As a person who struggles to maintain a hobby – primarily anything that involves a certain level of physical effort; if you’d have asked me whether I would still be writing about dishes I enjoy eating 24 months later, I may have replied “not a chance”. As it turns out the exertion of lifting fork to mouth suits me just fine, and this month saw The Octopus Diaries turn two. Thankfully, with no full-blown toddler-style tantrums in sight; my passion for food, exploring independent restaurants and writing hasn’t diminished over the past few years, and I continue to be thankful for the ongoing support and encouragement from those around me.
If you happen to have missed the March edition of Krak’en Bites you can catch up here. But for now, I hope April’s round-up provides some inspiration on where to dine out in Bristol, Cardiff and beyond.
Fritto Misto | £6.50
Earlier this month, I was invited to experience the new pizza menu at Santa Maria’s on St. Mary’s Street in Cardiff. Formerly known as Nine Yards, Italian patisserie and prosecco have now been swapped for contemporary Italian dining. A selection of starters, cured meat and cheese platters, hearty secondi and not forgetting pizza are now available in this cosy, wood clad city centre restaurant.
It’s a competitive market when it comes to pizza in Cardiff however, you’ll find a good choice at Santa Maria including the familiar Napoletana, Quattro Stagioni and Diavola. 12 inches will set you back £12-£14; although Santa Maria’s trademark is the pizza metro. Just imagine a whole metre of fresh wood-fired Italian pizza to share…or not, if you’re feeling particularly hungry!
Sautéed mussels with garlic, chilli and leeks, a touch of cream and served with toasted sourdough | £13.95
Located on the High Street in Llandaff, Porro seeks to ’embrace the Italian philosophy of celebrating simple, quality ingredients’. And in this statement, it certainly succeeds. With the advantage of being both family friendly and open every day – as it turns out, perfect if you’re looking for somewhere to dine out on a Monday evening – Porro offers a good selection of dishes from its choice of breakfast, lunch and à la carte menus.
On this visit, sautéed mussels with garlic and leek feature as a special. Rich with cream and accompanied with sourdough, it’s a generous portion and excellent value for money. Comfortable and homely with a welcoming team, Porro is a restaurant for all occasions.
Piggy In Da Blanket – pulled pork vin-d-aloo in crispy parotta bread, Keralan slaw and sExy fries | £7.50
It always puts a smile on my face, when the Keralan Karavan rolls back into town. Having previously fallen in love with the unique dishes last March, this month saw a week’s takeover in Beelzebubs bar in Cardiff, where they again showcased their tasty Keralan street food.
Keralan Karavan has now been a firm favourite on the Cardiff scene for a number of years. Headed up by Pankaj Krishnan, he’s a Chef on a mission to discover the perfect ‘spice’ formula. With a big shout out to his father’s Keralan heritage, this vibrant pop-up is all about promoting good vibes and celebrating good times with good food. In addition to the fragrant home-made speciality curries and trademark onion bhajees, this takeover saw the addition of new dishes including Piggy In Da Blanket – an addictive dish of pulled pork vindaloo in flaky parotta bread, which is sure to become a firm favourite this summer on the street food circuit.
Mixed Roast – beech-smoked roast sirloin of Angus beef and saddle of Texel Cross lamb served with beef dripping roast potatoes, cumin roast carrots and parsnips, smoked butter greens and Yorkshire pudding | £17.00
Hop onto The Cauldron’s website and you’re greeted with the statement A Kitchen on Fire. Should I be worried? Is the purchase of an extinguisher going to be a prerequisite to dining? The image of glowing embers beneath is a source of comfort; the fact that I have already read outstanding reviews of this restaurant another. The Cauldron is a little different, as is the neighbourhood in which it resides. We dined on a Sunday – the wood-fired roasts are cooked in “Woody” the oven and over a charcoal pit; the gravy takes four days to make in “Bertha” – a 60-litre Cauldron. Perhaps, you understand where I am coming from now…
You have to book. You will be asked to pay a deposit. Be prepared to still be dreaming about this roast months later. Read the full blog post here – COMING SOON.
The ‘Fat Lamb’ Burger – Lamb patty topped with tandoori pulled lamb, grilled halloumi, spiced Bombay ketchup and Coronation mayo | £14.95
Planning on heading further afield in Wales over the May Bank Holiday? A two-hour trip west from Cardiff will see you arrive in the picturesque village of Solva, where a scenic tidal harbour, sandy beach, walks and a beautiful main street of locally owned shops, galleries and pottery awaits. And as a bonus, for a small community, there are plenty of options when it comes to dining out.
Yet when it comes to The Cambrian Inn, there is nothing small about these portions. It is always said that ‘a picture paints a thousand words’, well rest assured that the lamb burger above tasted as good as it looked. Combine their great choice of imaginative burgers with pub classics and locally sourced shellfish and fish, and The Cambrian Inn is one gastro-pub not to miss.