Golden Brown

Following on from our trip to St David's Hotel, my second review of the week takes us into Cardiff's city centre.  Situated just off Westgate Street on the site of the former Model Inn pub, Greenwood and Brown has been given a dramatic make-over by the Brains Brewery.  Gone are the sticky carpets and, let's face it, sticky tables to be replaced by marble-topped high tables, leather couches and exposed brickwork.  To balance against it's next door neighbour and fellow Brains venue, The City Arms, it was decided that G&B would focus on food, specifically "surf and turf".

Panko-crumbed Calamari [Photo: Cardiff Bites]
We started with some little baskets of fried fish, panko crumbed calamari (£5.25) for me and Blanchbait (£5) for my partner. Both were served in individual frier baskets which was a nice touch.  The calamari, cut into strips rather than the traditional rings, were light and crisp without a hint of greasiness.  A zingy chilli sauce and slice of lemon brightened up the fish and for the most they were well cooked with only one of two pieces erring on being overcooked, rubbery as they were.

Blanchbait and Lemon Mayo [Photo: Cardiff Bites]
The blancbait was a little bit "no-frills" but didn't suffer for it - fried in a light coating they were crisp with a little crunch to them.  The lemon mayonnaise was just that, mayonnaise packed with lemon zest and juice and married well with the tiny fried fish.  Again, whilst the majority were well cooked, one or two were slightly bitter - we suspect they hadn't been cleaned and prepared properly but the bitterness remained a mystery.

8oz Fillet Steak [Photo: Cardiff Bites]
Moving onto the main event, it had to be steak!  Well, what did you expect me to order from a steakhouse?  My partner ordered the 227g Sirloin (that works out at a smidge over 8oz in old money) with a side of garlic mash and bearnaise sauce included (£15) whilst I chose the 8oz Fillet from the specials menu with peppercorn sauce and a side of plain mash (£19 inclusive).  After some cajoling by the staff we also ordered a side of green beans with rocket pesto (£2.25).

227g (8oz) Sirloin [Photo: Cardiff Bites]
Whilst both steaks were perfectly cooked (medium for the fillet and rare for the sirloin) and the beef itself tasty, they were both very, very chewy - almost erring on the side of tough.  This was unbelievably disappointing given how the venue has positioned itself. The sides on the other hand were delicious - the mashes were buttery, with the garlic version packed with flavour and punching well above it's weight.  The sauces were both creamy - whilst the bearnaise was tongue tingling with lemon and tarragon, the peppercorn was thick and warming.  The green beans were well cooked, retaining their crunch, whilst the pesto added another flavour dimension. 

Platter of "$1" desserts (l-r tarte au citron, raspberry cheesecake, hazlenut and pistachio torte, chocolate brownie and berry Eton mess [Photo: Cardiff Bites]
To round off our meal, our waitress brought us a selection of their desserts.  Whilst the full portions cost between £4.75 and £5.50, you can also order a $1 dessert - a smaller portion for those who want something sweet but can't face a whole slice or, like us, fancy a bit of everything to share between two.  These dollar desserts are a great idea and at £1 a slice are wonderfully afforable.  Some worked - the tarte au citron was wonderfully sweet/sour, the nut torte reminiscent of something you'd find at the ambassador's reception, whilst the Eton mess was a heady concoction of chewy meringue, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries held together by thick cream.  Some were less successful including a jammy raspberry cheesecake that had slightly split in the cooking process leaving it grainy.  The worst offender was the chocolate brownie which was burnt on the outside whilst the inside was undercooked.  Readers, I refused to eat it, it was that unpleasant!

Greenwood and Brown is a vast improvement on its former self but needs to re-think its steak if it wants to compete against other popular steak houses such as Charlestons or Pier 64 as well as its own Brains venues.

This review was done at the invite of Brains Brewers and as such the meal was complimentary.


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