LDN living: one month in

If you know me well or follow me on any form of social media you’ll already know that I have finally made the move to London. After so many trips to the ‘Big Smoke’ and so many blog posts written with proclamations of my undying love for the city I have actually been a little bit spontaneous. There’s always a first, eh?

I handed my notice in at my job in my home town as I couldn’t face making it to 8 years and managed to wangle an amazing job in an absolute powerhouse of a company which holds a place in London’s history. I still, one month in, can’t believe I am lucky enough to sit at a desk there. I actually wake up happy even though I know there’s a commute on the horizon.

If I get the tube as well as the bus I even get to say hello to Ben every day. Could it be any more London? 

Every little thing about London excites me, the business, the food, the shopping, the history. I love the fact there’s something different to do every single weekend.

We’re lucky enough to be living a short walk away from the Imperial War Museum, Bermondsey, Borough and a little further on is Westminster and the south bank. The brilliant thing is there are SO many free things to do in London, whether it be a walk around a park, a stroll past some of the landmarks or a turn around a museum. I mean, that doesn’t mean we’ve not spent a small fortune since being here but we have just done our first weekly shop. I guess we had to adult at some point.

👀


Imperial War Museum 

Anyway, on to the stuff you really want to read; the food. We’ve tried a fair few places since being here so below you will find a little round up.

Homeslice

I am completely in love with pizza. I love thick crust, thin crust, cauliflower crust, sourdough pizza, stone baked, white pizzas, tomato pizzas. I love all pizza.  Maybe London has a Pizzaholics Anonymous group I can become a member of. I think I need help. We decided to visit the one in Neal’s Yard in Covent Garden so we had plenty of options for post-carb drinks to toast to our first Saturday in the city. It’s quite standard in Homeslice, the pizza is £20 for 20 inches of delightfulness or certain pizzas can be eaten by the slice. Who are you people? Just a slice *rolls eyes*.

We decided to have half aubergine, cauliflower cheese, spinach an Harissa and half xo pig cheek, collard greens and crackling furikake.

Honest Burger

I have been to a few Honest Burgers before and each time I have left feeling full and happy. Now, I know this is a London chain but it’s a great burger chain nonetheless! We both ordered the cauliflower fritter burger which comes with a generous portion of rosemary salted fries. For the amount of food you get, I do think Honest is great value for money.

Bermondsey Arts Club 

BAC is a brilliant cocktail bar in an old underground toilet with some of the best cocktails we’ve ever had and really helpful and friendly staff!

Borough Market

If you haven’t been to Borough Market then you have to bump it up your list for your next visit to the city. You’ll find yourself in the middle of a food feast where you’ll be torn between Pad Thai, vegan burgers, hog roast and a thali box and that’s just to name a few. Not only is it a food feast for the stomach but it’s a feast for the camera. Everywhere you look there’s colourful fruit and vegetables, freshly made food being dished up and bread being baked. The smells that waft out of the market are something you won’t forget! There’s a stall there that I have really fallen in love with called The Big V which is a vegan burger bar with some of the best burgers I’ve eaten. They may be meat and everything else free but my god are they tasty. The first time I came across it I had the sausage sarnie, which is a mountain of a sandwich, with filling and sausage spilling out of the sides of the toasted poppy seed bread. The second time, I went for the spicy chickpea burger which comes with beetroot humous and piles of greens and sprouts.



There’s also the Brindisa shop and the Neal’s Yard Dairy shop to entice you to buy produce to take home for later. We decided to have a little tapas night a few weeks back so stocked up on olives and chorizo, olive bread from Bread Ahead Bakery and a goats cheese so delicious from Neal’s Yard I’ve been dreaming about it every day since.

Padella 

If you’re in the mood to eat some of the best pasta of your whole entire lift then you need to get in the queue for Padella right now. Literally. Put your cuppa down and get on the tube/train/bus. Honestly, this was well worth the hour and a half wait and I’d go back in a second and wait two hours if I had to. I went for the Tagliarini with nettles, a dusting of parmesan and egg yolk and the girls ordered the fettuccine with fennel sausage ragu.

Polpo

I’d been told about POLPOa few times by a few different people and decided to eat there with my mum over the weekend. Everything we ordered was so lovely but especially the fried olives. If you order anything, make sure you order those balls of goodness. Another point I’d make is not to order too much. We ordered a bugger dish each, a garlic pizza bread, olives, arancini and croquettes and it was way too much for our bellies to handle.


Keep your eyes peeled for more posts to come. I’ll make sure I’m eating plenty, just for you 🐸

Edinburgh

Scotland is the home of sensational shortbread, breathtakingly beautiful scenery, Tunnocks Teacakes, myths of sea creatures, Irn Bru, kilts, haggis and last but not least, battered Mars Bars. As you may be able to guess from the title of this post, I’ve recently visited Edinburgh. In fact, I flew back just last weekend so my festive eating started a whole week early; what a shame! Now, I know it’s almost the end of 2016 so won’t bore you with the ins and outs of my trip but what I will do is let you know some of the things I now class as a must-do when in the city.

Where to stay

Well, I wouldn’t exactly recommend our hotel but the location was superb for the exploring that we wanted to do. The Old Town is a few minutes away from the castle, St Giles’ Cathedral, the National Museum, Surgeons’ Hall, the Royal Mile and the busy Princes Street. If you’re in the city for a shopping break then I’d definitely look for a boutique hotel near Princes Street, that way you can roll out of bed and head straight to the shops.


Edinburgh Old Town by day.

What to do

We managed to pack quite a bit into our weekend but again, it all depends where your interests lie as to what you’d class as fun. M and I are both a little nerdy so made sure we did some museums and haven’t stopped telling people about them since. We walked all the way up to the Castle from Princes Street so it sure was a steep walk but absolutely worth it. The castle isn’t very big but if you’re anything like me then you’ll love it. There’s something about castles that gives me that warm fuzzy feeling and it’s crazy thinking about what would’ve been happening inside many, many years ago. Don’t expect anything other than messy hair whilst you’re there though, it did get very windy but you can look out over the whole city.


The Royal Mile is the long cobbled street that runs all the way up to the castle. I would say be careful eating or drinking anywhere on the main stretch itself if you’re on a budget. Naturally, these places are calling out for all tourists to take a break and more often than not, charge a small fortune for it. We were lucky enough to hear many men playing the bagpipe though, so truly felt like we were in Scotland. This mile runs directly down to Holyrood Palace.

Just off the Royal Mile is St Giles’ Cathederal so you don’t have to go far to see that too. I love looking at cathederals and taking in their beauty and this one in particular has a somewhat gothic look to it with its dark grey exterior. It’s now the main place of worship for the Church of Scotland in Edinburgh and dedicated to St Giles, the patron saint of Edinburgh.

The next thing I’d urge you to visit is the National Museum of Scotland. It is an absolutely outstanding museum with everything there to keep both children and adults occupied. Not only is the inside absolutely beautiful but the combination of the progression of technology to the planet and world culture leaves little to the imagination. You can learn new things about animals, see the planets and stars, find out what different cultures around the world wear and why as well as touching the different fabrics to see why they are used. I was in awe of how colourful everything was and did leave there feeling like I’d learnt a lot.


Make sure you donate when picking up a map! A lot of museums are free to visitors so the only way they can continue being fantastic, to showcase such beautiful displays and impart so much knowledge to people like us is by saying thanks in the form of a few £’s.


The central part of the museum.


The animals looked so real Morgan had to have a closer inspection to check if they were stuffed – thankfully they were models. I’m sure you can see how much time and effort has gone into making this place a wonderful experience for all.


The world culture gallery is brilliant for finding out much more about culture around the world and the reasons behind the choice in clothing and how and why they celebrate.
The technology and industrial gallery showed communication through the ages, the modernisation of bikes and wheelchairs and planes. It was so interesting to see them all in one place showing what the advantages are to the things we currently use.


The Surgeons’ Hall museum is not everyone’s taste, I really do appreciate that. We both found it unbelievably fascinating yet chilling at the same time. My favourite part of this museum was the War section. I took my time wandering around and reading all the information and looking at the artefacts they’ve kept and things they’ve preserved. It may sound grim but the whole floor of body parts of people who’ve suffered things like Cancer I found incredibly interesting albeit slightly off-putting. I believe it’s definitely worth a visit if you don’t have a queasy stomach! You’re not allowed to take pictures there so you’ll have to take my word for it.

Where to eat and drink

Ok, you know me, I did more than enough research before landing on Scottish soil but we didn’t manage to tick off everything on the list. One place in particular sticks out for me though and we were recommended it by more than a few locals. El Cartel is a teeny, tiny Mexican restaurant with a no booking policy. It’s all about the food and frozen margaritas here and by jove do they do them both well. It’s not fancy, it’s not flashy, it’s get in if you can and have a really great time. The Saturday evening we tried to get in and were told there would be at least a two hour wait and I simply could not wait that long. So, on the Sunday evening we swung by about 5pm and managed to walk straight in with no trouble at all. The longer we sat at the table though, the longer the waiting list grew so we definitely arrived at the right time.


You might not think it looks much but trust me, it felt like we’d taken a flight straight to Mexico!

We ordered the ‘Bombers’ as a starter and they were little balls of delight. Jalapeños  were encased with soft cheese and covered in breadcrumbs sat on a base of smoky mayonnaise and with a big wedge of lime on top. I’d like to say I apologise for the lack of picture-based evidence but I can’t. We ate them in one go like two animals at a zoo.


Guacamole with cheese, pomegranate and spring onion and freshly baked tortilla chips. This was the best guacamole I’ve ever eaten and in future I’ll always add pomegranate and cheese to it at home. It all worked SO well together.


Mushroom quesadilla with a side of crispy beef brisket, chorizo and salsa verde tacos.


All the Margaritas are served with a paprika salt rim.

We also ordered pork shoulder tacos with seared pineapple, white onion, coriander and white cabbage but those were eaten before we even had chance to photograph the evidence.

I would happily eat at El Cartel every evening of the week if I could but alas, there are a few hundred miles in between us.

Edinburgh is known for all it’s seafood and M and I love nothing more than a good scallop or three. We’d decided that we had to dine in at least one ‘nicer’ restaurant during our trip as the likelihood of burgers and other naughties was very high. I came across Ondine on Instagram and immediately added it to our (my) list. As their website says, they do ‘proper seafood’ and neither of us were disappointed. We ordered a platter to share as well as creamed spinach and fries and it was completely worth the money for the lobster and enormous scallops alone. All of the seafood was seasoned beautifully and we nailed the food in a fairly short space of time. The lovely thing about Ondine is that you feel like you’ve eaten somewhere a little more upmarket, a little more expensive and yet it’s not pretentious in the slightest.

Hoot the Redeemer is a really cool and really small cocktail bar with a retro funfair theme without being that little too ‘hipster’. What I often find when visiting little independent cocktail bars is that all the other people hanging out there all have a similar look but the great thing about this place was the variety of ages and groups also knocking back the alcoholic slushies. You’re never too old to eat/drink/slurp an alcoholic slush puppy. It’s a blink and you’ll miss kind of place so keep your eyes peeled and you’ll not miss it. When you’re on the way down the stairs you’ll see tarot card reader in the door; you’ll need to push her to find your way inside. If you’re feeling hungry make sure you have a boozy ice cream too… that’s a novelty that’ll never wear off.



We only managed to squeeze one breakfast in during our trip so I whittled it down to Urban AngelI know, the name doesn’t have that great a ring to it but it was one of the friendliest and tastiest places I’ve been for breakfast in quite a while. I knew Edinburgh was known for it’s kind and friendly locals but Urban Angel have the best staff. Like, really. There wasn’t a job too big and we didn’t feel rushed or under pressure to scoff our eggs even though there was a queue forming. I don’t order eggs benedict that often but after seeing an Instagram post of Urban Angel’s offering with super crispy bacon I just knew what I had to order. It was bloody marvellous. The hollandaise sauce was thick, the bacon, as aforementioned, was unbelievably crispy and the eggs were perfectly poached. I also washed it down with a really warm and spicy chai latte, which is one of my favourite drinks on the planet.

Mary’s Milk Bar is a well known little gem for what they do and I couldn’t leave the city without trying them out. Luckily for us, Mary’s was just down the road from our hotel so it meant I managed to have a mid-morning floater and every second of calories passing my lips was more than worth it. I went for the hot chocolate floater with salted caramel ice cream and not only was the hot chocolate itself to die for but the ice cream was thick and creamy and the perfect combination of salt and caramel. If you’re not sure on the other places I’ve mentioned, then you must be crazy, but please make sure you swing by and order yourself a little something. You only live once and Mary wants to make it that little bit better for you.

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The Boozy Cow came highly recommended by one of my nearest and dearest as she knows of our love for dirty food and good cocktails. Now, I will warn you that there won’t be much that I’ll be able to tell you about The BC as we ate here after a few beers, and maybe a rum or three ,and I’d just ricocheted off  a lampost so I was seeing stars over my food by the time it arrived. From memory, the cocktails were awesome but not as awesome as the amazing battered pickles and onion rings though. I know I didn’t eat that many but what I did put away was worthy of the possible future heart attack. At this point all I can do is say, if you like burgers, dirty fries, lots of cocktails then this is your kind of place. If you’ve ever been, it really reminded me of Meat Liquor in London. Oh, and please order a Boozy Brew and thank me later.


Before I bore you all to tears I’ll just finish this post off with a few other restaurants and bars we didn’t get around to trying. If you’re visiting any time soon and manage to hit one up, let me know.

  1. Civerinos Pizza
  2. Meltmongers
  3. Bread Meats Bread
  4. The Devil’s Advocate
  5. Bramble
  6. The Lucky Liquor Co
  7. Panda and Sons
  8. The Pantry
  9. Timberyard
  10. The Dogs
  11. Tuk Tuk

 

 

 

 

 

Early Bird do PIZZA

This is urgent news that I must pass on to the Cardiff masses: Early Bird Bakery are now serving up sourdough pizza. 

I know I have already written a blog post on them and posted many breakfast shots on Instagram but the winning addition of Pizza Friday can only mean great things for EB. Yes, every Friday throughout November you can get your hands on some of the wonderful Kaylem’s beautiful sourdough pizza. What’s more is, it’s BYOB which means it’s perfect for you students and also those who work full time but can’t rub two pennies together the week before payday yet love lining your stomach with things other than frozen food from Iceland. I mean, you’re not going to find any £1 chicken nuggets at Early Bird. Instead you can enjoy my favourite of them all, the pesto, feta, artichoke and spinach pizza or the spicy chorizo, bacon and hot sauce or the garlic mushrooms, smoked ham and mascarpone or the Kaylem special of chicken tikka, red onion and sweetcorn and for you fussy eaters (what?) there’s a trusty margherita. All of the pizzas are priced between £8-£12 and given the fact you’re taking your own cheap or expensive plonk AND you’re supporting a young and definitely upcoming baker you’re in for a real treat, crust me. Kaylem is doing an apprenticeship with ACT and is lucky enough to be training in Early Bird. Where better to hone your baking skills eh?


Here is the spicy chorizo, bacon and hot sauce. 

Early Bird is the perfect location for brunch and coffee but with the dark autumnal skies and abundance of tea lights scattered throughout the room and garden it really makes for an atmospheric evening.


The brand spanking new ‘Gram Wall’. 


Pesto, spinach, feta and artichoke. 

What’s even more magnificent is that you can hire the whole place out for your own private pizza party. As long as you spend a minimum of £250 you can eat pizza to your heart’s content and consume as much alcohol as humanely possible when you’re full of sourdough. 

Don’t forget to buy yourself a doughnut too. You deserve it.

Dishoom

For anyone who loves food and is also a keen instagrammer (these days they come hand in hand), you’re bound to have heard of Dishoom. If not, put it on your radar like, right now.

Talking of Instagram, that’s exactly where I found Dishoom a while back and I sat, salivating whilst looking at all posts from the location. Even though I’d been to London several times since stumbling upon it’s charm I still hadn’t managed to fit it in. It’s a place I’ve recommended to many people and then felt instant regret when seeing their pictures having missed out on the experience myself. The green eyed monster would rear its ugly head and I have to force myself to give them a ‘like’.



In short, Dishoom is a Bombay inspired cafè built with the old Irani digs of Bombay in mind… so their website told me anyway. Sadly I’ve never been to Mumbai but there’s hope of a 2018 visit and after sitting down for a chai in Dishoom I’m moving it up my agenda. If I’m not met with paneer, chole bhatura or roomali rolls then I won’t be happy.

It’s no wonder Dishoom has been mentioned in the Good Food Guide and ranked in the top 100 UK restaurants just by looking at a picture of their goods. Now I’ve actually been I can say that they’ve made their way on to these lists with hard work and damn good food. It’s traditional but also with a British twist. It’s not your prawn vindaloo, mango chutney and chips kinda place but it’s ok because you won’t miss it. There’s so much more to Indian cuisine than a lamb passanda. Although I could definitely polish off a peshwari naan right now.

Anyway, we visited the branch in Shoreditch and straight away you feel like you’ve been transported not only to India but to a place way back when. There’s an undercover outside seating area with lots of greenery; it makes for a very atmospheric place to eat breakfast. The interior is perfect and I loved all the little details from the tiles to the tables to the ‘rules’ that have been Instagrammed and then some. You’ve probably seen them before but here’s a reminder anyway.



There are many times you could eat at Dishoom throughout the day and you’d be delivered beautiful eats but for us, there was only one time to visit and that was first thing in the morning. Naturally I booked a table but not because I’m someone who loves to plan everything down to the walk of course, but I couldn’t stomach the thought of being turned away from a sausage.

I ordered a traditional chai as soon as we sat down simply because it’s one of my favourites and I can definitely vouch for Morgan when I say he probably wishes he’d done the same. No, M ordered a cocktail. A very early morning cocktail. It was so strong I almost fell off my seat from the fumes alone which, as my friends would say, isn’t that far off me having a sip of wine anyway.

The chai on the other hand was absolutely perfect. It was wonderfully spiced and warming and I welcomed it with open mouth even though it was fairly tropical outside. To accompany my chai chaser I ordered the biggest breakfast option on the menu which, judging by the reaction of the waitress, should have been too big for a female. Little did she know, eh?

While both of us waited in anticipation for the arrival of our nose bag, a familiar face wandered over to say hello. What are the chances both The Plate Licked Clean and I would be in London at the same time, in the same restaurant, in the same area of London?

The breakfast, very quickly, arrived and I instantly turned into a love heart eye emoji. I couldn’t help myself. I don’t know a time when I have ever been so excited for breakfast to arrive and I am a very keen bruncher. The plate was full to the edge, just the way I like it. The sausages were massive and there were two. Two massive, peppery sausages from Shropshire in fact. So not very Indian but I really couldn’t care when they taste as good as they do. Next to the massive sausages were eggs scrambled with curry spices, crispy bacon, masala baked beans, buttery pau bread rolls, extra large and sensationally cooked field mushrooms and a grilled tomato. The addition of ketchup with a kick was also bang on.

As aforementioned, the sausages were top drawer, the bacon was extra crispy which should be the way bacon is served, the masala spices in the beans off-set the sugariness marvellously and the inclusion of the curry spices with he scrambled eggs made a firm favourite that little bit more special.


*insert love heart eye emoji faces here* 

This, without a shadow of brunchy doubt is the best breakfast I’ve ever, ever, ever had the honour of eating. If you live in or near London or have a fast approaching trip, please move Dishoom to the top of your list and you won’t live to regret it.

I’ll accept your gratitude and thankfulness in all forms of sweet treat, cheese or carbohydrate. In fact, just bring me back a bacon naan for me.

Pretentious Eating

Pretentious Burger Kitchen can be found nestled on High Street in Newport, just a few doors away from the Urban Taphouse. It’s an idea that has gone from pop up to restaurant and they seem to have made their mark in the hubbub of Newport city centre. I’d seen many a mouth watering snap of Pretentious burgers before being invited to visit, plus a long and informative chat with Plate Licked Clean about their brisket bites and pommelier-advised chip offerings had me chomping at the bit. *don’t worry,  no horses are harmed in the making of their burgers* 

On a rainy day a few weeks ago I was more than lucky enough to try their wares out for myself and confess to being far from disappointed. When the weather is as bleak as it has been, comfort food is first and foremost in my mind. A tower of beef, sandwiched between homemade semi-brioche buns with toppings galore and a big bowl of chips is surely the fuzzy kick in the feels you need to take your mind off the grey, drizzly summer we are currently experiencing. Remember when the summer used to be sunny? No, me neither.

The meat at PBK is sourced from Douglas Willis, a family run butchery that has been providing top notch meat in Usk and elsewhere since 1940. You could say they know what they are doing. With this in mind, you know you’re in for an absolute blinder of a burger and it kinda gives PBK the right to say they are a little pretentious about their meat. In a burger, the patty is vital and this is all down to the quality of meat you use. In this case, you can rest your head knowing that you’re in good, beefy, hands. It takes the guys at PBK a very long time to mince and season their meat to ensure each and every burger tastes the very best it possibly can. The proof is in the patty. 

As the restaurant itself is simple with nothing flash or snazzy (both words my mum would use), they have really allowed the food to do all the talking for them. It’s a straight to the point burger bar with no gimmicks and certainly no time for messing around. 

Not only are the patties formed perfectly by PBK but the semi-brioche buns and sauces are all made from scratch on site too, which only adds to the their charm. In fact, the only thing that isn’t homemade are the chips. I think you’ll agree with me when you’ve lost your Pretentious virginity that it isn’t a big deal when they have been decorated with toppings aplenty and accompany such a mammoth, juicy burger. 

Before I babble on (even more) about the burgers, I must tell you a little more about the infamous brisket bites that left me salivating from a mere description alone. The only brisket I’d ever eaten was that which had been marinated and smoked and tasted beautifully ‘barbecuey’ but these tasty things are brisket like you’ve never had before. The meat is braised in chicken stock, red wine, Granny Smith apples, onion, garlic and celery for 6 hours before being shed. Once the meat is looking lovely it has lashings of butter, caraway seeds, cider and wholegrain mustard thrown in the mix too. The balls of fun are then rolled in panko breadcrumbs after being combined with heaps of mozzarella. They were crispy on the outside with the interior tasting stupendously seasoned. The guys were worried they may sway a little more towards the expensive end of the spectrum for a side dish but when that much work has gone into the prep you’re allowed to charge whatever the hell you want. 



Ok, back to the burgers. The main event.

There are 7 substantial burgers to get your hands around and as aforementioned, all have an advised chip pairing that best suit the patty toppings. Just go with it. Who knows more about potato products than a pommelier? I decided to go for the Mexican burger as I’m extremely partial to a bit of spice and with Mexicana cheese, Mexican rub and and jalapeños, there’s every possibility you’ll have a real punch in the taste buds. The matching fries were camouflaged in chipotle salsa, mature cheddar and the PBK homemade chipotle mayo. It was a feast for the eyes, belly and more importantly, Instagram. The burger was piled high with toppings, all of which went so perfectly with that well made patty. 


I told you it’s a mountain. 


My only very personal and slight critique would be, that I’d have preferred the burger being cooked to a more rare/medium rare standard but that’s not everyone’s taste and I appreciate that. 


With that in mind, the burger tastes wonderful, is full of flavour and definitely not stingy. If you’re looking for a burger that’s value for money then you’re looking at it in the many images above. It’s a contender, that’s for sure. 

M opted for the Kevin Bacon which, as the title suggests, involved a lotta bacon. In fact, it involves bacon twice over… three times if you order the partnered fries. The patty is topped with American cheese, streaky bacon and the standard greens that are definitely there for show. The token salad, if you will. The pièce de résistance is the candied bacon which sits atop this bad boy. It was that candied you could almost use it as a mirror. It was the most amazing thing I have ever tasted on a burger and that is quite a bold statement considering the sheer amount of burgers I’ve ploughed through in my time. Again, it may take a few hours/days/weeks to make sure it has been candied to perfection but candy away guys because that bacon is worth writing home about. 


As you can make out from the picture, the fries were completely covered in cheese, bacon bits and a healthy helping of baconaise. Personally, I’m a massive lover of baconaise so when it’s been whipped up from scratch it’s even more tasty than any jar you can buy in a supermarket. 


Please, make the effort to visit Pretentious Burger Kitchen even if Newport isn’t where you’d normally spend your time. I promise you it’s worth the car/train journey to meet the team and enjoy a wonderful burger that is well on it’s way to success. Yes, Cardiff has many burger joints but don’t let that put you off… PBK is a sure competitor for any burger that Cardiff has to offer. 
Pretentious Burger Kitchen

16 High Street, 

Newport 
NP20 1Fw 

Oscars of Cowbridge


There’s something about Cowbridge that makes me think about being a grown up. A homeowner with children, a dog (or two) and partaking in a weekly deli food shop before going for brunch washed down with a glass of wine on a Tuesday afternoon. Of course, it isn’t a necessity that you do all of the above before you visit Cowbridge and I certainly don’t have have children or a house but the offer of brunch? Yes please! On this occasion I left my dog at home though, he’s recently devoured an electric toothbrush so god only knows what would happen in public. 

It doesn’t matter if you don’t live in Cowbridge because for the sake of an out of town journey or a random road trip it’s definitely worth the extra miles on the clock. No matter where you’re travelling from, driving into Cowbridge feels like a whole new world and it gives you chance to explore. 

Oscars is a well established restaurant and already has a great reputation. However, it has recently had a complete refurb and is looking remarkably good for it. Think turquoise, orange and lots of copper and rose gold and you’ve basically fallen through the door of Oscars. It’s beautifully done and you can really tell how much money, time and effort went into making it look as snazzy as it does with just one scan of the room. 




The menu is very extensive and covers an abundance of things ranging from burgers to duck wraps to mussels to light lunches and pancakes. I can assure you it really does have something for everyone.

Don’t even get me started on how superb I think their drinks menu is. I particular enjoy the stock of Pipes and Celt and a special mention to the Brooklyn on tap. 

Upon first look at the menu I was drawn straight towards the spiced cauliflower and beetroot fritter burger but as soon as HCH ordered the cauliflower steak I happily panic ordered in anticipation of a bout of food envy. I’m so glad I made the decision to be a copy cat because who’d have thought a cauliflower steak could be so delicious? The cauliflower was roasted and tasted absolutely divine which I’m sure had a little something to do with the slight buttery taste that came with it. Along with the cauli steak was a mountain of perfectly cooked sweet potato fries, asparagus and vine roasted tomatoes. Now you may call me crazy for not ordering meat but sometimes the vegetarian options just sound so much more appealing. 

Try and tell me the above doesn’t look delicious. I dare ya. 

The rest of the gang went for halloumi burgers and a Reuben. Both options looked more than tasty and came featuring a lovely pretzel bun and mountain of fries. Here’s a little teaser for you before you book a table. 

If you’re already sweating about a preconceived idea on the price of food at Oscars then fear not, it’s absolutely and entirely reasonable. The price of a burger, for example, ranges from £8.95-£12.95. This is no more expensive than an in-town burger and the potion sizes are very hearty. 

If, after perusing the above menu, you’re still unsure what to order the cauliflower steak comes highly recommended by a non-vegetarian and I’m already eyeing up the baked eggs and soldiers plus the Oscars’ Mess. I mean, the mess has rose scented cream and candy floss. Dreams really can come true. 

We didn’t even have the stomach to look at the dessert menu after demolishing lunch so next time I definitely will be ordering a dessert or two. Maybe three. Who’s counting? 

A massive thanks must go to Oscars for having the girls and I for a beautiful meal with absolutely impeccable service but I also want to send thanks to Broadly PR for the invitation and the wonderful lunch time chat. 

A lil pizza heaven in Canton…

For all those interested in the street food scene in Cardiff you’ll be more than familiar with Dusty Knuckle’s top notch pizza. If, God forbid, you’re yet to polish off dat base then shame on you. If you do fall into the category of ‘yet to polish off dat base’ then you knead to know about Dusty Knuckle’s new venture. FAST. 

I think it is very fitting that my last blog post was all about Hang Fire Smokehouse and their rags to riches/pop up to permanent home story. We now have yet another vendor setting up shop but this time in the back yard of Crafty Devil, who are also relatively new to the permanent home game. 

Canton already hosts many a great restaurant and as I’ve preached in the past, is the up and coming area of town. The place to be. With the likes of Chai Street, Bangkok Cafe and Calabrisella already firmly on the food chain, it is safe to say Dusty Knuckle have some very tasty neighbours. 

We all know that when you’ve knocked back a few bevvies the first thing you think about is carbs. Ok, so this isn’t Caroline Street but rest assured you’re getting an even better deal. In fact, Dusty Knuckle have wood-fired their way into the ‘Where To Eat Pizza Guide‘ didn’t you know?! You’re dining with pizza royalty. 

Do you need another excuse to visit? Dogs. Yes, everyone is welcome to take their furry friend along with them. Why should they miss out on all the fun? My friend Honor has the most amazing poochy pal who comes with us on most adventures so knowing her little face would be made welcome definitely had a paws up from Inca.

Until reading blog posts by Plate Licked Clean and Fuud Blog I didn’t really know what to expect but starters and dessert were far from my mind. Naturally, as soon as I saw there were three course offerings I decided we needed to try as much as we could handle. With that in mind, we put our hands on a meat antipasti with a side of Dusty Knuckle and Crafty Devil collaboration beer. 


This bad boy was delicious, might I add.

There was chorizo salami and fennel salami along with Teifi nettle cheese, sauerkraut and olives. It was presented beautifully and was definitely more fancy than I was expecting. I have a thing for all Italian meats but I have even more of a thing for nettle cheese so it only added to the appeal and certainly set my taste buds up for the pizza that followed. 

I would normally order a pizza piled high with meats and jalapeños but this time the Blas Y Mor drew me in. It is, in essence, a seaside on a dough base.  A super Welshy pizza. Now I won’t claim to be a fluent Welsh speaker but if my translation skills are correct Blas Y Mor, quite literally, means taste of the sea. If this is incorrect then I hold my hands up and admit the extent of my Welsh comes to an abrupt halt, much like uncle Bryn, at rydw i’n hoffi coffi. This pizza really is the taste of the sea in just one bite. It takes me back to trying cockles and mussels on many a childhood caravan holiday in west Wales. 


It is an absolute delight and something everyone seems to be going crazy about. It’s a taste sensation. There have been cockles all over my social media for the past two weeks. The base was cooked perfectly and it donned the perfect toppings to cheese ratio. To sum it up, it was perfect. It’s a legendary pizza with the doughy goods to back it up. If you’re in the market for some fior di latte, lardons, laverbread, cockles and samphire then you’ll find yourself in the right place. You’ll be in good hands. I promise. 

The desserts. Those bloody desserts. They have a great selection with something for everyone. There’s ice cream, a chocolate and rosemary pot for the chocolate fiend amongst you and a bergamot and strawberry panna cotta for those who are more partial to something fruity. Naturally we ordered both the chocolate pot and the panna cotta. It would be rude not to try them really wouldn’t it? I don’t like offending people.


I’m not normally a chocolate dessert kinda gal but this time I was sold from the first spoonful. It’s wonderful. The texture and the amount of chocolatey goodness is  bang on. Of course, the panna cotta is equally tasty but then, panna cotta will always be a firm favourite with me. 

All the produce is locally sourced, the base is so fresh it’s stretched and slipped into the wood fired oven upon placing your order and the herbs are even grown right next to where you’re sitting. Please do yourself a favour the next time you’re hungover and find yourself contemplating ordering a Domino’s or Pizza Hut and head to Canton. You owe it not only to yourself but to your stomach. Give it a little love. It deserves it. See you soon DKP, I can’t wait to spend my summer with you, drinking beer and eating all your wares. It’s going to be a good un. 


16 Llandaff Road, 

Canton 

CF11 9NJ 

Meat Sweats

Hang Fire Smokehouse have finally opened their door after years of pop ups, awards and so much anticipation felt by the people of Cardiff. I’m not even smoking with you…. I’ve seen the abundance of excited tweets with my own beady eyes. Since managing to book a table at this sought after restaurant I’ve been rolling around like a pig in shit. Just this morning I was writhing around my bed eager to get my chubby hands on a rack of ribs and couldn’t wait to get sauce all over my face. Even as I write this post, in a complete food coma, I’m finding barbecue sauce on my dungarees and I’m not even sorry about it. What a time to be alive. 

First of all, I’d like to talk about the location. When you hear it’s in sunny Barrybados you automatically wonder why. That has absolutely nothing to do with the fact it’s in Barry per se but more to do with how far out of the city centre it is. I myself had the same internal debate but upon seeing the grade II listed Pumphouse I completely understand why the choice was made. It’s perfect. I absolutely love the building itself and the interior is bang on the money. Now I’ve been I think this is actually the ideal location and it’s definitely worth the journey, no matter where you’re coming from. Heck, I’d have done it twice over just for a sniff of the cornbread. 

  
She’s absolutely majestic. 

  

My accomplice, Megan, and I ordered the ‘Cheeky Lil Pies’ to start and they were, in one word, fit. We were handed two little pastries full of slowly cooked ox cheek and I can’t recommend them enough. FIT.   

  
So, as already mentioned, I ordered the ribs. The St Louis ribs to be precise. I don’t think I’ve ever had ribs quite like them. There was no ripping off the bone here, just melt in your mouth, fall off the bone meat that had been perfectly seasoned. This monster, was accompanied by sweet pickles, lots of fries and slaw. I felt like I’d died and gone to American heaven and that my life was complete. You may well think I’m over exaggerating but that just means you haven’t tried them. We can all be happy together when you do…

    

 
  

M ordered the ‘Smoked Chicken and Waffles’ which comes with a white and black pepper sauce. I mean, I didn’t try any of it but it only took one look at the empty plate at the end of the sitting to realise it was a little bit enjoyable. Shauna did tell us that smoking a chicken does something wonderful. I guess the proof certainly is in the pudding… or fried coating in this instance. 

  
If you need any further persuasion (are you ok hun?) then you’ll be pleased to know, you can also get your hands on a tasty Blue Moon off tap. What’s more, we weren’t told no when we asked if we could have orange. Yes, there are some places who find that incomprehensible. I know, crazy right? Wheat the hell? 

I’m sure I’m not the only one to doff my Stetson to Sam and Shauna and wish them the very best of luck with this amazing venture they are embarking on. Of course, luck isn’t needed when you can smoke it up like these ladies but when you know you’ve got fans in excess it sure does make getting up in the morning easier doesn’t it? 

You’re the cowgirls of Cardiff in everyone’s eyes and I can’t wait to get my hands on your book and attempt (badly) to produce something as world class as you do. *pre order yours before the May release* 

Work it sisters. YOU GOT THIS.  

The Early Bird catches the worm…

…or just a good breakfast. I won’t bang on about my love of brunch too much as all my posts will just merge into one but I just love it ok? LET ME LIVE A LITTLE. 

The Early Bird Bakery opened back in November on Woodville in Cathays and if I’m completely honest, I wanted to visit when I saw it had opened and then completely forgot all about it. This is, what I like to call, a school boy error. 

Thanks to a post from Gourmet Gorro, the week before a brunch date with SB, I was reminded of the little, canary yellow building in the middle of ‘Studentville’. Considering the fact that Cardiff has too many chain restaurants and coffee shops already, this is exactly the sort of place we should be ploughing our money into… in the form of an unlimited supply of Sourdough toast topped with Nutella. Naturally. 

This place is, first and foremost, an absolutely delicious bakery. I could smell the wafts of freshly baked bread as soon as my Fiat whipped into Woodville and when you’re hungover on a Sunday morning you know what the carb craving feels like. I know you do. The carbs are always calling. 

I’m convinced this place was built on a previous dream I’ve had. I’m sure of it. 

Of course, it would’ve been ill-mannered to leave without buying a wholemeal sourdough loaf to tide me over for the week; or, in this case, the best part of two days. 

I ordered the ‘Cowboy’ which is a combination of sourdough (I bet you already guessed that part) homemade beans cooked in Hangfire Espresso sauce, chopped pork sausages and topped with a poached egg. Now, I normally order something with avocado but this one stood out like a sore thumb…. in the best way possible. It was amazing and I’d go as far as to say, one of my favourite ‘brunch eats’ of all time. SB opted for the ‘Hulk Smash’ which, yes you guessed right again, started off with some toasted sourdough and was finished off with lots of avocado and poached egg with Cholula hot sauce. It only took one look at her empty plate to know it was welcomed with open arms. 
  
  
*insert love heart eye emoji here*

  

If you also fall for a lovely bit of coffee art or you’re just cold as it is February then you know what to do…  

  
If either of you saw those pictured in the above then I sure do hope it was before I tipped beans down my favourite t shirt. 

The Early Bird Bakery

38 Woodville Road

CF24 4EB 

No 1, Chai Street

Chai Street is my number 1. It’s, by far, one of my favourite places to eat in Cardiff and after so many visits of late I thought it made sense to ‘do a bit’ on it. I’m sure you’ve probably already visited the tiny, Indian street food restaurant on Cowbridge Road but if not… WHY? 

If you’re a fan of Indian food that’s not necessarily a vindaloo or a korma then this will really hit the spot. The Chai Special Thali is my go-to option if I can’t make a decision. You receive three curries (chicken, lamb and veggie), rice, a dal, poppadoms, naan bread, pickles and a starter (usually a bhaji) for under £10. If that’s not a bargain then I really don’t know what is… My first visit was way back in October and I was extremely late to the party. It can’t be classed as fashionably late unfortunately as I missed out on months of Chole Bhatura and Masala Fries. In fact, it’s an absolute travesty. I am truly making up for it now though and for that, I am happy and relieved. 

Chole Bhatura is my favourite thing on the menu. It doesn’t sound like a lot but I’m obsessed. Bhatura are Indian flatbreads and the Chole is a kind of, chickpea curry (of sorts). I just love it. That, accompanied by a lovely mango lassi, will always be my one true, Chai Street love. 

 
Coming in at a close second are those Masala Fries. My god. You have to order them but please don’t over order. I keep on making the same mistake and ordering them to go with a larger meal and fail miserably. If you’re getting a small plate then feel free to spice things up. You won’t be disappointed by them. They are the perfect chip, covered in spicy sauce, which, for me, is very sweet deal. 

This week I tried the Pav Bhaji which, when served didn’t look the most appetising but it tasted amazing. When I say it didn’t look the most appetising, what I really mean is, I took a picture for Instagram and pictures did it no justice. The Pav Bhaji was a Pav (bun that has been cooked in butter) served with vegetables in a tomato gravy that was full of flavour. According to the menu, this is the kind of thing you’d get on the street in India if you were in a hurry. 

If you’re reading this with your head in your hands because you’ve not been then don’t fret, you’ve got all weekend to squeeze in a trip. In fact, it’s their first birthday party tomorrow so show your face and try some bloody outstanding Indian street food. 

  
Chai Street

156 Cowbridge Road East