Posted by: mikeydude | September 17, 2009

Mint And Mustard Cardiff Restaurant Review (7/10)

I’ve heard great things about this place as being one of the best South Asian restaurants in the UK (!). Opened just over a year ago now by a chef trained in Mumbai and already winning an accolade from the House of Commons is really an impressive achievement. How on earth this place managed to escape me for so long I still wonder. Nevertheless I thought I’d give it a visit last night to see if their reputation is worthy.

Now I’m no expert in Indian Cuisine as I’ve never been the biggest fan due to most restaurants I’ve visited producing over-greasy curries plus minus nasty gastrointestinal side effects. Too much overwhelming in-your-face flavours has always been my general verdict of this type of cuisine. However my interest was recently restored after a visit to the also highly rated Punithas on Albany Rd (review on different post). Anyway I shall not take the glory away from this place, and so here’s my review….

The place was packed… and this was a Wednesday night! Impressive. Quite a loud ambience, and so don’t expect to come here for an intimate meal on a first date. The interior itself looked nice and modern with plush leather seating and a bar at the end of the restaurant. We were quickly greeted by a smiley waiter who showed us to our seats. Service was good, and the waiters were well knowledged in the different dishes available, and I could detect a sense of pride in the food they were producing. Excellent… that’s exactly the type of waiter that gives its client confidence in what they were about to eat. Great start. The menu was very varied, and I was surprised to see the option of a tasting menu. Posh. Priced at £37/person was not bad for so many courses. The A La Carte is divided into 2 sections; chef’s specials and classics. I was very tempted to try their award winning sea-bass dish, but I wasn’t really in the mood for fish as much as lamb. Nice varied menu meant that it took us quite a while to pick our dishes, but the waiters were quick to recommend which made decision-making a lot easier. To be honest there were quite a few items on the menu that I would have liked to try…. maybe next time.

I ordered a Cobra Beer and the boss had a standard diet coke (she always drinks this…. I’m not sure whether it’s cos she’s a scrooge, or whether she just can’t decide on what to drink, or whether she’s overly concerned about her waist line). I also requested a basket of pre-meal snacks which consisted of 3 different types of pickle dip (sorry I forgot to shoot), with 3 types of snack; Re-deep-Fried poppadums, banana chips, and this bizarre looking “Achapam”. These were good…. far superior to the standard poppadums you eat in standard curry houses. The poppadum was very crispy (not dripping in oil as in some places), the chips were fresh tasting, and the Achapam had a nice herb taste along with its crunchy texture. The pickle dips were also very impressive – home made I was told. It was apparent even at this early stage that this place stood out from the crowd…

Starter #1: Salmon Porichathu

This starter consisted of a salmon steak marinated in chillies, garlic and curry leaves and then pan fried. When it first arrived I think it looked rather well-done. Being such a huge fan of sashimi and perfectly tender salmon meat, this was a new concept. I found the meat quite dry despite the sauce although the powerful chilly flavours did penetrate into the meat nicely. I don’t think this was able to rescue the dish for me which was essentially a piece of spicy overcooked salmon. So a slight disappointment here…. I also think the £6.95 price tag for this was quite steep. The menu was rather deceiving in saying “salmon steak(s)” which should have been singular.

Starter #2: Onion and Palak Pakora

These look and taste like the classic onion bhaji…. but done in style. Presentation gets top marks (must apologise for the choddy iphone camera again), as does the generous quantity. The outside was so wonderfully crispy and fragrant and the inside was perfectly moist and flavoursome. I never actually knew these could taste so nice. Normally the ones I eat at restaurants are cooked all the way through and it all tastes rather like a chunky onion crisp. Oh these are so much better….  The 3 different types of sauce also gave some variation to the tastes and added substance.

Main #1: :Lamb Shank

Again my camera has not done this dish justice… grrr.. really need to buy a new camera.. the Iphone is just not good enough. I only have heaps of praise for this dish. First it looked and smelt fantastic. 4 components to the dish: 2 pieces of lamb… the shank and an extra piece of ?Shank fillet?, potato and spinach mash, and a spicy curry sauce. The lamb was fantastically done and I was really glad I picked this. The shank was braised in spices until the meat was tender and then flashed under a grill to give the surface a crispy layer and I think it really worked well. The spices had really penetrated into the lamb meat which gave it a really good kick. Combined with the curry sauce and mash it was wonderfully hearty (and filling might I add!). A really good complete dish.

Main #2: Saag Gosht


I couldn’t dine here without trying a curry, and so I ordered a classic curry was again consisted of braised lamb but this time mixed with garlic, cumin and roasted fenugreek (never heard of this ingredient). It didn’t disappoint. The lamb chunks were nicely braised in the sauce which tasted wonderfully fragrant. Such powerful flavours of aniseed and cardamom which is used much rarer in other cultures have almost become stereotypical of Indian tastes. It was also not too spicy for my untrained tongue as well as not too greasy. Nicely done.

Bhindi Masala


Don’t know why but I always order Okra (lady’s fingers) at Indian restaurants. I think the vegetable tastes great when mixed with Indian spices and this dish was of no exception. The onions and tomato combined with quite a spicy kick made this a very pleasant side dish indeed.

Vellaayappam

This is some kind of Indian rice pancake. The thin dough and crispy edges created a very light and sweet texture. Delicious with the curry, and a nice change to Naan bread.

Peshwari Naan

The Mrs ALWAYS orders peshwari (coconut) naan bread in Indian restaurants probably because of its similarity to the classic chinese coconut buns. The sweet taste of the bread has always gone really well with rich curry flavours much more so than standard rice in our opinion. This naan was again wonderfully light but I was told that it would have been preferred if made a little sweeter. Women and their desires for sweet things!!

Chocomosa with Pistacchio Ice-Cream and caramelised banana

A chocolate samosa is not something you encounter on an Indian menu every day…. and I could not resist the chance to try it. It’s one of those savoury-sweet combinations and it’s always exciting to see traditional concepts challenged by modern chefs. On its own I couldn’t quite appreciate the salty crisp samosa pastry when combined with the rich sweet chocolate sauce inside. It tasted rather odd in my opinion. However when combined with the caramelised banana underneath it worked wonders for me as the banana flavours bridged the 2 such distinct flavours together. The combination of crispy banana and chocolate is a match made in heaven. Also of note was the excellent pistacchio ice-cream which was fantastically smooth and refined.

The entire meal came to a total cost of £60 including service charge and drinks. Not cheap at all for an Indian restaurant but I had no regrets due to the sheer quality of the cooking. I once again must stress that I am no expert of Indian cuisine, but this place has definitely revolutionised my impressions of Indian cuisine and shows that it offers much more than a spicy curry night out! In fact I must state that it’s one of the only restaurants that Cardiff can be truly proud of. I will definitely be back soon to try out all the other dishes and update this review. For the time being I would recommend it as one of the best places to eat in Cardiff.

Contact Details:

134 Whitchurch Rd,
Cardiff,
CF14 3LZ

tel. +44(0)2920 620 333

Opening Times:

Monday 12 – 2.30 6 – 11pm
Tuesday 12 – 2.30 6 – 11pm
Wednesday 12 – 2.30 6 – 11pm
Thursday 12 – 2.30 6 – 11pm
Friday 12 – 2.30 6 – 11pm
Sat closed 6 – 11pm
Sunday 12 – 2.30 6 – 10:30pm

www.mintandmustard.com

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