Last year’s dinner at The Pickled Radish in Laleston near Bridgend was one of the higher-points of 2015. Just over a week ago, their fun twist on British comfort food arrived in the Cardiff suburb of Llandaff.
Located down the street from the former sweetshop (now a Chinese takeaway) which featured in Roald Dahl’s Boy and which was thought to provide the inspiration for stories such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Pickled Radish has a sense of whimsy very much in keeping with the Cardiff-born author.
Whilst the Pickled Radish's playful crockery selection might be the stuff of nightmares for fans of We Want Plates, there’s substance to back up the style.
A snack of perfectly crisp, salty and warm pork crackling (£3) was up there with the best. Accompanying rocket and parmesan dip was fine but a little light on cheese and heavy on the salad.
Mrs G successfully worked her way through the Pickled Radish’s trio of cocktails. First up was a Llandaff Mojito (£6.50), a well balanced twist on the classic, fragranced with blueberry and raspberry. I made do with a Super Bock (£4) whilst we munched through a bowl of rosemary and chilli oil marinated olives (£3).
The other top-notch cocktails were a fragrant Pickled Rose (£6.20) made from rosewater and Brecon gin which skilfully steered away from potpourri territory and a Roald Dahl (£6.50), a potent chocolate and coffee martini.
Onto the starters and I ordered the potted Gower crab and crayfish (£8.50). A jarful of lightly dressed sweet shellfish was topped with a layer of set butter and richness busting cucumber and tomato salsa. A bowl of crunchy toasts and a punchy frisée salad were great accompaniments.
Mrs G meanwhile loved her pot of rich and smooth organic chicken liver parfait (£6.85) joined by a wonderfully fruity raisin & bacon jam and more of the excellent toasts.
The Pickled Radish’s 56-day aged steaks sourced from Llantwit Major take the prize for the best I’ve eaten in Cardiff. Deeply meaty, and supremely tender, my blushing pink medium-rare Rib-Eye (£23) was served with crisp thick-cut chips and on the nail roasted vine tomatoes and field mushroom.
A pot of truffle hollandaise was good but so rich in butter that it slipped off the chips whilst a spray bottle of vinegar mist was perhaps a gimmick too far.
Mrs G's Brecon roasted pheasant (£19.55) just missed the mark. A couple of tender pheasant pieces, earthy girolles, salty pancetta lardons, buttery roasted parsnip puree, a glossy port reduction and baby spinach were let down by a disappointingly dry leg and breast piece of the game bird.
Things returned to form with a pair of very good desserts.
A banana tart tatin (£6.75) combined golden pastry and caramel with tender banana and a scoop of wicked condensed milk ice cream.
My ice cream sundae (£6.50) may have been served in a tin pot but it was far more luxurious in taste. Creamy vanilla and condensed milk ice creams, salted caramel sauce, soft brownie pieces and fresh berries were a cracking combination.
Whilst Cardiff's dining scene continues to improve at a rate of knots, one thing it lacks is quality British restaurants. The Pickled Radish fills a welcome gap in the market.
Address - The Pickled Radish Llandaff, 48 high street, Llandaff, Cardiff CF5 2DZ
Web - http://www.thepickledradish.com/
Telephone - 029 20564646