Monday, 9 April 2012

Woods Brasserie, Cardiff Bay

I've promised this post for a week now and only now am I finally getting round to it, busy week! I've never done a restaurant review before but it was that brilliant I just had to. As I posted lasted week we spent last weekend in Barry Island for my mum's birthday. I'd been putting out the Twitter feelers out for nice places to eat in Cardiff. We knew literally nothing about the city so I was so grateful when gave me some great tips on shopping and eating.

One place in particular stood out, Woods Brasserie in Cardiff Bay. I really wanted somewhere special without being too formal, but still - you know, amazing! This restaurant really did look brilliant when I looked online but you never know what somewhere is really like until you go so I was slightly apprehensive on how it would all turn out in the end. All of this was pointless of course because it was, in a word, AMAZING! No more than 7 minutes wander from the railway station, right on the bay it was simply stunning. As soon as we turned up I couldn't believe how contemporary it was, bright vivid walls, brick and huge windows looking out towards the bay. We were half an hour early but we were still able to be seated straight away, the staff were very attentive and friendly always seemed calm, considering it was prime time on a Saturday in a busy city restaurant. (Sorry random people in my pictures!)

We'd had a look at the menu online but there was even more to choose from when we got there. It was actually quite difficult to choose as I wanted at least three different dishes of each course, in the end I decided to be brave and go for dishes I hadn't tried before.

I have to say I've emailed them so much and they've so helpful I can't thank them enough. I also then emailed to find a bit more out about what we ate so I could do it justice and the head chef wrote back with lots of detail which was absolutely brilliant and I was so pleased to hear how the restaurant uses a lot of local and British ingredients.

What we ate:
First we shared some sourdough with dipping oil and aged balsamic vinegar £1, sounds simple and standard but it was lovely and also had lots of pink peppercorns in the bottom which was subtle but really nice. This wasn't the stated by the way, just a little extra before.
"Our sourdough is baked by a 4th generation french baker, his name is Fabrice and he is based in Herefordshire and produces artisinal organic sour dough breads and other specialist breads. The are ab fab! I have been in Cardiff for eight years" - Wes Hammond, Head Chef.

For starter we both had the baked potato and onion soup, garlic, almond and parsley pesto £4.
I loved the idea of baked potato soup, I have to be honest and say I'm not a huge fan of almond...but the rest of it sounded so good I decided to be brave. We both absolutely loved it, creamy like velvet and while you cannot see it in the picture, just below the surface was a pool of parsley pesto which really completed it - I also never usually choose soup and I'm so glad I did.
"...a baked potato and onion soup with picada (type of paste from Catalonia with almonds, garlic and parsley) the potatoes we use are a Maris Piper variety, English onions and salty welsh butter to make the soup."

For mains we had:Whole char-grilled spring chicken, thyme and honey glaze, chorizo, bacon and potato salad, chicken jus £14.
This was my mum's dish, the chicken looked beautiful, their presentation was brilliant in all of their dishes. She mentioned was that the potato salad wasn't really a potato salad like she expected but apart from that she really enjoyed her meal. We also shared a mixed leaf salad which actually was surprisingly impressive, tossed in olive oil and rock salt really made all the difference and we could easily have eaten plates of it alone!
The spring chicken come from Cornwall, they are marinated with garlic, white wine and thyme and salt, after which they are individually sous vide (vacuum packed) and cooked in a water bath at 75 deg Celsius for 90mins (sous vide is a method of long and slow cooking at precise temperatures in a water bath for set time ( ) it is finished on a char grill for that classic roast flavour and glazed with thyme infused honey from Cowbridge. It sits on a very simple potato salad of spicy chorizo and panchetta bacon (from Trealy farm, Monmouthshire new potatoes, olive oil  and a little chicken jus." - Wes Hammond, Head Chef.

What I had:
Wild garlic gnocchi, marinated buffalo mozzarella, lemon thyme and pine nut butter sauce £11.
I've never had gnocchi but have always wanted to try it. And I'm not sure if it was the Gavin and Stacey connection but I just felt that this was the time to choose something different. And I'm so glad I did, I've literally never eaten anything nicer. All of the flavours worked beautifully together and again, given a chance I think I could have eaten several plates of it. Even now I'm actually wishing I lived closer just so I could have it again.
"The wild garlic was foraged by myself from around St Fagens outside of Cardiff and combined into a classic gnocchi recipe, the Buffalo mozzarella is from premier cheese, and is beautiful moist and subtle chesse artisianal cheese from Italy (, paired with a lemon thyme and pine nut brown butter sauce to finish the dish."

They've got some really gorgeous looking desserts at Woods and while I really wanted to try one of their cocktail desserts I did actually have a special surprise lined up. I hate that I haven't been able to make my mum a cake this year so I arranged for a special cake, carrot cake which is her absolute favourite so I knew it would be a winner. Again I didn't really know what to expect but it was great, out came two pieces of slate with individual cakes and a ball of ice cream on the side and caramel sauce. There was also a good sprinkling of popping candy, it really does many any dessert better, brilliant! Mum's even came out with candles which I thought was a lovely touch, we left pleasantly full, without feeling sick - which is an achievement considering all of the beautiful food we ate! While I'm not sure when we'll be returning to Cardiff next but I seriously recommend Woods Brasserie for those that are able to go, you won't regret it.

They couldn't have done more for me with all of my secret emails arranging it all as a surprise for my mum and even checked in with me afterwards to see if it all went well and was enjoyed, particular thanks to Wes and Serge for all of the replies! I really don't think I've ever had better service, or food!!

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  1. It looks and sounds like you had a fantastic time - so glad you enjoyed your first visit to Cardiff (I love it, of course, but then I'm biased!) :) x

  2. Great review! If I ever visit Cardiff, I am DEFINITELY eating here. It looks amazing and the food looks and sounds delicious. It's always nice when restaurants are friendly and helpful - I'm sure your mum thoroughly enjoyed it.


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