An Angelic Weekend in Abergavenny

Looking for the perfect weekend getaway? Award winning afternoon tea, castles, great food, wonderful nature walks, a bit of apres ski fun? Don’t head to Switzerland, book into the Angel Hotel in Abergavenny for the perfect winter getaway.

Regarded as one of the most exciting hotels in the UK, in 2016 the Angel Hotel won the ‘AA Hotel of the Year Wales 2016/2017’ award. The Angel Hotel, a former coaching inn built in 1829, is located at the heart of the historic market town of Abergavenny. This smart hotel now has 34 beautifully appointed guest rooms, The Oak Room restaurant, the Foxhunter bar, and during the winter season the quirky and fun pop-up Après Ski Bar.

Angel Hotel Bedroom

Located in the heart of Abergavenny, The Angel Hotel is a great base for exploring this quaint market town which has a bustling market Tuesday through Saturday and lots of charming independent shops to explore.

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If you are a foodie, do not miss Marches Delicatessen on Nevil Street for some of the finest cheeses, charcuteries and pantry items. Just a few doors up you will appropriately find Cooks Galley, a family run cookware shop stocking a wide selection of kitchen gadgets and cookware. Whilst exploring the town, do not miss a visit to The Chapel, a sister property of The Angel, for a really good coffee or lite bite. The Chapel, located behind the market,  is open from 9 to 5 and offers a local and seasonal breakfast, lunch and lite bite menu. Not only does it have great food, but it also is a gallery and gift shop. The perfect place for a pit-stop during your wander around Abergavenny.

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Enjoy a good walk? Just on the outskirts of Abergavenny is The Blorenge,  a prominent hill which overlooks the valley of the River Usk situated in the southeastern corner of the Brecon Beacons National Park.

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Also, Abergavenny is located in Monmouthshire which some call the food capital of Wales.  3 miles from The Angel Hotel is one of my favourite restaurants, The Walnut Tree, a Michelin Starred restaurant, with chef patron Shaun Hill, a legend in British cookery, at its helm.  But if you don’t even have to leave The Angel Hotel for an award winning meal. The Angel Hotel is a member of the prestigious UK Tea Guild having held an ‘Award of Excellence’ since 2008. I highly recommend the High Tea priced at £27.80 per person and includes a selection of warm savoury pastries, sandwiches, cakes and pastries. The warm savoury pastries I had were to die for and included prunes wrapped in bacon, ham & onion quiche, beef & mushroom choux buns, pea, ham & mint spring rolls, coronation chicken tartlets and salmon mousse cups with gherkins. The cakes and pastries were equally delicious and to top it all off, there is a selection of over 40 teas, a selection of coffees and a list of sparkling wine and champagne if you want a bit of bubbly with your tea. This tea has been named the best afternoon tea outside of London and once you experience it, you will know why. A not to miss treat during your visit!

High Tea

For a fun evening, head to the Après Ski Bar, a pop-up bar bringing the atmosphere of an Alpin Ski Lodge to Abergavenny. Enjoy the well-stocked bar which includes a variety of German beers as well as signature cocktails and mocktails. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, you can enjoy a 3-course meal of charcuterie, Swiss fondue and German style apple cake. And yes, the staff do dress up in Lederhosen and Dirndls!

 

With rooms from £85 per night,  The Angel Hotel is the perfect place for a getaway!  Great food, beautiful market town, fabulous places to explore…an angelic break!

The Angel Hotel, 15 Cross St, Abergavenny NP7 5EN Phone:01873 857121

 

I was invited to The Angel Hotel and as such the room and all food was complimentary.

 

Vibrant Sunday Lunch at Etc…. Penarth

I do enjoy going out for a good traditional Sunday Lunch, but I like finding places that serve a Sunday lunch with flair. If you are looking for a Sunday lunch with style and a delicious twist, do try Etc… in Penarth. Etc… is a modern restaurant and cocktail bar with a menu that has global influences. You will find flavours from Japan, India, South Africa, Thailand, Italy as well as modern British Cuisine. The atmosphere at Etc… is as vibrant and lively as its menu!

Sunday lunch is popular at Etc… There is an extensive choice of creative cocktails and mocktails followed by a Sunday lunch menu and that has some traditional elements but is inspired by world flavours. For starters, Mr A had Quack, duck and mango spring rolls with regional dips.

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I had Holy Smoke – grilled paprika king prawn in lemon butter, Nasturtium Blue Pepe and whisky smoke.

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Both dishes were beautifully prepared. The king prawn was succulent and sweet. The whisky smoke made a pretty effect when served but the dish is not overpowered by whisky flavour. The lemon butter sauce was quite decadent…you may wish to ask for some bread to mop it up! The spring rolls were full of flavour and accompanied by 3 very tasty sauces – tamarind, sweet chilli and yoghurt sauce.

For mains, Mr A opted for “Dad’s Cooked Dinner” which consisted of slow roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, seasonal vegetables.  The beef was so tender that you could cut it with a spoon!  Mr A would certainly order this tasty dish again.

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I chose “Over reacting Salmon” – wild crispy pan-fried salmon with powdered beetroot and spinach, 24-carat gold leaf served on a bed of salad.  This was a nice piece of salmon and was beautifully cooked and presented but the salad did need a vinaigrette.  The chef missed a trick by not creating a unique one for this dish. They will bring you oil and vinegar if you ask.   If you are not a fan of beef or salmon, there is also lamb with red current and port, traditional chicken and a vegetarian option to choose from.

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If you are looking for a Sunday lunch that is a bit different but very tasty, friendly and efficient service and a really vibrant atmosphere then do book Sunday lunch at Etc… 2 course costs £18.99, 3 costs £22.95 and children eat for £9.99.

Etc… is also offering some special menus during the holiday season. Check out their Taster Tuesday at £36.99 per person which includes a glass of sparkling wine with rose petals, a selection of starters, main course and dessert. If you just want to pop in for a drink, enjoy a signature cocktail and choose from a selection of small plates.  Of  course, they are also open for lunch or dinner and have an exciting a la carte menu. Do call in advance because with its unique menu and lively vibe, Etc… is a popular spot!

Etc… is located at 1 Royal Buildings, Stanwell Road, Penarth, CF64 3EB. Click here to check out their website.

We were invited to Etc… and as such all food was complimentary.

Steak Of The Art Cardiff: Restaurant Review

I don’t seem to get into Cardiff too often these days, so it was great to get an invitation to Steak of the Art, that interesting combination of restaurant and art gallery on Churchill Way.

Since the restaurant opened in February 2015 it has seen some stiff competition from other city centre openings so I was interested to see how it’s stood up to the challenge.

We arrived at 6.45pm on a cold October Thursday and are grateful to find the bright and quirky interior is warm and inviting. As well as having a separate art gallery the inside of the restaurant is a work of art in its own right. Featuring several booths, each with its own theme, the interior certainly offers plenty to keep the eyes interested during dinner.

One of the Booths

One of the Booths

Seated in the Roald Dahl inspired Willy Wonka booth, carved out of a single tree trunk we got ready to find out if the food would be as interesting to the palate as the décor to the eyes.

I was immediately impressed with our server, Molly, who obviously had great knowledge of the menu and could answer our questions with ease.  It is so important that restaurants invest in their staff training and not only ensure that the front of house team know what is in the dishes and how they are prepared but also get to taste them too!

I decided to start with the Smoked Sausage, Chorizo and Ciabatta (£5) while MrsA went for the Garlic and Chilli Tiger Prawns (£6).

Smoked Sausage, Chorizo & Ciabatta

Smoked Sausage, Chorizo & Ciabatta

My starter was generously proportioned with plenty of sausage and chorizo. Unfortunately, it was served covered with some kind of smokey BBQ sauce that only served to overpower the flavours, a shame as the meat itself was up to being the star of the show.

Garlic & chilli tiger prawns

Garlic & Chilli Tiger Prawns

MrsA’s starter was also a little lacklustre, the ginger and chilli sauce struggling to lift the rather bland prawns.

Whilst Steak of the Art serves fish, salads and vegetarian options for us the clue is in the name and so we both decide that for mains it’s meat all the way

Although traditionally fillet is the steak of choice for most and I appreciate the tenderness of a good fillet, I’m mostly to be found revelling in the flavour of a piece of skirt, bavette or flank.

This time I picked another flavourful cut, the Rump with Hand Cut Chips (£14) and a side of Broccoli and Flaked Almonds.

Rump Steak with Hand Cut Chips

Rump Steak with Hand Cut Chips

MrsA chose the Flat Iron Steak (£12), served with a Rocket, Tomato and Parmesan Salad with Onion Rings on the side.

Flat Iron Steak

Flat Iron Steak

It’s really important with these cuts that they are cooked properly. Overcook them and you end up with tasteless shoe leather. Both mains more than made up for any prior disappointment. Both steaks were juicy, full of flavour and cooked exactly as ordered (rare).  Delightfully the sauces, Béarnaise with my rump and Porcini Mushroom & Tarragon with the flat iron, were excellent, fresh, well balanced and with bags of flavour. If you’re looking for a perfectly cooked steak and sauce combo, in Cardiff, you should head to Steak of the Art.

The sides (all £3) were very well prepared.  The broccoli served slightly al dente as opposed to the overcooked mush so often delivered.  The onion rings, made on the premises not out of a packet, served in a light crispy batter with a satisfying crunch.

Having polished off the mains we were offered the dessert menu.  Well, it would have been rude not to!

I was taken by a Lemon Posset with a Passion Fruit Coulis (£5.50). Nice and tart, the sharpness of the lemon nicely offset by the passion fruit this was delightfully creamy.

Lemon posset with a passion fruit coulis

Lemon Posset with a Passion Fruit Coulis

MrsA chose the Chocolate Mousse on Peanut Biscuit Base with Praline and a Dollop of Ice-cream (£5.50). As Molly said, it’s not as light as you might think of something called a mousse, but it is packed with flavour. Sheer indulgence!

Chocolate mousse on peanut biscuit base with praline and a dollop of ice-cream

Chocolate Mousse on Peanut Biscuit Base with Praline and a Dollop of Ice-cream

Starters aside I was impressed by Steak of the Art.  The mains and dessert were excellent and I think they have got the price point right in comparison with the other offerings in the city. The fixed price lunch menu at £11.95 for 2 courses and £13.95 for 3, along with the afternoon only Menu Rapide (Steak and chips for £7.50 anyone?) offer fantastic value for money if you are around in the daytime.

The staff are friendly, knowledgeable and enthusiastic and you can even support a local artist after your meal. One thing is for sure if I’m in Cardiff and I fancy I steak you are far more likely to find me walking along Churchill Way than through The Hayes.

Steak of The Art
Helmont House
Churchill Way
Cardiff
CF10 2HE.

T: 029 2039 7284
http://www.steakoftheart.co.uk/cardiff

We were invited to Steak Of The Art and as such all food was complimentary.

Fish At 85 – A Great Sunday Lunch.

Forget about the Roast Beef – look to the sea for a great Sunday Lunch in Cardiff.

Sunday Lunch at Fish At 85.

Back in my early days of Twitter I’d fire up the software and scroll back through my timeline to catch up on what had happened that day.  Of course, then, Twitter was far less popular and I followed far fewer people.  These days, when I check in I can hardly keep up with my timeline going forward let alone backward.

So it was very fortuitous that I opened Twitter up in the middle of an interesting conversation that had just started. Interesting enough to make me scroll back through my timeline to pick up the start.

There it was then I noticed a single tweet from Fish At 85

Two things stood out –

1)      Fish At 85 are open on a Sunday

2)      3 Courses for under £20.

A table for two was secured very quickly.

Starters

MrsA chose the Gower Coast Moules Mariniere whilst I went for the Pan Fried Scallops, Sautéed Chorizo & Bell Peppers, Tomato and Chilli Jam.

Corpulent Capers: Fish At 85 Moules Mariniere

Moules Mariniere

 

Corpulent Capers: Fish At 85 Scallops

Pan Fried Scallops, Sautéed Chorizo & Bell Peppers, Tomato and Chilli Jam.

The Scallops were plentiful, sweet and cooked to perfection. The Chorizo and Bell Peppers brought a nice heat that was balanced by the sweetness of the Jam. MrsA really enjoyed the Moules and appreciated that she was able to swap the cream sauce for a Chorizo based one.

Mains

For Mains MrsA had Pan Fried Gower Coast Wild Seabass Fillet, Mash Potatoes, Fine Beans, Chive butter sauce whilst I had Baked Hake Fillet, Sautéed Potatoes & Samphire, Sauce Veirge.

Corpulent Capers: Fish At 85 Seabass

Pan Fried Gower Coast Wild Seabass Fillet, Mash Potatoes, Fine Beans, Chive Butter Sauce

The Wild Seabass was excellent, with lovely fresh flavour. The mash was smooth and rich. The beans cooked with just the right amount of crunch.

Corpulent Capers: Fish At 85 Hake

Baked Hake Fillet, Sautéed Potatoes & Samphire, Sauce Veirge

My Hake was firm and meaty, but retaining that flakiness texture that I love. It’s easy to overcook most fish, and hake is no exception. Fortunately this one was perfect. Although it is quite a mild fish it does stand up to strong flavours very well and the balance of accompaniments here allowed it to show both sides of its nature.

Dessert

MrsA skipped dessert but I was tempted by a Tarte Aux Citron with a Raspberry Sorbet.

Corpulent Capers: Fish At 85 Lemon Tart

Tarte Aux Citron, Raspberry Sorbet

I’ve written before about how much I hate ‘hint of lemon’ so I did say ‘If it doesn’t have a real hit of lemon then bring me something else’. They didn’t and I’m not complaining!

MrsA has been fortunate to have dined at Fish at 85 a few more times than me and she summed up our lunch by saying, ‘Once again they delivered, serving high quality, fresh fish that was expertly cooked. It so good to have access to such a great place that remains consistent time and time again.”

At £15.95 for two courses and £19.95 for three, this must surely be one of the best value Sunday lunches in Cardiff.  Tear yourself away from the Roast Beef and Yorkshires and treat yourself to some superb fish dishes.

Fish At 85
85 Pontcanna Street, Cardiff, CF11 9HS
Tel: (029) 2023 5666 | http://www.fishat85.co.uk

Milgi Pop Up at the Street Food Circus

Plant based fine dining with Milgi at Street Food Circus

I was fortunate enough to get an invite to the preview of the Milgi pop-up restaurant at the launch of this year’s Street Food Circus at Sophia Gardens.

Now I’m a pretty committed carnivore but I’d never managed to get to the Street Food Circus in its previous incarnations so I was curious to pay it a visit.

I was also quite interested to see the Milgi sky yurt. A 3 course communal feast set under canvas with natural decor, organic wines and a modern vegetarian and RAW menu that uses the finest seasonal organic produce? Intriguing! Their ambition is to introduce a new audience to plant based eating.

Well the menu sounded quite ambitious and so I was eager to give it a try.

Starters

Corpulent Capers Milgi Pop Up Starters

Raw sunflower & sundried tomato galette with chickpea & basil houmous, micro basil, toasted pumpkin seed, heirloom tomato, radish sprouted aduki beans.

For me this was the stand out dish. I absolutely loved both the flavour and texture of the galette.  A revelation.

Main

Corpulent Capers Milgi Mains

Za’tar Tempeh with lemon & saffron brown rice, garden peas, gem lettuce, mint, and harissa cashew sauce.

I’m very familiar with Za’tar, we use it a lot at home.  Tempeh, however, was new to me. In general terms it’s the Indonesia equivalent of Tofu, but instead of curding Soy milk it is made by fermenting cooked soya beans with a mold. This makes it firm and chewy as opposed to the soft, smooth, spongy consistency of Tofu.

Overall I liked this dish, the sauce complimented the Tempeh very well and the rest of the ingredients made it very fresh.  My only comment would be that the rice was a bit lacking and needed something to lift it.  I didn’t really get the lemon or saffron and felt it could have done with a lot more of both.

Dessert

Corpulent Capers Milgi Dessert

Raw blackcurrant cheesecake with almond & date crust and summer fruit salad

Raw blackcurrant cheesecake with almond & date crust and summer fruit salad

Whilst the crust wasn’t really to my taste, MrsA loved it. The raw blackcurrant filling however, was something else indeed. I would not have believed that a non-dairy fruit filling could have been so thick, and dare I say it, creamy.  Also it certainly packed a serious flavour punch!

I was very impressed by the food served at the Milgi Pop Up, especially as for a large part of the evening the food was prepared in darkness with the kitchen staff just wearing head torches.  Hopefully they remembered to bring the kitchen lights for day 2.

Street Food Circus is open every Thurs/Fri/Sat/Sun until the 25th September, for more details and opening times check out www.streetfoodcircus.co.uk. You’ll also find more information on all the other participants.

The Milgi pop up runs Fri/Sat/Sun. More details on Milgi can be found here – http://milgicardiff.com/