3.50), which was filled with deliciously fresh, chunky vegetables. My husband ordered a jacket potato and our son had a sandwich box from the children’s menu. The food was good, wholesome fayre and our coffees (£1.95 for a latte) were piping hot and hit the mark. There’s ample free parking and we even picked up something for tea in the farm shop.

■ Edit Almas and Joe Deard at Coffee Barker in

Jaspers Tea Rooms

High Street, Llandaff CF5 2DZ 029 2056 6602

Common Road, Llantrisant CF72 8DA 01443 229285

Butchers Arms Gallery and Coffee Shop

Based in the centre of Llantrisant, this is a very popular coffee shop. We had a little wait for our table, but there was plenty to see in the gift shop on the ground floor. There is a very varied menu of sandwiches and salad. My ham and cheese sandwich (£5) was filled with fresh salad and was accompanied by crisps and an orange segment. My husband’s coronation chicken (£4.50) was tasty with a nice sauce and plenty of it. It is all served on vintage plates and the array of cakes is mouthwatering. After much deliberation, we picked the coffee and walnut (£2.20) to accompany our latte (£1.95) and filter coffee (£1.95).

Jaspers is found in the shadows of Llandaff Cathedral and named after Jasper Tudor, who added the northwest tower to the building. The tables are located in a maze of small rooms that were originally the downstairs of several cottages. It gives the place a really intimate feel and there is also a small courtyard outside for sunny days. The food is all freshly made and the menu changes with the time of day from breakfast to morning coffee, light lunches to afternoon tea and cakes. The latte (£2.35) is on the expensive side, but was a rich roast, really frothy and was piping hot. It was lunch and I had the children so it was the tasty Welsh lamb cawl (£6.95) for me and sandwiches from the children’s menu for my son. The ham sandwiches (£2.25) were served with crisps on really fresh bread and there was plenty of it. We finished off the meal with a chocolate brownie (£1.95) to take away and eat as we enjoyed a trip to the cathedral. The cakes are all sourced locally. Bookings are taken for Sunday afternoon teas with a cake taster plate (£4.95).

Thornhill Farm Shop

This is a fantastic place if you are looking for somewhere to take the children or just for a

Capel Gwilym Road Thornhill, Cardiff CF14 9UB 029 2061 1707

This coffee shop with plenty of regulars is so welcoming, it feels like you have been going for years – even on your first visit. The service from start to finish was exceptional and we were really impressed with the quality of the food and coffee. And it all came in at a very, very reasonable price. The bread for my ham and cheese toastie (£2.50) was fresh and my partner’s meatball baguette (£2.30) was one of the best he had ever tried. The excellent flavoursome coffees were a great price at (£1.50). Fantastic value. This place is a real asset to the local community and well worth a visit. You will leave with a smile on your face and a full tummy.

Flat 4, Avocet House 88 Station Road, Llandaff North, Cardiff CF14 2FG 029 2055 5560

Lew’s Coffee Shop

This place is a real jewel in the crown of the arcades. From the posters of musicals which decorate the walls, to the diner-style tables and chairs, it oozes character. And on the food front, it certainly offers a choice of genuine homemade grub with healthy salads. I don’t think I have ever seen such a big side salad served anywhere and it was all very reasonably priced, especially for city centre prices. I had a flan with salad and my husband had chicken and ham pie with salad (both £4.80). Our coffees (latte £2 and white coffee £1.60) were nicely brewed. Excellent, friendly service.

8 Royal Arcade, Cardiff CF10 1AE 029 2037 381

Harley’s

K2

A great, friendly, family-run café in the heart of Llandaff. We arrived for an early lunch and were bowled over by the welcome we received from the enthusiastic staff. The menu offers breakfasts, main meals, light lunches, specialist teas and local cakes and is also popular as a takeaway. The service was first class and the food matched it. We didn’t have long to wait and it was served piping hot. The basic breakfast (£4.95) was good quality food, not too greasy and there was plenty of it. Our coffees were a tasty blend, served hot and reasonably priced at £1.75 for a small latte and £1.95 for large.

23 High Street, Llandaff CF5 2DY 029 2056 3637

February, 2012 South Wales Echo

19

money, very clean and our coffees, latte (£1.60) and americano (£1.50) were served piping hot, within minutes of ordering. My chicken sandwich (£3.75) was packed full of fresh chicken and salad and my husband’s baked potato with curry (£4.75) was definitely enough for a main meal.

Hidden away on a street corner in the middle of Roath’s maze of streets, this place is a real find. A small business involving three generations of the same family, it is the perfect place for a relaxing Sunday morning brunch, even if you have young children in tow. With an array of toys and books, it kept them quiet long enough for us to enjoy our food. The decor is relaxing and the Welsh cakes and brownies are all homemade. My bacon roll (£2.90) was served on a thick crusty cob, as was my husband’s breakfast roll with free range egg, bacon and mushrooms (£3.30) Our coffees were reasonably priced latte (£1.80) and americano (£1.70), the only criticism being that they could have been served hotter. Everything on the menu can be bought at the deli counter.

73 Pen Y Wain Road, Cardiff CF24 4GG 029 2048 3871

Deli Rouge

Based at the Cathays Community Centre, this small friendly café serves tasty and varied home made vegetarian meals and cakes. There is a different main meal and soup to choose from each day, along with around half a dozen tasty cakes and filled bagels are also on the menu. All the coffee is fairtrade and my latte (£1.90) was good. Mains are around £4.50 and on the day we visited it was a tasty Glamorgan sausage served with cauliflower cheese and salad, including a light, fresh spinach salad. The service was a little chaotic and we had to wait while the cauliflower cooked, but the staff were lovely and did inform us of the wait from the start.

Cathays Community Centre 36 Cathays Terrace, Cathays Cardiff CF24 4HX 029 2037 3144

Embassy Cafe

Waffle Coffee Shop
Every street should have a coffee shop like Waffle on its corner. A nice, bright friendly café, it is perfect for a rainy Cardiff afternoon – and the cakes are pretty special too. My latte (£2) was the perfect temperature and a rich blend and the coffee and walnut homemade cake (£1.40) reminded me of the ones my gran used to make. It was so nice I took some waffles and maple syrup (£3.50) home to share with the rest of the family.

63 Clive Road, Canton Cardiff CF5 1HH 029 2034 3087

Tea & Cake

Castle Arcade Cardiff

PICTURE: Matthew Horwood ©

Snails Delicatessen
6 Beulah Road, Rhiwbina Cardiff CF14 6LX 029 2062 0415
This popular deli and coffee shop feels like it has been picked up from the Continent and dropped into Rhiwbina. The deli and café opened more than four years ago and seems to have really found an appealing niche for itself. There is a definite buzz about the place and most of the food on the menu can be bought at the deli counter. My Glamorgan sausage and chilli jam hot sandwich (£4.95) was delicious. With a mouth-watering chilli jam and scrumptious coleslaw, it was a delicious contrast between sweet apple and lively onion, on the side. My latte (£2) was served hot and was the perfect blend. There is also a take out menu and a great array of cakes, including victoria sponge, coffee and walnut and lemon drizzle.

son and his friend had the children’s deal of beans and toast with a drink for £2.95. And because they were so good, they were allowed a Sidoli ice cream sundae (£2.95).

21 Castle Street, Caerphilly CF83 1JD 029 2086 6452

Costa Coffee

This quirky coffee shop was one of the biggest and best surprises of the competition. The eating area is behind a gift and sweet shop that has an emphasis on vintage. The coffee shop is an absolute delight done out like a 1950s diner and with a fab outside eating area. The cakes and biscuits on offer are all made locally and our coffees were some of the best we tried. The cakes range in price from £1.75 for the homemade fairy cakes and caramel slices to £2.95 for large cakes that can include cheesecakes and coffee and walnut cake. The owners have obviously put a lot of effort into choosing their coffee blends and it is something they are passionate about. It shows through in the taste and the quality of the coffee.

36 Wellfield Road, Cardiff CF24 3PB 029 2021 8815

READER OFFER: Free drink with any food
order: See page 24 for terms and conditions

Bentleys Cafe

You can see why this traditional cafe is so popular with its good food and quick service. It has various sizes of breakfasts to suit even the greediest of people and is one of the cleanest eating places I have ever been in. I opted for a small breakfast at a very reasonable £3.85 and a mug of coffee for £1.60. There is not much choice of different coffees, but the one I had was rich in flavour and I was more than happy with it. There is a good choice for children too. My

35 Wellfield Road, Cardiff CF24 3PA 029 2045 7373

This was the only coffee chain represented in this section of the competition, but big can be beautiful and it certainly was the case with Costa. Benefiting from a central location, close to the castle, we were impressed by the quality of the coffee, the comfortable seating areas and the friendly service. And the prices are not too extortionate either. My latte (£2.15) was a great size and was a nice, rich blend, as was my husband’s americano (£1.85). There is a good array of cakes to choose from. We opted for an almond bake (£1.75).

Cafe Calcio

145 Crwys Road, Cardiff CF24 4NH 029 2039 7575

Caesars

Based in Barry’s main shopping area, this is a traditional shop that plays on its Italian heritage. We unwittingly went on one of the busiest days of the week, market day, but it didn’t stop the service being fast, efficient and polite. It is also great value for

134 Holton Road, Barry CF63 4HH 01446 722024

When this coffee shop/restaurant opened in the city 11 years ago it had a laddish, football theme (Calcio being Italian for football). It had been a while since I had been and in the intervening years it has had a complete transformation into a relaxed, laid back eaterie ideal for both a breakfast or a lunch date. Our visit was for breakfast and it definitely didn’t disappoint. There is plenty of choice, not just the traditional egg, bacon and sausage. My husband, however, decided to go for traditional, which is served with orange juice (£4.50) and was delighted with the quality of food. My sweet tooth won out and I opted for the pancakes and maple syrup (£1.95). The pancakes were light and fluffy and my latte (£1.95) was the perfect accompaniment.

This authentic patisserie café is all about the cakes and the French owner’s passion shines through in the array of cakes on offer to eat in or take away. All Cocorico pastries are freshly prepared on the day by the master patisserier and breads and other treats are all made on the premises. Served in a nice, quiet atmosphere I opted for cheese and ham croissant (£2.10) as my main. The croissant was light, fresh and the melted cheddar and mozzarella with the ham was the perfect combination. But it was the cake that really stood out. After an agonising choice, the chibouste (£2.40) won, a mouth-watering raspberry tarte with vanilla cream. Magnifque and enough for two. This is well worth a visit, even it is just to pick one up to enjoy at home.

Niazs House 53-55 Whitchurch Road Cardiff CF14 3JP 029 2132 8177

Cocorico Patisserie

Family Business

Fine Quality Delicatessen & Café
Catering for all occasions Now fully licensed and open until 9pm on selected days

T: 029 2048 3871 www.delirouge.co.uk

February, 2012 South Wales Echo

21

Indigo

Standard Balti

At the heart of the Roath curry triangle, this is a chic, urban takeaway that obviously has to up its game because of the competition. No little portable on the counter here; instead, a large flatscreen TV on the wall showing an Indian news channel – very authentic. Its prices reflect its upmarket feel (10% off, though, for students) but you’re getting what you pay for, especially on the starters, which were top notch – the onion bhajis (£2.65) and the samosas (£2.85) were to die for. From there, though, things went slightly downhill – the chicken madras (£4.85) had mild written all over it when it should have been hot and the chicken and spinach balti just felt bland – a cardinal sin in this game.

Albany Road, Roath, Cardiff CF24 3RU 029 2045 2708

More traditional than its Church Village counterpart, this offered exactly the same menu at almost the same high quality. Its chicken rogan josh (£4.45) was a fine staple, ample in quantity with excellent cuts of meat while the shorshe raja chingry (£8.95), king prawn in hot sauces with mustard seeds, ginger, garlic and green chillies justified its branding as a Zeera exclusive, boasting at least five huge prawns brimming with taste. Anyone who thinks the Valleys are a wasteland when it comes to great Asian food is sadly deluded.

Cowbridge Road, Pontyclun CF72 9EB 01443 208885

Zeera

Spoilt for choice, we opted for the attention-grabbing balti special set menu for four (£34.95), featuring shami kebab, onion bhajee, balti chicken with spinach, balti spinach, tikka masala and the usual offerings of rice, naan, poppadoms and mint sauce. From a relatively traditional menu, this had all you’d expect in terms of strength and taste but the portions could have been more generous. Friendly staff and food served bang on time more than made up for any shortcomings. Looking for a quick fix? This is the place.

119 Broadway, Treforest Pontypridd CF37 1BE 01443 403987

Taste of Bengal

Bustling little takeaway that claims to be Cardiff’s most popular and certainly is bursting with good-humoured self-confidence, backed up, it has to be said, by the quality of its food. Nice, freshly-made poppadoms and very aromatic pickles set the tone, with a coriander-heavy chicken tikka garlic chilli (£6) to follow that was really superb. The madras (£4.50), both chicken and lamb, were as hot as advertised and the quality of the meat overall was good and tender, with good cuts used and a lack of processed feel. Engage the owner in banter while you wait – he’s just as good value as his food!

Cowbridge Road East, Canton Cardiff CF5 1HD 029 2037 3322

Funky, bright, snappy and smart, this is aimed right at the student market for whom this has become something of a meeting place; think Central Perk meets Tiananmen Square. An excellent menu features stacks of set meals and boxes to suit everyone’s taste and pocket but it can all be a little confusing for the noodle virgins like us. We went for the kare noodle soup box (£5) which was really fantastic and the sweet potato sesame cakes (£2.50), too, were out of this world. The noodles themselves had fabulous flavours but I don’t think they travel well – eat them in house and they’re fine. Take them home and they can get too soggy. We’ll know next time... and there will be a next time!

Salisbury Road, Cathays Cardiff CF24 4PE 029 2025 1007

Noodle Box

Unremarkable, traditional Indian takeaway with the usual range of traditional dishes. Nothing too hot, nothing too bland but the garlic chilli chicken (£5) lacked fire and the lamb madras was put in the shade by too many others on our list. Its saving grace is that it’s very good value for money.

Caerphilly Road, Cardiff CF14 4QA 029 2052 9165

India Kitchen

Barry Balti

Broad Street Parade, Barry CF62 7AN 01446 733223

Caerphilly Road, Heath Cardiff CF14 4NT 029 2052 0360

Nahin Spice Centre Golden Ocean
Another of Cardiff’s long-established ‘heat-and-eat’ takeaways and much praised in the past for the quality of its food, the Nahin is a previous winner on a number of occasions of the Echo’s Takeaway of the Year awards. It remains the best of its kind, not least for owner Dilwar Ali’s noble refusal to add unnecessary colouring to its food – something which can alarm those for whom curries are not curries unless they’re a deep shade of red. The chana masala (£5.15), its signature chick pea dish, positively bursts with exotica, thanks in no small part to its coconut and almond ingredients, and the portions are never less than generous. Want to pass yourself off as a budding Madhur Jaffrey? Here’s the place to start.

Waungron Road, Fairwater Cardiff CF5 2JL 029 2055 2278
Busy, clean, tidy and fabulously well organised establishment at the gateway to Fairwater and popular with passing trade as much as the local residents. Nothing surprising on the menu but the Golden Ocean gets all the basics right, from the lovely mixed appetisers (£7.50, fried won ton, prawn toast, crispy seaweed and spare ribs) to the fulsome king prawn and mushroom (£5.30) and, especially the Singapore rice noodles (£5) which managed in a single dish to encapsulate all that’s good about the place... and which tasted just as nice when warmed up the following day. One quibble: the roast duck chow mein (£5.30) was a little too chewy.

A fixture of this very busy precinct for more than 15 years, this is really rather a lovely place – clean, industrious, not what you’d call chic but boasting a pair of chefs working their socks off in full view of the customers. Always a good sign. Their attention to detail and fresh ingredients were clear in the food, particularly the garlic chicken and the onion bhajees (£1.70). It was all good value, too, with the average price of a dish around £4. On the night we went – a Thursday – at around 8pm, the wait wasn’t too long but it could have been an hour and still have been worth it.

At the cutting edge of Indian marketing, with its sparkling website and text messaging service, this takeaway takes its responsibilities as a long-time fixture of Whitchurch’s bustling and eclectic foodie scene seriously. Everyone is guaranteed a warm welcome from the ebullient host and his food more than matches his sunny disposition. Stand-out dishes include the Sri Lankan speciality chicken methi (£5.95) with its herbs, spices and fenugreek, and the chana bhajee chick pea dish (£3.10), very much an essential side order here. Good value and, if you know where to look, handy parking, only add to its appeal.

Penlline Road, Whitchurch Cardiff CF14 2AA 029 2063 6060

Bombay Mix

20

South Wales Echo February, 2012

TAKEAWAYS
Saffron
was all tasty and tender. Just as good the second night, with the reheated leftovers!

Relatively new (it opened in April) but it has already become a success, thanks to its open-plan, modern interior and its unique range of gluten-free appetisers and curries which, according to the affable owner, enable those with an intolerance the chance to enjoy some scintillating curries. The South India garlic chicken (£4.95) was a winner but the saag paneer (£3.95), an Indian cottage cheese pan fried with spinach and finished in cream sauce, was spectacular – the consistency of chicken but with a melt-in-your-mouth quality all its own.

Bridge Street Pontypridd CF37 4PE 01443 408044

Holton Road, Barry CF63 4HW 01446 746787

Modern Balti

Something of an institution in this corner of the Valleys, it is an oddity in that it’s stuck out on a limb but it’s also very busy in the face of lots of competition. Located on the main road between Llantrisant and Llantwit Fardre, you may struggle to find it but please make the effort. From the mixed starters (£3.50, including great prawn toast and Cantonese spare ribs) to the superb crispy aromatic duck (£6.80) and the luscious king prawns, everything was freshly cooked, nicely prepared and delivered with a smile.

Main Road Llantwit Fardre CF38 2LT 01443 208833

China Village

Famous in the Vale for the customer who loved the food so much he moved in above it, this takeaway was as busy on a Thursday night as many places are at kicking out time on Friday and Saturday – always a good sign. As a result, we had to wait an extra 30 minutes for the food but when it came it was hot and fresh-tasting, especially the Lamb Pathia (£4.25), which boasted Thayers fresh cream among the ingredients, but the chicken tasted a little processed. Good value for money – portions good and reasonably priced, and this is another place where the food is cooked by a busy crew working in sight of the customers. Parking might be a problem so this is one very much for the locals.

Tiffin Rasoi

Holton Road, Barry CF63 4HB 01446 743030

Shaz’s

Tucked away at the bottom of Barry’s busiest commercial street, this is a real find. As much a chic little cafe as an Indian takeaway, this may well be the future, certainly if the quality of the food is anything to go by. Everything about it is different, from the smoothies on the menu, to the unique range of dishes, such as the spectacular Machi Tikka (£2.30), ginger-scented tuna cakes with chilli and coriander. The chilli paneer (£2.30), too – browned chunks spiced with red chilli paste – was a real winner. Of the main, the tandoori thali (£8.50) was packed with lovely meat the subzi masala (£4.50) was the best Indian vegetable dish we’d ever had. If you think all Indian takeaways are the same, try this place!

Zeera

Main Road, Llantwit Fardre CF38 1RN 01443 202224

A spruce, clean and welcoming location in the heart of the village, Shaz’s benefits immeasurably from a kitchen just behind the counter, in full view of potential customers. Three chefs toiling away over the stoves, flames illuminating the interior, concocting the dishes with fresh ingredients (and Coleman’s Mustard) does wonders for its authenticity and claims of ‘original’ Indian food. The menu boasted some unique dishes – the Shorshe King Prawn (£7.95) stood out with its mammoth seafood and quirky, tasty sauce. Try the Shaz Special Bhoona (£6.45) if you’re a lover of hot spinach dishes, and the meat

Exquisite Indian takeway
‘Very good food beats the taste of much bigger & more expensive restaurants’TRIP ADVISOR
Saffron are proud to be the first leading takeaway to offer gluten free, reduced oil dishes and healthy omega 3 options, this ensuring a high demand in the local area and beyond. We thank all of our customers for their continued support in 2012. • Nominated in 2011 South Wales Echo Food and Drink Awards • Gold award from trading standards for the gluten free options Tel: 01443 408044 • 01443 491244 13 Bridge Street, Pontypridd • Officially opened by the Lord Mayor

Saffron

A Chinese that serves its audience perfectly, whether they want a bag of chips to go with their own main courses, or the full-on takeaway rush that is a must when the pubs are shut. Clean premises but, on the whole, the food rarely rose above the ordinary – the meat tasted a little processed but the dishes were not too greasy. The spare ribs with salt and garlic (£4.80) were excellent and by the end we were satisfied... and certainly not hungry again two hours later!

Paget Street, Grangetown Cardiff CF11 7LA 029 2066 5898

New World

Classy, smart and unashamedly exclusive, Zeera (one of two on our list) knows it must compete not just with the plethora of Indian takeaways in the area but those in Cardiff if it is to succeed. And succeed it does, the quality of its food easily matching, if not surpassing, anything we tried in the capital. The lamb Madras (£4.35), far from being the mild excuse for fiery found elsewhere, really provoked a sweat and the lamb tikka noodles (£5.75) – something of a rarity – made this departure from the normal menus well worthwhile. A place that stands out for all the right reasons.

St Illtyd Road, Church Village CF38 1DB 01443 217642

Long-established as one of Cardiff’s best ‘heat-and-eat’ establishments – they serve the food cold and you heat it up later (or freeze it) – the Gateway of India is the cheat’s favourite: who will know if you serve the dishes straight from the oven at your swanky dinner party? Understandably, knowing the nature of their audience and the volume of dishes served, the choice on the menu is straightforward, lacking some of the more exotic dishes found at more cosmopolitan takeaways. The chicken korma (£6) was mild, of course, but no less tasty for it and everything had the air of freshness and authenticity. However, some of the meat dishes lacked a little, er, meat.

Pantbach Road, Rhiwbina Cardiff CF14 6AG 029 2052 9029

Gateway of India

22

South Wales Echo February, 2012

LOCAL PUBS
Victoria Park Hotel

Judged not just on food and beer but the part they play in the local community...
staff and a seriously extensive menu make this a top local. The inn is split between main bar, complete with roaring log fire and exposed beams and a more formal lounge. Entertainment is clearly a priority, with quiz nights on Thursdays, live music and even medium readings on the busy events calendar. There is also a function room available for weddings, christenings and other events. The menu promotes the kitchen’s use of locally sourced produce and offers two mains for £10 between noon and 5pm, Monday-Friday. After starting with Oriental spring rolls, I was tempted by a classic – lamb faggots with peas (£7.50), they were prepared by a local butcher, full of flavour, massive and swimming in onion gravy. My partner opted for the poached fillet of salmon served with a creamy shrimp sauce, peas and potatoes (£9.95) – another winner.

The Victoria Park Hotel serves up the best Sunday roast this writer has tasted in South Wales. Judging by its popularity, that’s no secret amongst the locals so make sure you book and be ready to place your order when you ring. Our party of four were served our piping hot roasts in a matter of minutes – and what roasts. Our table wasn’t big enough for all the swedes, roasties, carrots, peas, cabbage, Yorkshire puddings, stuffing, boiled potatoes, meats and gravy – and all for just £5.95 each. This unspoilt pub has the usual mix of lagers and the odd ale, as well as a skittle alley and darts board. There is also a large function room that can seat 60 with its own bar.

422 Cowbridge Road East Canton, Cardiff 029 2037 4212

It’s difficult to imagine anywhere more appropriate to escape the winter cold than The Boars Head with its three cosy dining rooms creating a picture perfect homely feel. Huddled shoulder to shoulder around the tiny bar were a bunch of real ale lovers extolling the virtues of

Coedcae Lane, Tyla Garw Near Pontyclun 01443 225400

Boars Head

the current batch of guest beers. Beer festivals are a regular fixture on the events calendar, with as many as 50 ales. The Boars Head has seven guest cask ales at a time and we tasted Mighty Oak brewery’s Oscar Wilde, which was named ‘Best Beer in Britain’ 2011 by CAMRA. And there’s almost as much choice on the menu for foodies. After our starter of crab and chilli fish cake (£5.25), my wife followed it with salmon, prawn and rocket lasagne (£8.95) – a tasty twist on a classic. My Dragon’s Fire chicken curry (£9.25) was suitably named and I was thankful for my Oscar Wilde.

READER OFFER: Free bottle of house

wine when you order from the main menu: See page 24 for terms and conditions

The Discovery Inn

The Coach House

Ty’r Winch Road Old St Mellons Cardiff 029 2077 7400

Cosy surroundings, personable

Located a short walk from Roath Park Lake, The Discovery Inn is named after Captain Scott’s ship which set sail from Cardiff on his journey to the Antarctic in 1900. This pub offers quality, value-for-money food and a decent array of entertainment. Live music gigs are regularly held on Friday and Saturday nights and quiz nights are held on Wednesdays. There are also occasional salsa for beginners classes held in the large function room. The spacious lounge has a relaxed atmosphere, with long wall sofa seating and sport on the flat screen TVs.

Celyn Avenue, Cyncoed Cardiff CF23 6EH 029 2075 5015

The Robin Hood
Dining Times: Mon – Sat 12 -8pm Sunday 12 – 4pm (traditional roast)
booking required for Sunday

Our starters were spring rolls with dipping sauce and a lovely fresh parsnip soup. Mains are £5.95 each or two for £10. From the menu, my wife had the breaded plaice, while I ordered the 8oz sirloin steak with chips, onion rings, peas and peppercorn sauce (£9.25) from the specials. All were served with a smile by attentive staff and exceeded our expectations.

Robin Hood

The Robin Hood remains a lively traditional pub. Surrounded by tapas bars and boutique restaurants, it would be a shame to ever see this pub lose its community spirit. Last year it hosted one of the biggest and best royal wedding parties – even Charlotte Church sang karaoke. There is live entertainment every weekend

16 Severn Grove, Pontcanna, Cardiff CF11 9EN 029 2037 8829

and quiz nights on Thursdays. The pub also offers free WiFi. The public bar is split from the main dining area, but the entire venue has an electric, good-time atmosphere. You could easily come here for just a drink, or dance, but you’ll also find one of the best value menus in Pontcanna. The crab, tomato and cheddar fondue with pitta bread (£4.75) was a filling starter before we followed it up with a superb lamb, chilli and coriander burger (£6.25) and hand-battered cod fillet with chips and peas (£7.95).

The Duke of Clarence

This is a real family-friendly pub that remains, by our experience, at the heart of its com-

48 Clive Road, Canton, Cardiff CF5 1HJ 029 2034 2171

Free Bottle of House Wine
for 2 people ordering main meals Or free glass of wine on any single main course ordered
Sweet Potato & Garlic Soup Potato Basket of Wild Mushrooms & Truffle Sun Blushed Tomato, Parma Ham & Mozzarella Bruschetta Garlic & Lemon King Prawns ..................................... Scallop & Monkfish Pappadella Pasta, Pesto & Cream Minted Lamb Steak, with Herb Mash & Maderia Sauce Filo Tart of Roasted Veg & Garlic Chicken with a Stilton Cream Sauce Steak Diane, with Hand Cut Chips ..................................... Selections of Desserts to Share Welsh Cheese & Biscuits Amaretto Crème Brulee ..................................... 3 Course £19.95 Available Sat 11th, Sun 12th, Mon 13th, Tues 14th Please call us to reserve your table 01873 810373

Home Cooking plus Real Ales Hancock Bitters plus the Rev. James
Tel 02920 378829 16 Severn Grove, Cardiff CF11 9EN

Don’t miss your Echo pull-out every Saturday for food reviews on all of our favourite

eateries

February, 2012 South Wales Echo

23

This is another old boozer to have undergone a major transformation in recent years. Since reopening in 2010, The stylish Maltsters has established itself as Llandaff’s most upmarket pub bistro. The menu is certainly more exotic than most taverns, with the huge cheese, seafood or charcuterie sharing boards a popular choice at £9.95 each. To accompany a pint of Rev James, my partner and I shared a tasty plate of lamb kofta with mint mayonnaise (£5.25). For mains I went for a classic – rib-eye steak and chips (£14.95). A generous portion and cooked to perfection, it was just a shame about the watery peppercorn sauce. My partner enjoyed another pub classic – honey and thyme sausages with mash (£6.95).

Cardiff Road, Llandaff, Cardiff CF5 2DS 029 2033 3096

Maltsters

■ Wayne Owen and Brett Summers enjoying a pint at the Boars Head munity. On the Sunday lunchtime we visited for a roast, a lively christening party was taking place in the rear function room. It was refreshing to visit a pub which is still a popular meeting place for locals – and has kept its skittle alley with skittle nights Monday to Friday. There is also a kids’ Saturday film club, starting at 10.30am, with free entry. Our beef and chicken roasts proved fantastic value at just £4.50 each, as did the sticky treacle and chocolate puddings (£1.50). And we were given a reason to return when we discovered that diners are able to cook their own food – using a volcanic rock. The black rock dining experience was inspired by the owners’ trip to Majorca. going to the winning team’s charity. While its menu offers unashamedly pub fare, this spacious, relaxed inn is a nice change of pace. A starter of chicken goujons with sweet chilli sauce (£4.95) was pretty standard, as was the other half’s fish and chips (£6.75). But our visit coincided with curry night. My lamb rogan josh was sensational and came with a bottle of Cobra beer, all for £7.95.

Pictures: Peter Bolter©

Thursdays, as well as entertainment Fridays and Saturdays. The friendly staff serve up home-cooked food including 11 different pies without pretence or formality. My slow-braised lamb shank and mint gravy (£9.95) was succulent and delicious.

The Three Arches is another Brains pub to have undergone a major family-friendly refurbishment recently. In fact the transformation has been so radical that it really does blur the lines between pub and restaurant. From the grill-dominated menu we enjoyed the succulent tandoori skewers, served with refreshing minted yoghurt (£3.95), homemade Celtic Pride beef chilli (£7.45) and salmon blackened with lemon and garlic butter (£8.95). Professional customer service is clearly a cornerstone of all revamped Brains alehouses such as this and the brewery should be applauded for raising standards.

Heathwood Road, Heath Cardiff CF14 4HS 029 2075 3831

The Three Arches

The Heath

Occasionally you visit a pub and get a genuine surprise, which is exactly what happened to us at The Heath. The Brains-owned alehouse reopened last year following a major refurbishment and now offers a quite simply outstanding experience. The Heath is clearly split between its pub area – complete with pool table and darts board – and the restaurant, which is styled with traditional furniture, open fires and black-and-white photographs. Spacious, yet cosy at the same time, it offers the complete pub experience: Welsh ales, a good value menu, sport on the TV and professional staff. We left stuffed after feasting on half a roast chicken with half a rack of BBQ ribs (£9.45) and an 8oz rump steak with BBQ ribs (£12.95). The Heath’s ‘Big Quiz Night’ takes place each Sunday, starting at 8pm.

Whitchurch Road, Cardiff CF14 3LW 029 2039 4297

FIRST things first, this isn’t a pub. But it’s also not a café, bar or restaurant, at least not in the traditional sense. Judging by our Saturday afternoon visit, the Juno Lounge is perhaps all of the above. A relaxed, community atmosphere allows the Lounge to seemingly be different things to different people: be it a family-friendly eatery or cool hang-out. On our a visit we were surrounded by couples reading the papers over a coffee and students polishing off a bottle of wine while playing scrabble. The tapas menu is great value for money, with each dish costing £2.95 or three for £7.95. Our patatas gratinadas (potato and manchego cheese) was a generous, warming portion, while the honey-glazed shredded five spice pork put an Oriental twist on a classic. For mains, the chicken and gammon pie was positively bursting at the seams, and served with delicious creamed leeks, chips and a tarragon sauce (£10.50) My New York style steak sandwich was cooked perfectly and came with potato wedges and a tangy mustard mayo (£9.95).

14 Wellfield Road, Roath, Cardiff CF24 3PB 029 2019 8990

Juno Lounge

A traditional pub, with a modern feel, the Cayo is a Marston’s owned pub located in a converted Victorian townhouse. Named after Julian Cayo Evans, the leader of the Free Wales Army, the interior has been creatively decorated and retains some of original Victorian features. It offers a wide range of real ales and the menu ranges from nibbles – such as wedges, nachos and crispy duck spring rolls – to sandwiches, baked potatoes, wraps and burgers. My pork belly with red cabbage, mash and apple sauce (£9.95) was better than standard pub fare but unfortunately the leek and gruyere tart was served cold in the middle (£7.95).

36 Cathedral Road, Cardiff CF11 9LL 029 2023 5211

Cayo

One of the most historic pubs in South Wales, The Royal Oak is best known for its connection to boxing, the knock out feature being a training gym with boxing ring upstairs. The main bar’s walls are adorned with photographs of local champions, including the 1910 Lonsdale Belt winner Jim Driscoll. As well as its sporting heritage, the pub is also well known as a live music venue with regular free gigs and open mic nights. The Victorian ale house features stained glass windows and church pews and is said to serve the best Brains SA in Cardiff. Food is only served on Sundays. Our lamb roasts did the job, but there is no pretension of being anything other than a ‘proper pub’.

200 Broadway, Adamsdown Cardiff CF24 1QJ 029 2019 1048

The Royal Oak

Creigiau Inn

Station Road, Creigiau CF15 9NT 029 2089 0768

The Bear Inn

Want to a visit a country pub but don’t want to drive miles into the depths of the countryside? Well here is your answer. The Creigiau Inn is located in the heart of Creigiau north west of the city. There is a quiz every Tuesday night from 9pm. Entry costs £1 with all proceeds

The Bear Inn is well worth a visit and last year was named winner of the Best Bar None Award in Rhondda Cynon Taf for its work with the community. It’s management are heavily involved in the annual village fete and charity fundraisers. There is also a pub quiz on

Llanharry, near Pontyclun CF72 9LH 01443 225425

It’s clear this pub has already become a favourite amongst food lovers in north Cardiff since reopening in 2011. With a creative menu at the top end of the price range, it is closer to an upmarket pub-restaurant with picturesque beer garden than a local boozer. I plumped for the special of black pearl scallops with caesar salad (8.95), a tasty combination of flavours, while my partner enjoyed well-presented prosciutto and poached egg with asparagus and hollandaise sauce (£6.45). But the mouth-watering choice of maple spit gammon with peach and mustard mash (£12.95) was the pick of the menu. My slightly over-cooked roast rump of lamb with pancetta, asparagus and baby potatoes (£15.95) didn’t reach the same level of perfection.

Cherry Orchard Road, Lisvane, Cardiff CF14 0UE 029 2076 5961

The Old Cottage

Dynevor Arms

There’s a friendly, family atmosphere at this village pub, where we received a warm welcome. The décor has traditional brass horseshoes and china plates, while outside, a pretty beer garden is well-maintained. Its real ales will please drinkers and a no-nonsense menu offers staples like cottage pie, chicken curry and roast dinners. Vegetarians and children are catered for, and there are a few more adventurous dishes on the specials board like king prawns in Thai red curry. We had gammon, egg and chips with salad and grilled tomatoes (£7.95), and it was huge! So was the beef stroganoff (£10.95) with chips and rice. It had lots of chunky mushrooms and hunks of beef but the sauce was too heavy with garlic for my taste. There are no starters but plenty of desserts like sticky toffee pudding and chocolate fudge cake (£3.75 each). The real ales are popular with the locals and there are regular quiz nights.

Groesfaen, Pontyclun, CF72 8NS 029 2089 0530