Friday, 28 September 2012

Food on Film: El Bulli

The Documentary El Bulli: Cooking in Progress (2010) came out on DVD in the UK this week. It was on the top of my DVD rental list and I have just devoured it.

Director Gereon Wetzel filmed for a year (2008/09), following dishes from initial conception through to completion. El Bulli, which was located in the small seaside town of Roses in Catalonia, closed for good in 2011, so this is a valuable document of the restaurant at its peak.

The film starts in October, when El Bulli closes for six months. Ferran Adrià and his core team of head chefs (Oriol Castrol, Eduard Xatruch and Mateu Casañas) move to a laboratory in Barcelona where they experiment. By the time the restaurant opens in June, they have created a whole new menu of astonishing and innovative dishes.
The documentary is refreshingly free of voice-over. We are mostly watching chefs working, punctuated by Ferran Adrià addressing his core team and staff at various stages. The documentary gives a great insight into how Adrià directs operations from start to finish. In one sequence, filmed in July, he eats his way through the tasting menu, making copious notes – always striving for perfection.
A percussive score by Stephan Diethelm, which probably had its origin in kitchen utensils being hit, threatens at times to become irritating, but ultimately delivers on an emotional level, especially during the climax of the film. Here, we are shown a montage of stunningly photographed dishes from the 2008/09 menu. Earlier in the film, some of these dishes were just ideas being batted around by the chefs. A concept lies behind each dish. Water is jokingly noted as an underlying theme for that year’s menu ("What did they serve you at El Bulli? Water"). This really is serious fun.
Each dish has to pass Adrià’s “magical test”. These are some that did: Tea shrimp with caviar anemones, needle tree, blossom with its own nectar, coconut sponge, pumpkin meringue sandwich with almonds and summer truffle, oilwater osmanthus, rabbit brain in its own ragout, rabbit rib in its essence, vanishing ravioli, sweet potato gnocchi, minted ice lake, minted apple phylo, frozen rose, chocolates.
I highly recommend this DVD to anyone interested in both modern food and modern art.


Selected ‘ Food on Film’ posts:
Ratatoille (Ferran Adrià involvement)

I am Love
See also:
Narbeth, Sospan bach, Ultracomida and El Bulli Beer


Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Albany Road, Cardiff

We are in Roath, on a walking tour of Cardiff.

In a previous post, we walked up the City Road and I abandoned you at the junction of that road with Richmond Road, Crwys Road, Mackintosh Place and Albany Road. Today, we are heading down Albany Road to see what's cooking.
Turning right from City Road, the even numbers are on your right (south) and the odd numbers on your left (north).

Royal Junction
3 Albany Road CF24 3LH
Confectioners and Deli, selling milkshakes, ice creams and sweets, including Mushtaq's Sweets (Food Hygiene Rating 1: major improvement necessary. Aug 2012).
9 Albany Road CF24 3LH
A coffee shop that curiously refers to itself as a savoury bar; serving breakfast, lunch and sandwiches (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. June 2012).

On the other corner of Albany Road and Inverness Place:
Tesco Metro

11-17 Albany Road CF24 3LH

There has been a Tesco on this site since the 1970s, when this would have been about the average size of a Tesco store (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. Nov 2011).
Albany Road Market Garden
19 Albany Road CF24 3LH (2047 7833)
Small greengrocer next to Tesco selling large range of fresh fruit and vegetables.

On the corner of the next side-street, Arabella Street:
The Andrew Buchan
29 Albany Road CF24 3LH
Opened last month (Sept 2012), this real ale bar is Rhymney Brewery's first pub in Cardiff. The full range of Rhymney ales on tap (I had a Hobby Horse today). No food served. The aim is to fashion an “old-fashioned local”. Andrew Buchan was the manager of the original Rhymney Brewery (founded 1839).
Christine (my partner) lived in the next-door house along Arabella Street as a student in the 1980s.
On the other corner of Albany Road and Arabella Street:

33 Albany Road CF24 3LJ

The Albany Road outlet of this ubiquitous sandwich shop chain (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Oct 2010).
Benny's Chicken

10 Albany Road CF24 3RP
Takeaway: Fried chicken, burgers and chips. Late-night opening (Food Hygiene Rating 2: improvement necessary. May 2011).
Albany Fish Bar
18 Albany Road CF24 3RQ (2048 2022)
Fish and chip takeaway. AFB has a good claim to being Cardiff's most popular and highly rated fish and chip shop. Regularly wins awards (e.g., Quality Awards from the National Federation of Fish Friers). Also does deep-fried sausages etc, but focuses on doing a limited menu well (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Oct 2010).
Thresher Wine Shop
38 Albany Road CF24 3RQ

The first side-street on the right (blocked to traffic) is called Plasnewydd. There is a detour down Plasnewydd at this point, past the side of Albany Primary School and across Straithnairn and Glenroy Streets, to Keppoch Street.


Mackintosh Sports Centre and Residents Community Centre
38 Keppoch Street CF24 3JW
Roath Farmers Market is held here every Saturday (9.30am-1pm). Deri Reed (The Ethical Chef) is shortly to open a restaurant in the building. A Community Garden is also being established.

Next door, to the right:
The Gate
Keppoch Street CF24 3JW (2048 3344)

The Gate Arts and Community Centre is housed in a hundred year-old Grade II listed church building (formally the Plasnewydd Presbyterian Church). The complex opened in 2004 and includes a concert hall, a dance studio, two exhibition spaces, and the Mad Hatters Café Bar (located in the original church schoolroom dating from 1896). Mad Hatters Catering Ltd was set up in 2001. It is now based here and they also run the café bar. Breakfast, light lunches and evening meals; children’s menu and children’s toy box. Unsold sandwiches from the catering business are sold for £1 (today I had a ham one with a coffee). Bottled beers at the bar. Regular café bar events include Jazz Café, Science Café, Theology Café and Philosophy Café nights (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. April 2011).

Return to Albany Road, back along Plasnewydd. Opposite is Donald Street:
Central Perk

2 Donald Street CF24 4TU

Coffee house just off Albany Road (Food Hygiene Rating 1: major improvement necessary. Aug 2012).
Continue along Albany Road.
Coffee #1

85 Albany Road CF24 3LP (2048 5656)
On the corner with Alfred Street is one of The Cardiff Brewery's (i.e., Brains) first coffee shop ventures in Cardiff, opened in 2001. There are currently six Coffee #1 in Cardiff, offering a superior and local coffee bar experience to Starbucks, Costa et al. (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. Oct 2011).
Right, opposite the Angus Street junction:
Café Sereno

68 Albany Road CF24 3RS (2045 2332)
Café and takeaway: all-day British breakfast, Italian lunches and evening meals, especially pasta and pizza dishes. Live music with pianist on occasion. Licensed with a beer garden out back (Food Hygiene Rating 1: major improvement necessary. Jan 2012).
Zio Pin
74 Albany Road CF24 3RS (2048 5673)
Family-run Italian restaurant and pizzeria, established over 40 years ago. In addition to pasta and pizza dishes, traditional meat and fish mains, extensive dessert menu (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Jan 2012).
Bo Zan
78 Albany Road CF24 3RS (2049 3617)
Chinese restaurant, specializing in all-you-can-eat buffet (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. Oct 2011).
Tandoori Mahal
98 Albany Road CF24 3RT (2049 1500)

Indian Restaurant and takeaway, serving tandoori, balti and much more besides (Food Hygiene Rating 2: improvement necessary. Nov 2011).
La Mina Juice Bar
100 Albany Road CF24 3RT (2048 8873)

Takeaway and sandwich delivery service (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. Nov 2010).

On the junction of Albany Road with Wellfield Road is The Pear Tree (a Brain's café bar with a Wellfield Road address, so we’ll come to it shortly).
La Trattoria Molisana
Units 11-13 The Globe Centre, Albany Road CF24 3PE (2047 1562)

Italian restaurant (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Jan 2012).

China Town
108 Albany Road CF24 3NT (2038 8888)
Chinese takeaway. Formerly China Kitchen Chop Suey House (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. Feb 2012).
Route 66

Albany Road CF24 3NS
American-themed sandwich bar.
The Globe
125 Albany Road CF24 3NS
One of Cardiff's best live music venues. Bar. No food served.
Next door to The Globe:
Hungry Harveys (127 Albany Road CF24 3NS. Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Feb 2012) is currently closed.

120 Albany Road CF24 3RU (2049 3031)
Restaurant and takeaway serving Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food, including Spanish tapas, Italian meat dishes, pasta, shish kebab, falafel, tiramisu; good vegetarian options (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. Feb 2011).
Punitha's Restaurant incorporating the Tiffin Corner Café and takeaway (131 Albany Road CF24 3NS. Food Hygiene Rating 0: urgent improvement necessary. Aug 2012) appears to be currently closed.
Noble House
133 Albany Road CF24 3NT (2049 3490)
Chinese takeaway established in 1990, offering Peking and Cantonese dishes (Food Hygiene Rating 0: urgent improvement necessary. Aug 2012).
157/159 Albany Road CF24 3NT (2048 5757)
Indian and Bangladeshi restaurant, of the "fine Indian dining" variety. Interesting menu, and recommended for vegetarians (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. Feb 2012).
Happy House
163 Albany Road CF24 3NT (2046 3388)
Chinese takeaway (Food Hygiene Rating 2: improvement necessary. June 2012).
Albany Pizza
132 Albany Road CF24 3RU (2048 4145)
Takeaway pizza.
132a Albany Road CF24 3RU (2045 2708)
Takeaway Indian (Food Hygiene Rating 1: major improvement necessary. Jan 2012).

Pizza 2 Night
134b Albany Road CF24 3RU (2049 6655)
Takeaway pizza (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. Feb 2012).

167 Albany Road CF24 3NT (2046 3333)
Sushi and noodle restaurant. The original Ichiban is on Cardiff’s Cowbridge Road East; this is the second branch. Authentic cuisine and noted for its seafood. Ichiban apparently means “number one” and this is probably the best Japanese food to be had in Cardiff (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. Feb 2012).
Right, across Claude Place:
The Claude
140 Albany Road CF24 3RW (2049 3896)
Large pub, built in 1890, owned by Greene King. Meaty menu, focusing on steaks and carvery (Food Hygiene Rating 1: major improvement necessary. May 2012).

Albany Road continues on from here to Newport Road. However, we will leave it here. Cross the road to the junction with Pen-y-Lan Road.

Café Rios
2 Pen-y-Lan Road CF24 3PF (20115 5949)
Independently-owned coffee shop, opened in 2011, which acts as a meeting point for Cardiff's Brazilian community (Food Hygiene Rating 1: major improvement necessary. April 2012).

Walk up the residential Pen-y-Lan Road and I'll see you next week on Wellfield Road!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

The Barley Mow, Graig Penllyn

The Vale of Glamorgan pub tour continues with The Barley Mow in Graig Penylln. We visited on a dismally wet September evening, though The Barley Mow soon cheered us up.

My whitebait starter was about perfect; lightly-breaded, with good-sized fish so you got both the fish and the crunch - not just the crunch of some pub whitebait. It was served with a ramekin of home-made tartar sauce, a beetroot-leaf salad drizzled with balsamic vinegar, and a piece of fresh lemon to squeeze.
Brie in Light Batter Parcels was my partner’s choice. Three deep-fried brie parcels were served with a ramekin of cranberry preserve.
I had the Rump of Black Welsh Beef, cooked medium-rare, served with a couple of sautéed mushrooms, and some salad leaves.
Our other main was Lamb Steak, served with a rich jus and roasted vegetables. There was also plenty of meat on this plate.

With the mains, I went for new potatoes and my partner the chips. I usually prefer the new potato option, but the chips at The Barley Mow are very crisp and very good – I recommend you opt for them!
There is a sizeable wine list, although we opted for beer and cider. I had Bishop’s Fingers (Doom Bar and an IPA were also on draught).

Local sourcing has a high priority. The potatoes used to make the chips, for instance, come from nearby Windmill Farm. Beyond that, there’s also a Scottish feel to the menu (I’m guessing the owners may be from Scotland), with smoked salmon, black pudding and other quality Scottish ingredients.
We made use of a Groupon voucher on this occasion: one of our more successful Groupon experiences. This characterful village pub is definitely one of the “hidden gem” contenders on this Vale of Glamorgan tour.

By car, leave the A48 just to the west of Cowbridge at the Penllyn turn (in Penllyn you’ll see The Red Fox). Carry on northwards through Penyllyn until you reach Graig Penllyn.

The Barley Mow
Graig Penllyn, Cowbridge, Vale of Glamorgan CF71 7RT

Tel: 01446 772558

The Vale of Glamorgan pub tour:
The Merrie Harrier, Llandough

The Pelican in her Piety, Ogmore
The Farmers Arms, St Brides Major

The Bush Inn, St Hilary

Lamb and Flag, Wick

Blue Anchor, East Aberthaw

Six Bells, Penmark

Blacksmith’s Arms, Llanmaes

Plough and Harrow, Monknash



Tuesday, 18 September 2012

City Road, Cardiff

The current state-of-play on City Road in Cardiff.
Walking up from the junction with Newport Road, with the even numbers on your right (east) side and the odd numbers on your left (west) side.

Pass Eastgate House on the right:

Longcross Court (unit 2), City Road CF24 3DJ (2048 2351)
Food store and off licence (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. June 2012).
Fresh Bites
Longcross Court (unit 3), City Road CF24 3DJ (2032 8786)
Fresh Bites opened in November 2011. Breakfast and lunch (e.g., baguettes, salad boxes, flapjacks and cookies); including vegetarian options (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. Jan 2012).
The Ernest Willows
2-10 City Road CF24 3DJ (2048 6235)
The Ernest Willows is one of the seven (and counting) Wetherspoon pubs in Cardiff. This one’s a large modern single-floor building, which opened in January 2000. Unremarkable beer garden. The usual range of Wetherspoon pub food (with themed evenings) and good choice of beers. Children welcome during the day. Cardiff-born Ernest Willows was a pioneer of airship development (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. Nov 2011).

A Shot in the Dark
12 City Road CF24 3BJ (2047 2300)
Black-fronted independently-owned coffee house and bar, A Shot in the Dark has a large menu of coffee and tea options, and plenty of cake and sandwiches. Mainly light snacks, tapas and sharing platters, rather than big meals. Vegetarians are well catered for; plus an interesting beer and wine selection. There’s live entertainment in the evenings upstairs (e.g., acoustic nights), board games, newspapers, candlelight (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Jan 2011).


The Cardiff Municipal Club
11/13 City Road CF24 3BJ
Brains beer; Private club (Food Hygiene Rating 1: major improvement necessary. Sept 2011).

20 City Road CF24 3DL (2045 1588)
AJ’s Coffeehouse opened in 2000 and is run by three Cardiff brothers (Adam, James and Simon). It specializes in breakfasts, sandwiches, lunches (salads, burgers etc), and afternoon tea (for oldies). There is plenty here for vegetarians and the strong coffee is said to be a good hangover cure. Modern décor, with local artists exhibiting on the walls, and there’s a garden out back for al fresco dining (and smoking). Torchwood fans: it was transformed into Barista Station Café in London in Season Three (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Nov 2011).

24 City Road CF24 3DL (2048 1665)
Kismet Indian Cuisine is a family-run restaurant that has operated on this site for over twenty years. It is surprisingly large (140 covers), given the modest size of the red-painted frontage; so it’s good for big groups. Kismet serves a wide range of Indian cuisine, including tandoori, balti, biriani, Bangladeshi fish dishes, seafood specials, and vegetarian specialities. There’s a bargain all-you-can-eat buffet through lunchtime and the afternoon, and also a take-away service (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. Feb 2012).

26 City Road CF24 3DL (2048 5600)
This is one of 13 Subways in Cardiff, which all have basically the same sub/baguette menu. This one is take-away (no seating) (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. Nov 2011).


15 City Road CF24 3BJ (2048 6699)
Iraqi sandwich bar and coffee house, though mainly take-away kebabs, falafels, baguettes, with juice bar and teas. A catering service operates from here. Also shisha to smoke (range from mint to bubble gum flavours) in the Shish Lounge next door (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. April 2012).
Shisha Lounge
17 City Road CF24 3BJ
Coffee shop, juice bar and shisha lounge. Music venue with some food.
40 City Road CF24 3DL (2046 1162)
Radhuny is an Indian restaurant, which specialises in tandoori cooking. It is licensed and there is also a take-away service (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. Jan 2011).
Tanvir Tandoori
42 City Road CF64 3DL (2049 6088)
This restaurant offers contemporary Indian and Indonesian cuisine, and is situated on the corner with Vere Street. It is unlicensed; and probably unlikely to be licensed anytime soon, as it was caught in a sting operation illegally selling lager in 2011 (Food Hygiene Rating 2: improvement necessary. March 2012).

To Shakespeare Street and a pub on the corner:

Poets Corner
56 City Road CF24 3DN (2045 8714)
This Greene King pub dates from the early 1900s, and has good-value pub food and real ales. Large menu of “pub classics”, also sandwiches, burgers, and Sunday lunch. The pub sprawls over two floors, with plenty of screens for watching rugby and football, and occasional live music. The pub, one of five in Cardiff owned by Greene King, has changed its name several times in recent years (former names include ‘Ruperar Arms’ and the ‘Tut N Shive’) (Food Hygiene Rating 2: improvement necessary. Nov 2010).
City Pizza
70 City Road CF24 3DD (2045 0054)
Take-away and delivery (online via Mainly pizza (Hawaiian renamed as Tropical Touchdown, Miami Dolphin is tuna and sweetcorn and so forth). Also burgers, shish kebabs and jacket potatoes (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. June 2012).
Lilo Grill House & Juice Bar
72-74 City Road CF24 2DD (2045 0089)
Inspired by cute Lilo character in almost-forgotten 2002 Disney film set in Hawaii, this family-friendly and plastic palm tree set-up specializes in Middle Eastern cuisine, mainly Lebanese. Dishes include pizza, kebabs, chicken shawarma, falafel, taboula and other Middle Eastern salads. The juice bar is a big feature; they juice a wide range of exotic fruits. Noted for its low prices (and student discounts); there’s also a take-away and delivery service. Not licensed. It is obviously popular, because during summer 2012 they expanded and took over the adjacent corner unit (no 76) that was formerly Al Borje (Food Hygiene Rating 1: major improvement necessary. Dec 2011).


The Moonlight
77 City Road
The Moonlight is a shisha café bar (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. May 2012).


82 Si Chuan
82 City Road CF24 3DD
A Chinese take-away, with all the usual options you would expect, and a range of hot and spicy Sichuan specialities you may not have tried before (e.g., pig trotters, pig intestines, pig ear, tripe, frogs legs; along with squid and mussel dishes, morning glory in garlic sauce and quick-fried luffa, and so on). You can order online via (Food Hygiene Rating 1: major improvement necessary. Jan 2012).
Polish and Eastern European shops, selling imported food from this region. Cross Penlline Street:

89 City Road CF24 3BN
This family-run restaurant and take-away, on the corner of City Road and Penlline Street, was opened in 2006 and serves Indian and Pakistani cuisine. Specialities include tandoori grills, karahis, biryanis, nehari, paya dishes. They request that no alcohol is consumed on the premises (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. Oct 2011).
Right (past Talworth Street):

The Salt 'n' Pepper Grill on the corner (94 City Road) has closed. Mirchi may be moving in.

Five Star Fish Bar
96 City Road CF24 3DQ (2045 2297)
This is the only fish and chip shop on City Road. They also do sausages, Balti dishes, kebabs and burgers. The chips and curry sauce is apparently a popular early hours choice.
98 City Road CF24 3DQ (2048 6530)
Take-away menu structured around meal deals; mainly pizza and chicken pieces
(Food Hygiene Rating 0: urgent improvement necessary. Aug 2012).

102/104/106 City Road CF24 3DQ (2045 0388)
Mehfil is a large Indian restaurant.

Past Clare Food Superstore (108-109 City Road) and across Pearson Street:
Can Zaman
116/118 City Road CF24 3DQ (2048 2824)
This is a Syrian/Lebanese restaurant with Middle Eastern décor. Three course deals. Lamb ribs, fish and vegetarian options. Juices and teas; no alcohol.

 El Paso
120 City Road CF24 3DQ (2046 2054)
Mexican take-away (of the Tex-Mex variety)
(Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. Jan 2012).

Sub City
119/121 City Road CF24 3BP
Baguettes, subs, wraps, sandwiches, jacket potatoes, on a large menu. Like Subway, but with home-made curry fillings a speciality. Also pizza, cakes and other sweet items (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. Feb 2011).

Right (past Cyfarthfa Street):
Mr Tikka
130 City Road CF24 3DR
Take-away: sandwiches, baguettes etc (Food Hygiene Rating 1: major improvement necessary. Aug 2012).
Tesco Express (134-142 City Road) on the corner just before Treharris Street.

Golden Rickshaw
127 City Road CF24 3BP (2045 1411)
The Golden Rickshaw is a Chinese restaurant and take-away specialising in Peking and Cantonese food (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. Feb 2011).

Madras in Wales
129 City Road CF23 3BP (2009 4094)
This café changed its name in 2012 (from Café Madras), but well-regarded southern Indian cooking appears a constant. Wide choice includes specialities such as vada curry, kal dosa, utthappam (pancakes), varutha curry, mutton korma and vanchare meen varuval. Also take-away (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Sept 2011).

Swallow Chinese
139 City Road CF24 3BQ (2047 2037)
The family-run Swallow Chinese opened as a restaurant in 1987, but has operated as a take-away only since 2006. It specialises in Cantonese, Peking and Szechuan cuisine. Specialities include duck with pineapple, wonton soup and BBQ ribs. Highly regarded on Internet review sites (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. Jan 2011).

Mediterranean Sweets
141 City Road CF24 3BQ (2045 2233)
Kurdish bakery where you can buy a range of breads and sweets, including numerous types of baklava. Mediterranean Sweets was opened around four years ago by the owner of the older Continental Delicatessen on the other side of the road. Everything is made in-house (Food Hygiene Rating 2: improvement necessary. Jan 2012).

A little further along (147 City Road) is The 147 Bar (membership required).
Right (between Treharris Street and Arran Street):

Xquisite Africa
148 City Road CF24 3DR (2049 8400)
African and Caribbean shop that opened in 2004, with large range of imported foods, including pepper soup, biltong, plantains, yam, okra, and smoked and frozen fish (Food Hygiene Rating 2: improvement necessary. Nov 2011).

Rocket Joe’s
150 City Road CF24 3DR (2049 2919)
Take-away: pizza, fried chicken, burger and kebabs. Rocket Joe’s has another outlet in Riverside (Food Hygiene Rating 0: urgent improvement necessary. Feb 2012).

Italiano’s Pizzeria
152 City Road CF24 3DR (2046 4600)
Take-away: 29 pizza options, plus kebabs, wraps, fried chicken, chips, pasta, and salads. Food can be ordered online ( (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. Dec 2010).

City Kebab
154 City Road CF24 3DR (2046 1515)
Take-away: kebabs, pizza, burgers, grills, shawarma and salads. It incorporates a Taco Express. Food for both can be ordered online ( (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. March 2011).

Taco Express
154 City Road CF24 3DR
Taco Express shares the same unit as City Kebab. Tex-Mex take-away: Fajitas, tacos, paella, burgers and more (as above).

Sue’s Breakfast Bar (156 City Road CF24 3DR), with its British breakfasts and soccer memorabilia, closed summer 2012.


157 City Road CF24 3BQ (2047 2772)
Haveli boasts a Bollywood Lounge, the Mughal dining room, an Indian tea room, and the for-hire Rajasthan Room. Owner Shaz Haris describes the food as contemporary pan-Asian cuisine. The chef’s specials include Shahi Murgh Korma, Murgh Jalfrezi, Palk Gosht, Fish Masala, and Vegetarian options. Haveli (meaning ‘Indian mansion’) opened in 2008. The décor is elaborate and Haveli promotes itself as a venue for Bollywood-themed birthday parties, corporate events and wedding receptions. There is a take-away menu, which is similar to the restaurant menu. The City Gate Indian Restaurant was formerly on this site (Food Hygiene Rating 2: improvement necessary. Sept 2011).

Mezza Luna
159 City Road CF24 3BQ (2047 2772)
Moroccan and Lebanese restaurant, with tagine cooking a speciality (e.g., lamb meatballs). There are good vegetarian options. Stylish décor and bellydancing in the restaurant on Friday and Saturday nights (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. April 2011).

Right (by the Arran Street junction):

Continental Delicatessen
160 City Road CF24 3JE (2045 2540)
Opened over 10 years ago by Fazal Ali, it was the first outlet on City Road to sell Halal meat. Stocks a wide range of imported foodstuffs (e.g., SE Asian, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern) (Food Hygiene Rating 2: improvement necessary. Oct 2011).
City Bakery
162 City Road CF24 3JE (2019 4126)
City Bakery stocks Halal meat and a wide range of imported foods, as well as breads. It opened around 7 years ago, a few years after the Continental Delicatessen next door (Food Hygiene Rating 0: urgent improvement necessary. Jan 2012).


Polskie Biuro
161 City Road CF24 3BQ
Polish coffee shop and Internet café.

Easy Shop
165 City Road CF24 3BQ
Grocer store, specializing in imported Polish and Eastern European foods
(Food Hygiene Rating 1: major improvement necessary. Sept 2011).

Right (opposite Northcote Street junction):

The Roath Park
170 City Road CF24 3JE (2031 1049)
A large traditional pub built in 1886, on the corner of City Road and Kincraig Street. Menu of pub classics, but this is mainly a drinking pub with a good range of beers and wines. Occasional live music. Note: this pub is nowhere near the park called Roath Park (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. July 2011).
Over Kincraig Street, you’ll pass a Spar (176/178 City Road) and an Internet café.


 Casa Bianca
175 City Road CF24 3JB (2049 2817)
A modern Italian restaurant opened in Jan 2011. Expect pizza, pasta, risotto, salads, cheesecake and tiramisu. The owner Zac describes Casa Bianca as a boutique restaurant serving authentic Italian cuisine. Lunch, evening and take-away menus (Food Hygiene Rating 1: major improvement necessary. Jan 2012).


City Balti
186 City Road CF24 3JF (2048 8988)
An Indian take-away that serves a range of curries: Balti, tandoori, chicken, lamb and vegetable dishes. Chef’s specials include chicken karahi, lamb pasanda, butter chicken and Mugol chicken. You can also order online via (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. Oct 2011).

Adonis Kebab House
190 City Road CF24 3JF (2048 3777)
Take-away kebabs and other Middle Eastern dishes, with distinctive blue signage. The Adonis Kebab House was closed in August 2011 for several weeks after an E. coli 0157 outbreak traced to it hospitalised one person and left many more ill. Recent Food Hygiene Rating suggests it has cleaned up its act. Now features the Dubai Flavours Shisha Garden (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. March 2011).
Troy Restaurant
192 City Road CF24 3JF (2049 9339)
The Troy Restaurant and Meze Bar serves Mediterranean food, chiefly Greek, Turkish and Kurdish dishes. Food cooked on ocakbashi-style grill. Kebabs (lamb, chicken), vegetarian; lots of aubergines, peppers, yoghurt and butter sauce. Bildircin (grilled quails on skewers) among the chef's specials. Licensed (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. March 2011).

206 City Road CF24 3JG (2132 8591)
Ifatu Afro-Caribbean Restaurant, with basic décor and authentic food, is run by Chidi Okafor who brews his own African-style beers (Food Hygiene Rating 1: major improvement necessary. June 2012).
Pappa John’s
208 City Road CF24 3JG (2047 1222)
Take-away: 16 pizza options, plus oven-baked chicken (mainly wings).

Baghdad Market
199 City Road CF24 3JD
Butchers (Food Hygiene Rating 1: major improvement necessary. May 2012).

Right (past Glenroy Street):
Miss Millie’s Fried Chicken
216 City Road CF24 3JH (2049 4922)
Take-away: fried chicken; delivery service. Going 35 years (and inspired by KFC; the website features a photo of Miss Millie’s founder Harry Latham with Colonel Harland Sanders), this Bristol-based family-run business has 10 branches (the other one in Cardiff is along Cowbridge Road). Chicken in a bun, chicken tortillas and chicken meals. Chicken pieces prepared in-store, own gravy, barbeque beans and coleslaw (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Feb 2011).

Aladdin Restaurant & Take-away
218 City Road CF24 3JH (2049 4922)
Take-away known for its kebabs; chicken and lamb shish kebabs, and kofta. It was formerly known as Aladdin Topoli Restaurant and Takeaway. Black awning and signboard. It stays open until the early hours (Food Hygiene Rating 1: major improvement necessary. March 2012).
Classic Fried Chicken
220 City Road CF24 3JH (2045 6944)
Takeaway: fried chicken in all its forms (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. April 2011).

Abo Ali
222/224 City Road CF24 3JH
Lebanese Cuisine. Restaurant and take-away. Opened 2012 (formerly Ambala, an Indian Restaurant and takeaway that was on this site for around 20 years).


Sahara Café and Shisha Garden
207 City Road CF24 3JD (2048 8552)
The café offers Mediterranean and North African food, especially Moroccan, although a big draw here is the shisha garden/hookah bar. Red and green tea, coffee etc. Licensed.

228 City Road CF24 3JH (2048 6688)
Formerly known as Ding Hua (until 2011) .CN offers authentic Chinese cuisine in a smart 60-cover dining room. .CN specialises in food from the northern provinces of China, including seafood, meat, vegetable, rice and noodle dishes. Unless you’re from northern China, there will almost certainly be something on the 100+ dish menu you won’t have tried before (e.g., Chinese hotpots, salt and pepper squid, shredded pig’s maw with spring onions and chilli sauce, pak choi with black mushrooms, and northeast China salad). It won a legal battle in Dec 2011 against Cardiff council to get a drinks license (initially refused because it is located within a designated saturation zone where there is a limit on the number of venues allowed to serve alcohol; the establishment’s rebranding as a high-end Chinese restaurant was a factor in the positive decision). Take-away and delivery service (Food Hygiene Rating as Ding Hua 3: generally satisfactory. March 2011).

Chunky Chicken
230 City Road CF24 3JH (2048 0448)
When it opened in March 2012, it was the first Chunky Chicken in Wales. Founded in 2005 by Fareed Nasir and Mohammed Tayub, this Rochdale-based chain is mainly found in northern England. Menu focuses on fried chicken, chicken sandwiches and wraps, with their own “signature sauces” being a unique selling point. Also pizza and burgers (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. May 2012).

6 Flavours
232 City Road CF24 3JH (2021 0902)
Take-away: Indian cuisine with authentic flavour. Menu centred on biriyani and chicken tandoori dishes, with regional specialities such as dosa (crepes), steamed rice cakes and phool gobi Manchurian (deep fried cauliflower in tangy sauce). Delivery service and online ordering with (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. March 2011).

Left (opposite Strathnairn Street junction):

213 City Road CF24 3JD (2047 3150)
Milgi Kitchen, Lounge and Gallery was opened in 2006 and offers 100% vegetarian food (its customers voted the last meat dishes off the menu in 2010). Simon the chef puts a worldly spin on café standards (“Recipes from around the world, food from around the corner”) with some creative spicing, so there’s Asian tofu salad, Blackeye bean burger, Cinnamon French toast, Indian scrambled eggs, Mexican bean quesadilla and Milgi Falafel. There is a Veggie Roast Dinner and special menus (e.g., Thali Summer Sunday). The Milgi philosophy is to bring food, drink, music and art together under one roof (actually two, because many of the events take place in the distinctive yurt that occupies much of the beer garden). In the yurt, you’ll find the Supper Club with regular themed dining events (e.g., murder mystery, Moroccan etc), and the supper and storytelling evenings (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. Nov 2011).


236 City Road CF24 3JJ (2048 1888)
Tenkaichi Sushi and Noodle Bar opened in 1999 and offers “authentic Japanese cuisine with a British touch.” The menu features bento boxes, ramen, yakisoba and udon nodle dishes, sashimi, salads and rice dishes. There is a special sushi bar. Licensed; drinks menu includes Japanese beers, hot and cold saki, and plum wine (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. Oct 2010).

242 City Road CF24 3JJ
KBS Kebab House serves kebabs, burgers and sausages (kbs), along with pizza. There are a few tables and chairs inside, but it’s essentially take-away (online via (Food Hygiene Rating 2: improvement necessary. Aug 2012).
Taste Buds
244 City Road CF24 3JJ (2047 1467)
Taste Buds café, take-away and catering service has been on this site since 1988. Breakfasts are the big thing, especially the old-fashioned traditional British breakfast (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. Jan 2011).
You are now at the junction with Richmond Road, Crwys Road, Mackintosh Place and Albany Road. You might have to ask for directions home from here, because that’s all from me for now!

I have included Food Standards Agency Food Hygiene Ratings (with dates), which were introduced by the Welsh Government in 2011; certificates need to be displayed on the premises (

Sunday, 16 September 2012

The Huntsman Restaurant, Dinas Powys

The Huntsman Restaurant can be found in the centre of Dinas Powys, to the rear of The Star. The pub is owned by Brains, while the Huntsman is an independent restaurant that has been owned and run by Hilary and Peter Rice since 1993.

Peter always offers a very friendly front-of-house welcome, while Hilary is Head Chef. The food is traditional, with classic dishes having a definite local Welsh “country farmhouse” flavour and the occasional modern twist.
We opted for the same dishes on our last visit: starters of Welsh Rarebit with Crisp Salad and Rhubarb Chutney, and mains of Roast Pork Tenderloin with Apples, Cider and Honey. We drank a house white (a French wine called La Cabane).
The rhubarb chutney was a good complement to the rarebit; it added up to a substantial and well-balanced starter.
The pork, which was everything we hoped for when ordering, came with four different vegetables between us: potatoes roasted in goose fat, sliced potatoes baked in cream and garlic, braised red cabbage, and mange-tout and carrot. We put these on our plates from serving dishes as required – so the plating in the photos is not necessarily the restaurants!
Portions are large, so The Huntsman is not a restaurant you are likely to leave still hungry.
There is a pleasant ambience in the 23-cover dining room, in a homely barn conversion. It’s a quiet and relaxed place to dine.
The seasonal menu changes every three months. Starters (in the July-Sept 2012 menu) range in price from £4.95 to £7.25, while mains are priced between £12.50 (Mushroom and Pinenut Stir Fry) and £23.95 (Welsh Fillet Steak with choice of sauces). Other options currently available include Salmon and Prawn Bake, Rack of Welsh Lamb with Plum and Port Sauce, and Roast Breast of Duck with Cumberland sauce. Puddings are generally £5.50.
Most of the cost of our meal was covered by a voucher won at a Dinas Powys Voluntary Concern (DPVC) fund-raising Jazz Night earlier this year. I always go for the restaurant vouchers as prizes at raffles!
The Huntsman contributes recipes to Depend, a newsletter published by DPVC that is delivered for free to every house in Dinas Powys. Contributions to recent issues have included Wild and Tame Mushroom and Stilton Tart (see link below to online version), Rich Chocolate Brandy Cake, and Smoked Salmon and Dill Mousse.
We are putting the finishing touches to the Autumn 2012 Depend (I have contributed pieces on the resources available at Dinas Powys Library, the Llandough Hospital extension, and the new Vale Foodbank in Dinas Powys). You’ll have to wait and find out what The Huntsman’s contribution is going to be this time!
A team of volunteers will be putting Depend through every letterbox in Dinas Powys in October, while everyone else can read it via the DPVC website (link below).

The Huntsman Restaurant
Station Road, Dinas Powys, Vale of Glamorgan CF64 4DE
029 2051 4900

Depend (Summer 2012):



Thursday, 13 September 2012

Wales on the Menu

Recently, I interviewed Simon Wright for a profile that was published in the Buzz Food & Drink Guide 2012 (link below).

In a wide-ranging career, Simon has been a food critic, author, restaurateur, consultant and broadcaster.  In May this year, Simon opened Wright’s Independent Food Emporium, with his wife Maryann. This shop in Nantgaredig sells a range of Welsh products, including meat, cheeses, and fresh fruit and vegetables, and has a café at the heart of the operation. Last year, Simon was involved in the planning stages of Sospan, a new restaurant in Llanelli.

Simon is currently presenting the fourth series of Wales on the Menu, which started on BBC Radio Wales last Saturday lunchtime (1pm). In the programme, he challenges home cooks to put their speciality dish on the menu of a top restaurant.

In the first show, amateur chef and food blogger Bill King tried to get his salmon quiche up to standard for the menu of Y Polyn, a restaurant near Carmarthen that the Wrights at one time co-owned. Among the judges was food blogger Ed Gilbert (a.k.a. Gourmet Gorro). The quiche sounded good, but was judged not quite good enough to meet Y Polyn’s high standards.

The Wales on the Menu team are looking for keen cooks from across Wales who would like to participate in future challenges. If you are interested you can email them on

There is also a Wales on the Menu Facebook page, where you can find recipes, behind the scenes photographs, and further details of how to apply to take part in the series either as a novice cook or a judge:

If you miss the programmes themselves, you can find them on the BBC iplayer.

Buzz Food & Drink Guide 2012. The Wright Taste (pp. 28-29):

Y Polyn:

Fellow Bloggers on Twitter:
Bill King @billking
Ed Gilbert @gourmetgorro

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Vale Foodbank in Dinas Powys

One of the big under-reported stories of the summer has been the impact of government austerity measures on individuals, families and communities. The recent figures have been shocking. For instance, 13 million people live below the poverty line in the UK; while here in Wales over one in ten people of working age are now out of work, a level of unemployment not seen for almost twenty years.

Communities can act to combat local poverty and hidden hunger by supporting schemes such as foodbanks. The Trussell Trust acts as an umbrella organization for foodbanks across the UK. The Vale Foodbank was established under this umbrella in October 2011. It is based at Coastlands Family Church in Barry, and aims to open food distribution centres around the Vale of Glamorgan to help people who are struggling to make ends meet.

A Vale Foodbank distribution centre opened today in Dinas Powys, in the Bethesda Chapel. It will open for an hour every Wednesday. Free emergency food supplies will be exchanged for vouchers given to people particularly identified as being in need by social workers, doctors, police and other community groups (in total 40 partners across the Vale). One voucher can be exchanged for enough food for three days.

Mike Grove from Bethesda Chapel welcomed people to the official opening this afternoon. Susan Lloyd-Selby, the Vale Foodbank co-ordinator, then talked about the success of their first year, in which they have managed to feed everyone who has been referred to them. When they started they expected to feed 800, but in fact have fed 1,643 people since October 2011.

Of those referred, 30% have been plunged into crisis due to delays in benefit payments. Others are referred due to low income, while there has been a dramatic rise in the number in debt. 68% of the food distributed has gone to feed children under the age of 16.

Sue related some stories of the real people behind the statistics: a man who hadn't eaten for two days, a woman homeless after leaving home due to domestic violence, a couple suddenly plunged into debt after an accident. She stressed that it was not just about giving food, but providing wider support and advice through contact with the regular volunteers. Sue thanked these “lifechangers” (with reference to Olympic “gamesmakers”), and also thanked all the people who donated over 115 kg of food during the past year. Future Vale Foodbank plans include free money management courses.

Photo: Councillor Val Hartrey (Chair of Dinas Powys Community Council), Jane Hutt AM, Mike Grove and Susan Lloyd-Selby (the cakes spell "Vale Food Bank").
Jane Hutt AM opened the Dinas Powys distribution centre today, just as she opened the first Vale Foodbank in Barry last year. An active supporter, she noted that action needs to be taken to stop so many people falling into poverty, especially through reasons such as delays in benefit payments and loss of tax credits. Jane also stressed that Foodbanks provide a framework for offering wider help and support, to give people back some dignity and restore hope.

The food given out at the Vale Foodbank is donated by businesses and individuals. You can donate to the Bethesda Chapel during Foodbank opening hours. Individuals are asked to give dried and tinned foods (see contact details below).

In addition to making donations of tins and packaged food, Jan and Tony Mapstone of Valley View Fruit Stores in Dinas Powys also donate fresh fruit and vegetables (they wear dark blue in the photo below).

To those who have questioned why a relatively prosperous community in the Vale of Glamorgan needs a foodbank: wake up, this is the reality of life today.

The Vale Foodbank
Coastlands Family Church, Tennyson Road, Colcot, Barry, Vale of Glamorgan CF62 9TN

The Trussell Trust:

Reference for Welsh Unemployment:

We noted the Olympics earlier. Therefore, just room to note that ATOS, partners for the London 2012 Paralympic Games, are the firm charged with assessing disability benefit payments in a government money-saving operation. Removal of benefits is fuelling the need for foodbanks. Currently, at least one new foodback opens every week in the UK.