Saturday, 3 December 2016

Curado Bar, Spanish bar and deli review, Cardiff

If you know Aberystwyth or Narberth then chances are you know Ultracomida. This pair of Spanish café-delis are two of the best places to eat in West Wales thanks to their groaning shelves of first rate produce and menu of hearty Spanish food.

Ultracomida have now channelled these same principles into their first venture in Cardiff, Curado Bar. 

A former Burger King, the building is the perfect place for a deli-tapas bar as the long thin room has a bar running its length. Grab a stool or find a space to stand (we did) and get ordering. 

There’s a great selection of booze for you to work way through. We were on the beer and drank 200ml cañas of easy-drinking house Curado beer (£2), refreshing Er Boqueron (£3) made with seawater, caramel twanged Toro (£3) and bottles of Keler (£2.80). 

The menu is divided into three – pintxos (little snacks served on bread), deli plates and cooked dishes from the kitchen. 

A pintxo (£2) of crisp bread topped with soft, paprika-rich sobrasada drizzled with sweet honey was a very good start. 

Pan con Tomate (£3) was everything it should be – two huge slices of fresh toast topped with sweet tomatoes, a good drizzle of olive oil and a hint of garlic. 

A cheeseboard (£6) saw nutty aged manchego, underwhelming young manchego, a enjoyably sock-like brie-esque cheese and a wonderfully savoury blue cheese. The accompaniments kicked ass too – rosemary topped crispbreads, wobbly sweet quince jelly and slices of compressed fig and walnut. 

A board of jamon bodega gran reserve (£5) was heaped with meat. It wasn’t the most mouth-melting example but it was well flavoured. I’ll have to give the Iberico ham (£12) a go next time…

Excellent patatas bravas (£4) saw golden paprika-spiked potatoes served with pots of super-spicy and smokey brava sauce and romance-killing garlic mayonnaise. 

Chorizo and red wine stew (£6) was packed with moreish fingers of sausage but the sauce was too oily to make the use of the accompanying spoon an enticing prospect. 

A well-crusted blushing pink fillet of tender Iberico pork (£6) was marinated lightly in garlic and thyme. The lovely piece of meat was served with another pot of that potent garlic mayo and grilled padron peppers.

A slice of egg-rich, not too sweet baked Galician cheesecake (£6) with a little urn of cream was a good end to the meal. 

We had a cracking evening at Curado Bar. It’s authentic Spanish buzz, good booze selection and hearty Spanish cooking are all to be commended. And, our bill for two including eight small beers came to £50 so it’s good value too.

With the excellent Bar 44 just down the street, Cardiff now has the makings of a first rate tapas crawl.

The Details:

Address - Curado Bar, Westgate Street, Cardiff CF10 1EB
Telephone -  029 2034 4336

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Time & Beef, Canton - Searching for Cardiff's Best Burger

I’m sure if you spent long enough on the Hipster Business Name Generator then Time and Beef would crop up. In fact, I spent 30 seconds on it and came up with dubious names like Jail and Salmon, Bourbon and Bath and Cocoa and Shoes.

But, what's in a name? It’s all about the food anyway.

Time & Beef, located on Canton’s main drag, is a burger joint-cum-cocktail bar. A mix of tiles, reclaimed wood furniture and exposed brickwork give an informal but trendy feel to the place.

In theory, they’ve got a good selection of draught beers like Tiny Rebel and Goose Island. But, on the night we visited they were off due to a technical problem. So, we more than made do with a hoppy can of Crafty Devil (£3.50) and a refreshing Modelo (£3.50).

Starters were a bit filthy. In a good way of course.

A trio of whopping spice-crumbed juicy chicken fillets (£5) were served with a pot of smoky barbecue sauce.

Deep-fried mac n cheese bites (£5) were well textured with firm pasta and a gooey sauce. However, they could have done with a bigger hit of cheese and the accompanying salsa lacked the freshness you’d expect from homemade stuff. 

Let’s rewind to explain “the concept” behind Time & Beef. On arrival, you’re given a burger tick list to select your bun, patty, toppings, sauces and sides. A basic burger costs £7, meat toppings £1.50, veggie toppings £1 and cheese £1. One you’ve made your selection you’re given the onerous task of naming your burger. 

Here’s what we ate.

Time & Beef offer four types of bread roll from the legendary Alex Gooch. We both looked no further than the demi-brioche. Super-soft, faintly-sweet and delicately-chewy, Mrs G declared it to be the best burger bun she’d ever eaten. That’s the type of bold claim I normally make.

We also both ordered the 6oz beef patty sourced from Braithwaites butchers (located just down the road). Both were served a juicy well done and were tasty but arguably lacked a first rate beefy flavour. 

Mrs G and I followed separate paths with our toppings.

My burger, “Dave” (£9.50), was topped with thumpingly good thick cut bacon, a generous amount of savoury melted stilton and a good squeeze of Tommy K. A side skin on fries (£2) hit the mark. 

“Kevin” (£9.50) was topped with mild melted monterey jack, piquant chorizo and mayo. A side of sweet potato fries were on the nail too (£3).

We dodged desserts as there was nothing available apart from a slice of salted caramel cake; a  missed opportunity to extract some money from my wallet.

All in all I really enjoyed my meal at Time & Beef and it's certainly up there with Cardiff’s best independent burger places.

But, here’s the rub. My burger weighed in at £11.50 including a side. But, the price could easily have ballooned. If I'd added a bit of salad and some gherkins then I would have paid two quid more for my burger. This seems a little steep. Perhaps a rethink of some of the salad pricing wouldn’t go a miss.

The details:

Address - Time & Beef, 169 Cowbridge Road East, Canton, Cardiff CF11 9AH
Web -
Telephone - 02921 158539