A dearth of Spanish restaurants in Cardiff has transformed into abundance in a matter of months. Bar 44 Penarth, La Cuina and La Cha Cha are the 3 which I’m struggling to resist comparing to buses.
Safe in the knowledge that Bar 44 is a banker and with La Cha Cha sounding a bit iffy, it was La Cuina’s Catalonian focus which piqued my curiosity the most. Located on the site of the obsolete Patagonia, this delicatessen cum tapas bar cum restaurant has serious visual impact.
The simple & bold logo, grand window table, and chillers filled with pies, tortillas, meats and olives all serve as a siren’s call.
We visited La Cuina on a Friday night. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, there’s a set menu in action (1 course £18, 2 courses £23 and 3 courses £28). Their tapas menu is available during the day and on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.
A mouthful of stonking chorizo bread set the tone for the win packed menu. It was the first time in ages that it’s taken me more than a minute to choose my evening meal.
Whilst the rest of the group knocked back a number of carafes excellent Catalonian house red, I had a beer (Catalonian I think).
Everyone was very impressed with their starters.
My salad of salty smoked duck breast was carefully balanced by soft sweet apple, rocket leaves and a pomegranate dressing.
Mrs G’s salad of poached pear and creamy Cabrales blue cheese was dressed with red wine, star anise and chilli.
The other starters of Welsh smoked halibut and sweet pimenton salad…
and slow cooked Catalan rabbit on toasted sourdough were rated highly.
Mains were decent but not of the same level as the starters.
My main comprised of a couple of decent sized pieces of well flavoured yet fairly dry pheasant, lonesome pieces of broccoli and cauliflower, and a roast potato. The highlight was an excellent sauce heady with anise and orange.
Whilst Mrs G’s Mari I Muntanya (Sea and Mountain) looked a little anaemic, it was the stronger of the two dishes. Moist chicken and tender prawns were bathed in a flavour-packed sauce of wine, tomato and onion.
Desserts were a mixture of excellent and average.
A moist orange and almond cake coated with glistening dark chocolate ganache was stunning.
A cheese selection of 4 interesting goats’ and sheeps’ cheeses was good too. It was just crying out for a little lubrication from some quince jelly or chutney.
A light yet flavour-lacking chocolate roulade with raspberry coulis was the weakest link.
Whilst our meal wasn’t a triumph across the board, La Cuina is dishing out food with exciting ingredients and interesting flavour combinations. There’s a sophistication to the dining space and warmth to the service which makes a return visit to sample their croquettas on a tapas night inevitable…
Address - La Cuina, 11 Kings Road, Cardiff, CF11 9BZ
Web - http://www.lacuina.co.uk
Telephone - 029 20190265