I’d been to the Laguna Restaurant at the Park Plaza once before when I had sampled a pre-theatre dinner before a visit to the New Theatre. What had impressed me at the time, and still does, is that it is a hotel restaurant that doesn’t feel like a hotel restaurant. A feat rarely achieved outside of London.
At the time of my first visit I was also quite impressed with the quality of the food, so an invitation to try out their take on a Chef’s Table was eagerly snapped up. Okay, so first up this isn’t really a chef’s table in the true sense, as you are not in the kitchen at all. Rather you are sitting at a high table in the restaurant a few feet from the pass. Also half the table have their back to the kitchen but as you’re actually not in it, there’s not much to see anyway so this isn’t too much of a problem.
The Chefs Table menu is a no choice gourmet tasting menu, paired with wine. And what a menu it is.
We started off with a bread selection with the obligatory oil and vinegar before moving onto a Mise en bouche.
The Mise en bouche comprised smoked slices of Brecon venison, some delightful Neal’s Yard goat curt, heritage beetroot and slices of muscovado baked peaches drizzled with truffle honey. This was paired with a Del Fin Del Mundo Extra Brut.
Our next course was an incredible sharing seafood platter billed as a Spectacular Selection of the Finest Hot and Cold Sea Food Coastline Vegetables, Welsh Tracklements. Wow! This was a visually stunning dish and if you are seafood lover you would be in heaven. Baked lobster and prawns, pickled cockles and samphire, a trio of cold smoked, hot smoked and beetroot cured salmon, a selection of mussels, octopus and baby squid were all excellent but the star of the show was a pastry topped scallop with chorizo served in the shell. The wine pairing was a very nice 2011 Chateau Fontaine Sancerre.
Before moving from the sea to the land we had a palate cleansing sorbet made from Bombay Sapphire Gin and Tonic. Now I’m not a gin lover but this had a nice citrus acidity that set us up for what was to come next.
Just as I was wondering how the next course was going to be able to hold its own against that platter an Open Beef Wellington with Roasted Shallots, Wild Mushrooms and Port Wine Jus was set in front of me. Ah so that’s how!
Another triumph, a tender, flavoursome beef fillet accompanied by a soft rich parfait of goose liver with a crisp pastry astride a lovely fondant potato all brought together by the port wine jus. Impressive! Paired with a 2011 Del Fin Del Mundo Malbec Reserva.
Dessert came in the form of a Jersey Cream Crème Brulee, Passion Fruit, Short Bread Biscuits. Wow this is good stuff, thick, smooth vanilla custard, thin but crisp sugar top, a nice short shortbread and the natural sourness of the passion fruit to cut through it. Delightful! Add in a glass of a great dessert wine in a Moscato Passitto and away we go.
To round everything off we were served a selection of raspberries and Home Made Petit Fours to accompany our coffee.
Experienced Laguna head chef, Justin Llewellyn, has certainly done a great job of forging relationships with local Welsh suppliers to put together an exemplary tasting menu. The quality of the food on offer is as good if not better than anything else you will currently find in Cardiff.
The Chefs Table is available to book for groups of between six and twelve. At £45.00 per head including the wine pairing this must be the best value fine dining available in Cardiff at the moment.
Go! Go round up your friends and book the Chefs Table, you won’t be disappointed.
Laguna Kitchen and Bar
Park Plaza Hotel