Review – Cicchetti, Radyr

Linguine Puttanesca at Cicchetti, Radyr
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I love living in Radyr, it really feels like an up-and coming suburb, what with the gorgeous Orchard Cafe, the fabulous Salon Nia and the stalwart Ener-Chi. And now we have Cicchetti to add to the mix, an Italian Deli/restaurant. Cicchetti opened a few months ago and we’d been in for coffee and cake and had a takeaway from there (the pizzas were top notch) but last Saturday we had a babysitter (hooray!) so it was our first experience of a Cicchetti evening meal.

Saturday was a lovely sunny evening and there were plenty of people just enjoying a beer in the sunshine at the pavement tables as we arrived.

We were soon seated inside and given the menus to peruse while we nibbled on a glass of fresh breadsticks.

I went for a Bellini cocktail to start and then some wine and Gavin had a couple of pints of Peroni, which they serve on tap.

For starters we both had calamari. Mine was the Fritto Misto, lightly battered calamari and scampi with a saffron aioli (£5.25) and Gavin’s the Stuffed Baby Squid with Jalapeño Dressing (£5.95). Both were delicious and devoured in minutes.

Fritto Misto at Cicchetti, Radyr

Fritto Misto at Cicchetti, Radyr

On to mains and we both went for linguine – mine with Puttanesca sauce and his with the Pesto (both £7.95).

Linguine Puttanesca at Cicchetti, Radyr

Linguine Puttanesca at Cicchetti, Radyr

For dessert Gavin went for the chocolate brownie (they are stocked by the chocolate brownie company so he knew he would be in good hands). I was stuffed and ummed and ahhed about going for the lemon meringue. In the end I didn’t think I’d squeeze it in, so went for the mango sorbet, which was light and refreshing.

We also had coffees at the end of the meal. The three courses, four alcoholic drinks and a coffee each, came to £55, which I think is incredibly good value. The food and service was great and the atmosphere was that of a relaxed neighbourhood restaurant. Our only tiny criticism was that there is obviously a Queen fan on the staff – the bands greatest hits were blaring out of the place! Don’t get me wrong I love Freddie, Brian et al, but it was a little loud and I saw a few people complaining to each other. It was soon turned down to a more reasonable level and conversations could continue.

Overall we loved Cicchetti, we’ll definitely be back. We’re already planning to visit for breakfast one day soon.

Cicchetti, 8 Station Road, Radyr CF15 8AA

029 2084 8773

We paid in full for our meals and Cicchetti did not know I’d be blogging about them.

Afternoon tea at Orchard, Radyr

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I seem to have set myself on a mission to find the best afternoon tea in Cardiff. Not such a terrible cross to bear, I admit. After recently trying the mammoth afternoon tea at Barker tea house, next up was Orchard in Radyr.

This neighbourhood cafe has been open for around a year and has recently started offering afternoon tea at £13.95 per person.

Orchard’s offering doesn’t just focus on cake, their menu is more like a ‘high tea’ with extra savouries in addition to the finger sandwiches, including mini pizzas and garlic mushroom bruschettas. They also included a small taster of their special dish that day, a platter of roasted vegetables, capers and ciabatta bread – delicious. It also came with scones, pre-filled with cream and jam and we were able to choose another cake from their selection too – I went for the coconut and lime which was really light and tasty.

This style of afternoon tea fits in with Orchards offering of healthy food, indulgent cakes and an amazing range of teas. I went for the sweet chai pu-erh tea on this occasion. If you’re not familiar with pu-erh it’s a dark tea from China, supposed to have health benefits and aid weight loss. It’s unlikely to have balanced the effect of the fresh scone and lashings of cream or the coconut and lime cake, but never mind, it was delicious anyway!

The staff at Orchard are so welcoming and friendly and my friend and I spent a leisurely 3+ hours chatting over our afternoon tea. If you’re looking for a casual catch up with a friend, friendly service and delicious food, Orchard is the place for you.

Orchard
7 Park Road, Radyr
029 2084 2129

We paid in full for our afternoon tea and Orchard did not know I’d be blogging about them.

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Live and Eat Pie at Pieminister

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Pieminister arrived in Cardiff earlier this year and last week I finally made it there for lunch.

Luckily we’d booked a table as it was incredibly busy on this Friday lunchtime. With only one till on (you order and pay at the till after getting your table) service wasn’t the speediest.

I went for the ‘Light as a Feta’, a butternut squash, feta and sundried tomato pie from their lighter pie range (all less than 450 calories) and two less-healthy sides of sweet potato chips and homemade slaw, which came to £8.

The pie came and it was pretty delicious, but no surprise as I’d had Pieminister pies from the supermarket in the past and the pies served in the restaurant are exactly the same. The filling was flavourful and substantial and the pastry light and crumbly. It also came with a yummy gravy.

The sweet potato fries were good but the slaw was really disappointing, more a bowl of shredded cabbage and onion with a drizzle of dressing, not the creamy homemade coleslaw I was expecting.

Overall the price was fair, the setting was great (the decor was relaxed and stylish – LOVE the ‘Live and Eat Pie’ neon sign) and I would come back again. I noticed they have a kids menu and plenty of high chairs and baby change facilities too, which is a plus for me.

Pieminister
35 St Mary Street
Cardiff
CF10 1AD
www.pieminister.co.uk/restaurants/cardiff

We paid in full for our meals and Pieminister did not know I’d be blogging about them

Eating out with kids – Vinny & Vito at the Village Hotel, Cardiff

Le Truffe pizza flatbread at Vinny & Vito, Cardiff
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My husband and I really enjoy eating out and when we had our son we were keen to get him used to eating out from an early age. Most restaurants in Cardiff are fairly child friendly nowadays but it’s always better to find somewhere that the little people enjoy too.

We’d heard that Vinny & Vito, an Italian style restaurant at the Village Hotel in Cardiff was good and the ‘children under 5 eat free’ offer lured us there. We had a great experience the first time we went and have since been back numerous times to eat; twice just the three of us during the week and another occasion for my sister’s birthday where we took two kids and four adults one Saturday night, who all came away happy.

Le Truffe pizza flatbread at Vinny & Vito, Cardiff

Le Truffe pizza flatbread at Vinny & Vito, Cardiff

Its a family-friendly restaurant that doesnt compromise on the quality of the food – the pizzas (or flatbreads as they refer to them) are priced at just £8.95/£9.95 and are huge with freshly made crispy bases. A special mention from me for the Vinny & Vito house burger, a 225g home-made beef burger with cheese, pancetta and balsamic onions, served in a bun with fries was £13.50 (I substituted potato fries with mine too). With such delicious mains and sides, this is a place you come away from feeling very full indeed!

Courgette frites and sweet potato wedges

Courgette frites and sweet potato wedges

Their ‘Mini Vinny’s’ kids menu is fantastic. £5.95 each or free for under 5s (FREE! A godsend if you’re eating with a picky toddler!) They get dough balls to start, a choice of pizza, burger or three pastas for main, an ice cream sundae for dessert and unlimited drinks. Our son has chosen the pizza every time and it’s as fresh and delicious as the adult ones.

Chicago flatbread pizza at Vinny & Vito, Cardiff

Chicago flatbread pizza at Vinny & Vito, Cardiff

Adult desserts include classic Italian/American fayre such as cheesecake and chocolate mousse, but I’ve only ever had room for a scoop of creamy and refreshing coconut ice cream (£2 a scoop).

What’s also great about Vinny & Vito is that even though it’s in a hotel, the decor and friendly staff mean it doesn’t feel like a faceless hotel restaurant. I’d really recommend this place for a family meal, or a weekday treat.

The only negative? The toilets are miles away from the restaurant. But you might be glad of the walk, to work off all that food!

Vinny & Vito, Village Hotel, Pendwyallt Road, Coryton, Cardiff CF14 7EF.

https://www.village-hotels.co.uk/hotels/cardiff/eat-drink/

We paid in full every time we ate at Vinny & Vito and they were not made aware I’d be blogging about them.

Afternoon tea at Barker Tea House

Afternoon tea at Barker Tea House
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When I recently updated my post on the best places for afternoon tea in Cardiff, a few people on Twitter were astounded that Barker Tea House in High Street Arcade wasn’t included.

It wasn’t for any other reason than I hadn’t had the chance to try it yet, but have wanted to for a while. So Mother’s Day was the perfect opportunity.

I like Coffee Barker, Barker Tea’s sister coffee shop in Castle Arcade, so knew I should expect a relaxed atmosphere, vintage touches, quirky but delicious food and hipster staff. That’s exactly what you get a Barker Tea House too – in fact some staff are so cool and stand-offish that they come across as a bit rude at times. But not to worry, we were soon sat at a table upstairs, which had been reserved for us (you have to book for afternoon tea) and were given our comprehensive tea menus. I went for the green chai, which was a lovely spiced tea, as you’d expect from chai, but much lighter with the green tea base.

Green chai tea at Barker Tea House

Green chai tea at Barker Tea House

My husband had the gunpowder green tea, which he says was nice and not at all bitter as some green teas can be, while our toddler had a steamed milk with chocolate sprinkles, which of course went down a treat.

Then the afternoon teas arrived and they were immense! I was shocked at how large they were. Sandwiches, two scones, a huge slab of cake, a flapjack, a caramel shortbread and two brownies and that was per person, not between two! It was a shame we weren’t given a choice of which cake we had as the largest cake on the top tier, not sure if this is standard or just because Mother’s Day was busy, but I would’ve liked to choose my favourite. As it was I was given the carrot and my husband the chocolate and violet. More on that later….

Afternoon tea at Barker Tea House

Afternoon tea (for one person!) at Barker Tea House

The sandwiches were delicious, really stuffed full with what you could tell are great quality ingredients and they were a decent size too. Each cake was rich and delicious and an honourable mention must go to the chocolate and violet cake, which was incredibly decadent.

Chocolate and violet cake at Barker Tea House

Chocolate and violet cake at Barker Tea House

If anything, the whole offering was a little too rich for me. Without anything fruity and light to lift the plate, it began to feel quite heavy after a while. We ended up taking five cakes home as we couldn’t finish it all (and that was with our son sharing the teas with us) and although I’d rather complain about having too much food, rather than not enough, it seemed quite excessive. If you’re looking for a refined celebratory experience, somewhere like the Celtic Manor or St David’s Hotel might be more suitable. If you want a lazy afternoon getting stuffed, then Barker it is!

I will definitely be going back to Barker Tea House. The atmosphere and food is great, relaxed and quirky and their tea selection had plenty more I’d like to try. Next time I go there for afternoon tea, I’ll make sure not to eat for a few days before perhaps!

If you liked this post, check out my post on the best afternoon teas in Cardiff and beyond.

I take afternoon tea very seriously

I take afternoon tea very seriously!

Barker Tea House

www.barkerteahouse.co.uk

High Street Arcade, CF10 1BB

029 2034 1390

We paid in full for afternoon tea and Barker Tea House were not aware I would be blogging about them.

The Clink, Cardiff – lunch in prison (!)

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The Clink opened over a year ago and I’ve wanted to try it ever since, but the occasion has never been right (it doesn’t serve alcohol which has ruled it out a number of times, which I realise says a lot about me!)

I work fairly close to Cardiff Prison so last month a few colleagues and I decided to try it for lunch.

In case you don’t know, The Clink is a restaurant run by inmates from Cardiff and Prescoed Prisons. It’s run as a charity, as a way of rehabilitating low risk offenders and giving them skills for when they are released. This might concern a few cautious diners, but they are all classed as category D inmates, very low risk. But being located in a prison explains why they don’t serve alcohol.

The Clink launched in early 2013 in a flurry of media activity It was pegged as a fine dining establishment, with a whole host of celebrity chefs assisting them.

However this side of things seems to have gone downhill. The food was fine, but it was in no way ‘fine-dining’. While the dishes was presented beautifully, one colleagues duck was very overcooked, while another’s chips were barely cooked at all. While my pappardelle pasta with shredded duck and chilli was fine – it was tagliatelli not pappardelle and I’m not convinced the pasta was freshly made.

Main courses are around the £13 mark, which was quite pricey for lunch. Only when we’d ordered did the waiter tell us a light bite lunchtime menu was available.

The staff were really sweet, friendly and relaxed but clearly inexperienced, which made for an enjoyable lunch, but didn’t create the ‘fine dining’ atmosphere you would expect.

The project is doing fantastic work and despite my criticisms I would recommend a visit. But perhaps avoid the ‘fine dining’ hype and go with an open mind.

HMP Cardiff, Knox Rd, Cardiff, South Glamorgan CF24 0UG

http://theclinkrestaurant.com/restaurants/cardiff/

The Clink did not know I would be reviewing them and we paid in full for our lunch.