Mar 18

We broke the news here that Marriott Hotels were piloting a partnership with Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s River Cottage and that the Cardiff Hotel was to be part of that pilot.

Marriott have realised that a growing number of diners have an interest in the provenance of their food and so, in response, they are trying to improve their sourcing so as to offer a local, seasonal menu.

The Marriot kitchen team have been trained at River Cottage, who have also helped identify quality, local producers that they can source from.

Producers such as Graig Farm, Slade Farm Organics, Abergavenny Fine Foods, Gower Coast Seafood and the Welsh Box Scheme to name but a few.

Zest has set themselves some challenging goals including:-

  • Ensure that 80-percent of the ingredients at Zest to be obtained within a 60-mile radius.
  • To reduce our food waste to no more than 5-percent.
  • To use only organic meat
  • To use only free range organic chicken
  • To ensure that all fish and shellfish are procured from sustainable sources.

It’s great to see a large chain such as Marriott leading the way on this and it is to be hoped that their example is soon followed by other hospitality organisations.

So how is Zest and its food?

Picture of inside of Zest Restaurant

Inside Zest

Well the restaurant suffers from its location, it is unmistakably a hotel restaurant and one that doubles as the breakfast buffet as well.  High ceilings, white tiled floors, and hotel décor do not really impart a cosy ambience.

Fortunately the staff are excellent, very friendly and accommodating which is a big help. If only you couldn’t hear them coming as they clip clop across that tiled floor.

First up was the Chef’s homemade Focaccia bread. This didn’t really get us off to a good start as frankly it was atrocious. I think Chef missed the River Cottage baking course.

Mrs A started with a Goats Cheese Salad of squash, beetroot, goat’s cheese and caper. A delightfully pretty dish it was, unfortunately, served so chilled that its flavour was masked.

Picture of Goat's Cheese Salad with Squash, Beetroot and Capers.

Goat’s Cheese Salad with Squash, Beetroot and Capers.

My starter was smoked venison with pickled mushrooms and leaves. The venison was moist and tasty and a decent dressing pulled it all together.

Picture of Smoked Venison

Smoked Venison

Mrs A’s main was Slow Roasted Lamb with Celeriac Mash. The lamb was sourced from Slade Farm Organics. It was beautifully cooked, moist and tender with a rich sauce that frankly there could have been more of.  The celeriac mash was a little overpowered by the large strips of chili running through it. If they had been finely chopped and less, then the dish would have benefited.

Picture of Slow Roasted Lamb with Celeriac Mash

Slow Roasted Lamb with Celeriac Mash

I had the Slow Cooked Organic Brisket with kale, and Anchovy and Rosemary Potatoes. Delightfully rich it really hit the spot.

Picture of the Slow Cooked Organic Brisket

Slow Cooked Organic Brisket

The side of kale was also a little heavy on the chili, but very nicely cooked and the addition of fennel seed was a nice touch.  We had some excellent honey glazed rainbow carrots as well.

Rainbow Carrots

Rainbow Carrots


Kale with Chili & Fennel

Kale with Chili & Fennel

Mrs A chose a Sticky Date Pudding for dessert, served with a vanilla ice cream. Whilst I chose an Apple and Cherry Crumble.  Both delivered in terms of flavour and sweetness.

Sticky Date Pudding

Sticky Date Pudding

Apple & Cherry Crumble

Apple & Cherry Crumble

Whilst not faultless the cooking at Zest is definitely a step up from your average hotel restaurant and therein lies the rub, as the space screams hotel at you.  There is a much more comfortable upper tier to the restaurant although that was not is use the night we went as it had been laid up in readiness for breakfast the next day.

Whilst I’m not sure if Zest will succeed in pulling local non-residents into the hotel, I think if I was staying at the Marriott then Zest would certainly stop me from exiting the building to try find a local eatery.

I hope the hotel’s marketing team can carve out a reputation for Zest independently of the hotel as that’s what it needs to help it stand out from the chains that surround it.  It has all the right ingredients after all.

Cardiff Marriott Hotel
Mill Lane
CF10 1EZ

Tel: 02920 399 944
Web: Zest

We were invited to try Zest as guests of Nylon Communications and as such all food and drink was complimentary.

Zest on Urbanspoon

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