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.

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/

Tempus at Tides Bar and Restaurant at The St David’s Hotel

Recently I got the opportunity to visit Tempus at Tides Bar and Restaurant at The St. David’s Hotel in Cardiff Bay. Hotel restaurants trying to entice in non-residents seems to be a bit of a thing at the moment so I was keen to see what Tempus had to offer.

We visited on a busy Saturday night, there were two weddings in full swing and a number of people making the most of the lovely weather to enjoy the terrace, which offers some stunning views of the bay.

Picture of Cardiff Bay from Tempus at Tides

Cardiff Bay from Tempus at Tides

General Manager Andreas, welcomed us and showed us to our table, which we shared with fellow blogger Kacie of The Rare Welsh Bit and her friend Dan, along with Rob and Louise from Petersens and their respective partners.

Tempus at Tides has just launched its new menu, which has been designed in conjunction with Consultant Chef Stephen Tonkin. As some of you may know Stephen had a long association with Caprice Holdings working his way through the ranks at the famous ‘The Ivy’ before becoming head and then executive chef at Dean Street Townhouse. He currently works for Des McDonald (his old boss at Caprice) Restaurants as executive chef.

Stephen has been helping Dominic Powell, executive chef for St David’s design and plan the new menu. Dominic joined St David’s in 2011 as sous chef, after moving from the Park Plaza and has progressed rapidly to his current position.

Picture Inside Tempus at Tides

Inside Tempus at Tides

The restaurant itself is light and airy thanks to the large amount of glass looking over the terrace and eventually Cardiff Bay itself. The wooden floor, low ceiling and bustle of the adjoining bar do give it some character and so it does manage to avoid the soullessness that often afflicts hotel restaurants.

Chef Dominic Powell

Chef Dominic Powell

Chef Dominic pops out to say hello and explain the ethos behind the new menu. Basically it’s bang on trend being fresh, locally sourced, seasonal ingredients with an emphasis on seafood (well we are slap bang on the Bay after all). I note his recommendation for the Sea Bass before beginning to study the menu.

We start with the customary bread, which consists of three different types of roll; tomato, onion and parmesan. These are served with Netherend butter, olive oil and aged balsamic.

For starters, or intros as they are titled on the menu, I choose ‘Chicken Liver Parfait, “Little Black Hen” Chutney, Toasted Brioche’ whilst MrsA opted for the ‘Burry Inlet Mussels, Welsh Bacon & Black Dragon Cider’

The parfait was lovely and smooth, although I did feel the flavour was little muted and needed a lift. It worked well with the toasted brioche bun though and the chutney (hand made in Llangennech) did a good job of cutting through the fattiness of the parfait to give the whole thing balance.

Picture of Chicken Liver Parfait, “Little Black Hen” Chutney, Toasted Brioche

Chicken Liver Parfait, “Little Black Hen” Chutney, Toasted Brioche

MrsA’s mussels are plump, juicy and well presented. Simply cooked, they are hard to fault without being earth shattering.

Picture of Burry Inlet Mussels, Welsh Bacon & Black Dragon Cider

Burry Inlet Mussels, Welsh Bacon & Black Dragon Cider

For main course MrsA chooses the Catch of the Day, Hake on a Bed of Courgette and Leaves. The hake is top quality and super fresh, very well cooked. The courgettes are lightly roasted, intensifying the flavour but not to the point where it overpowers. MrsA is very happy to find a chef who can cook fish with this finesse.

Picture of the Catch of the Day - Hake

Catch of the Day – Hake

I opt for the chef’s recommended ‘Burry Port Kippered Wild Sea Bass, Cucumber & Brown Shrimps’. Landed that morning the Bass is again very fresh and arrives on my plate via chef who knows how to treat a piece of good fish. Nice and simple, nothing distracting from the delicate, yet full flavour, the cucumber, brown shrimp and a little dill serve only to enhance. I can’t think of many places that would have cooked this better.

Picture of Burry Port Kippered Wild Sea Bass, Cucumber & Brown Shrimps’

Burry Port Kippered Wild Sea Bass, Cucumber & Brown Shrimps’

Overall top marks to Chef Powell for his fish dishes, we would certainly go back for the fish.

So onto dessert, and after the high point of the main courses the dessert selection seems a little uninspired. Sticky Toffee Pud is, it seems to me, more at home in a gastro pub than the restaurant of a 5 star hotel. The Ice Cream too is bought in, albeit from a reasonable source. I wonder if the one thing that Tempus lacks is a pastry chef.

The signature dessert is called After Eight and is a riff on a chocolate and mint ice cream. I decide to give this a miss and choose the simple ‘Vale of Glamorgan Strawberries, Clotted Cream’. Nowhere to hide here, this dish is totally reliant on quality ingredients and thankfully it has them. The strawberries, nicely dusted in icing sugar are sweet and flavoursome. The clotted cream ice cream is rich and smooth. Good stuff.

Picture of Vale of Glamorgan Strawberries, Clotted Cream

Vale of Glamorgan Strawberries, Clotted Cream

MrsA, also struggling to find something prepared in-house to tempt her, decides to try the Selection of Ice Creams. The presentation is unusual, in that the tilted glass serving bowl is itself frozen, making the dish visually interesting. Unfortunately the contents themselves are a bit more ordinary.

Picture of Selection of Ice Creams

Selection of Ice Creams

In summary, I’m not sure how Tempus at Tides is going to fare at bringing in the non-residents, traditionally an area where most hotel restaurants struggle. Even with its Bay Side location, there’s not any easy passing trade to attract. It needs to establish itself as a destination restaurant, especially with its price point. Before it can do that, a few things, especially on the desserts, need tweaking.

I’d still go back for the fish though!

Tempus at Tides Bar & Restaurant
St David’s Hotel and Spa
Havannah Street
Cardiff
CF10 5SD
(029) 2045 4045

We were invited to dine at Tempus at Tides as guests of Petersen PR and as such all food and drink was complementary.

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The Chefs Table at Laguna Kitchen and Bar, Park Plaza Cardiff

lagunaI’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.

Bread Selection

Bread Selection

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.

Mise en Bouche

Mise en Bouche

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.

Spectacular Selection of the Finest Hot and Cold Sea Food Coastline Vegetables, Welsh Tracklements

Spectacular Selection of the Finest Hot and Cold Sea Food Coastline Vegetables, Welsh Tracklements

Seafood Platter in close up.

Seafood Platter in close up.

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.

Bombay Sapphire Gin and Tonic Sorbet

Bombay Sapphire Gin and Tonic Sorbet

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.

Open Beef Wellington with Roasted Shallots, Wild Mushrooms and Port Wine Jus

Open Beef Wellington with Roasted Shallots, Wild Mushrooms and Port Wine Jus

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.

Jersey Cream Crème Brulee, Passion Fruit, Short Bread Biscuits

Jersey Cream Crème Brulee, Passion Fruit, Short Bread Biscuits

To round everything off we were served a selection of raspberries and Home Made Petit Fours to accompany our coffee.

Home Made Petit Four

Home Made Petit Four

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.

So good to see a glass of water served with a coffee.

So good to see a glass of water served with a coffee.

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
Greyfriars Road
Cardiff
CF10 3AL

Tel: 02920 111 103
Email: lagunarestaurant@parkplazahotels.co.uk
Web: www.lagunakitchenandbar.com

We were invited to attend the Chefs Table by Working Word PR and as such all food and drink was complimentary.
Laguna Kitchen and Bar on Urbanspoon

Tea and Food Evenings at Washington Tea Penarth

I have been a big fan of Waterloo Tea since I discovered it several years ago. At their Teahouse, a wide selection of the worlds finest teas and coffees are on offer, the work of local artists is on exhibit (available for purchase as well), and homemade cakes and light lunches are available. Waterloo Tea has one draw back; they do not have a license to cook food on the premises so the lunch menu is limited to mainly sandwiches and salads.

Enter stage right Washington Tea! Washington Tea is the sister teahouse in Penarth which opened in June 2013. You can find the same great tea, coffee and cake as you find in Waterloo Tea but Washington Tea has a liquor license and the license to cook. Now having the ability to provide hot food, owner Kasim Ali hired Chef Joe Rowson who worked at Le Gallois in Cardiff and was Head Chef at Arboreal in Cowbridge. To take advantage of having a highly skilled Chef, Washington Gardens offers fortnightly supper clubs. Mr. A and I were delighted when Kasim invited us to Washington Gardens for a supper club. The supper club can accommodate about 30 people with the evening beginning at 19:30 and the first course being served at 20:00. For £35.00 you receive a 5 course meal paired with teas of different origins. As Washington Tea has a liquor license, you can also buy wine by the class or bottle as well.

On the night we attended, the menu was very inspired by the food of Yotam Ottolenghi: primarily vegetarian with a fusion of flavours and spices from various countries in the Middle East. You’ll find spices and condiments such as sumac which has a tart flavour, dukka an Egyptian spice blend typically containing sesame, cumin, coriander, hazelnut and salt and pomegranate molasses, a thick tangy reduction of pomegranate juice. Theses spices and condiments are used very subtly and add a nice touch to the dishes. If you have never used these spices, I think after the supper club you may be inspired to try them at home. Washington Tea also takes pride in the quality of ingredients that they use. Produce is sourced from The Organic Fresh Food Company based in Lampeter, Riverside Market Gardens in Cardiff and Tortoise Bakery which specialises in slow fermented bread.

For the first course we were served a bright and fresh organic beetroot and ginger soup with a golden beetroot and goats cheese crostini, which was paired with a Blood Orange puerh tea. This earthy tea flavoured with blood orange was a perfect complement for the earthy zingy soup.

Picture of organic beetroot and ginger soup

Organic Beetroot and Ginger Soup

Our second course was a flavoursome smoked trout, mackerel and saffron potato terrine served with a dill crème fraiche, caper salsa and sumac paired with Wuyi oolong tea. Wuyi has a subtle smoky finish so was a fabulous match with terrine.

Picture of smoked trout, mackerel and saffron potato terrine

Smoked Trout, Mackerel and Saffron Potato Terrine

The third course was squash falafel with a rainbow carrot salad seasoned with dukka, and mint yogurt, paired with a take on Moroccan mint tea. A twist on a Middle East classic dish paired with a traditional Middle Eastern tea.

Picture of squash falafel with a rainbow carrot salad

Squash Falafel with a Rainbow Carrot Salad

The forth course was aubergine roasted with pomegranate molasses, braised pearl barley with red tomato and feta; paired with Phoenix Orchid oolong. This dish was a balance between earthy aubergine, salty cheese and sweet pomegranate and was paired with a rich tea with notes of honey and lychee.

Picture of aubergine roasted with pomegranate molasses

Aubergine Roasted with Pomegranate Molasses

Finally for dessert, we had Braeburn and almond tart served with ice cream, and paired with an iced sparkling hibiscus infusion. A lovely way to end the evening.

Picture of Braeburn and almond tart served with ice cream

Braeburn and Almond Tart served with Ice Cream

There are many things I enjoyed about the supper club: they use spices that are not typically used in Britain, a vibrant and fresh menu, the friendly staff who were really excited and knowledgeable about the menu and tea pairings, the buzz from the diners as they discovered new flavours in food and tea, and of course having each course paired with a tea. I have quite a collection of tea from Waterloo Tea in my house and I learned quite a lot in the evening for me to start pairing teas with my meals.

If you would like to attend a supper club bookings can be made on telephone, 02920709158, email washington@waterlootea.com and through the online shop waterlootea.com

Penarth store details:

Washington Tea
1-3 Washington Buildings
Stanwell Road
Penarth
CF642AD

T: 029 2070 9158
E: washington@waterlootea.com

We invited to supper club as guests of Washington Tea and as such our meals were complimentary.