An Ethical Supper

After challenging me to cook on his stall in June, it was time for Deri Reed (aka The Ethical Chef) to repay the favour and what better way to do it than at his first supper club at Pettigrew Tea Rooms.

Deri has form running successful supper clubs at venues including Cardiff's Pot Cafe and Cowbridge's Arboreal, so turning his attention to a city centre location such as Pettigrew seemed inevitable.

We arrived at the tea rooms at 7pm to find some diners already tucking into their mains, whilst others (like us) were arriving and taking their seats.  We were quickly served our first course, a short glass of borscht. Bright fuchsia, the soup was thick and slightly grainy with a heavy dash of cayenne pepper to cut against the sweetness of the beetroot. 

Halloumi Salad [Photo: Cardiff Bites]
Next came a leaf salad, dotted with herbs and sweet tomatoes, sprinkled with quinoa and topped with crisp, golden shards of halloumi. The combination of salty cheese against the peppery, slightly bitter leaves and the juicy tomatoes was stunning.  Whilst the quinoa didn't add much to the flavour, it did give a slight bite to the leaves.  

Polenta Fondant on Puy Lentils and Fennel [Photo: Cardiff Bites]

By comparison, the next course was a little disappointing.  Visually it was mostly beiges and browns with a hint of green from the courgettes and herby polenta.  The polenta itself was light and fluffy, complimented by the earthy lentils and the subtle liquorice of the fennel.  The courgettes, however, were bland and watery and the yoghurt, described on the menu as being flavoured with chilli, had been left plain.  A pity as a little heat might have lifted the whole dish, particularly the courgettes.

Lemon Drizzle Cake [Photo: Cardiff Bites]
Next up was a tray-bake lemon drizzle cake, attractively topped with a little cream and crystallised ginger.  The cake itself was a little dry but with a wonderful flavour of vanilla, spiked with sticky lemon drizzle.  The syrup combined with the warmth from the ginger was delicious but I wished the sponge had been a little lighter.

As we were at Pettigrew Tea Rooms, it seemed rude to let the night pass without sampling something from their hot drinks menu.  I opted for a light, floral Angel Peach tea (£2.35 for a pot) whilst my partner chose an Americano (£2.35).  

Chocolate and Beetroot Brownie [Photo: Cardiff Bites]
As we finished our drinks, the last course was served,  a small square of chocolate and beetroot brownie.  It's hard to tell from the picture but the piece was around 1.5" square, more a petit four than the drizzle cake dessert we'd just had.  Whilst my partner's was cooked well, mine had sadly not spent long enough in the oven and was vastly undercooked to the point of being almost liquid.  A disappointment as the flavours were sweet and rich, though admittedly I would have preferred a bigger piece!

The meal was £25 a head and diners were able to bring their own wine.  Whilst I think some aspects of the meal were disappointing (the polenta and the brownie), there was much to celebrate in the first two courses (the soup and the halloumi).  It is all the more impressive when you realised that chef didn't have access to a full kitchen at the venue and was cooking from a marquee! As a meat eater I don't feel my palate was compromised in any way and as a consumer I feel the price set was good value for money.

Deri's next venture, a vegetarian restaurant in the city, is ambitious but if he can cook to this standard in a marquee I can't wait to see what he can do with a full kitchen at his disposal.

In the interest of full disclosure, my ticket was earned working at The Ethical Chef stall. My partner's ticket and all of our drinks were paid for ourselves on the night.


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