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.
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
I love French food. Who doesn’t? I’ve spent many a holiday in France and the food and drink are the biggest reason for heading back. Moules et frites, crepes, macarons, cidre bouche…..the list goes on.
So when I saw on Twitter that a new French chain, Le Bistrot Pierre had arrived in Cardiff, I was interested to try. And then they contacted me with an offer to go and review the place – even better!
My husband Gavin and I visited on a Saturday evening, and were immediately struck by how busy the place was, people without bookings were constantly being turned away and the atmosphere was relaxed but buzzing. The decor is clean and contemporary and just how you would expect a typical French Bistro to be portrayed on a Hollywood film set.
The only negative side of French food is often the lack of vegetarian options. Gavin is veggie, which does make eating out in France a bit of a nightmare (once in France a menu classed chicken as a vegetarian option!). Not at Le Bistrot Pierre though, the vegetarian section (or Plats Végétariens) is really varied.
For starters I went for Fritôts de calamars, Crispy fried squid with roasted garlic mayonnaise (£5.95), which was crisp and light and not at all chewy as squid sometimes can be.
My husband went for the Soup de Jour (£4.50), which on Saturday was roast cauliflower – a soup flavour I’d never tried before, but which was warming with a nice kick. The picture below was when we’d already had a few mouthfuls – we forgot to stop and take a picture!
For our mains, or ‘plats’, I couldn’t resist the mussels, my favourite French dish. The Moules au roquefort (£13.50) were steamed in a roquefort cheese sauce, which wasn’t at all overpowering but was creamy and light and also contained crispy bacon lardons. Of course, it came with pommes frites on the side. I’m not normally a fan of skinny chips, but the potatoes used were creamy in the middle and crispy outside – delicious.
Gavin went for the special of the day which was a Polenta Burger. This was served with gruyere cheese and tomato chutney in a bun with pommes frites. It was probably the most disappointing dish of the day as the polenta was rather bland, despite being stuffed full of herbs. I think it was just a strange choice to serve polenta as a burger in a bun, but despite my criticism, the plate was empty when the waiter collected our dishes.
Next up was desserts. I’d already clocked the table next to us eating the Café gourmand, four mini desserts with an espresso coffee (£6.95). It looked so delicious and decadent, I just had to order it. The mini desserts were a chocolate fondant, tarte au citron, a honey pastry and raspberry sorbet. These were all absolutely amazing and the stand out dish of the evening, without a doubt. The picture doesn’t do it justice!
Gavin went for the caramel ice cream which he said was lovely and creamy, although I was too busy working on my own plate of desserts to try his too!
Overall we had a delicious meal at Le Bistrot Pierre. The atmosphere was relaxed and the staff didn’t rush us at all, which I love and is rare for a chain. It’s also authentically French to enjoy a relaxed meal over the course of a couple of hours.
There was no getting away from the fact that this is a chain restaurant. There are offers up on the walls and so on, but it is rather subtle. Comparisons with the other a major ‘French’ chain already in existence *cough Cafe Rouge* would be extremely unfair. Le Bistrot Pierre is in another league.
The Old Brewery Quarter,
Cardiff, CF10 1FG.
029 2034 5990
I’m running a giveaway to win lunch for two at Le Bistrot Pierre with a glass of St. Jean wine. Simply log in to Twitter, retweet my message and follow @CardiffGirlBlog and @PierreCardiff to be in with a chance of winning. The lucky name will be picked on Friday 14 March at 7pm.