There is a lot of history in Cardiff and not just the obvious and visible things like the castle but also the bay has a lot of immigrant history that my historian partner was keen to tell me about as he suggested we walk down to the bay from the city centre. As always walking there seemed to take far longer than walking back as we were a bit uncertain about how far it actually was but on approach to the bay we could see the National Assembly building and knew we were almost there.
In recent years Cardiff Bay has been “renovated” to attract more people from the city centre and to bring tourists to the area since the actual dock itself shut. Now there is a mass glass structure filled with various restaurants that overlook the water, the occasional boat and a landmass with many street and building lights turned on in the distance. If you did not know a dock ever used to be there and that several people travelled and settled in the UK via Cardiff Bay you could never have guessed from looking at the area; we were unsurprised at the transformation but saddened nonetheless.
The choice of restaurants seemed to be fairly generic and included several chains which was a bit disappointing as we were hoping that there might be something a little more ‘Welsh’ or representative of the rich history in that area. After wandering around several times and me becoming increasingly grumpy at being cold and hungry we decided to go to somewhere called The Dock which is part of a pub chain (rather like a Fullers pub in London).
After a bit of umming and ahhing we decided on a Welsh cider by Black Dragon. It arrived in a clear bottle with a simple label on that provided all the useful information without taking anything away from the product itself. The colour of the cider reminded me of straw and was a lot more vibrant in colour than a lot of mainstream alcoholic apple drinks with the scent reminding me much more of a traditional cider than something found in a bottle. They label the cider as medium dry and I would certainly agree with that and with it being over 6% it certainly packed an after-punch but was nice and smooth to drink.
We, or rather I suggested it and put on the puppy dog eyes, decided to have the blue and black nacho sharer for starter, at £9 which worked out cheaper than two standard starters, as the description sounded brilliant with a salsa that was not tomato based (anything with cheese sounds good to me) and I thought the Welsh cheddar element would appeal to my partners desire to try something Welsh.
Blue & yellow corn chips topped with melted Welsh Cheddar, crumbled Perl Lâs blue cheese and sweet roquito berries. Served with pineapple & chilli salsa, soured cream, guacamole and fresh coriander
I honestly think I could just eat these nachos for every meal. The balance of flavours and textures was perfect and both cheeses were certainly far better than the stuff that usually comes on nachos in a restaurant. The corn chips were all full of flavour as well and went really well with the salsa, guacamole and soured cream which were served in plentiful quantities. Neither of us had knowingly had sweet roquito berries before and they add a good little bit of additional heat and sweetness without being too much to handle or overpowering the other gentle ingredients.
As we were beside the water and at an old dockyard, in a restaurant called The Dock, it seemed only right to have fish for the main course. I was a little unsure about what I actually wanted so opted for the fish and chips as it was comforting but also claimed to be something a little different and also one of the more reasonably priced dishes on the menu at £11.
Sustainably sourced cod in a vodka batter with a minted pea puree, our own tartare sauce and thick cut chips, served with lemon
Whilst I loved the presentation of the nachos and the plates that were provided there I was not too convinced by the presentation of the fish and chips. I liked the idea of the food coming in a mini crate but the paper they used at the bottom to stop food falling through was not very greaseproof and instead required to be removed from the fish before it could be eaten.The peas being in a little pot made it quite difficult to get either the fork or a chip into it to get them out but again this was required because of the food being served in the little crate.
The food itself was very tasty with the chips being soft and fluffy on the inside whilst crispy but not overly so on the outside. The fish was fresh and soft to the point where it easily broke up when cutting past the crispy, but disappointingly plain although I never really expected to be able to get anything from the batter having vodka in, but not dampened down batter surrounding it. To call the peas a puree is simply a lie as they were much more like solidified mushy peas rather than how I would imagine a puree and if there was any mint in there it was incredibly well hidden and lacking in flavour. In a similar way the tartare sauce was very mild, which I personally liked as I can find it to be a little overwhelming sometimes, but I can imagine it being a disappointment to some people. Despite it not being the most perfect fish and chips in the world it was certainly tasty enough and the freshness of the fish and the cooking of it to make the skin pleasant enough to eat really helped to make the dish an enjoyable one.
Whilst I was tucking into my fish and chips my partner had opted for a simple £11 fishcake and greens dish that on arrival looked absolutely stunningly simple in a large bowl that I really want to track down for my own kitchen. Seriously if anybody knows where I can get a bowl or general crockery that looks anything like this then please do let me know!
Homemade and served with wilted baby leaf spinach, samphire, a poached free range hens egg, cockles and hollandaise
The poached egg was cooked brilliantly and as my partner popped it open he joked about how I should have grabbed it on camera for instagram. Whilst it looked very smell compared to the size of the dish my partner informed me that because of all the elements it was very rich and he was hitting his limit; I would willingly have helped him out if he needed it because YUM look at it. If I was ever to go back into that specific place again this dish would be something I would strongly consider ordering to try for myself and would recommend over the fish and chips.
By this point we were pretty full and just chatting away whilst finishing our drinks. It is a good job though as they basically had no dessert left which part of me was gutted about because there was talk of a peanut butter cheesecake (though I honestly would have struggled to have eaten it). The meal was okay and the atmosphere was pleasant but the sun had long since disappeared and the ceilings were tall so it would have been good if the tealight on the table had actually being lit. But during our meal we did get to enjoy seeing the tiny little firework display and the Christmas tree lights just outside the restaurant getting switched on; suddenly the woman dressed in a huge bell costume and the swarm of little children suddenly made much more sense.
A good evening overall but certainly nothing extraordinary and perhaps a little more expensive than I would usually be willing to pay for that quality of fish and chips (though I was not paying so I should not complain too much).