Independent at Oscars

As a Brit, I always think American Independence Day is a bit of a weird one to celebrate in the UK. "Whoop! Your country is free of mine!" But hey when that celebration mainly revolves around barbecue, fireworks and beer then what's not to love?  I was offered a chance to celebrate July 4th with the wonderful Hannah from Love to Dine at Oscars of Cardiff and jumped at the chance.

On the site of the former Le Gallois restaurant, Oscars follows its Cowbridge big brother with an unfussy menu taking diners from breakfast through to dinner.  I've eaten at at Oscars on a few occasions and whilst I enjoyed their brunch menu, Sunday lunch had left me disappointed.

Arriving at 7.30pm, we were swiftly shown to our table and took in the menu options for the evening. Whilst the regular a la carte menu was still offered, we only had eyes for the special American menu and swiftly ordered starters of Clam Chowder (£3) followed by the American Platter (£15).

Clam chowder and cornbread [Photo: Cardiff Bites]
The chowder was served attractively in a cappuccino cup and came with a slice of still-warm cornbread.  The soup itself was rich and creamy, if very chunky for such a small serving, with plenty of smoky bacon and clams. The cornbread was similarly substantial, serving to mop up the thick broth.  Whilst the flavours were good, if I were to have this again then I'd prefer it to either be less chunky or served as a main in a much larger bowl.

As we waited for our mains we reviewed the menu again - the platter was described as "Oscars burger, BBQ pulled pork, baby back ribs in a pomegranate & whiskey molasses and Southern fried chicken".  They couldn't possibly mean a full-sized burger, could they?  No of course not, that would be ridiculous.

In true American-fashion, the platter was a sight to behold.  Not only was there a full-sized burger, it was topped with melted cheese, bacon and tomato relish.  The pulled pork, ribs and chicken were equally sizeable portions.  We almost felt guilty about ordering sides of fries (£2.75 for a large bowl) and crispy fried shrimp (£3) but tucked in regardless.

L-R Southern-fried chicken, BBQ pulled pork, ribs and the Oscar Burger. [Photo: Cardiff Bites]
I started with the chicken and was surprised how light it was - crispy breadcrumbs, moist meat and not a hint of grease to be found.  The pulled pork just melted in the mouth, leaving behind a delicious honeyed aftertaste that Hannah found reminiscent of crispy duck.  It wasn't the heavy BBQ sauce I'm used to but it certainly was tasty. 

Moving on to the ribs we found the tenderest meat imaginable that required little to no effort on our part to coax it off the bone.  The whisky gave it a hint of sweetness whilst the pomegranate gave it a sticky sour coating. 

The burger was a good example of its kind (though the square cut "bun" was decidedly odd) though may have benefited from a little seasoning.  That said the cheese, relish and bacon lifted the whole thing and made for good eating.

Onto the hand-cut fries.  I had been hoping for American shoe-string fries - thin, crisp and heavily salted.  Instead we got a bowl of chips (yes there is a difference) and not very good ones at that.  They were anaemic in colour, limp and tasteless.  The shrimp turned out to be butterflied, breaded prawns, not the same thing to my British sensibilities where shrimp are tiny little things served in pots and covered in a layer of butter, but as prawns go they were pretty good. Again, the same light, non-greasy crumb as the chicken with the sweet prawns inside.

In the case of blogger versus food, food definitely won and somewhat embarrassingly for two food bloggers, we failed to finish our meals. The platters were so substantial that we agreed we probably didn't need the fries or the shrimp and we sure as hell didn't need dessert, no matter how tempting the Strawberry Mess (£5.50) sounded with its candy floss topping.

Whilst this was a special menu you can indeed buy several of the dishes on the regular menu including the ribs (£4.95 as a starter) and the burger (£9.25).  Hannah and I have already decided we will be going back to Oscars, if only to tackle that dessert list.

Our visit was arranged by Cake Communications and as such our meal was complimentary.  Oscar's hope to continue their special theme nights and customers are advised to check their blog for the latest news.


Ted Shiress said…
It really does amaze me how many places fall fowl when it comes to chips, it's like they think "Chips are chips and they won't know the difference" but we do!!

Still, sounds a good place for someone with a healthy appetite, I'll be checking it out sometime.
Maddening isn't it! And sadly very common. These babies would have done well to have been popped back in the frier for a minute or so longer.

The meat however was very good and well worth a visit.

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