Posted by: mikeydude | April 10, 2010

The New Conway Gastropub Review (7/10)

Wow a Cardiff restaurant that can cook steak!!

A decent gastropub is something that Cardiff lacks and badly needs to pick up its rather lacklustre dining options. I tried Y Cadno; that was awful. I tried the New Red Lion in Pendoylan; that was good but a bit far out and the cooking was not without its flaws. It was time to give this sister venue of the much praised Wood’s Brasserie a try in B&B renowned Pontcanna sitting just on the outskirts of the city centre. It’s in the Michelin guide, so it can’t be too bad I thought. Parking was a bit tricky (side streets only), as was getting a seat for 2 which is expected on a Saturday night at a place that doesn’t take bookings for small groups. We were about to leave and try out Jamie’s Italian in town when a seat just became available, and boy am I glad we stayed….

The place was renovated about 1-2 yrs ago and I must admit we liked the ambience. As usual, there’s a casual bar area (where we ate) and a slightly more formal dining part split in the middle by the bar. Lighting was nice and bright and staff were friendly and knowledgeable about their food. That may actually be a poor generalisation as I only spoke to who appeared to be the manager. There is no written menu. Everything is on the chalkboard which has a good set of choices. I love this concept as it implies seasonality and changes of style. Anyway for drinks I had their prize winning ale which was great and the Mrs had an appletiser.

Starter: Sauteed Mushrooms on Toasted Curry Bread

This was simply button mushrooms on curried raisin bread. I’m not sure if the bread was homemade but it was fantastic and that slight hint of curry was a great addition. The mushrooms were nicely sauteed and topped with some salad to make a good starter. However its £6 price tag was a little steep I felt and I really expected some more exotic mushrooms for that price.

Mains#1: Fish & Chips

The fish is actually a lot larger than it looks on this picture due to the transverse plane. Presentation was neat and I liked the way the mushy peas and tartare sauce were served in square bowls. The tartare sauce was spectacular; easily the best I’ve tasted for years – that creamy homemade mayonnaise mixed in with the perfect quantity of chopped pickles for that sourness that goes so well with fish. The fish itself was large and fresh cod wrapped in a wonderfully golden crust batter. The boss really enjoyed it but did mention that the batter was too thick. I agree with her… there was one part which had batter at least 1cm thick which makes it too stodgy. The peas were also deliciously sweet and earthy which again complimented the fish very well. The chips were thick cut which I don’t mind but would definitely prefer the more crunchy variety. Still dipping them in tartare sauce is one of those pleasures that I go to gastropubs for. Good stuff.

Mains #2: 21-day Matured Usk Valley Ribeye Steak with Onion Rings and Chips

At present my benchmark for steaks is US Prime Beef that I ate in New York at the Porterhouse New York Steakhouse (review here). I couldn’t believe how tasty and perfectly marbled their beef could be. It was also cooked to perfection in a beautiful restaurant setting right in the center of New York. Steak heaven.

Tough for this place then, as they are already at a disadvantage with Usk Valley beef, which is by no means a bad breed, but just could not compare with US Prime in terms of its magnificent ‘beefy’ flavour. I think my favourite in the UK must be the Aberdeen Angus, but even that is a way off the pride of the USA.

Produce loses then, but what about the cooking? Before I go any further I must say I really enjoyed this steak. I asked for medium rare and that’s exactly what I got. The ribeye itself was a perfect size and texture was perfectly tender. My only minor criticism was that the outside wasn’t quite seared enough, but then for that you need an American steak grill that Jason Atherton uses in his Maze Grill to produce that incredible charred outer effect. However I still loved the steak and the reduction that it was served with was also most pleasant. Onion rings were nicely crispy to add some starch to the dish and I was fond of the vertical stacking approach 😀

The chips were the same style as the ones that came with the fish n chips, which I just dipped into tartar sauce. Delicious.

Side: Buttered Greens

Adequately cooked green peas, kale and cabbage which had a very nice buttery aroma/taste.

Dessert #1: Jamaican Ginger Pudding & Rum Chantilly

This cake was recommended by the manager and boy was it delicious. Wonderfully soft textured ginger flavours combined excellently with its buttery foundations. Couldn’t taste much rum in the Chantilly but still added moisture to the cake. We wolfed this down very quickly and would recommend it highly.

Dessert #2: Chocolate Brownie & Vanilla Ice Cream

Good old chocolate brownie. No gastropub can claim greatness if they can’t cook this classic! This certainly did not disappoint, although nowhere near as impressive as the ginger cake. Nice rich chocolate sponge was done very well indeed and obviously could not go wrong when combined with quality homemade ice-cream. Good stuff.

Ok then the whole bill came to around the £60 mark which is a little pricey for a gastropub considering we only had one starter. Nevertheless it was the Usk Valley Rib Eye costing £21 that took up most of the budget. Overall we liked the place very much. The setting was nice and informal where we could chat and laugh as much as we liked. Most important of all the food was better than average for a gastropub in Cardiff so I was most pleased – particularly recommending it to those who are after a good steak! They’re not bad at making desserts either! 😉

Contact:

The New Conway
58 Conway Road
Pontcanna
Cardiff
CF11 7NW

Tel: 029 2022 4373

Opening Times:

Mon-Thur 12:00-23:00
Sat 12:00-00:00
Sun 12:00-22:30

http://www.woods-brasserie.com/conway/index.html

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  1. […] give me your views. In the meantime though, I’ll happily stick with the New Conway (review here) just down the […]


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