Saturday, 25 March 2017

Asador 44, Cardiff Spanish restaurant review

Asador 44 is the fourth restaurant from the award-winning Bar 44 brothers, Owen and Tom Morgan.

Located on the former site of Greenwood & Brown, they’ve done a stand up job in refurbishing the place. Ageing cabinets display handsome hunks of cow, a cheese cave is the home to over 30 different varieties and a beast of an asado grill belches flames from behind a window into the kitchen.

Asador 44’s menu differs from Bar 44’s in that the focus is on dishes cooked over charcoal instead of tapas - octopus, fish and iberico pork all appear but it’s steaks of Welsh beef and Spanish rare-breed old cows that are the main event. 

My trip last summer to Bar Nestor in San Sebastian was a defining beefy moment in my life - a sharing chuleton of retired dairy cow with its salty crust, complex beefy flavour and buttery yellow fat was an absolute joy. It’s this type of beef and the even more revered Rubia Gallega (Galician Blonde) that Asador 44 specialise in.

Lots of thought has gone into the extensive list of Spanish wines and sommelier Fergus Muirhead (he’s previously overseen beverages for Jason Atherton’s restaurants in Asia) recommended an excellent light yet complex garnacha blanca (£25).

We kicked off with toasted Alex Gooch sourdough (£3) accompanied by lush whipped butter flecked with crunchy bits of meaty jamon and the grassiest of olive oils. 

A crisp-skinned fillet of oily mackerel (£8) was balanced by mustard twanged celeriac remoulade, caper berries and a charred wedge of endive. 

A carabinero was billed as the world’s finest red prawn. I can see why. At £16 it’s a special treat but the juicy super-sweet flesh and the intense bisque-like head juice were a killer combination. A lick of smoke from the parilla added an extra dimension. 

For main we shared the lomo bajo (£49), a 700g sirloin of 9 year old Asturian ex dairy cow. It was an absolute beauty. Bronze crusted and tender of flesh, the sliced rare steak had a deep beefy flavour and a funky end-note from weeks of ageing. 

Included in the price were a choice of two sides.

Refreshing blood orange, fennel, crunchy pine nut and aromatic mint salad was the perfect counterpoint to the rich meat. 

Smokey and tender grilled romanesco cauliflower was accompanied by crisp fragrant sage leaves and smooth cauliflower puree.

A selection of five exemplary cheeses (£12) were accompanied by olive oil crackers, sweet tomato chutney and quince jelly. A villarejo rosemary was a manchego like variety fragranced from rolling in rosemary and lard (oofh). Luna negra was a delightfully light and creamy ash coated goat’s cheese whilst a cave-matured Cabrales was a knock your socks off socky blue cheese. 

Desserts were very good but the least impressive element of the meal.

Mrs G was sold at the mere mention of a tarta de queso (£7). The light cheesecake with its burnished top was joined by a crisp almond tuille and blueberries cooked in tempranillo. 

A chocolate and hazelnut ball (£7) packed a seriously rich punch but it could have been less crumbly. A scoop of fresh cherry sorbet, a drizzle of olive oil and a scattering of vanilla salt balanced out the dish. 

If there’s one type of restaurant Cardiff has been lacking until now, it’s a first-rate steak joint.

With the opening of Asador 44, Cardiff has its answer. 

We loved our meal and there are so many more dishes that I’m itching to try as soon as possible.

The Details:

Address - Asador 44, Quay Street, Cardiff CF10 1EA

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Talgarth Mill and The Baker's Table, Brecon Beacons cafe review

It can hardly be surprising that my favourite tourist trips of my youth all involved food.

Beamish open air museum with its Victorian sweetshop and coal-powered fish and chip shop.

Cadbury World with its ridiculous amount of free chocolate; I made serious inroads into a 1kg bag of misshapes on the journey home.

Lindisfarne island and its nectar-like honey mead.

Talgarth Mill in Wales's Brecon Beacons (in between Brecon and Hay-on-Wye) also ticks all of my boxes when it comes to food tourism.

This historic watermill was restored using lottery funding and featured on the BBC’s Village SOS. A community enterprise, it’s staffed almost completely by volunteers and produces its own award-winning, additive-free flour. It also happens to have a frigging awesome café where you can sample their wares.

A guided tour (£4) from Jez, one of the volunteer millers, was a fascinating experience. We saw the whole process from winnowing the grain to bagging up the flour.

A post shared by Gourmet Gorro (@gourmetgorro) on

The big pay-off was lunch in the Baker’s Table Café where almost every dish involves some of the stonkingly good fresh bread. 

Mrs G’s salad (£6.75) came topped with a whopping piece of grilled goat’s cheese and was flecked with pieces of sweet butternut squash. 

Crisp crusted slices of seeded bread were slathered with thick butter. 

My Miller’s lunch (£9) was exemplary. The groaning board was laden with locally baked ham, thick pieces of nutty Hafod cheddar and creamy Cenarth brie, a lightly vinegary carrot and cabbage slaw, chilli-laced piccalilli, well-dressed leaves, miscellaneous salad and a crisp apple. And of course, there were a couple of slices of the excellent bread. 

Talgarth Bakery is my kind of tourist spot. You learn something, you eat something – what’s not to love?

The Details:

Address - Talgarth Mill, The Mill House, The Square, Talgarth, Powys LD3 0BW
Web -
Telephone - 01874 711125