Review: Laguna Kitchen & Bar

One of the most common questions you get asked as a food blogger is "where should I eat?". It's part of the territory and most times I'm keen to help out. However one request always fills me with terror - "Where can I get a good Sunday roast?".

It genuinely mystify me how, after six years in this fair city, I struggle to think of any decent roast dinners - at least none equal to what I can cook at home, myself. The meat is usually gristly and in short supply, the veg overcooked to the point of being obliterated and let's not even mention the Yorkshire puddings!

Asking around on Twitter, everyone had a favourite but there was a recurring theme - they were either outside of the city or a chain (Twitter loves a Toby Carvery). Of the handful that were in Cardiff one stuck out, and when Park Plaza asked if I'd like to come along and sample the food I knew only one meal would do.

Laguna Kitchen and Bar is a rather chic affair entered just left of the main hotel lobby. In what seems to be a trend these days, it was a combination of dark wood, cream leather and modern jazz. I'm not sure if Park Plaza are trying to save on their energy bills or whether they are just environmentally conscious but the room was dark. The dull, Welsh weather did nothing to help but surely they can afford 50p in the meter to crank up the spot lights. Maybe they were just catering for hangovers?

We were shown to our table and swiftly brought the menus along with a bottle of water, some bread and the very best extra virgin olive oil and balsamic I have tasted in a long time. I'm not often content just to eat the complimentary nibbles but I would have paid the set-menu price alone for 3 courses of that balsamic, rich, thick and creamy.

Coming to my senses, and realising a girl cannot survive on bread and oil alone (as much as she might like to), we chose our starters: Confit chicken, artichoke and cannelini bean terrine for him, butternut squash tortellini with a herb butter for me.

The terrine was moreish, spread thick on the accompanying foccacia with a celeriac remoulade. Rich without being heavy and with spicy base notes reminiscent of a good salami.

My pasta was perfectly made and cooked al-dente but the shallot and flat leaf parsley butter sauce was far too salty and overpowered the sweetness of the squash.

For main my partner opted for the classic Roast Sirloin Beef, which he asked to be cooked rare. As he sent a silent prayer heaven-wards it seemed the kitchen gods were smiling on us as the beef was perfectly cooked, with a soft, pink centre. Two thick slices of beef were accompanied by duck-fat roasted potatoes, green beans, mange tout, carrots and broccoli - all served al-dente, much to his relief. The whole thing was finished off with an excellent beef gravy (no jus here) which was mopped up easily with a monster Yorkshire pudding. However, my partner felt let down by a slightly bland horseradish sauce.

I opted for the lighter option of Confit chicken, streaky bacon and a Caesar salad. Despite the chicken being a tad dry in places, and the skin not being crisp, I enjoyed the dish. The combination of the smoky bacon, soft chicken and leaves was set off beautifully by the salad dressing. Unlike other salads, this actually coated the leaves instead of pooling in an unsatisfactory, wet mess at the bottom of the bowl. A slight citrus flavour paired well against the salt of the cheese, whilst the croutons added a satisfying crunch.

After brief respite it was on to pudding, with my partner ordering a spring-like Panacotta with rhubarb jelly (as light, creamy and thoroughly zingy as it sounds!) whilst I opted for the thoroughly indulgent dark chocolate and penderyn whisky torte. Death by chocolate never tasted so good - rich, dark, almost truffle-like chocolate and a heady hit of whisky left me in pudding heaven.

At £17.50 a head for three courses this probably isn't the cheapest Sunday lunch you can find in Cardiff but, after six years, it's certainly one of the best I've eaten (outside of my own kitchen, of course!). Will it convince me to ditch the Sunday ritual of cooking a roast myself? Maybe not every week.

Can your pub do better?  Or do you prefer a home-cooked roast?  Can anything live up to your mam's roasties?

For food tips across the city follow the #eatcardiff Twitter feed.


marlint111 said…
I'm an enormous fan of the Sunday Roast at the North Star (on North Road).

Even better is the fact that if you're going as a group, you can ring up and they'll cook a couple of bits of whatever you fancy for you to share as a table.

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